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OK, dumb question number 438

I’m an emerging rookie brewer having done 8 5gal extract batches with good results so far.

I started an extract batch of a wheat beer. Boil day went fine, pitched yeast and it took off in a timely fashion. It foamed up a fair amount (in a 6.5 gal big mouth carboy…) so i put on a blow off tube into a bucket of water.

The plan was to leave the house for a week to attend a wedding out of state. While at the wedding we got a call about a family emergency that we needed to deal with and ended up staying away from the house for almost a month.

When we got back the fermentation had stopped and the water in the bucket with the blow off tube was NASTY. Very foul smelling. I tasted the beer and while it didn’t taste obviously bad, it didn’t taste all that great either. I don’t trust my palette to really determine if the beer is bad. I’m really not sure what to look for (taste for) to determine if the batch is ruined.

So my question is… Could some badness get from the blow off bucket into the beer and ruin it? If so, what should i look for, smell for, taste for, to determine if i need to dump it?

Thanks in advance, guys!

Most times my blowoff tubes have spit some gunk out into the water, I probably wouldnt worry too much.

If the bucket at the other end of the blowoff tube didn’t go dry you should be okay. Typically people use sanitizer in that bucket, for what it’s worth…

I would dump it, personally.
I always use sanitizer for the blowoff hose. It may or may not actually be necessary, but I haven’t experienced anything near to what you describe, even with a few very long fermentations

[quote=“Shark”]I would dump it, personally.
I always use sanitizer for the blowoff hose. It may or may not actually be necessary, but I haven’t experienced anything near to what you describe, even with a few very long fermentations[/quote]

I’m leaning toward dumping it just to be on the safe side. If i had used sanitizer in the blowoff bucket would that water have gone bad? That water was really nasty smelling…

My thought is that with fermentation stopped, there was no positive pressure keeping air in the tube into the water bucket from coming back into the carboy.

Obviously the plan was to get back to the house before fermentation stopped and switching over to a regular air lock. Oh well…

Thanks again,

I wouldn’t dump it just yet. you should be able to tell if it’s gone bad. does it taste sour, rotten meat, vinegar, or just plain funky? if it taste “not that great”, that might just be because it’s warm and flat. Unless you can better describe “not that great” i’d go ahead and bottle it, and see what happens.

Hope all is well with your family. Family trumps brew.

A side note: if you need a blow off tube for a 5G batch in a 6.5G carboy, you need to get fermentation temps down. Swamp cooler, basement corner, fridge with t-stat control, whatever. MUCH better beer is made with lower temps. My hefe’s run at 64F. Make sure you measure the wort temp before pitching.

To dump or not to dump? Add me to the the RDWHAH camp. Probably fine. Our ancestors brewed in much worse conditions… I think if it were bad, it would be obvious. Can’t imagine much more harm by bottling and going for it.

You already spent your money on ingredients, the bottling part is cheap, so bottle it up. I would be surprised if any crap got sucked back up your tube. Probably the water in your blow off bucket got nasty. It takes awhile to acquire a taste for warm, un carbed , un aged beer…

I still don’t understand why people continue to recommend wasting money and time by dumping a batch of beer that is probably just fine… Unless there are signs of infection, I would not waste it. As noted above, bad smells, bad taste, those would be signs of a bad/infected beer.

Also, of course the water in the bucket was nasty. Think of all the gas and fumes coming from that beer (which was probably fermenting hot, by the way) that the water absorbed. Also, water sitting in a bucket for a month+ is going to be kind of funky anyway.

If the beer doesn’t taste bad, then prime it, bottle it, and let it sit. I am pretty sure that in about a month or so you’ll be glad you didn’t dump it. It should be quite drinkable.

I was thinking the same thing. I have not needed a blow off tube in almost ten years, ever since I figured out how much better the beer tastes when using proper temperature control.

Agree entirely. If the beer is clearly bad, and drinking it would not be enjoyable, dump it. If you’re not sure, just give it time until it proves itself one way or the other.

Beer is probably fine unless the blow liquid was sucker back into the carboy, which is doubtful.

Bottle up, with the extra conditioning time, it most likely will be one of your better batches :slight_smile:

We drink beer not blowoff water. Bottle it.

I agree. Worst case scenario is you dump it later.

I agree. Worst case scenario is you dump it later.[/quote]
+1 Unless it’s got a pellicle growing on the surface, smells/tastes foul or like vinegar, I wouldn’t dump it yet.

Thanks, guys. I just tasted it and there are no obvious bad smells or tastes. So i’ll bottle it and see what we get.

The mantra here while brewing is “Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize!” so perhaps i was being overly cautious. I had a vision of a bug flying up that air tube, plopping into my beer and wreaking havoc on the entire batch.

I’m looking forward to a good batch of a nice wheat beer - thanks again!

I always use sanitizer for my blowoff reservoir just in case. I would agree with most of the posts above…wait it out and see what happens. Better to dump it later after you’ve given it a fair chance than now when there might be nothing wrong with it. I had a batch I considered dumping earlier this summer after several bottle bombs and a couple of bad tasting bottles. But, I got busy and just forgot about it for a few weeks and the rest of the bottles actually turned out pretty good.

I had a similar experience to yours recently. Last weekend I bottled a black IPA. This brew had come close to blowing out, but not quite, and in the process a little bit of krausen got into the airlock, which had sanitizer in it. I didn’t think much of it and let it be. When I went to bottle it, I noticed a small spot of mold starting to form on the surface of the sanitizer solution in the airlock. I know it hadn’t been there long because there was nothing there when I added the dry hops a week earlier. The beer itself didn’t show any signs of infection and it tasted good, so I went ahead with bottling. Time will tell, but I doubt anything made it down through the sanitizer solution and airlock tube into the beer. In any case, lesson learned is to keep the damn airlock clean, even if it is filled with sanitizer!

I agree, kegged a hefe last week that had mold in the blowoff water. It’s been in the fermenter for a month and had Star San in the water.

I didn’t smell the water, though.

What yeast did you use? If it’s 3068, I get a blowoff no matter how low the temp. It will smell pretty nasty after sitting for awhile.

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