Author Topic: What's going on here? (Pic)  (Read 1808 times)

Offline box299

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What's going on here? (Pic)
« on: April 27, 2010, 06:56:25 PM »
I followed the recipe for Pliny the Elder on Sunday and this is what I saw Monday evening. 

What do I do here?  I replaced the airlock with a clean sterilized one... but then it didn't take long to boil over. 

What should I do with this?



It smells great... do I ride it out or keep replacing the airlock?

Offline socalbrewer

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Re: What's going on here? (Pic)
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2010, 06:59:10 PM »
Best bet is use a blow off tube. Your yeast are going to town.
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Offline gail

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Re: What's going on here? (Pic)
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2010, 03:46:43 AM »
Looks like a very healthy, active ferment, no need to worry about the activity level but socalbrewer has the best advice for a blow off tube.  Until you're able to do that, keep replacing your airlock with a sanitized one.  Sometimes the yeast can harden up in those little holes, creating so much pressure from the CO2 being produced that it can blow your airlock to the ceiling (now that's a mess).  Not that it's ever happened to anyone I know... ;)

Offline majorvices

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Re: What's going on here? (Pic)
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2010, 04:26:15 AM »
What temp did you pitch the yeast and what temp is it now? How large head space did you leave yourself? Warm picthing and fermentation temps tend to increase blow off potential. Obviously head space contributes as well.

You can rig a blow off tube really easily, just get a piece of tubing that fits over the neck on the inside of the airlock and make it long enough to reach into a container filled with water or star san to contain the mess.
Keith Y.
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Offline akr71

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Re: What's going on here? (Pic)
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2010, 09:15:59 AM »
I've been told that skimming the hot break helps prevent foaming over in a really active fermentation.  I'm too lazy to skim, so I can't comment whether or not it makes a difference.

A blow off tube sounds like a much easier solution.
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Offline bluesman

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Re: What's going on here? (Pic)
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2010, 09:52:39 AM »
What temp did you pitch the yeast and what temp is it now? How large head space did you leave yourself? Warm picthing and fermentation temps tend to increase blow off potential. Obviously head space contributes as well.

You can rig a blow off tube really easily, just get a piece of tubing that fits over the neck on the inside of the airlock and make it long enough to reach into a container filled with water or star san to contain the mess.

What the major said.

I've had some Belgian stains react like this before. Head space is paramount as well as a blow off tube. Without knowing the details of your ferment I'd say there's one hell of a party happening inside your fermenter.
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Offline richardt

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Re: What's going on here? (Pic)
« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2010, 10:21:06 AM »
This is why I always put the carboys in the tub!  

The purpose of the airlock is to keep airborne bacteria and wild yeast out of the wort.
When the airlock gets contaminated with krausen, you should clean it.
Back when I was just getting started with brewing, I stored the Mr Beer keg on the upper shelf of the hallway closet near the kitchen.  On a batch of RIS, the lid got blocked and blew a bunch of beer all over the hallway closet and went all over a nice wool/cashmere winter overcoat.  Took a long time to clean that off.
Experience is such a brutal teacher!

I sanitize a plastic cup and place it over the opening after removing the airlock [+stopper].
A small kid's cup works fine for covering the airlock hole on flat bucket lids, while a larger and heavier [stadium-18 oz] cup or plastic gallon pitcher works better for carboys and better bottles.
It's good and quick fix if you're in a hurry out the door and don't have time to clean the mess properly.

When you do have the time, clean the airlock and wipe the carboy neck with isopropyl alcohol and reattach.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2010, 02:11:19 PM by richardt »

Offline rjharper

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Re: What's going on here? (Pic)
« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2010, 01:35:58 PM »
I learnt to switch to a blow off tube after I pitched an oatmeal stout, then went away for the weekend.  Came home to find a plugged airlock on the floor, and hops/yeast all over the ceiling.  Had to redecorate because of that one.  Stout was still good though...
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Offline majorvices

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Re: What's going on here? (Pic)
« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2010, 03:04:34 PM »
This is why I always put the carboys in the tub!  

The purpose of the airlock is to keep airborne bacteria and wild yeast out of the wort.
When the airlock gets contaminated with krausen, you should clean it.
.

I wouldn;t say it is "contaminated" with krausen though. As long as there is positive pressure coming out of the carboy it is almost impossible for an infection to take hold. If, for instance, he has his fermenter in a "wet area" and doesn;t mind cleaning up the miess he could simply leave it until the krausen starts to drop.

Plus, (I'll say it again just to make sure everyone is listening  :P ): if you pitch the right amount yeast (ie: that usually means making a starter with liquid yeast) at teh right temp (that means low to mid 60s for most ale strains) you won't get very many blow offs. I very, very rarely get one. If, OTOH, you pitch your yeast and leave it in your 70 degree living room with no way to reign in the temp - yeah, its probably going to go all over the place (and give you a beer with more off flavors to boot.)
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Offline The Professor

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Re: What's going on here? (Pic)
« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2010, 07:53:12 PM »
How big is your fermenter, what's the batch size (5 gal?), and how much yeast did you pitch?  I've had some turbulent ferments on my stronger brews, but never a blowout (and I don't use a blowoff tube)...but I do use a 7gal acid carboy for my fermentations. 

I don't like the blowoff tube concept (why lose all that beer and yeast)    ....maybe  in the future you might consider fermenting in a larger vessel to contain the process.
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Offline tygo

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Re: What's going on here? (Pic)
« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2010, 08:21:59 PM »
I don't like the blowoff tube concept (why lose all that beer and yeast)    ....maybe  in the future you might consider fermenting in a larger vessel to contain the process.

If you run the blowoff tube into a sanitized container which contains cooled boiled water (and with some sanitized foil applied here and there to keep the system closed) the yeast at least is not wasted.  I have a few jars of yeast in the fridge that I've collected that way.
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Offline richardt

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Re: What's going on here? (Pic)
« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2010, 08:23:28 PM »
This is why I always put the carboys in the tub!  

The purpose of the airlock is to keep airborne bacteria and wild yeast out of the wort.
When the airlock gets contaminated with krausen, you should clean it.
.

I wouldn;t say it is "contaminated" with krausen though. As long as there is positive pressure coming out of the carboy it is almost impossible for an infection to take hold. If, for instance, he has his fermenter in a "wet area" and doesn;t mind cleaning up the miess he could simply leave it until the krausen starts to drop.

Plus, (I'll say it again just to make sure everyone is listening  :P ): if you pitch the right amount yeast (ie: that usually means making a starter with liquid yeast) at teh right temp (that means low to mid 60s for most ale strains) you won't get very many blow offs. I very, very rarely get one. If, OTOH, you pitch your yeast and leave it in your 70 degree living room with no way to reign in the temp - yeah, its probably going to go all over the place (and give you a beer with more off flavors to boot.)

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/contaminated
Call it what you want.  I use Better Bottles for fermentation and a three-piece airlock filled with cheap vodka.  The lid of the airlock has holes in it.  The cheap vodka presents a hostile environment to wild bacteria or yeast that may drift into the airlock via the small holes in the lid.  If Krausen or wort joins the party in the airlock—then I’m not so sure it’s such a hostile environment anymore.  The airlock tends to have some of its liquid aspirated back into the bottle during handling of the airlock stopper and/or the better bottle (e.g., during transfers).
Call me over-protective of my beer or even paranoid, but I’m not chancing a potentially contaminated solution within my airlock being aspirated into my Better Bottle.  As soon as I see a “contaminated” or “defiled” airlock, it gets cleaned and replaced ASAP.
I wish I had a temp-controlled fermentation fridge, but, for now, it’s the tub.  My Belgians don’t mind.
And, since I've began using Fermcap-S (anti-foaming agent) for both my yeast starters and my fermenters, I've not had an issue with excessive krausen, even with the reduced headspace of the Better Bottles (6 gal) or even the SS Corny kegs (5 gal), causing a blow-off.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2010, 08:25:26 PM by richardt »

Offline majorvices

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Re: What's going on here? (Pic)
« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2010, 11:01:33 AM »
The point I was making is that with positive Co2 pressure you are not likely to get contamination. I don't even use an airlock until the end of fermentation. Just a piece of foil over the opening of the fermenter.
Keith Y.
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Offline richardt

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Re: What's going on here? (Pic)
« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2010, 11:48:08 AM »
I agree with you there (CO2 positive pressure).  That's why I use the sanitized inverted plastic cups or gallon jugs sometimes in lieu of the airlock (especially if it is fouled up).

I once was short an airlock and plunger, so I improvised and made an aluminum foil "blow off tube."
Even though the ID of this apparatus was at least 2 inches, the krausen was so vigorous (like the pic in the OP), and the foam so dense, that it carried the aluminum foil tube off the carboy.

By the time I discovered it had happened, it was still in high krausen, so I was able to take a sanitized spoon and skim off the krausen that had escaped the carboy, clean the neck and lip with isopropyl alcohol wipes, and switch to the inverted cups.

That's when I decided to switch to a heavier, readily available, and easier to sanitize apparatus (plastic cup or gallon jug) when the situation called for it.  I've not had a problem with a blow off tube or airlock popping off since.  Plus, I use the anti-foaming agent (Fermcap-S)--which I earnestly recommend to anyone who doesn't have much headspace in the fermenter and/or doesn't have a fermentation fridge.  My wife tolerates my brewing, but she definitely appreciates that I'm not as messy anymore.

Offline bigfatjoey

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Re: What's going on here? (Pic)
« Reply #14 on: June 02, 2010, 04:40:14 PM »
This happened to my first beer.  A learning experience, but the beer was still good.

I still think that beer turned out to be one of my favorite beers to date. 
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