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sambeerindia

Help - I'm using aluminum foil instead of airlock and getting sour beers

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Hi,

since I got a mini-fridge, I've had to stop using my LBK and use glass fermenters so they fit in the fridge. However, there is barely 1 inch of space on top so I can't put an airlock. I have been using sanitised aluminum foil to cover the fermenter. My last 2 batches have been sour when bottling and even after conditioning for 4 weeks.

My suspicion is around this as a possible source of how I end up getting the sour taste. 

Any precautions I can take or extra steps I can take to prevent/minimise? With the last batch I have placed, I am spraying starsan onto the foil once every day, more out of paranoia!

Please help!

/Sam

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Sorry to hear about the sour beer issue.  That certainly needs to be resolved.  I don't have a guaranteed solution, but can throw out some ideas for you to consider.  Hard to say if it's caused by the foil covering alone or if there's a bacteria strain present in one or more of your equipment components that continually infects each batch.  You could do a super thorough all-out sanitation job on all of your equipment, and/or or figure out another way to handle the airlock situation.  I don't know exactly what type of glass fermenters you're using,  but if you have a screw on or otherwise tight fitting lid that belongs to the glass vessel, you could simply put that on slightly loose so that forced gas can escape but nothing else can push it's way down inside without force.  Or you can find yet another type of fermenter which actually allows you to use an airlock unimpeded in that size fridge.   Lastly, it may be cheaper to purchase an insulated cooler (ice chest) or two and put the LBK in them with frozen water bottles instead.  Sorry that these solutions all seem to require some sort of sacrifice in effort or expense, but we do what we got to do, right?  Wish I had something more definitive.

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I had a similar problem where my fermenter would not fit in my ice chest if I used a airlock. I ended up using a sandwich and a rubber band. As fermentation started, the bag expanded. As fermentation slowed, the bag deflated.

This batch turned out just fine,

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fyi - A balloon with a pinhole would work as well.  Wine makers have used this method for many, many years.

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Hey Sam!

To be honest, I highly doubt the issue is with the aluminum foil, and that a ziploc bag will correct the issue. In fact, between the two, I think aluminum foil is the better choice, since I believe aluminum is slightly antimicrobial. Routinely removing the aluminum foil and spraying it with star san is probably posing more of a risk for contamination at this point. In the words of Chris White, bacteria doesn't crawl. So if the top of the carboy and aluminum foil has been sanitized, and there is no large gap for air flow to easily come into the carboy, you're posing no risk for bacterial contamination.

I think the cause is from something else. Maybe the mini-fridge needs to be cleaned and disinfected with bleach or something. I may do it just for safe measures. Keep searching!

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Snowjob:

I had not heard of using a sandwich and a rubber band as an airlock.  Can I use PBJ, or would it have to be bologna and cheese?  :)

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RickBeer. Your noobife-ism is showing through. Everyone who has used this system has learned that it can only be a roasted beef sandwich with red onion, mustard, tomato, and the occasional pickle. Now, some are so adventurous as to actually Toast the Bread before use. Those with small kids or cats should use extreme caution using this method, as both kids and Cats tend to want to play with the toast. You've been warned.

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For consistency, I prefer a black forest ham from subway. The performance and quality of the sandwhich never seems to deviate. I suggest footlongs for longer fermentation times.

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