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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2005 * Archive through February 15, 2005 * Lager drinking out of the airlock < Previous Next >

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David Lewinnek
New Member
Username: Davelew

Post Number: 1
Registered: 02-2005
Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 01:03 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I'm aging my first lager right now, in a new chest freezer with a new temperature controller. (I did primary and secondary outside of the freezer, in my 55F cellar). I was using a two-part airlock, the kind you fill partway with water and the CO2 from the fermentation causes a little plastic bell to float. I noticed after the first day that the water level in the airlock was dangerously low, so I topped it off. The next day, the same thing happenned. After the third day (today), I got tired of watering down my beer and replaced the airlock with a blow-off tube.

Anybody know what was going on? Has anybody else had this experience? My only thought was that the temperature controller has a 4F swing, and the gas in the carboy was expanding and contracting and sucking in the water. I've only been lowering the temp at 1F per day, so I wouldn't expect that much pv=nrt volume change in the gas.
 

Peter Roman
Advanced Member
Username: Lilbordr

Post Number: 541
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 01:11 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Suckback! RUN!!! PANIC!!!!

Just kidding. Don't worry, relax, have a homebrew. If you are worried about it however, you can either use iodophor (my method), or I hear some people use vodka in their airlocks. Its amazing how heating and cooling will affect a carboy. For example, put an airlock on an empty carboy and place it in direct sunlight. Within the minute you will see phantom bubbles.

Cheers,
Peter Roman
 

Doug Pescatore
Senior Member
Username: Doug_p

Post Number: 1159
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 02:25 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

It could be a case of cold dry air sucking the moisture right out of the airlock. I have had airlocks go dry when I was paying much attention.

-Doug
 

David Lewinnek
New Member
Username: Davelew

Post Number: 2
Registered: 02-2005
Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 01:14 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I'm not worried about the airlock water contaminating the beer, I use a dilute bleach solution. I'm worried about the oxygen "skunking" the beer during its 2 months of lagering. I'm considering adding corn sugar or LME so that the beer will blanket itself in CO2.

Does anybody else get airlocks to work when lagering? Or is there something airlock-unfriendly about my system?
 

Brandon Dachel
Senior Member
Username: Brandon

Post Number: 1402
Registered: 03-2002
Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 02:14 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

> I'm not worried about the airlock water
> contaminating the beer, I use a dilute bleach
> solution.

Ick. If you do have suckback you'll have bleach in your beer.

> I'm worried about the oxygen "skunking" the beer
> during its 2 months of lagering.

Oxygen doesn't cause skunking.

> I'm considering adding corn sugar or LME so that
> the beer will blanket itself in CO2.

this is really unnecessary.
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 2224
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 02:24 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I second Brandon's remarks.
 

Patrick C.
Intermediate Member
Username: Patrickc

Post Number: 268
Registered: 01-2001
Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 02:26 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I'd be worried about the bleach more than the O2- Bleach can give you nasty off flavors. You can't really prevent air from coming into a carboy if you're lowering the temperature. If you have kegs, you can pressurize with CO2. If not, don't worry about it. When I lager in a carboy, I just put plastic wrap over the top with a rubber band to hold it on tight. No problems with oxidation.
(BTW- skunking is from light, oxygen makes it taste like cardboard).
Edit- DOH! too slow...

(Message edited by patrickc on February 11, 2005)
 

Ken Anderson
Advanced Member
Username: Ken75

Post Number: 693
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 02:28 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

This is a good chance to point out another advantage of taking a fermentation to completion in the primary. It allows you to top up your lagering carboy literally to within a fraction of an inch from the top. With such a small remaining headspace volume, suckback won't happen, and neither will oxidation.
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 2226
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 02:36 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Beer, even in secondary, should have a sufficient blanket of CO2 over it so that oxidation is not an issue, especially if it is not splashed. Carbon dioxide is continually being emitted and redissolved with small changes in temperature and pressure. That doesn't mean I advocate open secondary fermentation, but it's not necessary to obsess about the headspace.
 

Vance Barnes
Senior Member
Username: Vancebarnes

Post Number: 1439
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 02:59 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Get a S- type airlock and it won't suck anything back into the carboy.
 

Joseph Listan
Advanced Member
Username: Poonstab

Post Number: 506
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 03:09 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

... other than ambient air...

I was going to recommend this as well.

A better alternative is one of those flying saucer-looking sanitary filters. they are available for about $5 each. No worries about sucking back liquids. If you want to be super anal about O2 take-up and you have a kegging setup, you could hook it up to your CO2 tank at very low pressure:
Fermenter-Hose-Filter-Hose-Tank.

If it were me, I'd put the free end of the hose into a cup of water. If the hose is long enough, it won't suck up enough water to get past the filter and the CO2 from the fermentation would just move back and forth in the hose between the filter and the fermenter.

Better yet, fill a non-permeable bag or balloon about half-way with CO2 and attach the free end of the hose (outside the filter, or possibly even go filterless) to that. It would be interesting to watch it expand and contract, though it might eventually pop...

(Message edited by poonstab on February 11, 2005)
 

davidw
Advanced Member
Username: Davidw

Post Number: 882
Registered: 03-2001
Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 03:21 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Yeast is a wonderful oxygen scavenger . . .
 

Denny Conn
Senior Member
Username: Denny

Post Number: 4219
Registered: 01-2001
Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 10:26 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

If you're at lagering, why even use an airlock?
LIfe begins at 60...1.060, that is.
 

Mike Mayer
Intermediate Member
Username: Mmayer

Post Number: 368
Registered: 12-2002
Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 11:02 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Suckback????? Impossible!!!!!!!!!! So I have heard.
 

David Lewinnek
New Member
Username: Davelew

Post Number: 5
Registered: 02-2005
Posted on Saturday, February 12, 2005 - 06:43 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks for your advice everyone. For now, the blowoff tube seems to be working. I don't think the lager will be able to suck water up almost two feet, but I'll continue checking on it.

I'm using an airlock instead of a stopper because I'm (irrationally, I know) worried about the stopper getting sucked in. I've been paranoid about that ever since I dropped a growler cork in the primary of a Hefeweizen and re-named it Corkenbrau.

I'll look into those sanitary filters, that looks like the best solution for lagering in the future.
 

Denny Conn
Senior Member
Username: Denny

Post Number: 4224
Registered: 01-2001
Posted on Saturday, February 12, 2005 - 07:18 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

"Suckback????? Impossible!!!!!!!!!! So I have heard."..possible if you screw up. Impossible if you don't overfill the airlock.
LIfe begins at 60...1.060, that is.
 

Joseph Listan
Advanced Member
Username: Poonstab

Post Number: 515
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Sunday, February 13, 2005 - 02:59 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Denny is correct. The bouncing hat airlocks can be filled so that even if some liquid begins to be pulled in, it lowers the level enough that air will get in and break the vacuum.

This is simple: fill it to where the liquid is floating the hat but doesn't make it float more than a millimeter or two. If you have any evaporation, you'll need to refill it of course.