Exploding Bucket

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

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Exploding Bucket

Postby caffineehacker » Mon Feb 11, 2008 3:42 am

I brewed my first 100% from scratch recipe the other day and now my fermentation bucket is in danger of exploding. I did a 5.5 gallon batch with an SG of 1.100 (it's a russian imperial stout). My problem is that there is so much foam in the fermenter that it clogged my airlock, started leaking out all around the bucket seal and even managed to launch my airlock hard enough to hit the ceiling (there's a small mark).

I've jerry rigged a blowoff system using a siphon tube stuffed in the airlock whole and leading that to a pot with a small amount of water but the foam clogs the tube and causes a lot of pressure, enough to still leak around the bucket's lid seal.

Does anyone know of a good solution? I'm using Wyeast 1272 and have the fermenter at about 65 degrees. My target FG is 1.023 but at this rate all the beer is going to foam out and there won't be any left to bottle, I've already had more than a half gallon foam out.

Note: I'm using a 6.5 to 7 gallon food grade plastic pail as my fermenter. There is about a foot of foam in the bucket.

Thanks in advance for any help,
Tim
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RE: Exploding Bucket

Postby wottaguy » Mon Feb 11, 2008 8:11 am

Hello caffineehacker,

Suggestion: You can place the primary in question within a larger pot then crack the lid open and let it overflow into the larger pot until it calms down a bit, ( a bit messy, but effective), after which you can then seal the primary up again and install a freshly sanatized lock. Cracking the lid on the primary during very active fermentations like this one is safe to do due to the large amounts of CO2 being released. Just keep an eye on it and seal it back up after it slows down.

Sounds like you have a great beer in the making!

Good luck!

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Postby caffineehacker » Mon Feb 11, 2008 1:33 pm

Thanks for the suggestion. I actually just put the airlock back today as I stopped seeing any foam in my siphon tube. Now hopefully I'll be able to clean my siphon tube or else I'm going to have to get a new one. Turns out my jerry rigged system relieved just enough pressure to prevent a blow out even though the seams still leaked.

In case anyone else has a problem like this: Relieve ALL pressure before removing and air lock or siphon tube. There is now more beer on my ceiling.

Thanks,
Tim
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Postby billvelek » Mon Feb 11, 2008 2:18 pm

In the past I have done a few primaries in buckets that were not actually made for the purpose, so they did not have a hole drilled for an airlock; easy enough to fix by drilling a hole, but I just never bothered. Instead, I would just set the lid over the bucket without snapping it into place; the weight of the lid would give enough of a seal to keep bugs out, but release any CO2 and krauesen. After a couple of days and the end of vigorous fermentation, I'd siphon into a carboy for the secondary and to keep oxygen out. Worked like a champ. I haven't done that in awhile since getting some additional carboys, but I might go back to doing that. The buckets are a whole lot easier to clean than carboys, and I never had an infection. Hmmm, I really do need to start doing that again.

Cheers.

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Infection

Postby brewmeisterintng » Tue Feb 12, 2008 8:16 am

I'm betting that if you end up with an infected beer, it was introduced prior to being placed in the bucket or was already in the bucket before the wort was added. I think that once the yeast takes hold and CO2 fills the headspace, sealing the bucket is the least of your problems.
Like Bill said, I would be cautious of the little flying bugs that can squeeze into small places.
As far as violent fermentations... always expect it when making a wheat beer or a beer with a high OG and have a thumper tube not too far away.
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Postby caffineehacker » Fri Feb 15, 2008 2:36 am

Thanks for all the help guys. Even after a week of fermenting I had to affix a blowoff tube again yesterday because we shook the bucket (I read somewhere it helps the fermentation with high gravity beers) and the fermentation really picked up again. I think next time I'm either going to make a smaller batch or use a bigger bucket, the corner of my living room is a mess right now (thankfully it's bricks so it's a piece of cake to clean up).
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Postby slothrob » Fri Feb 15, 2008 10:11 am

Or you could try using some Foam Control drops.
I've never really needed them, but I hear they work well.
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foaming

Postby bfabre » Mon Feb 18, 2008 10:49 pm

have your primary air lock hole fixed with a rubber bung and insert a 3/8" siphon tube and carry it over to another fermentaion bucket. Tap another hole in the second bucket lid and insert the air lock. This way the foam will flow easily from the first bucket into the second bucket and will be able to vent without being tainted from the outside air.
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Re: Exploding Bucket

Postby Bob57702 » Mon Feb 25, 2008 1:22 am

To continue bfabre's suggestion you can have a return line from the bottom of the second bucket back to the primary fermenter and into the wort. Elevate this second bucket above the primary fermenter and you have a Burton Union system. They work great with minimal beer loss.
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Exploding bucket

Postby bfabre » Tue Feb 26, 2008 1:06 am

Elevate this second bucket above the primary fermenter and you have a Burton Union system


Bob, I Like the way you think.
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