Premature Racking

I had decided it was time to rack the new grapes wines in to their secondary fermenters, and off the fruit. They were definitely slowing down, and it had been plenty of time by my estimation. I decided I would not worry about checking the PA to verify progress. This was a very poor decision!

It took couple minutes, but the Mars Grape wine began filling up the air space in the carboy neck with bubbles. Lots of long-lived bubbles. And then they began crawling up the tube in the airlock. At first I tried to raise up the airlock plug. No good. I scooped out the bubbles. In a matter of seconds the space was filled again. So in the end I had to rig up a makeshift airlock on a grander scale.

I took a gallon jug of water that was mostly empty, inserted a syphon tube into it, forcing in place (tip below the water) with the little plastic catch that usually acts as a “pinch” for flow. I placed the other end of the tube snugly in the bung, and the bung back into the carboy neck. Now, there is the rapid music of carbon dioxide being released into the jug; This, rather than the bubbles filling up the normal air-lock and eventually filling it to the point that it starts overflowing back into the carboy…never a good thing.

The Saturn Wine is also bubbling pretty vigorously, further testifying to the error I have made. But in this case, it is not able to sustain a foam head, whether by virtue of the wine’s own character or fermenting power. I think it will stay that way, so am leaving with the normal air-lock and bung.

Some might view this as a failure, but I’m going to choose to see this whole experience as an opportunity. I’m soon to start a barley wine recipe that cautioned that it is almost certain to require such intervention even in the primary of a 5 gallon batch brewing in a 6.5 gallon fermenter. To be exact, the word “messy” was used. That’s some bubble head! It’s nice to know that I have everything I need to quickly get such a make-shift airlock in place.

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