Not Much Activity

What went wrong? Was this supposed to happen? Should I throw it out? What do I do now?

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Not Much Activity

Postby BobbyK » Sun Nov 03, 2002 2:35 pm

I just brewed my first batch, making a extract stout. I had it in my primary fermenter for 4 days. For the last day in the primary and now that I have transferred it to the secondary (carboy), I'm not getting a whole lot of action. My fermentation lock is 'popping' once every three minutes. Is that normal at that stage? My hydrometer read 1.048 after brewing and 1.017 today when I did the transfer.
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Perfectly Normal

Postby l48shark » Sun Nov 03, 2002 2:54 pm

Yes, this sounds just fine. You will see a lot of activity for a few days after pitching the yeast followed by very little visible activity for the rest of the fermentation process.

The guys at the brewshop yesterday were recounting a few support calls from their customers. One called in with this concern. They asked him a few questions:

"Did the airlock bubble a lot for a few days?"
"Yes, it did at first."

"Did the activity taper off?"
"Yes, after a few days."

"OK, what is it doing now?"
"Well, since it stopped doing anything, I poured it out."

<brief pause> "Did it smell good?"

LOL!

P.S. Good thinking to use a hydrometer. Your numbers look good, so that should be reassuring that everything is OK.

Cheers,
Ford
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agreed

Postby stouts » Sun Nov 03, 2002 3:27 pm

when fermintation kicks off good you will have alot of action for the first 2-4 days or so , and after racking it there should be very little left to ferment so the airlock movement will greatly slow down or stop completely. it should be fine
jay
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Another dumb question

Postby BobbyK » Sun Nov 03, 2002 5:16 pm

Thanks! It looks and smells good so far, so I'm glad that is normal.

This question is so basic and yet I haven't been able to find an answer in any of the books I've read. Was I supposed to put the top cap back on the fermentation lock? That cap looked to me to be just something to keep the two other parts together while being stored, plus where would the CO2 go if the cap was on tight? But then I started thinking that perhaps it is supposed to be on there for contamination reasons and then I thought the water is a seal in itself to keep contamination out, etc. etc.

Sterilization has me absolutely freaked out!

So what's the deal with the cap?
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Are there holes in it?

Postby l48shark » Sun Nov 03, 2002 5:39 pm

I snap the cap on my airlock, but it has small holes in it. Obviously if it does not have holes then the cap or the whole airlock will get blown right off the carboy in short order. Take a closer look and see if there are small holes in the cap. If so, snap it on and it will retain the piece that floats up and down as it bubbles. If there are no holes, then I am as confused as you are.

As for sterilization, you will never achieve it. Not even commercial breweries attempt it. (A-B guides public tours right past the brew kettles.) Just aim for good sanitation procedures. If you are anything like I was, then you will be paranoid about it at first thinking that if you breathe while brewing then your entire wort will be contaminated. Then after a few batches you will be much more relaxed about it, but you will lose a few batches to bacterial infections. Finally you will reach a happy medium and not have any problems, but not worry about it either.

Hopefully you will avoid the sour beer part. That really sucks.

Cheers,
Ford
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No Holes!

Postby BobbyK » Sun Nov 03, 2002 6:13 pm

Will it hurt anything to leave it off? The only other thing I can do is just let the top rest on it without snapping it down. But if yours has holes, then does it matter if I leave it off or not?
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not really

Postby stouts » Sun Nov 03, 2002 6:25 pm

As long as you have a good water level then the cap really isn't that important.
I had an airlock get stuck in my early brewing days and after 2 days it blew off and wort blew all over my beer closet.
just make sure it has holes to vent or just leave it off either is fine
jay
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Punch It

Postby l48shark » Sun Nov 03, 2002 7:39 pm

Ah, just punch a hole in it. :)
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Some helpfull ideas.

Postby Brewer2001 » Sun Nov 03, 2002 10:47 pm

Bobby,

I would put a couple small pin holes in the cover. True the liquid forms the air lock but the cover holds down the plastic 'float'. If it blows out your fermentation will be open to the air.

I have started using a 3 inch piece of plastic tubing, 18 inches of hose and a jar as a replacement for the airlock on my primary (I took this idea from the brewery where I did my apprenticeship). This works as a good blow off rig.

Now if you are concerned about sanitation you can substitute Vodka or Everclear for the water in the airlock. I use StarSan from my spray bottle. I the brewery we connected hoses to the CIP down pipes and placed them in buckets of used caustic solution. The CO2 neutralized the caustic so we could dispose of it down the drain.

Good brewing,

Tom F.
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StarSan?

Postby BobbyK » Mon Nov 04, 2002 5:16 am

Never heard of it. His this just something that does a quick sterilization of general surfaces? If it's a spray that sounds like it would be real handy. I assume no rinsing needed. Is it expensive?
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StarSan

Postby Brewer2001 » Wed Nov 06, 2002 10:15 pm

Bobby,

I had posted this info a while back, but I could not find it. Here it is again.

The manufacturer is : Five Star Chemical Co.
Denver Colorado
(303) 287-0186
www.fivestarechemicals.com

This company is making a line of cleaning chemicals that are good substututes for stronger less environmentally friendly that are used in the brewing trade. I use StarSan to sanitize everything and PBW (Powdered Brewery Wash) to clean all of my equipment. StarSan is food grade phosphoric acid. It foams a bit but is a no rinse product. PBW is a reformulated version of TSP. This cleans brew kettles just like caustic and full strength phos acid (I have cleaned a 20 barrel kettle using phos acid while inside...interesting but not fun).


Prices: StarSan 7Oz.-$7.50 32Oz.-$13.95
PBW 1lb.-$6.95 4lbs.-19.95

Both are sold through Beer,Beer and More Beer.

They both last a long time if used correctly. I bought a couple of hand spray bottle for spot spraying.

I hope this helps.

Good brewing,

Tom F.
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Thanks!

Postby BobbyK » Thu Nov 07, 2002 5:28 am

I'm going to my local brewing supply shop today, so I'll see if they have this stuff. If not, I'll go on-line.

I appreciate your help. I'm absolutely paranoid about sanitation. I quite brewing 20 years ago due to losing too many batches to contamination. Now that I'm getting back into it, sanitizing properly is my number one objective.
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