I've come up with a simple, foolproof method of determining this whether or not you need to use a blowoff tube when brewing, or if an airlock is sufficient. Just answer the questions below.
Question one: are you brewing beer?
If the answer is "yes", then you should use a blowoff.
Question two: see question one.
Yeah, okay, I'm being a bit silly... but it's rock solid advice.
I had gotten a little cocky of late; once I made it to really good temperature control (mini fridge/STC-1000 combo), I noticed that my blowoff tubes weren't really doing anything - no krausen was being ejected into the water, etc. So for the next few brews, I tried using an airlock only; sure enough, this method seemed to work just fine.
With my last brew (Belgian blonde with WLP530), I was reminded that some yeasts care nothing for my paltry temperature control, that they WILL explode if I don't take measures to prevent it. Fortunately, I did swap that one to a blowoff before catastrophe struck. Clearly, I learned my lesson... right?
Of course not. Sunday, I brewed an English IPA using WLP022 (my first time with that yeast).
Even with a big, healthy starter (did a one liter starter, stepped it up to three liters, decanted back down to one, saved one vial out for a future brew), I was surprised at how slow things got going. The following morning, I had an almost nonexistent krausen cap on top of the wort, as well as very slow bubbling. From there, it grew to a small cap and regular - but not vigorous - bubbling. I decided that WLP022 must simply be a slow, gentle fermenting yeast.
I tend to check my beer twice a day - once in the morning before I leave for work, and again in the evening after I get home. Last night, I discovered krausen in my airlock. Seventy-two hours after pitching, sixty-six hours after I...
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I swear by these large plastic buckets: http://www.mainbrew.com/Brewcraft-8-Gallon-Plastic-Fermenter-and-Lid-Prodview.html. I regularly ferment 5.5 gallons and have never come close to needing a blowoff tube.
posted by Paul on 7/20/2014 at 10:15:01 AM
Tags for this post: blowoff tube, blowoff, airlock, fermentation, beer, homebrew