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Thread: Using a bucket for fermenting with no airlock.

  1. #1

    Default Using a bucket for fermenting with no airlock.

    Hello every one,

    Just a quick question, last time i made a melomel it was pretty messy and krausen and gunk got everywhere, now im just about to make a berry mel.

    Basicly cut to the chase, the guy at the LHBS has said i can just use a fermenting bucket and clip the lid down with no airlock to ferment it and when the lid expands just push it back down. Then when its done obviously rack into secondary.

    This sounds crazy to me as im thinking the bucket will explode or not be airtight enough.

    Or use a blow off tube,
    Or should i simply just add my berry combination into secondary?!!

    Thanks alot every one.
    "As happy as an Englishman with lalvin products!"

  2. #2
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    The way I understand it, the purpose of an air lock is to let CO2 out witout letting ambient air with its attendant natural yeasties and bacteria in.

    I've used a plain old plastic bucket with a not-too-good seal on CrossPollySofie(1717) with no complaints.
    Making Mead With TLC since 2010

  3. #3

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    You shouldn't need a seal, exactly. The fermentation will create a CO2 blanket on top of the mead and this CO2 will push up and out. If you seal it, it won't be able to escape without an airlock or something. You just need keep stuff from falling into the fermenter.

    I haven't used the method you're talking about. But I sort of semi-open ferment my beers all the time. I use a blowoff tube but then I put it into an empty bucket, so there's no water in there creating an airlock. This eases the back pressure on the yeasties. I then swap out an airlock when fermentation stops. Haven't had any problems from it. Same with yeast starters. I never use an airlock, just loosely placed tin foil to stop stuff from getting into the flask.

  4. #4
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    A gentle punching down of the fruit cap at least 3 times per day should be enough to prevent it expanding up and out. The reason this happens is that the fruit purée ends up on the top of the must, sticks together, and dries out to form a literal cap of fruit. Add increasing CO2 pressure coming from the must, and it can only go up, up, and away (or out the fermenter in this case).

    You should be fine with an open-air approach until the 2/3 sugar break, but after that point, you'll want to rack into something with an airlock. You could even just secure some cheesecloth over the bucket to keep things out.

    All that said, I'd go with a diligent "cap management" routine. If you're breaking up the fruit, it gets exposed to the must and doesn't dry out. That'll increase flavor/color extraction, sterilize the fruit in the rising alcohol, and, most importantly to you, have a lack of expanding gunk/krausen. Just remember, be very gentle while breaking up the cap, unless you want to experience a MEA (mead eruption accident). Hope that helps!
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  5. #5
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    Yogi's got it right as far as it's fine to let all kinds of oxygen into your must in the early stages.

    Last time I was out of bucket lids that were either loose or punched for an airlock, I tried sealing it with the intention of making sure I poked it a couple times a day, but it got going REALLY FAST (for once!!) and when I saw the lid starting to deform from the pressure, I ended up just sitting the lid on top of the bucket without sealing it, until it was about halfway done its sugar, by then one of my other bucket lids with an airlock hole was free so I transferred it over.
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  6. #6

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    yes wicked guys, thanks for the tips. as just said on a previous post, im def going to be going the bucket route!

    Makes so much more sense with regards to aeration and general cleanliness etc

    last dumb question and just answer yes if ive got the jist of this, 1/3 sugar break is for example if my SG was 1.1000 and i want my FG to be 1.010 then the 1/3 sugar break would be 1.070? hopefully ive got it!
    "As happy as an Englishman with lalvin products!"

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by RightHookCook View Post
    last dumb question and just answer yes if ive got the jist of this, 1/3 sugar break is for example if my SG was 1.1000 and i want my FG to be 1.010 then the 1/3 sugar break would be 1.070? hopefully ive got it!
    Yep, that would be it. Usually folks assume the FG is 1.000 and call it close enough. You don't have to worry about being "exact", the yeast aren't that picky.
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  8. #8
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    Yes, that's the idea.

    Just don't get hung up on trying to start at one gravity and just stopping at the proposed final number. Keep in mind that you'll probably have to stay flexible with how strong you want it, possibly feeding it to increase it during the ferment or maybe ferment dry and back sweetening etc.

    It's not easy trying to stop an active ferment at a specific point.......

    Good luck with it though.

    regards

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  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by RightHookCook View Post

    Basicly cut to the chase, the guy at the LHBS has said i can just use a fermenting bucket and clip the lid down with no airlock to ferment it and when the lid expands just push it back down. Then when its done obviously rack into secondary.
    afaik open fermentation is common in the wine industry.
    but don't clip the lid down. simply put a cloth across, to keep dust etc out, and gently place the lid on top. that stops any big objects from falling in while letting gas out under it.

    i transfer to carboy just before its finished. that way its still producing CO2 in the carboy and pushes the little bit of air out of it.

  10. #10

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    cool, thanks for the replys guys & gals looking forward to getting another batch on the go now.
    "As happy as an Englishman with lalvin products!"

  11. #11
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    Best solution to this problem is to use a bucket that is a lot bigger than you think you need.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by wildoates View Post
    Best solution to this problem is to use a bucket that is a lot bigger than you think you need.
    I second this. I bought a 2 gallon bucket for my 1 gallon batches and it's still a little easy to spill must all over the place when aerating with a spoon or lees stirrer. I went to a metal pot that holds 3.5 gallons at the rim and it's still a little short with me splashing small amount out of it if I'm not careful.

    Go bigger than you need, you won't regret it.
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