New answers tagged first-time-brewer
If you have a can of extract that is pre hopped you do not want to boil it or it will destroy the hops. If you do boil it you'll need to add some fresh hops. But boiling serves no purpose.
You must judge progress based on a gravity reading. Since you haven't checked the gravity yet, you don't know for sure that fermentation has finished. If you're saying it's finished because the airlock has stopped bubbling, that isn't always a reliable indicator of fermentation. The airlock bubbling may be spaced minutes apart or not occurring at all, but ...
Your beer is almost certainly fine, and you don't need to do anything except fill the airlock with water, and attach it to the fermenter. The release of CO2 in the fermenting beer creates positive pressure within the fermenter, which will help keep out oxygen and spoilage organisms. After fermentation is complete, it's possible for gas and bugs to enter ...
@derek.cormier and @bughunter are generally correct. You have a very good chance of everything being fine. Besides oxidation though, you also should consider possible infection of the brew by unwanted wild yeast or bacteria. A lot depends on how fast your ferment got started, and the presence of fruit flies and the like which spread wild yeast from ...
RDWHAHB. Your beer is probably fine. Gases generally flow out during primary fermentation, not draw in. If you want to leave the beer in primary for a while, put some water in the airlock. If you want to rack to secondary, rack. Now actually might be a good time to take a hydrometer sample. Taste the sample to convince yourself that your beer is OK.
Seal the beer off from oxygen as soon as possible. If you decide to use the airlock, use sanitized water only. If you have access to CO2, put a layer of the gas over your beer as soon as possible (then close it off). If you've achieved your desired final gravity and you don't need to let it sit in the fermenter any longer, you could also bottle it or keg it ...
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