I had been worried about my March Pale Ale. There had been no bubbles in the airlock of the fermenter all week. I thought I might have had a bad pack of yeast, so I added another pack Wednesday night. Still no bubbles. So this morning I opened it up, expecting to carry a dead wet mess to the compost heap. However, I decided to check the specific gravity first. To my surprise and delight it came out at 1.015, way down from a week ago. So it had been fermenting. My primary fermenter had a leak that that allowed the escaping CO2 to bypass the airlock. The problem was with the fermenter, not the brew or the yeast.
So I went ahead and racked the brew. This proved to be unexpectedly hard. The primary fermenter has a valve near the bottom. My usual procedure is to attach a hose there, drop the other end into the secondary fermenter (a 5 gallon glass carboy), open the valve, and let the young beer flow. Today the flow stopped after about a minute. Something had clogged the valve. So I got another hose and rigged a siphon. This did most of the job, but eventually that too got stuck. I had to finish by scooping the beer out and pouring it through a strainer and funnel.
The problem was the hops. I used our homegrown hops throughout the effort. Unlike hop pellets, these can easily clog hoses. Next time I use whole hops I will strain them out when I pour the wort from the kettle to the primary fermenter.
Cleanup was simplified because I did not bother with the primary fermenter. It had let CO2 out where it should not have, and it had not let the beer out where it should have. To the trash. It has served me for some years, but the plastic at the top no longer seals properly. Before my next batch I will have to buy a replacement. It will be interesting to see what is on the market now. It has been a while since I had to replace any of my basic equipment.