The Beer Watcher II: Blow-off!

From “the beer master” Bill HD comes news:

Well, some drama happened regarding our wort. I went down to check it last night and the airlock was blown off the top – it had clogged with hops and foamy beer stuff and there was some on the wall nearby too. So I guess we had a very vigorous yeast colony going. When I opened the lid it was quite foamy in there too. Not sure what that means for the whole process – I cleaned up the airlock and put it back on and it was hopping and popping normally.

This could be bad, I guess, if there was any contamination. Also, the beer guy says that if the yeast is too active for too long, they basically eat everything and the beer doesn’t have any flavors at all. I don’t think this is going to be the case since it was some sort of airlock clog that caused the mishap. But we’ll see come racking time, I guess, whether it is worth continuing or whether we have our first failed batch.

Bill further consulted his guru/master, “The Beer Guy” (aka the book he has), and discovered that this event is common enough in home brewing to have a name: a “blow-off.” Apparently, it isn’t as serious as we had originally feared:

If the fermentation is so vigorous that the foam pops the airlock out of the lid, just rinse it out with sanitizer solution and wipe off the lid before replacing it. Contamination is not a big problem during the primary phase. With so much coming out of the fermenter, not much gets in. If the fermentation keeps filling the airlock with crud and popping it out, there is an alternative, a blowoff hose.

Bill went on to add:

I cleaned out the airlock, sterilized it again, stuck it back on and it seems to be going along fine. It also smells very much like a normal batch, for what that’s worth. As for why, the books I have consulted say that it just happens sometimes when you get a vigorous ferment. They recommend having a blowoff tube for such occasions, or going to a 7 gallon primary fermenter. But it seems to be a minor issue by all accounts.

So, we’ll see what happens. I guess the beer master will be getting the first taste and the beer watchers will be watching not the beer but the master for the results.

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3 Responses to The Beer Watcher II: Blow-off!

  1. Bill H-D says:

    The Beer Guy, btw, in this case is John Palmer. His book is also available on the web:

    How To Brew

  2. cbd says:

    This has happened to me before. I hate messing with blow-off tubes, so I’ve switched to 6.5 gallon carboys. Here’s the result.

    Also, I don’t understand this: Also, the beer guy says that if the yeast is too active for too long, they basically eat everything and the beer doesn’t have any flavors at all.

  3. Bill H-D says:

    That looks like a great idea, Brad! I think I am going to go with a bigger one too.

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