Author Topic: Two questions  (Read 1088 times)

Offline quest4watneys

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Two questions
« on: January 18, 2011, 06:13:15 PM »
I just placed my very first brew (Russian Imperial Stout) in a fermenter yesterday and I've got a ton of bubbling activity in my 3-piece airlock which means I haven't done anything yet to kill the yeast :0)

1. Does the temperature of the fermenting wort rise as the process gathers strength? I have a stick-on thermometer on the fermenting bucket and it's risen about 6 degrees (from 64 to 70 degrees) in the last 24 hours. The ambient temperature of the room has stayed (according to another thermometer I have sitting on the fermenter) at about 66-67 degrees.

2. Is it 'normal' to see foam in the neck of the airlock?

I might add it's a 5 gallon batch in a 6.5 gallon fermenting bucket.

Thanks again!
« Last Edit: January 18, 2011, 06:14:49 PM by quest4watneys »
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Offline tom

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Re: Two questions
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2011, 06:28:19 PM »
Yes, fermentation creates heat. And lots of sugar with lots of yeast make lots of heat.

Can you put it into a sink or tub of water? That will do a lot to keep the temperature below 70. Make sure the water temperature is in the low 60's before you put the fermenter in. The higher it goes, the more off-flavors they make.

And yes, the foaming into the neck is normal.
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Offline quest4watneys

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Re: Two questions
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2011, 07:09:25 PM »
It seems to have stabilized at about 71-72 degrees. Should I leave it alone or move it to a tub to lower the temp? I think the kit maker recommeded a range of 64-72. Cutting it kind of close huh? And also, there is some gunk really building up in the airlock neck. Should I remove it and clean it or leave it alone? Thanks for the responses!
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Offline hokerer

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Re: Two questions
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2011, 07:14:08 PM »
It seems to have stabilized at about 71-72 degrees. Should I leave it alone or move it to a tub to lower the temp? I think the kit maker recommeded a range of 64-72. Cutting it kind of close huh? And also, there is some gunk really building up in the airlock neck. Should I remove it and clean it or leave it alone? Thanks for the responses!

In general, keeping things in the lower end of those ranges will yield you the best beer.  

As for the gunk, you need to be careful that it doesn't build up enough to clog the airlock - that happens and you can end up with a volcano.  If you think it's getting close to clogging, just sanitize and swap in another airlock (if you've got one).  Or you can remove, clean, re-sanitize, and replace the airlock.  Just cover the airlock opening with aluminum foil while you're cleaning.
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Offline quest4watneys

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Re: Two questions
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2011, 07:51:11 PM »
Thanks hokerer and Tom for the responses but here's another question. I just cleaned the airlock and replaced it but the problem seems to be rapidly rebuilding. I read something about a blow-off line? Would I just use the line from my auto siphon and what do I blow it off into?
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Offline hokerer

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Re: Two questions
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2011, 08:21:31 PM »
A blowoff tube is simply a hose, in place of the airlock.  The other end of that hose is submerged is some sort of container (like a bucket) large enough to contain any blowoff that you might get.  Put enough sanitizer in the bucket to cover the end of the hose.  That'll effectively form an "airlock".
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Offline a10t2

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Re: Two questions
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2011, 10:38:31 PM »
If you don't have insects in your "brewery" you could just cover the hole with foil or a paper towel or something.
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Offline zorch

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Re: Two questions
« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2011, 12:37:13 PM »
Thanks hokerer and Tom for the responses but here's another question. I just cleaned the airlock and replaced it but the problem seems to be rapidly rebuilding. I read something about a blow-off line? Would I just use the line from my auto siphon and what do I blow it off into?

You can attach a tube directly to your airlock to create a blow-off tube.    Just take off the cap and the middle floaty bit and shove your tubing right over the stem:


Stick the other end of the tube into a container of water to form an airlock.

Even though you don't have the 'bandwidth' of a big tube, this works pretty good.   It works even better if you knock out the little bits of plastic at the bottom of the stem (the part that you shove through the stopper that forms an 'X') so that there's more room for the glop to flow through.    Basically, as long as you aren't asking the yeast goop to push through a tiny hole, or change directions suddenly, you _usually_ don't need a huge tube...




Offline ipaguy

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Re: Two questions
« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2011, 01:33:54 PM »
One thing the OP didn't mention is what he's using in his airlock.  If it's plain water, I would be more concerned about the wort bubbling though making for a dandy bacteria culture medium that might get sucked back in.  If the OP did have plain water in the airlock I would strongly recommend against yanking the thing out, as this could suck contaminated water into the fermenter!
I would recommend that he first use something like a turkey baster to replace the liquid with sanitizer before trying to remove the airlock.   When I've had similar problems I've gone to using StarSan at 5X the recommended concentration, just to make sure that the pH doesn't get buffered to a point where the sanitizer is ineffective.  +1 on removing the 'x' at the bottom of the airlock.  Airlocks are cheap.  They also break occasionally.  It makes a lot of sense to keep a couple spares on hand.  When changing airlocks I place a StarSan wet sponge over the hole.
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Offline quest4watneys

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Re: Two questions
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2011, 06:52:06 PM »
ipaguy, I didn't have sanitized water in the airlock, just bottled water. Hopefully that doesn't turn out to be a costly lesson but if it does, I know better next time :)
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Offline oscarvan

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Re: Two questions
« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2011, 07:03:16 PM »
ipaguy, I didn't have sanitized water in the airlock, just bottled water. Hopefully that doesn't turn out to be a costly lesson but if it does, I know better next time :)

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Re: Two questions
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2011, 07:54:34 PM »
One thing the OP didn't mention is what he's using in his airlock.  If it's plain water, I would be more concerned about the wort bubbling though making for a dandy bacteria culture medium that might get sucked back in.  If the OP did have plain water in the airlock I would strongly recommend against yanking the thing out, as this could suck contaminated water into the fermenter!
I would recommend that he first use something like a turkey baster to replace the liquid with sanitizer before trying to remove the airlock.   When I've had similar problems I've gone to using StarSan at 5X the recommended concentration, just to make sure that the pH doesn't get buffered to a point where the sanitizer is ineffective.  +1 on removing the 'x' at the bottom of the airlock.  Airlocks are cheap.  They also break occasionally.  It makes a lot of sense to keep a couple spares on hand.  When changing airlocks I place a StarSan wet sponge over the hole.

FTR I rarely even use airlocks until fermentation is close to finished, and while I agree this is a minor concern it really isn't a major one. The pressure of Co2 coming out of the fermenter will keep 99.9% of airborn contaminants at bay. Near the end, when fermentations starts to slow, that is when you want to make sure the airlock is clean and put back in place. Otherwise it is not much of a concern.
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