I think my first batch is bad

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Well-Known Member
Jan 22, 2008
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It has been 4 days since I brewed my first batch, and I am still getting no action out of the airlock. There was Krausen at first but now it has gone down. I know you can't judge if it is fermenting judging by the airlock but here is the reason I think it might be bad.

First of all, I used water out of my shower to fill it up to the five gallon mark because the fermenter fit nicely in there. I thought it would be okay to do, but now I am thinking it might not have been a good idea. Has anyone else done this in the past?

Second, I didn't think that I needed my Siphon until transfering to the bottling bucket so I didn't sanatize it. Well I needed it to get the beer into my test tube to get the OG. I washed my hands well and the test tube was all sanatized, and I stuck my hand in there to fill it up. I'm thinking this was probably a bad idea. Am I right?

So anyways tomorrow I am going to get a gravity reading and see if it is fermenting. In the case that it is still around 1.045, is there anything that I can do to salvage the beer or should I toss it and try again?

Oh....and I didn't rehydrate the yeast before I pitched it.

Any advice on ways to get around my mistakes for my next batch would be greatly appreciated.
Relax, have a beer...and see what happens after you have it in the bottles for 3 weeks...It's really really hard to ruin your beer...Honest it is...

Here's a sanitization tip for you..I have a 5 gallon soysauce bucket. When I'm brewing, or bottling I fill it with 4 gallons of water and a little less than a full tablespoon of Idophor sanitizer and keep it on the floor near my stove. Anything that is going to touch my beer stays in there until I'm ready for it...and after a quick rinse, it goes back in there..even if it's just for a 30 second dip...I also dunk my hands repeatedly in it...especially if my hands are going anywhere neer my brew...

Having the bucket nearby ensures that anything I grab to do something...even it it's a pair of tongs to retreive the measuring spoon I may have dropped into the brewpot while adding irish moss, can be quickly sanitized.
If you had a krausen, you had fermentation, so I wouldn't be worried about the lack of airlock activity.

1) Probably not the best idea to use tap water for top-off as it may increase the chance for infection, but some guys do it with no problems. Either way, an infection would have no impact on whether or not you get fermentation (often infections lead to runaway fermentations)

2) In the future, sanitize everything that will come into contact with your wort post boil and I wouldn't stick my hand in the wort but again, since it was clean, you may be okay.

In general, I wouldn't worry until you 1) take a reading and discover fermentation has not occurred or 2) have a taste and realize it is infected.
Relax. It is not F@#$$D until it tastes like vinegar or stuff is growing in it.

Move it out of your cold basemsnt(baseless assumption) and you will probably get some more activity. And yes, check the gravity.
All you can do is wait it out. Since you had krausen, fermentation did happen, I'd wait a full week before taking a hydrometer reading. You definately need to work on your sanitation process which is probably the most important aspect for sucess in brewing. Filling up the fermenter with water from the shower was probably not a good idea.

Check out www.howtobrew.com if you haven't already to get a good idea of the whole process.

Again, wait it out. Beer can be forgiving, and if it ferments out and has no obvious signs of infection, bottle it and drink it.
Krausening is a better sign of fermentation than airlock activity. Most likely you have a leak somewhere and the C02 and pressure generated during fermentation "short circuited" the airlock and when right around (path of least resistance). Are you using a bucket or carboy? Most bucket lids do NOT seal well and it's much less resistance for CO2 to go through the gaps in the lid than your airlock. FWIW, I thought the same thing on my first batch and it turned out fine.

Take another gravity reading, if you're ~ 1/4-1/3 of your OG then you had a good fermentation.
Think your brew should be ok, as others have said you had krausen so you had some form of fermentation. Since it has only been 4 days of fermentation just give it time. Even if the gravity has only dropped .010 then you have have some fermentation, let it sit a few days or better yet a week.

Sanitation wasn't the greatest but I don't think it will ruin it. Yes sanitation is important but sometimes I think people can go a little over board, better safe then sorry maybe. But Like Revvy said it is pretty tough to ruin beer, it can take a few bumps.
There was Krausen at first but now it has gone down.

bingo fermentation!

First of all, I used water out of my shower to fill it up to the five gallon mark because the fermenter fit nicely in there. I thought it would be okay to do, but now I am thinking it might not have been a good idea. Has anyone else done this in the past?

personally i don't shower with my fermenters... :D

i disagree somewhat about tap water being unsanitary - they load it full of chlorine and chlorimaines - but perrhaps the bath fixtures might be somewhat less than sanitary.

don't sweat it - yea i know hard to do with your first one. but serious i bet in a month you will be looking back thinking: pffftt nbd.

and if not and you somehow produce some off flavoring of infection - you'll be more experienced next time.

i look back on some of the horrid conditions i brewed my first beers in and shudder. but mostly they turned out ok.
Fill the siphon hose up with water and then attach it to the racking cane. drop the other end into a bucket or something to start the siphon and then clamp it off until you move it to whatever you want to siphon to.