Author Topic: Primary without an airlock  (Read 3139 times)

Offline FLbrewer

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 651
    • View Profile
Primary without an airlock
« on: April 23, 2013, 05:17:25 AM »
Is it ok to not use an airlock or blow off tube for my primary? The reason I'm asking is because I may be using a swamp cooler (Igloo 70 quart) that fits a 6.5 gallon carboy with only mm to spare at the top with the lid on.
My other option is to use the ole' rubbermaid bucket. Thoughts? Thank you all.


Offline donsmitty

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 114
  • Colchester, CT
    • View Profile
Re: Primary without an airlock
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2013, 05:38:24 AM »
The primary reason for an airlock or blow-off tube is to prevent contamination.  Not sure how you do that without using one or the other.

Offline mtnrockhopper

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 3113
  • Delaware
    • View Profile
Re: Primary without an airlock
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2013, 05:38:58 AM »
Shouldn't be a problem. I'd probably put foil over the top to keep anything airborne from landing in it - at least until fermentation takes off. But there are a few pictures of completely open fermenters around this forum too.
Jimmy K

Delmarva United Homebrewers - President by inverse coup when the old president ousted himself.
AHA Member since 2006
BJCP: B0958

Offline jeffy

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2511
  • Tampa, Fl
    • View Profile
Re: Primary without an airlock
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2013, 06:49:52 AM »
I put a piece of aluminum foil on my carboys until the kreusen drops, then switch to an air lock.
Jeff Gladish, Tampa (989.3, 175.1 Apparent Rennarian)
Homebrewing since 1990
AHA member since 1991, now a lifetime member
BJCP judge since 1995

Offline morticaixavier

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 6051
  • Davis, CA
    • View Profile
    • The Best Artist in the WORLD!!!!!
Re: Primary without an airlock
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2013, 08:44:56 AM »
You also don't really need to keep the lid on the swamp cooler. I never did.

Just one note of caution (very very minor caution) if you are using those stick on Liquid crystal thermo strips they do not like to be submerged in water. they will freak out and never work again. Given that they cost all of 3 bucks this is not the end of the world but can be annoying. So if you use those and a swamp cooler the water should be far enough below the top level of the beer that you can put a strip on horizontally above the water level but below the beer level.
"Creativity is the residue of wasted time" - A. Einstein

Jonathan I Fuller

Offline klickitat jim

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 3046
    • View Profile
Re: Primary without an airlock
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2013, 09:38:24 AM »
Could get your DIY hat on and drill a hole in the cooler lid for the blowoff tube...

"Friends don't let friends drink bad beer"


Offline FLbrewer

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 651
    • View Profile
Primary without an airlock
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2013, 09:59:25 AM »
Some people have replied that you don't want a lid on a swamp cooler, so I'm confused. I would assume an igloo with a lid would stay more constant than an open bin of cold water, t shirt etc.

Offline HydraulicSammich

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 125
  • Logan, UT
    • View Profile
Re: Primary without an airlock
« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2013, 10:07:14 AM »
Not to worry.  The thermalmass of the liquid keeps the temp from changing rapidly.  I used Igloo Ice Coolers, somewhat of a square cooler, and cut a hole in the top for the lock.  I used one liter frozen bottles and a floating thermometer.  Of course all this is before freezers and temp controllers.  You would be good with the foil on the carboy if you choose that route 
AHA Member 900001775

Offline morticaixavier

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 6051
  • Davis, CA
    • View Profile
    • The Best Artist in the WORLD!!!!!
Re: Primary without an airlock
« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2013, 10:07:54 AM »
Some people have replied that you don't want a lid on a swamp cooler, so I'm confused. I would assume an igloo with a lid would stay more constant than an open bin of cold water, t shirt etc.

ahh I mis-understood.

If you are using a big cooler you can despense with the water all together! cover the hole where the airlock would go with foil and put the frozen bottles right in there with it.
"Creativity is the residue of wasted time" - A. Einstein

Jonathan I Fuller

Offline FLbrewer

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 651
    • View Profile
Primary without an airlock
« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2013, 10:24:30 AM »
Thank you for the replies. Whatever I do I think I will bypass the airlock for a blowoff tube. Seems to be the consensus here. Maybe a blowoff tube into a bucket of sani? One explosion inside the house and this hobby will become much more difficult!

Offline FLbrewer

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 651
    • View Profile
Primary without an airlock
« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2013, 10:53:58 AM »
Can't I completely avoid the blow off tube by brewing less beer (forgive me)?
I'll only be using primary (6.5 gallon carboy) and if I brew a smaller batch, maybe 2-4 gallons vs the 5 that the kit came with, wouldn't this eliminate any chance of an explosion or stuff coming out of a blow off tube?
While this may be sacrilegious, there is no way I can reasonably drink 5 gallons of beer is short order. I also like the idea of smaller batches for less bottles to clean out, brewing more often, etc.

Offline morticaixavier

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 6051
  • Davis, CA
    • View Profile
    • The Best Artist in the WORLD!!!!!
Re: Primary without an airlock
« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2013, 10:56:44 AM »
Can't I completely avoid the blow off tube by brewing less beer (forgive me)?
I'll only be using primary (6.5 gallon carboy) and if I brew a smaller batch, maybe 2-4 gallons vs the 5 that the kit came with, wouldn't this eliminate any chance of an explosion or stuff coming out of a blow off tube?
While this may be sacrilegious, there is no way I can reasonably drink 5 gallons of beer is short order. I also like the idea of smaller batches for less bottles to clean out, brewing more often, etc.

If you keep the temp under control (mid 60s) and you put only 5 gallons in a 6.5 gallon bucket you are likely golden on the blow off front. Most out of control blow off situations come from too high fermentation temps. you might get a little krausen (the foam on fermenting beer) out the top of the fermenter or thorugh the blow off tube/airlock but it will easily be contained by the cooler.

smaller batches are great, a lot of folks on here brew 2-4 gallon batches. However, I think you will be surprised at how quickly 5 gallons of beer can disappear when you brewed it yourself. and if you keep it cool it's good for months (depending on style) or years even. I have about 2.5 gallons of a barley wine I brewed in early 2011 still in the closet and it just keeps getting better.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2013, 10:58:26 AM by morticaixavier »
"Creativity is the residue of wasted time" - A. Einstein

Jonathan I Fuller

Offline tschmidlin

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 8195
  • Redmond, WA
    • View Profile
Re: Primary without an airlock
« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2013, 11:31:07 AM »
Some people have replied that you don't want a lid on a swamp cooler, so I'm confused. I would assume an igloo with a lid would stay more constant than an open bin of cold water, t shirt etc.
If you are relying on evaporative cooling to maintain your temp, which is what a swamp cooler does, you need to leave the lid off for it to do its work.

If you are using ice water bottles then you are relying on that to cool your fermentation and it is not a swamp cooler.  It's just a cooler.  Keep the lid on.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline FLbrewer

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 651
    • View Profile
Primary without an airlock
« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2013, 11:33:13 AM »
Which works better?

Offline Pi

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 331
  • "I would never trade tomorrow for today"
    • View Profile
Re: Primary without an airlock
« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2013, 11:44:27 AM »
Just made me think. What if you just took a brand new cooler, lathered the whole thing with StarSan, and pitched directly in the cooler.
...Hmmmm(the sound of wheels turning)... what if i could make my chest freezer a sanitary watertight/beertight, temperature controlled  lagering tank?
Any ideas?
Seriously though, I have a 15 gallon glass wine carboy-type vessel which is just a wee wider than my chest freezer. I like to occasionally do 10+ G. batches and i don't like having to split batches into 2 or more fermenters (carboys).     
Primary:Stella Rosemary IPA
Lagering: Sto Lat Gratzer
Drinking: Whenever I'm not working or driving