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I am doing my first fermentation using a Belgian Ale kit. I started this Monday evening and have it in a location that is running between 64 and 66*f consistent. On the first night, the cap of the airlock blew off and gunk came through the airlock onto the top of the fermenter. I cleaned that all up, sanitized the airlock again and replaced it. Tuesday night, bubbling in the airlock was still happening but not a lot. Today, there is no bubbling happening at all.

Is this something to worry about? My boyfriend started his first brew the day before I did, and he still had bubbling yesterday. He is doing a Red Ale.

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Is 64-66 the room temp or the beer temp? If it's the room, the beer could be up to 10F warmer due to the heat generated by fermentation. That will give you a faster fermentation at the possible cost of some off flavors. –  Denny Conn Mar 3 '11 at 21:19
    
64-66 is the temp on the thermometer on the side of the fermenting bucket. the thermometer on the wall in the room shows 63 to 66 –  Teresa G Mar 3 '11 at 22:27
    
OK, that's good. –  Denny Conn Mar 4 '11 at 16:28
    
Thanks all for the feed-back. I took a reading today and am just as confused at before. It read at 1.20 which is 0.15 higher than what the AGR is rated at on the kit's instructions. My OR was higher than on the instructions too but I thought it was a mix of my hand shaking quite a bit and my inexperience. –  Teresa G Mar 6 '11 at 0:28
    
If your original gravity was higher than the kit called for, then this means that in all likelihood that you either (a) didn't fully mix the wort with the top-off water, or (b) you boiled down to slightly less than 5 gal, which would raise the OG. No harm down either way. Give it another 2 weeks before you even look at it again. Then take a gravity and you'll be closer to the final gravity indicated by the kit. As long as its less than 1.020, as a general rule, the beer will be fine, regardless of what the kit called for. –  Graham Apr 8 '11 at 13:57
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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Nothing to worry about. The kind of mess you've had to deal with is one of the reasons I prefer to start out in the pail. :-)

Relax... everything will be fine.

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Jeff's right. It's all good. Sometimes they are done in three days. Sometimes they are done in a week or more. Different yeast, different ingredients, different locations, all make a difference in fermentation time. Never trust the bubbles. Let it go 6-7 days and get a gravity reading. –  TinCoyote Mar 3 '11 at 20:58
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thanks. I will take a gravity reading over the weekend. This is worse than when I was developing my first roll of film. –  Teresa G Mar 3 '11 at 22:29
    
Well, now that digital cameras have been invented, you need something to do, right? If you had started this hobby a couple of decades ago, you probably would have started with a book called, "The Complete Joy of Homebrewing" by Charlie Papazian. One of the most important things you would have learned from that book is: "Don't worry. Relax. Have a homebrew." –  Jeff Roe Mar 3 '11 at 22:50
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This is known as a "blowoff", and happens under various conditions: (overfull fermentor, temperature, yeast strain, fermentability of wort...) It sounds like you did everything right. As stated above, measuring the gravity gives you much more information than counting the bubbles, since so many things can effect the amount of CO2 coming out of the fermentor.

For future brews: What is a proper blow-off tube setup?

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