Spigot disaster for homemade Pale Ale

How a spigot leak cost me 1/3 of my brew

Spigot disaster for homemade Pale Ale

Twelve days ago I spent the whole day making my first wort. It was a massive learning experience, and not one I'm keen to repeat very soon.

The primary fermentation was all over the place and didn't kick in properly until day 3. But it grew a huge krausen, bubbled away for a few days, slowed, and finally stopped a couple of days ago. All the effort appeared to have paid off.

Today, I thought I'd check the SG to see where it's landed. But when I tried to turn the spigot...disaster!!! I felt a small 'pop' and then the beer started to run from the seal between the spigot and the FV.

My first attempt to reset the spigot didn't work so, fearing I was about to lose all 23 litres, I attached a racking tube and started to rack the beer from the spigot a second (un-sanitised) FV I had hanging nearby.

The racking was just about beating the leak for volume, but I realised if I continued I was likely to end up with 15 litres of (probably) spoilt beer.

I tried again to retighten the spigot and this time it worked. The o-ring sealed and the leak stopped.

I'd lost about 7 litres of the brew, but I'd saved 16.

I retrospect, I remember thinking the spigot was not quite right when I started this brew.

One thing it did allow me was an early tasting of the beer (I wasn't going to waste all 7 litres!!!). I also got my SG reading 1.010, meaning we're at about 4.3% - perfectly suited to my taste.

This was room temp (~20C), flat beer, which I'm always going to struggle to enjoy. What I did pick up was strong spice and clove flavours. I wasn't very keen at first, but after a couple of tastes, it grew on me. I'm looking forward to seeing how this ends up after bottling, carbonation, and a bit of rest.

Lessons learnt

  1. Double-check the spigot before you start your brew
  2. Go "all-in" with the Fermentasaurus - it was heartbreaking to see so much of my hard work hitting the floor, so this has definitely got me thinking about adding the pressure kit and kegging to avoid using weak plastic spigots in future.