Me Too - What Happened?

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Well-Known Member
Apr 19, 2005
Reaction score
Portland, Oregon (Beervana)
Okay so I brewed my first batch last Monday. It is a Portland Style Hefe. Everything went great. The hydrometer reading was 1.054 before I pitched the yeast into the plastic primary (Monday 5-9-05 @11pm).

My problem is that I totally forgot to top it off to 5 gallons.

So anyway....... I experienced a violent fermentation after 24 hours. I installed a blow-off tube after discovering my airlock had shot to the celing and krausen was everywhere. Saturday fermentation slowed down to about a bubble every 30-40 sec. so I racked to glass secondary (Saturday 5-14-05 @ 4pm) (hydometer reading about 1.015). We'll thats when I realized I forgot to top off to 5 gallons, as I said above. I was probably about 3.75 to 4 gallons. I was pissed because I really want to get my full two cases worth of beer.

I called my local HBS for advice, and asked if it would hurt to top off this late in the game. They advised me that as long as I boil the water first, or use some sort of filtration, it should be fine. And to make sure the temp is around 68-72 deg. before I introduce the new water to my wort.

Well I took that advice, topped up to 5 gal in my carboy, and now I have had zero activity from my airlock ever since. I don't want to mess with it anymore until I get some solid advice on what to do. It has now been 7 solid days. Should I go ahead and wait it out? Add more yeast? take another reading, and if it is around 1.010 just bottle up?

I am a complete novice at this, and I know I shouldda left it alone. Then I wouldda had about 4 gallons of rich, strong beer. Any help would be nice!!!
Sorry to hear about your predicament.

I just use filtered tap water when I top off, but then again that's before adding the yeast.

I don't think you really have anything to worry about. Top it off and see what happens.
I agree, don't worry. If you boiled the water first, and then let it cool down, everything is ok. Your beer may be a little weaker than you'd like, but it will still be very good.

The airlock is a poor indication of activity because, if I remember right, the yeast will crank away for a while, then as more and more yeast falls dormant, activity tapers off. I've read that at that point, there may not be enough pressure to move the bubble in the airlock, or the amount of CO2 escaping through the lid is about the same as the amount being produced so the bubbler doesn't bubble. Many many brewers have mistaken this for the end of fermentation when, in fact, the beer may still have a ways to go.

Anyhow, wait it out. Don't pitch any more yeast, I think you'd be wasting yeast if you do that. Take a hydrometer reading 2-3 weeks after boiling, and go from there.

Don't worry. :)
I really appreciate your quick responses. I'll just leave the stuff alone for a week or two. Locked away in my bedroom closet. I guess I just shouldn't worry. I am just a little paranoid that I am going to ruin my first batch somehow. :D

It's natural to worry about it, but look at it this way. People have been making beer for what... 5000 years? It wasn't until the last couple hundred years that this process was actually understood or anything remotely sanitary was devised. If they could do it back then, we should have no problem. :)
I think it's been over 8000 years, but what's that amongst drinking buddies?

And that's only written history. How much history does mankind really have before we learned how to read, write and speak is the interesting question........