Author Topic: Need opinions over lost airlock  (Read 2747 times)

Offline frochild

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Need opinions over lost airlock
« on: February 13, 2012, 03:32:07 AM »
I am currently brewing a lager. It has been three weeks since I pitched the yeast.  The temperature has been consistently 54 deg, although I suspect it took quite several days for the beer to cool off ( another long story). I racked the beer at 10 days ( the earliest I could do it). Prior to racking there had been no noticeable fermentation for several days, I suspect this due to the initial warmer temps.   

To make a long story short, my 21 month old must have gotten to the beer and pulled off the plastic portion of the airlock.  I don't know how long it has been since it happened, but my guess is that it occurred 12-24 hours before I discovered it.  I immediately sanitized the the removed part and replaced it.  The question is, should I let it sit for another week as I planned or should I go ahead a start bottling to head off any infection? I am weary of checking SG as I am not sure if the upper parts of the carboy may have become contaminated.  Any insight would be great. 

Fro

Offline tygo

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Re: Need opinions over lost airlock
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2012, 04:34:17 AM »
Well, it might be contaminated.  But my bigger concern here would be oxidation.  A lot of air probably got to your beer in 24 hours.  Don't worry about the SG, unless you don't already know your FG and want to.  It's done fermenting.  

Bottle it up and once it's fully carbed then chill it.  If you're bottle conditioning the refermentation in the bottle may help to clean up some of the oxygen that may be in there. 
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Offline frochild

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Re: Need opinions over lost airlock
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2012, 05:17:43 AM »
Ok, got some more information.  It was the wife who dropped something on it, not realizing the airlock fell off.  I estimate the time it was off was about 12 hours.  Bottling today will be close to impossible, but I will pull it off if I need to.  So my second question is, how important is it that I bottle it now as opposed to say tomorrow morning or afternoon?  I am just trying to weigh all options. 

Fro

Offline majorvices

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Re: Need opinions over lost airlock
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2012, 05:46:30 AM »
I'd be willing to bet it is fine. I don't even use an airlock until fermentation is finished. If you had Co2 still in suspension in the beer it probably protected the beer from oxidation and contamination.

RDWHAHB.
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Offline frochild

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Re: Need opinions over lost airlock
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2012, 06:17:38 AM »
I had thought as much.  Usually I find the yeast holds some Co2 in it, even if there is not a lot of yeast after racking.  However, I am still a little concerned  that because it was already done fermenting prior to racking there was much less co2 in it to begin with (but what can I do but hope it still comes out good).  And keeping that in mind, is it worth while to rack the lager after it's one fermenting because, even with the best siphoning technique, there is going to be a least 1.5 gallons of air left at the top of the carboy.  This may seem like a silly question, but I am told the small amount of air at the top of a bottle can ruin a beer.


Offline oscarvan

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Re: Need opinions over lost airlock
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2012, 07:53:05 AM »
CO2 is heavier than air. Weeks after I remove the buckets from the freezers they ferment in I can stick my nose in there and get a CO2 burn.

Thus, when the airlock is off, unless there is a strong airflow across the hole to suck the CO2 out, my bet is that the space above your beer is mostly, if not all, CO2 and thus your beer is fine.

Since it has fermented, any bacterial intrusion will also be of a low risk.

I'd let is sit if I were you, then bottle it and don't worry about it.
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Offline jeffy

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Re: Need opinions over lost airlock
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2012, 08:32:16 AM »
I had thought as much.  Usually I find the yeast holds some Co2 in it, even if there is not a lot of yeast after racking.  However, I am still a little concerned  that because it was already done fermenting prior to racking there was much less co2 in it to begin with (but what can I do but hope it still comes out good).  And keeping that in mind, is it worth while to rack the lager after it's one fermenting because, even with the best siphoning technique, there is going to be a least 1.5 gallons of air left at the top of the carboy.  This may seem like a silly question, but I am told the small amount of air at the top of a bottle can ruin a beer.



The yeast will scavenge the oxygen in the head space of the bottle during bottle-conditioning.  That's why bottle-conditioned beers do better than beers bottled from a keg in long term storage.
I'd say you're fine to bottle whenever you want.  I seldom even use air locks anymore for the first two weeks of fermentation.
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Need opinions over lost airlock
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2012, 11:29:19 AM »
Wait - you are brewing a lager and racked it after 10 days.  Unless you are 100% sure it is finished there is no way I would bottle this without taking a FG reading.
Tom Schmidlin

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Re: Need opinions over lost airlock
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2012, 11:34:40 AM »
also, if something got into the fermenter I don't see how bottling will do anything to salvage the brew. I don't think it's a problem at all but if it is bottling now is not going to help. why not wait two or three weeks and taste a sample. then you can save yourself the trouble of bottling if it has been infected.
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Offline punatic

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Re: Need opinions over lost airlock
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2012, 12:25:15 PM »
I'd be willing to bet it is fine. I don't even use an airlock until fermentation is finished. If you had Co2 still in suspension in the beer it probably protected the beer from oxidation and contamination.

RDWHAHB.

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I ferment in open fermenters with no problems.  Once the fermentation is almost complete I rack to closed 2ndary fermenters under an airlock.

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Offline bluesman

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Re: Need opinions over lost airlock
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2012, 08:03:47 PM »
Check the gravity and put the sanitized airlock back on then check the gravity again in 48hrs. If it remains unchanged you can prepare to bottle the beer. Terminal gravity must be met to avoid bottle bombs.
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Offline euge

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Re: Need opinions over lost airlock
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2012, 08:45:56 PM »
You are most certainly screwed. But, bottle anyway and send me the beer. PM me. I will tell you how it turns out. :)
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Offline bluesman

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Re: Need opinions over lost airlock
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2012, 08:47:41 PM »
You are most certainly screwed. But, bottle anyway and send me the beer. PM me. I will tell you how it turns out. :)

That's not very nice.  :-* :P :)
Ron Price

Offline thomasbarnes

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Re: Need opinions over lost airlock
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2012, 11:24:33 PM »
Oxidation of the beer is also likely to be minimal since it was just sitting still in the keg, rather than being sloshed around.

If you just lost the top of a triple-ripple or 3-part airlock but the liquid in the lock is still there, then you're fine.

If you lost the entire airlock, but the stopper or carboy cap is still on, unless the beer was lagering in an extremely dusty, dirty or moldy environment, you're probably also fine.

If the entire carboy or bucket was uncovered, then there's a chance you've lost the CO2 blanket and significant mold or bacteria got in. In that case, consider bottling if SG has dropped to about where you want it and if a sample doesn't taste green (i.e., notable diacetyl and/or acetaldehyde).

In any case, as the beer carbonates in the bottle, taste it periodically for signs of bacterial infection - thinner body, off-flavors, excessive carbonation. If you think that the batch is going bad, drink it soon! :)

Offline frochild

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Re: Need opinions over lost airlock
« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2012, 08:00:54 AM »
Thanks guys for your opinion. What I really needed to know was how important was bottling given the situation.  This is because, if I had to put my money on it, I would guess the beer is finished brewing.   And if bottle was going to help the beer minimize damage from the current situation by eating of o2 from brew and heading off infection with a little more fermenting, then I felt it worth the risk.  I think I will just go back to my original plan which is checking gravities after 4 weeks of lagering and if the gravity is unchanged, bottling it.