Had to transfer to new fermenter during high krausen, now no bubbles from airlock

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Should I re-pitch or just relax and let it recover on its own?

  • Re-pitch now

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Celeritas Prime

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About a day and a half into fermentation we noticed that the fermenter was leaking from the spout. Thus we had no choice but to transfer the wort into a different fermenter since fixing the existing one would have required emptying the fermenter anyway.

At the time of the transfer, the airlock was going nuts with bubbling, leading me to believe we were at high krausen. There was also a good inch and a half of foam on top of the wort for good measure. Now, 24 hours later, there's very little bubbling activity going on at all.

My instinct is to re-pitch with Safale-05 but there's another voice in me that says to just relax and let it recover, but did the re-rack mid-fermentation cause a shock to the yeast it needs help to recover from? Should I re-pitch or should I just chill out and let it ferment?
 

IslandLizard

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No, let it be, the yeast didn't get shocked.

Repitching should be unnecessary.
During active fermentation there should be plenty of yeast, suspended, in your transferred beer.

Give it an another day or 2.
Depending on the temp it's been fermenting at, it could have been almost done, hence the slow down.

How bad was the leak? Couldn't you have left it?
 
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Celeritas Prime

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We maybe could have left it -- the leak was an ounce or two a day -- but decided to transfer just in case the leak got worse or introduced a contamination vector. The fermenter is a 3-gallon "SS Brew Bucket Mini" so an ounce or two a day makes a mess we couldn't live with. I will follow your sage advice and let it be for now. Thanks.
 

Bill Tong

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Please post back on this one if you can. I have often wondered what would happen in this situation. Probabaly there will be no difference!!
 

GrowleyMonster

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I think Bulldog nailed it. The yeast is already working before you get airlock activity. The beer will absorb its share first, before releasing it into the headspace and then building enough positive pressure for bubbles. In the transfer you lost a lot of the CO2 dissolved or suspended in the beer, and this after fermentation was already probably half over. Did you take a gravity reading, by any chance? A lot depends on your fermentation temperature which could be significantly higher than the room temperature. And if you used a starter, more of the fermentation would have been done earlier.

I have been using a Tilt bluetooth hydrometer and it has been quite revealing, to always have the current beer temp and specific gravity. When the gravity doesn't change even one point over three days, it is a pretty safe bet that fermentation is over with. And yet I will still have airlock activity. This is the beer giving up its dissolved CO2. as CO2 content drops, airlock activity drops until finally it stops altogether, but this happens several days after the gravity stabilizes. So there is a delay in the airlock bubbles that indicates fermentation activity only indirectly, with a delay that will make you think it is still going strong when it is done, or make you think it hasn't started yet when it has already dropped 15 points.

Another wild card is the oxygenation that occurs in the transfer if it is not closed loop with a purged secondary. Maybe the yeast is taking a reproducing break and will start feeding again after it is done making a few billion Mini-Mes. I could be wrong about that.

I would take a reading before doing anything. The other option is to do nothing for another day or two. Just remember that bubbles in the airlock are a delayed indicator of fermentation activity, not an immediate one and not a direct one.

I really like having the Tilt floating around in my fermenter but if you are on a budget, consider the Ispindle instead. I notice member @cayde1001 is selling them already assembled for I think it was $50? Here's the thread: https://www.homebrewtalk.com/threads/ispindel.688539/ . I am actually thinking I should get one, because it uses wifi instead of bluetooth, so longer range and I can probably set it up as a network resource and have current data available to me when I am away from the brewhouse. Once I have that, and a webcam, I don't even need to go to the brewhouse to check on my beer. Even with the Tilt, I don't have to draw off any beer to take a reading. So I just took one an hour ago... I can still "take a reading" right now, no beer wasted, no air exposure.
 

hotbeer

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Adding more yeast won't do much since you obviously had a real good krausen. If you were to take an SG, then you will probably see there isn't a lot of sugar left for any new yeast to feast on.

The messy part might have been getting finished about the time you noticed and moved it to a different vessel. You probably could have just cleaned up everything past the stopper.... airlock or blow off tube and any other place external to the fermenter that a mess was made on.

As long as the fermenter remains closed, then mess inside it is of no consequence. IMO.

Or is spout the spigot? I would have just put a stopper in the spigot nozzle.
 
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Celeritas Prime

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Adding more yeast won't do much since you obviously had a real good krausen. If you were to take an SG, then you will probably see there isn't a lot of sugar left for any new yeast to feast on.

The messy part might have been getting finished about the time you noticed and moved it to a different vessel. You probably could have just cleaned up everything past the stopper.... airlock or blow off tube and any other place external to the fermenter that a mess was made on.

As long as the fermenter remains closed, then mess inside it is of no consequence. IMO.

Or is spout the spigot? I would have just put a stopper in the spigot nozzle.
It was leaking from the gasket that goes around the spigot assembly so it would have required disassembly of the spigot to fix. Next time I might just leave it alone and clean up the leak mess daily rather than risk the contamination of re-racking it mid-madness.
 

odie

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an ounce or two a day? I probably would have left it. Or maybe try turning the spigot slightly to maybe tighten it. could also just have kegged a little early if you are doing kegs and let it finish there.
 

GrowleyMonster

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It was leaking from the gasket that goes around the spigot assembly so it would have required disassembly of the spigot to fix. Next time I might just leave it alone and clean up the leak mess daily rather than risk the contamination of re-racking it mid-madness.

You can minimize damage to the beer by using a closed loop system for transfer. For the full bells and whistles system, first fill your clean secondary with a weak star-san solution. Apply the lid with a two hole stopper. One hole is for liquid, the other is for gas. Run some tubing through the liquid hole down to the bottom. Run a tube from your CO2 regulator to the gas side. Make sure your lid and stopper are tied down. Apply just enough gas pressure to force the solution up the tube and out to a recovery bucket, and no more, lest you blow the lid off. Even so, you will want to tie it down, and the stopper. When all liquid has been forced out, you have a completely purged secondary. If contains nothing but CO2.

Next part is the actual transfer. The primary needs to be higher than the secondary, naturally. Run a line from your spigot or siphon discharge to the liquid tube on your secondary. Remove the airlock from the stopper of the primary. Run a line from the gas hole in the stopper to the hole in your primary stopper where the airlock was. Closed system. Now when you open the spigot on your primary, beer flows to the bottom of the secondary due to gravity. Pressure increases in secondary and CO2 is forced out through the gas line to the primary. The falling beer level in the primary creates negative pressure so it is sucking the CO2 right in there. Everything stays in balance. No air is involved. The end result is that the primary is filled with the CO2 that was in the secondary, and the secondary is filled with the beer that was in the primary though of course the head space of the secondary is still filled with CO2.

No CO2 tank? Okay you can probably capture the CO2 of fermentation in the primary to displace the star-san in the secondary ahead of time. The yeast should produce enough CO2 pressure to displace the liquid. I have never tried this but it should work. A lot of brewers ferment under pressure. So if you set all this up before you even pitch yeast, you will have that purged secondary available for transfer if and when you need it. Example, you brew a really big beer and get a yeast cake so thick that it buries the spigot, and you want to transfer as much as possible to secondary while transferring as little trub as possible, so that the remainder can settle out. Or you have a leak, like what happened to you. Or you have another batch of wort ready to go and you want to put it right on top of the yeast cake already in the fermenter but the beer is not quite ready to go to keg or bottle. Or you want to cold crash and your primary fermenter is not suitable for storing in your fridge. Or you are transferring to keg, in which case you just use the beer and gas posts instead of a two hole stopper. You purge it the same way as you would the secondary except the keg can stand much higher pressures, and usually to maintain sanitary condition and isolation, you leave it with a few pounds of pressure inside so no air can get in.

You can move gas as well as liquid, with a bit of planning and an additional piece of hose. Go nuts. Channel your inner genius.
 
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hotbeer

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It was leaking from the gasket that goes around the spigot assembly so it would have required disassembly of the spigot to fix.
:thumbsup: Oh heck, you lost an opportunity to give that guy in the commercial with a screen door in the bottom of his boat another idea for advertising his FlexSeal product.
 
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