Liquids in Airlock

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GTTailgater

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I have noticed that a few people mention putting liquids in the air lock other than water (whiskey and vodka were two that I remember). Can anyone explain what effect this has on the flavor of the beer? Are their other suggestions to replace the water?
 

Sir Humpsalot

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Affect on flavor is non-existent unless it happens to get sucked into the brew, in which case the beer will have a slight flavor of whatever got sucked in. Vodka is pretty flavorless.

Other options for airlock fluid include sanitizer or filtered water.

Some things I would NOT use include: Bleach solution (very bad idea), flavored alcohol (scotch, rum, etc., just because it'd be a waste), and rubbing alcohol.
 

Evan!

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It's got nothing to do with flavor or anything like that. The reason people suggested whiskey and vodka is that they're both distilled spirits, IOW high-alcohol, IOW sanitary liquids that will not harbor bacteria growth. The reason people put this in their airlocks is in case the airlock liquid gets sucked into the beer (usually when there's a large temp drop inside). Alternately, you can use star-san solution, et al, but the problem I've noticed with StarSan is that, because it's a foaming agent, vigorous airlock activity during primary fermentation causes the airlock liquid to foam up and possibly deplete to below the level of the airlock insert.
 

Sir Humpsalot

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Evan! said:
... the problem I've noticed with StarSan is that, because it's a foaming agent, vigorous airlock activity during primary fermentation causes the airlock liquid to foam up and possibly deplete to below the level of the airlock insert.
Very good point. I had an issue with that recently. I did it because it was convenient, but it's not my usual practice. The other problem with most sanitizers is that they lose effectiveness after 24 hours or so... at that point, all you've got in there is some really funky water. For those reasons, I just use everclear initially, then add water as needed...
 
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GTTailgater

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Thanks all!

I have to admit, I was a bit confused on how the liquid would initially effect the beer given normal circumstances. I believe I may have some ol' whiskey lying around somewhere that I can use. :)
 

BruDaddy

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If you're using a better bottle and happen to forget to remove the airlock when you pick it up, the airlock liquid will get sucked in. Not that I've ever done that (oh no!), but if I did, I would feel better knowing a little bit of vodka got sucked into my beer and not unsanitized water.
 

Captain Tex

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Speaking of airlocks, is there any functional difference between using a bubbler type and a three-piece? Is one preferred over the other?
 

the_bird

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I prefer the three piece simply because they can be cleaned out. When I finally get a chance to do some lagers, I'll probably use the bubbler kind for long-term aging just because you can see more easily that the beer is exerting pressure. For 99% of the time, though, there is no difference in functionality, just if you get krausen in a bubbler-type, it's trash since it can't really be cleaned.
 

Sir Humpsalot

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If you are ever brewing at 3am and realize you need another airlock, take a scrap of wood or tongue depresser, drill three holes in it, and run a tube up the first hole, down the second, and up the third. Affix one end to the carboy cap, and fill with water.

Instant airlock.
 

c.n.budz

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the_bird said:
For 99% of the time, though, there is no difference in functionality, just if you get krausen in a bubbler-type, it's trash since it can't really be cleaned.
I've had this happen a couple times, all you have to do is run some really hot water through it to get out the big stuff, then soak in oxyclean and rinse well with more hot water and they come out perfectly clean
 

LouT

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Or try cascade dishwash soap, I hear it cleans everything!
 
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