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VERY quick fermentation start, foam overflowing airlock

First time brewer here:

I brewed a batch of the White House Honey Porter using the one gallon kit last night. The airlock was bubbling within an hour or two… odd, but in any case, it’s working. Perhaps the honey gave the yeast more to work on?

I came home roughly six hours later to find foam had overflowed through the air lock and was coming out. My finished wort was roughly an inch BELOW the one gallon text on the carboy. The forum has more or less said that all of this isn’t a big deal, but my concern is whether or not I clean/replace the airlock. The directions said to replace it with a piece of tin foil if it happens and just let it finish. Couldn’t I just leave it as-is then and avoid any contamination risk?

Also, I saw someone mention that this is almost a normal occurrence for one gallon kits. A blow-off was recommended, but I’m only seeing a tube/cover kit for plastic carboys. would the smaller bottle fill hose fit in the cover? (I could try, but as above I’m leaning towards leaving it alone.)

UPDATE: Foam has dried up, airlock is still working (though gross) and has wort in it rather than the water. Leave it?

What temperature are you fermenting at? That could answer a lot of your questions. At this point just let it finish. If the airlock is working no need to risk anything. RDWHAHB!

The starter kit didn’t really cover that (of course) but I’m keeping it in a closet in the apartment. The ambient temperature is probably around 70. I’m assuming the wort was slightly warmer when I set it down for fermentation to start. The carboy felt cool while I was transporting it though. Think the honey might have been a contributing factor?

There are a couple of things contributing here. First is the vessel size. If I were making a 1 gallon batch, I’d be looking for a bigger vessel. That said, I’ll sometimes dump 6 gallons of beer in a 6.5 gallon carboy, and use a blowoff hose and just expect it to erupt. Not really a big deal if you can contain the mess.
Second is the fermentation temp. What yeast does that brew use? You can look up the temp range for most strains online. Remember that yeast create their own heat once they start fermenting, so a beer sitting in a 70 degree room fermenting will be warmer than 70.

Honey is just another fermentable sugar so my opinion to your question is no.
Fermenting at an ambient temp of 70 degrees would explain it. You are at the high side of temp for any yeast. You will have a good beer in the end so relax and enjoy. If you can get your fermentation temp down next time you will have an even better beer.

Remove the airlock and place some foil over your fermenter while you clen it. Failing to clean that airlock after blowoff not only causes concern for the airlock to blow out but the yeast and trub in the airlock is a contamination problem.

Would suggest looking into the 2gal fermenter that people sell. It will help with this issue.

[quote=“Loopie Beer”]Remove the airlock and place some foil over your fermenter while you clen it. Failing to clean that airlock after blowoff not only causes concern for the airlock to blow out but the yeast and trub in the airlock is a contamination problem.

Would suggest looking into the 2gal fermenter that people sell. It will help with this issue.[/quote]
+1
After cleaning the airlock be sure to refill it with a safe sanitizer like Star San, or booze.

Ok, so I hit up the store today and got a 2 gallon bucket for a secondary recipe. I grabbed another airlock, sanitized it, added sanitized water, and swapped it with the gunked up one. Unless it needs more time to accumulate since being open, fermentation has slowed down to a crawl. If this continues, I’ll just bottle at 1 week.

I also bought a stick-on Fermometer and it’s showing low-mid 70’s. I’m not quite ready to sink money into a regulator system. Think it’ll be fine?

Bottling at one week is rather aggressive…I would give it 2 weeks at a minimum. Just because you do not see airlock activity does not mean that there is no fermentation going on. PATIENCE…This hobby will teach you this over time.

Again, if you can get your fermentation temp down you will make better beer. Lots of ways to achieve this without spending a lot of money. IMHO…

[quote=“Lovenbeer”]Bottling at one week is rather aggressive…I would give it 2 weeks at a minimum. Just because you do not see airlock activity does not mean that there is no fermentation going on. PATIENCE…This hobby will teach you this over time.

Again, if you can get your fermentation temp down you will make better beer. Lots of ways to achieve this without spending a lot of money. IMHO…[/quote]
Don’t bottle at one week, the yeast need more time than that to clean up after themselves and mostly drop out of suspension. If you bottle too soon, you will get bottle bombs or gushers.

To reiterate the need for patience, you may want to try an experiment with this batch. After bottling, wait two weeks before opening one, then open one per week until they are gone. That will really show you how much of an effect aging can have on the flavor of the beer. With a one gallon batch, I suspect by the last one they should really be starting to get good.

I pretty much leave all beers, except very small ales, in the primary for a month. Two weeks is light speed for my beers, although I have done some English Bitters 21 days grain to glass in a keg.

High temps are reserved for Belgians. I have a Saison cooking with the 568 blend right now on a heater and thermowell at 76F. Sugar goes in Sunday to keep it from stalling out…

Good luck with the brewing. Read a lot and brew a lot and you will be really happy.

:cheers:

I mentioned the one week notion as the kit said “one-to-two weeks.” Since fermentation was so aggressive it seemed mostly done after a day or so, one week seemed reasonable. Since starting the second, I’ve seen no airlock activity in the first.

The second batch that was started a couple days later seems to be going almost by-the-book. (That being said, I’m sticking to the two gallon bucket for a one gallon batch from now on.) I’ll bottle them both after two weeks to keep things simple and give the original a little more time. As these are my first two attempts, I’m not looking to deviate too much from the recipes just yet.

Thanks for the input all. I’ll update with the outcome a couple weeks after bottling. I’ve gotten a lot of opposing opinions on the process, so I’m just looking at it as a learning curve to produce something to my liking. Til then, I’m checking out How To Brew by Palmer.

Cheers
:cheers:

“How to Brew” is probably the best book for beginning brewers out there; good choice. It is good to keep in mind though that many of the aspects of brewing can generate arguments among brewers for what is the “best” method. To some extent, equipment and set-up can play a big part, so what is “best” for one brewer may not be “best” for another.
One thing that most experienced brewers agree upon is that extra time for the fermentation step results in cleaner, better tasting beer. Yes, you can drink it as soon as the active fermentation is done, but it will be better if you wait. Brew stores often emphasis how quickly a kit can be drunk because they have to; every other brew shop does the same thing and there is a sizable group of customer out there that want instant results and will go somewhere else to buy if told the kit will take a month. But now that you know what is going on, you can ignore that aspect of the instructions.

Good luck.

The second batch (pumpkin ale) turned out great. Three weeks after bottling, my fiancee is fighting me for them.

The blowout batch (honey porter) is good, but not as good as I had hoped. A learning experience for next time.

I started 3 more batches using a cooler bag from Cool Brewing. The temp got pretty high during active fermentation, so that might be a problem later. I’m assuming that 3 batches fermenting in the same cooler wasn’t a good idea. In any case, I’ll find out in a couple weeks how much of an effect it had.

Thanks for all the input. I’ve been learning a lot. It seems I need to balance my cooling situation better.

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