Can I Brew Beer Without An Airlock?

Lack of airlock activity is the new brewer’s biggest nightmare… second to that, getting a clogged airlock causing your fermentor to pressurize and blow gunk all over the place…

So what exactly is the purpose of an airlock, and can you brew without one?

Well, believe it or not, airlocks haven’t been around very long… beer has been brewed in open containers for a long time so brewing without an airlock is entirely possible… having one doesn’t change the outcome of your beer fermenting or not… in fact, if you go to most home brew forums and ask if your beer is screwed because of no airlock activity, you will be lynched, virtually kicked, and smacked in the head…

Why?

Everyday, a new brewer comes in and asks this same question… it’s almost as if airlock activity = fermentation, but it’s not… all an airlock is, is a valve that allows CO2 to get out and no air to get back in…

Frankly I’ve never had to deal with lack of airlock activity, but I too correlated the airlock bubbling with fermentation when I first got started… in fact, one time I took my fermenting bucket out and got it ready to siphon into my bottling bucket… it sat tilted on the counter for a couple hours to allow the yeast to gather on one side of the bucket (for easier siphoning)… and within those couple hours the airlock started going crazy…

Well, maybe not crazy, but I freaked out thinking that the beer wasn’t done fermenting since there was about 2 to 3 bubbles per minute… I knew fermentation should’ve been done within the first week (it had sat for 3 weeks total)… so I opened the fermentor and took a gravity reading… as expected, gravity was at 1.014 and done fermenting…

This really helped me understand the fermentation process and why the airlock does what it does…

See, the CO2 produced by yeast during fermentation will expand as temperature goes up and will compress as temperature goes down. Since I had my beer conditioning at 62 °F and room temperature was at 74 °F, the CO2 was basically expanding and it’s the reason why I was seeing airlock activity again, even though fermentation was complete…

Hope this helps you…

PS The ebook in my training program teaches you how to brew beer and goes into much more detail about how fermentation works…

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