Author Topic: Vodka vs Star San in air lock  (Read 15157 times)

Offline ihikeut

  • BeerSmith Grandmaster Brewer
  • *****
  • Posts: 199
  • BeerSmith 2 Rocks!
Vodka vs Star San in air lock
« on: October 08, 2012, 06:34:02 PM »
Wondering is Vodka would be better in a air lock when brewing lager because of the long fermenting and ageing processes. Have read brewers using it. Always have used Star San in my air locks, but have notice it becoming cloudy after the yeast slows. Just finish a Diacytl Rest on my first lager and the air locks were cloudy until the yeast became active, so I don't think it's a problem. Have read of brewers mixing Star San with distilled water and using for a year. Seems Like it could get expensive using Vodka in High Gravity Beer, with blow off tubes.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2012, 07:15:24 PM by ihikeut »

Offline cowboy up

  • BeerSmith Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 48
Re: Vodka vs Star San in air lock
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2012, 11:02:52 AM »
I always use vodka in my air locks. I'm not sure what you have for a set up but I use a large blow off tube in my 6 gal. glass primary fermenter. I take some of my Star San that I use on brewing day for my equipment, and put it in a small bucket with the blow off hose in it. After it's done blowing off through the blow off hose, usually one or two days after brewing, I replace the big hose with a bung and an air lock with vodka in it. I buy the cheapest vodka I can find and use that strickley for my air locks. This has always worked great for me, regardless what kind of beer I'm brewing. The difference in money isn't that great and it's worth it to me.   :)

Offline Maine Homebrewer

  • BeerSmith Grandmaster Brewer
  • *****
  • Posts: 1371
Re: Vodka vs Star San in air lock
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2012, 05:17:37 PM »
I use the cheapest 100proof vodka I can find.  It's only an ounce or two at a time, so a 750ml bottle will last for a dozen or more batches.

Think of it this way. Your lager is happily lagering, then it undergoes an unexpected temperature change.  This causes the pressure in the headspace to change, creating a vacuum that sucks some of the contents of the airlock back into the brew.

Would you rather that be sanitizer or vodka?

"To alcohol! The cause of - and solution to - all of life's problems!" -Homer Simpson

Offline jomebrew

  • Global Moderator
  • BeerSmith Grandmaster Brewer
  • *****
  • Posts: 1052
    • Jomebrew
Re: Vodka vs Star San in air lock
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2012, 09:13:46 AM »
There is nothing wrong with Starsan in the blowoff or airlock.  Starsan will not affect the beer if it is sucked in.  Starsan is cheap and should be readily available on brew day.  There is no added benefit to using vodka. 

The purpose of the airlock/blowoff container is to prevent bacterial of entering the fermenting beer.  Especially the ones that can survive and taint the beer.  You would want to avoid iodine based sanitizers because they could affect the beer if enough was sucked in.

How does it get sucked in you ask?  Simply lowering the thermostat will cause a vacuum in the carboy.  That is how I sucked in a good half pint of Starsan. 

Offline Maine Homebrewer

  • BeerSmith Grandmaster Brewer
  • *****
  • Posts: 1371
Re: Vodka vs Star San in air lock
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2012, 06:45:24 PM »
Quote
Starsan will not affect the beer if it is sucked in. 

Very true. But there's still the psychological "ick" factor.

Would you rather splash some Star San or some Popov into the drink?

Personally, I'll choose the vodka.

"Hey dude, you want some homebrew? Only a little acid-based food-grade sanitizer got sucked through the airlock.  I swear it's good to drink" or "Hey dude, you want some homebrew? A little vodka got sucked through the airlock. It's kind of a boilermaker, but not quite."

You decide.
"To alcohol! The cause of - and solution to - all of life's problems!" -Homer Simpson

Offline Beer_Tigger

  • Global Moderator
  • BeerSmith Grandmaster Brewer
  • *****
  • Posts: 501
  • Grrrrrrrrrrrrr baby! Very Grrrrr!!!
Re: Vodka vs Star San in air lock
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2012, 05:57:06 AM »
Not sure about San Star, but the no rinse sanitizer I use is an oxy-based one and it doesn't last too long.  Over time the oxy part is spent up just sitting exposed to air, so after a few days it would just be water, not good enough.   That's why I use vodka. 

I have a "bubble" type airlock and it can't really suck back in the vodka, it would just pull bubbles thru.
"Let's see if this here beer will help me to stop procrastinating." - my cousin

Offline tom_hampton

  • BeerSmith Grandmaster Brewer
  • *****
  • Posts: 929
  • BeerSmith 2 Rocks!
    • Tom's Miata Racing Blog
Re: Vodka vs Star San in air lock
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2012, 04:03:54 PM »
I use whatever I have near me at the time.  Mostly it's starSan, but its vodka sometimes too.  Star San is good for a month or so, and doesn't evaporate as quickly as vodka. 

Starsan is basically phosphoric acid and a surfactant. Both ingredients break down into substances that are used by the yeast as nutrients.  It is entirely consumed in small quantities and is flavor neutral. 
R.I.P.:Belgian Blonde
On Tap: Apfelwein, Kolsch(v2), Pumpkin Ale, Belgian Specialty 
Aging/Storing: Coffee Porter, Chocolate Porter, Flanders Red, English Barlywine
Fermenting: Maggie's Altbier
Next Up: PtE(1.1), Belgian Dubbel?

Working thru all BCS recipes

Offline SharpsRifle

  • Beer lover
  • BeerSmith Grandmaster Brewer
  • *****
  • Posts: 133
  • have another
Re: Vodka vs Star San in air lock
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2012, 07:55:24 PM »
I don't drink vodka, I'm not going to put my good Scotch in the airlock and there is already Sanitizer in the airlock when I pull it out of the bucket so I use it.
I like beer
It makes me a jolly good fellow
I like beer
it helps me unwind and some times it makes me feel mellow
I like beer
whiskeys too rough, champagne costs too much and vodka puts my mouth in gear

Offline Maine Homebrewer

  • BeerSmith Grandmaster Brewer
  • *****
  • Posts: 1371
Re: Vodka vs Star San in air lock
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2012, 04:18:56 PM »
Quote
Both ingredients break down into substances that are used by the yeast as nutrients.

Good to know. Takes away much of the "ick" factor.
"To alcohol! The cause of - and solution to - all of life's problems!" -Homer Simpson