How necessary is an airlock?

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simat

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A starter kit I've just ordered doesn't seem to come with an airlock. I was just wondering how important an airlock is. As the kit doesn't come with one, I'm assuming a beer made without one would still be safe to drink, but would it affect the taste of it?
 

Rick500

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If you can't get an airlock locally, just get a piece of vinyl tubing that'll securely fit in the fermenter or carboy, sanitize it, and put the other end into a container of water. That'll keep anything in the air from getting in, and will still allow CO2 to blow out.
 
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simat

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It will be fermenting in a bucket.

Thanks for the DIY airclock advice, but i'd probably just buy a cheap one on the internet rather than make my own.
 

Sea

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A starter kit I've just ordered doesn't seem to come with an airlock. I was just wondering how important an airlock is. As the kit doesn't come with one, I'm assuming a beer made without one would still be safe to drink, but would it affect the taste of it?


You don't need one at all as long as you put your fermenter in front af a fan.
 
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simat

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I'm guessing an airlock will be cheaper than a fan.
 

malkore

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I assume Sea wants a fan there to keep air moving across the hole in the lid for the airlock so wild spores cannot fall in and infect the beer.

I don't think a fan will cut it. its still an open hole. just snag an airlock.
 

Sea

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I assume Sea wants a fan there to keep air moving across the hole in the lid for the airlock so wild spores cannot fall in and infect the beer.

I don't think a fan will cut it. its still an open hole. just snag an airlock.


:D

Sorry, I thought my sarcasm would shine through the magical interwebz.

ALLWAYS protect your hard work from infection, the aforementioned tube in a tub of water will work in leiu of an airlock.

BTW: Never have a fan of any kind running while your beer is open to the atmosphere. It stirs up all kinds of nasty sh#t in the air, and INCREASES the chance of infection.
 

Rick500

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Except, eh, there's a hole in the airlock on purpose. :)
 

pen25

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have heard of condoms actually being used as co2 collectors so to speak. goto home depot if you dont have an lbhs near by. buy a fitting that will fit in the hole. and a barb on the other end. buy some hose. drop one end into a far and secure it. have thought about about doing this myself to make sure no blowup's. have seen someone use pvc pipe and some rubber tubing. need to find that site again but it was for a carboy.
 

Beertk

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see blow off tube. it works just as well for a quick ferment. it is simply a tube that goes into a cup of water. This serves exactly the same purpose. Don't let the lack of a airlock hold you back. When you see how the blow off tube works you will certainly understand why. BTW an active ferment requires a blow off none the less.
 

HOOTER

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see blow off tube. it works just as well for a quick ferment. it is simply a tube that goes into a cup of water. This serves exactly the same purpose. Don't let the lack of a airlock hold you back. When you see how the blow off tube works you will certainly understand why. BTW an active ferment requires a blow off none the less.
Yeah, always use a blowout tube for the first couple days of fermentation. Otherwise you'll have an airlock full of foam. I always have a bucket of Iodophor solution handy when I'm brewing and then use that to put the end of my blowout tube in when I'm all done.
 

pen25

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here is one of the ones i found.

i have also seen them use just pvc which was what i was looking for. no glue necessary is what they claimed for cleaning. but in my thinking there would be no way for suck back all the way up the tube. though i have been known to be wrong.
 

Sea

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I have several blowoff tubes, but haven't used one in quite some time. Unless you are pitching on a yeast cake, or a really big starter, primary in a 6 1/2-7 gal fermenter, and you'll need nothing more than an airlock, provided you keep you temp in range (too warm = very vigerous fermentation). Why clean a blowoff tube if it's not necessary? KISS.
 

MgMt_Home_Brew

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I use buckets with no lids to ferment and I simply cover the top with about 3 peices of plastic wrap and then put a large rubber band around to hold the plastic wrap tight to the side of the bucket. Then I pull a little bit of the plastic wrap out from under the rubber band to let CO2 push it's way out.
 

flyangler18

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I use buckets with no lids to ferment and I simply cover the top with about 3 peices of plastic wrap and then put a large rubber band around to hold the plastic wrap tight to the side of the bucket. Then I pull a little bit of the plastic wrap out from under the rubber band to let CO2 push it's way out.
Any particular reason that you haven't bought lids for those buckets? They're way cheap and you can drill a hole to fit a drilled rubber stopper and airlock. I can't help but think you are rolling the dice with infection possibilities.
 

Alemaker

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Any particular reason that you haven't bought lids for those buckets? They're way cheap and you can drill a hole to fit a drilled rubber stopper and airlock. I can't help but thinking you are rolling the dice with infection possibilities.

Lots of people "open" ferment. I will often just lay a towel over the top of the bucket to keep stuff from falling in. There's a lot of anecdotal evidence that says an open primary ferment will produce a cleaner tasting beer. Pitching large amounts of healthy yeast goes a long way in preventing infections. Secondary is still done with an airlock for oxidation reasons.
 

flyangler18

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Pitching large amounts of healthy yeast goes a long way in preventing infections. Secondary is still done with an airlock for oxidation reasons.
Well, there's the catch. If you are pitching an appropriate number of healthy cells, then infections are certainly less of an issue. However, when you direct pitch a Wyeast Activator or White Labs tube- you ain't getting an ideal cell count ;)
 

Alemaker

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Well, there's the catch. If you are pitching an appropriate number of healthy cells, then infections are certainly less of an issue. However, when you direct pitch a Wyeast Activator or White Labs tube- you ain't getting an ideal cell count ;)
True. I should remember that this is the beginners forum. :)
 

grasshopper1917

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I dont have an airlock for my primary. Just a plastic bucket and a lid - I 'burp' the lid every now and then during fermentation to let some gas escape. I have made 100 gallons of good beer that way - although there was one kit the coopers stout kit that has a wild fermentation. That one made a wee mess :D
 

MgMt_Home_Brew

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I think the plastic wrap works pretty well since the rubber band holds it tight to the side of the bucket except for the place where you pull it out.

Now why I decided to do it that way is simply because thats how I was told to do it and I have not had a problem yet.... @#%&* knock on wood :D

Ok I might be giving away my newbieness if I haven't already done so but ....Are the Wyeast Activator packs no good? Or are you just saying they are no good if you directly pitch the yeast in without breaking the pouch inside and letting it sit?
 

oberon567

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The WYeast and White Labs products both do not contain a large enough cell count for an "adequate" pitch, so you (usually) either need to pitch two or build yourself a starter.

Breaking the pouch on the WYeast is not really creating a starter, it is juts waking up the yeast cells so that when you pitch them they are active and not dormant.
 

Alemaker

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Ok I might be giving away my newbieness if I haven't already done so but ....Are the Wyeast Activator packs no good? Or are you just saying they are no good if you directly pitch the yeast in without breaking the pouch inside and letting it sit?

Even after activating it, you should still make a starter. A big healthy starter almost guarantees a beer, IMO. Everything from a cleaner ferment (less off flavors, undesired esters, etc.) to lowered chance of infection because you are giving the yeast a big advantage over accidentally introduced bacteria or wild yeast. Much, much, less chance of a stuck ferment as well.
 
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simat

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Ok good to know thanks guys... now back to the similarities between airlocks and condoms :)
So is there some pill my beer can take if I forget to use an airlock, which will stop something growing inside it?
 

HOOTER

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So is there some pill my beer can take if I forget to use an airlock, which will stop something growing inside it?
Just get yourself an airlock and make a yeast starter. Pitching a large amount of healthy yeast cells and creating a barrier that will keep out nasties is the "pill" your looking for.
 
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