Once I had finished the boiling, pitching yeast and transferring to my fermenter/carboy, the first day of obsessing about the “beer” in my fermenter had gone just about as well as possible. During the NFL playoffs I was constantly emptying out my airlock, due to yeast/yeastcake and wort being blown up into it from the high C02 levels of my fermentation. So I would remove the top of the airlock, cover the opening to the fermenter with Saran Wrap and then wash and sterilize the top piece. I did this all day long like an obsessive, crazy person.
It was time to call it a day.
Monday morning was coming up quick. I would have to deal with every that I neglected due to watching football and brewing beer.
I had just brushed my teeth and set my cell phone alarm for my merciless morning wake up. My wife was removing the ridiculous decorative blankets and pillows that cover the bed during the day but we arent allowed to sleep on. Just as they were peeled back and I had gotten into bed to play some facebook games, a BOOOOOOM resounded through the house.
I walked into the kitchen and saw a brewer’s nightmare splattered all over my kitchen. Fragments of yeast, partially digested wort and barely fragmented beer spattered on the ceiling. Yes, the ceiling.
Please see picture below. Note the paper towels that I had used earlier to line the neck in case of any leakage. That seems funny, now.
So, as I saw the modern art disaster on the ceiling and the foam pouring from the glass carboy like Mount Beersuvius, I quickly towel-hugged the carboy like a wet dog and marched it over the sink so that it could finish spewing.
Part of me wanted to scrap the brew due to paranoia. Like many new brewers, I assumed that there must be some kind of infection because things were not going exactly as the instructions said that they would.
Just in case, I covered the opening of the carboy with some saran wrap. Some quick internet research informed me that SMELL is the best indication of infection. My beer smelled sweet and delicious. In fact, my whole kitchen smelled sweet and delicious. So, I re-sterilized the air lock bubbler and cork, and then re-inserted them. This beer would survive dammit.
My wife glared at me like a werewolf. Apparently now would be a good time to clean up the ungodly mess in my kitchen.
I replaced the sterilized bubbler the next morning. Everything seemed fine. My beer looked like it would survive, but time would tell.
NOW, looking back at what had happened here…
Even though I looked at my carboy every 5 minutes for the full full day of the fermentation process, I did not know what I was looking for as far as “tell tale signs of trouble”.
What I should have seen was the excessive foam that was creeping right up to the neck of the carboy. What I should have seen was that the air lock bubbler was more active than a community bong at a Coachella. What I should have known was that I did not chill my wort to a manageable temperature before moving it from the boil pot to the glass carboy for fermentation (and adding the yeast). The result of not chilling the wort properly (I now know) is that the yeast was more active than it should have been. The over-active fermentation caused MUCH more Carbon Dioxide than there should have been. I learned how much of a problem that could be around 11:00pm that night. And while I cleaned various chunks of various mung spatter of the ceiling, walls and appliances of my kitchen, I had plenty of time to think about my adjustments for next brewing.
See my post on BLOW OFF VALVE