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Fermentation Question

First time brewer here, so please forgive my ignorance (I’m learning).

I started my first batch of Caribou Slobber on Tuesday the 7th and everything appears to be going smoothly. My airlock was bubbling yesterday and last night (a constant bubble every 1-2 seconds). It could be heard from around the house and I was super stoked… it smelled great, too.

I checked back periodically to make sure I didn’t have any spill-overs and that the airlock was clear. I was also concerned because the house has been dry due to running the heat quite a bit as a result of this frigid midwest weather. In fact, I kept shocking myself, girlfriend, and dog on accident. I was fearful the airlock would dry up…

Around midnight lastnight (24 hours into fermentation) I noticed the water was really low in the airlock. Fearful of it drying up overnight I created a mild mixture of SanStar solution and water and squirted it down the airlock with a sanitized pipette. I added just enough to almost meet the line on the line on the airlock. Also, I turned up my April Air humidifier a little.

This morning I woke up and the activity (bubbling) has drastically decreased. While I’m getting bubbles, it has slowed down to a bubble every 10 seconds. It is my understanding this process should continue for 1-2 weeks. Though, at this rate, I’m a little scared.

Couple question:
Is this normal to have lively bubbling from the airlock and a matter of 8 hours later it has slowed down so drastically?

Did I kill fermentation by adding the solution to the airlock (nothing backed up into the airlock and went back into the fermenter to my knowledge).

Is that a no-no?

If this isn’t normal, is there any way of rectifying the fermentation (agitation, reyeasting)?

You are fine. Don’t use the airlock bubbles as a sign of active fermentation. You probably pitched your yeast a little on the high side temperature-wise and it burned through the sugars quickly. What was the temperature of the wort when you pitched your yeast and what was the ambient temperature around the fermenter?

Welcome to the forum and to the hobby. No questions are off limits and we all had to learn in some way (and it is much better to learn from the mistakes of others, rather than being forced to learn by trial and error on your own - at least usually that is true.) Keep your fermentation on the cool side whenever possible (search swamp cooler and you will get plenty of information). The few beers that benefit from a higher temperature are typically Belgians, which often like mid 70’s to mid 80’s. I doubt you have any problem, but if it was particularly warm where the fermenter was located, the yeast may have chewed through the fermentables pretty quickly. That usually adds some notes that are not desirable, but your beer will be eminently drinkable, I predict. Next time, keep it cooler from the outset. You can look up the manufacturer’s spec sheet for suggested temperature range, but many here prefer even cooler temperatures than are recommended by the mfg. Also, the temperature in the middle of the fermenter is often 4-6 degrees warmer than the ambient air temp during active fermentation.

:cheers:

Also, I forgot to say - with most beers a secondary is unnecessary and may be a source of trouble…though many here would dispute that. I just leave them in the primary for a little longer (a week or two) after terminal gravity is reached.

Matt - I pitched my yeast when the wort hit 70 degrees F.
The room temperature was ~70 degrees F (according to my thermostat that is right above the fermentor). I since turned it down to 68 degrees F overnight.

ynotbrusum - Are you referring to a secondary pitch of yeast or a secondary fermentation? If the my yeast did chew through fermentables quickly, would a secondary fermentation (in another carboy) mellow out those “undesirable” flavors/aromas?

I don’t want to move the fermentor around and change the temperatures too much, but I could move my basement where it is cooler. Would that be advised or no?

[quote=“VXASUXV”]Matt - I pitched my yeast when the wort hit 70 degrees F.
The room temperature was ~70 degrees F (according to my thermostat that is right above the fermentor). I since turned it down to 68 degrees F overnight.

ynotbrusum - Are you referring to a secondary pitch of yeast or a secondary fermentation? If the my yeast did chew through fermentables quickly, would a secondary fermentation (in another carboy) mellow out those “undesirable” flavors/aromas?[/quote]

That’s not too bad. Most people follow the direction in the brew kits which say to pitch “Below 78” which is way too high. Just keep in mind that fermentation generates heat and can increase your ferm temperature as much as 3-5 degrees higher than ambient temps. As ynotbrusum mentioned, take a look into swamp coolers, they are very easy and econimical way to control ferm temps.

I don’t want to speak for ynotbrusum but I believe he was referring to racking to a secondary vessel that most of the brew kits suggest to do after fermentation is complete. There are a number of reasons why you might want to but as your first brew I assume none of them would apply. Calling it a “secondary fermentation” is a misnomer because it’s not actually a second fermentation. It’s more of a conditioning.

Reasons for racking to secondary:

  • Want to harvest the yeast
  • Want the primary fermenter for another brew
  • Want to dry-hop (which can be done in primary as well)
  • Want to age for a longer period of time (i.e. months)

If none of these apply to you, then you are fine just leaving in the primary fermenter. Moving to a secondary vessel introduces risks of contamination that arguably have little benefit.

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