Beginner not seeing airlock bubbles

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by decafdave, Nov 2, 2018.

  1. decafdave

    decafdave Initiate (59) May 29, 2013 Virginia

    Hello, first time homebrewer here.

    I'm brewing a 2 gallon IPA recipe:
    -2.8 lbs golden LME
    -4 oz carepils
    -1 oz Amarillo
    -1 oz Galaxy
    - 7g dry ale yeast

    It's fermenting in a 5 gallon bucket, with a 3 piece airlock.

    I started fermenting 48 hours ago. At first it was in my basement, at 65 degrees, but after about 12 hrs I moved to a room that is 68.

    I'm concerned that the airlock hasn't started bubbling yet. Is it likely that the larger bucket (5 gallon) for my batch size is behind this, or do I need to add more yeast ASAP? Is it safe to open the lid and inspect at this point?

  2. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (733) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    Sure, but just quickly...then reseal the lid good and tight (probably wasn't sealed tight if you see some krausen when sneaking a peek).
    decafdave, PapaGoose03 and riptorn like this.
  3. riptorn

    riptorn Initiate (106) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina

    Do you know how old the yeast was? Or, if you weighed it out from an 11.5g packet, how long was it open before you pitched?
    decafdave likes this.
  4. Maestro0708

    Maestro0708 Aspirant (239) Feb 27, 2015 Kentucky

    Airlock activity is not the best indicator of whether fermentation has occurred. My very first batch never showed activity in the airlock and yet it fermented just fine! You should get a hydrometer if you dont already have one so that you can check that gravity has changed, ensure your beer is at a stable FG, and calculate your ABV.

    Cheers and RDWHAHB
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  5. Mashtun_Martian

    Mashtun_Martian Initiate (27) Nov 1, 2018 Massachusetts

    It could be several things. First, your set-up may not be air tight so co2 is bypassing your bubbler somehow.

    Another thing, it could indeed be your 2 or so gal batch size in a 5 gal fermenter... that may take longer for the co2 to pressurize a larger volume of air enough to push the bubbler up AND smaller volumes of fermentation produse less gas in general.

    However, I think what is most likely, even after 48 hours is that your yeast is still getting started. If you didn’t properly oxygenate the wort by shaking it up or pumping air or even oxygen, then it’s going to increase your lag time. Don’t panic though. If there are sugars there and you added yeast, and there’s nothing in your solution that will kill the yeast (preservatives etc. like in many ciders) then you will get fermentation. Just give it a bit of time.
    decafdave likes this.
  6. premierpro

    premierpro Aspirant (240) Mar 21, 2009 Michigan

    I would not be worried if you used dry yeast. Probably a leak in your bucket. I have two fermenters going now with no air lock activity and I used liquid yeast. Good luck on your batch!
    decafdave likes this.
  7. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (2,283) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    Was this a kit purchased off the shelf, or did you buy your ingredients and yeast a la carte? Yeast storage in a kit on the shelf is not ideal and could be a source for your problem.
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  8. decafdave

    decafdave Initiate (59) May 29, 2013 Virginia

    It was all a la cart from my LBS.
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  9. decafdave

    decafdave Initiate (59) May 29, 2013 Virginia

    Thanks, yes I actually bought a hyrometer, but in the chaos of brew day I completely forgot to take a reading. My fermenting bucket doesn't have a spigot, or else I'd take a sample now.
  10. decafdave

    decafdave Initiate (59) May 29, 2013 Virginia

    It was from a packet, which I cut in order to accommodate the 2 gallon batch size. Perhaps 30 seconds passed between opening and pitching.
    riptorn likes this.
  11. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,475) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania

    Do you have a wine thief? If not, you could sanitize a turkey baster and draw a sample.
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  12. decafdave

    decafdave Initiate (59) May 29, 2013 Virginia

    Had no idea these existed, but my brewshop does have some. I assume that even though I never got an OG reading, I'll still be able to compare measurements taken today, and perhaps 3 days from now to confirm fermentation?

  13. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,475) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania

    Yes. And since this was an extract batch, assuming your final volume of wort in the fermenter was on target, and all the extract made it into the kettle, you can pretty much assume the Original Gravity was per the recipe.
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  14. Mashtun_Martian

    Mashtun_Martian Initiate (27) Nov 1, 2018 Massachusetts

    I’d StarSan a small pot, open the fermenter, sanitize the hydrometer, and take a Reading. They say not to add the sample back, but with 2 gallons, depending on your method, that’s a lot of wort. I add mine back but I am very careful about sanitizing everything.

    You want that reading if you plan to calculate ABV. Also compare it to FG so when bottling you know how far it has dropped. You want to make sure your fermentation is finished if you plan to bottle carbonate to avoid the dreaded bottle bomb.

    I did the same thing on my first batch and wish I could go back because there’s a few things I’ll never know if I ever re-make that recipe.
  15. decafdave

    decafdave Initiate (59) May 29, 2013 Virginia

    I took a look under the lid to get a hydrometer reading, and there was no layer of krausen.

    I think at this point (5 days after boil), I should pitch more yeast. Any thoughts?

    As an aside, when I went to the brewshop to grab a wine thief, I got ingredients for another batch (2.5 gallons) and boiled last night. Going for a centennial IPA with a lot of malt backbone. The interesting thing is that my airlock is already bubbling on the 2nd batch, 14 hours in.

    I hope I can salvage my first batch, but at least I've diversified now!
  16. Mashtun_Martian

    Mashtun_Martian Initiate (27) Nov 1, 2018 Massachusetts

    If you’re going to re-pitch, I’d get a starter going with the new yeast. That way you can isolate the problem. If your starter is going, then goes dormant or dies after pitching, you’ll know it wasn’t an issue with the yeast.

    Then you can examine other issues like high chlorine in the water etc...
    decafdave likes this.
  17. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,475) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania

    What was the reading?
  18. decafdave

    decafdave Initiate (59) May 29, 2013 Virginia

    1.017. I talked it over with the folks at the brew shop, and they put way more credence in the low gravity reading than in the lack of visible signs, which is understandable. They also said that the dry ale east that I used isn't a particularly active strain, and usually doesn't produce much krausen. I never took an OG reading, but it was probably much higher (1.035+?) considering I used most of a LME container (2.8 lbs) and some carapils.

    So I haven't re-pitched. I'll probably take another reading in a few days to see if it's dropped more.
  19. gvickery

    gvickery Aspirant (275) May 13, 2017 Texas

    What brand/style yeast was it? I have used several different dry ale yeast and they were extremely active. Safale US-05, US-04, and Nottingham.
  20. decafdave

    decafdave Initiate (59) May 29, 2013 Virginia

    It was US-05.
  21. decafdave

    decafdave Initiate (59) May 29, 2013 Virginia

    I just took a new gravity reading, and am down to 1.012! Whew. I think this batch will turn out fine. It tastes good too :slight_smile:
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  22. Mashtun_Martian

    Mashtun_Martian Initiate (27) Nov 1, 2018 Massachusetts

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