No airlock activity question from a noob

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by davedog_7, Jun 12, 2018.

  1. davedog_7

    davedog_7 Initiate (149) Jun 26, 2017 Georgia

    OK, so I've read over and over that airlock activity (bucket fermenter) is not especially reliable.

    I'm on my 5th batch now, and this is the first time I haven't noticed activity in the airlock. Brewed it on Saturday, and no activity as of last (Monday) night. There does seem to be krauzen forming, but I didn't want to remove the lid, so I just peeked through the airlock hole. Not 100% sure how much if any, though.

    I am planning on transferring to secondary after a week. It's a pumpkin ale, so I wanted to try to let it settle more before bottling. I will check for final gravity at that point, which should be around 1.012. If the gravity still reads the same as OG (1.050) or only slightly less, is it fine to pitch more yeast at this point, or am I pretty much screwed for this batch?
     
  2. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (9,486) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Check your gravity now. If it hasn't dropped taste it and if it's still OK pitch yeast if needed. My guess is that it is fermented and you're just leaking gas somewhere on your bucket.
     
  3. davedog_7

    davedog_7 Initiate (149) Jun 26, 2017 Georgia

    OK, I'll check when I get home. From all I've read, the Internet has me scared to death of contamination, so I'm trying to disturb it as little as possible.

    Thanks.
     
  4. riptorn

    riptorn Initiate (134) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina

    The experienced home brewers here can do a lot to ease angst. They did for me in a similar experience, although I wasn't going to secondary. If interested you can read about it HERE.
    Good luck
     
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  5. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (745) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    You're good
     
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  6. Eggman20

    Eggman20 Initiate (141) Feb 14, 2017 Minnesota

    Correct! Krausen only forms if fermentation is happening. Go ahead and open the lid if your not sure, as it will not ruin your beer to open once or twice (especially if fermentation is happening).

    So sit back and relax. I wouldn't even bother checking gravity yet. I only check gravity once or twice after fermentation starts.
     
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  7. hoptualBrew

    hoptualBrew Defender (638) May 29, 2011 Florida
    Beer Trader

    How much yeast did you pitch? How much 1.050 wort did you make? What temp did you pitch? Did you aerate?

    I agree with above. Krausen is sign of fermentation, could check gravity, I would imagine it’d be around 1.030ish on day 3.

    Don’t worry about taking lid off (as long as everything sanitary) until after fermentation dies down.
     
  8. davedog_7

    davedog_7 Initiate (149) Jun 26, 2017 Georgia

    Thanks, everyone! Sounds like I should be good to go.

    I aerated (I think) plenty well. Pitched at about 82 degrees of a 5-gallon batch.

    It does seem like there must have been a small leak somewhere, so hopefully seeing a good bit of krauzen and checking current gravity will confirm that.
     
  9. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,407) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    I'm kind of hoping that's a typo. Pitching at 82F is too hot for about any yeast strain I can think of. Not that it will hurt the yeast, but it's likely to create off-flavors (particularly fusel alcohols) with most strains. What yeast did you use?
     
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  10. Push_the_limits

    Push_the_limits Initiate (128) Feb 8, 2018 Antarctica

    That's not good, but wouldn't the yeast become highly active at the start, and IF the wort cooled to proper temp within some hours, there would be hardly any "bad" alcohol? Maybe not enough for most people to detect. Regardless, hopefully it did not stay at such a high temp for very long.
     
  11. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (745) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    Might be ok for rehydration of dry yeast, but as already mentioned too warm for pitching most yeast...this is why Summer can be a horrible time to brew unless you are prepared for the higher temps.
     
  12. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,407) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    The problem is that at high temps such as 82F, everything is accelerated, including the lag time, so this fermentation was more than likely off to the races. Depending on ambient temperature (OP is in Georgia), that 82F might not come down much at all, and it might peak even higher. 5 gallons of wort has a lot of thermal mass...ask anyone who uses the kettle-in-a-sink-of-ice-water method to cool. At room temp, cooling would be exponentially slower.
     
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  13. davedog_7

    davedog_7 Initiate (149) Jun 26, 2017 Georgia

    So, it's about 82, and then I aerate by pouring from the brew kettle to the bucket and back a few times. Guessing it cools another couple degrees during that time. It's typically safale/dried yeast, recommended to pitch once the wort cools below 80.

    It then goes into a dark, relatively cool room (68-69 degrees).

    Previous batches have all had good flavor, but do you guys think I'm setting myself up for a problem?
     
  14. Push_the_limits

    Push_the_limits Initiate (128) Feb 8, 2018 Antarctica

    I might have missed it but didn't see anything about how large your wort was. As vikeman alluded, the factors matter. I wonder how quickly it cooled down. I mean, this is your 5th batch, maybe with the same yeast at the same pitch temp, so do you know what to expect here?

    Reminds me of how hard it is to allow the wort to cool! I used to get impatient. I cool mine outside (lower temps here) before pitching and I find myself constantly checking the temp. That exponential decrease is killer!
     
  15. runbirddrinkbeer

    runbirddrinkbeer Aspirant (200) Oct 24, 2009 Florida

    Unless you are using a yeast that does well at high temps, kveik comes to mind, you are going to run the risk of fusel alcohols(hot alcohols) being produced, with attendant off flavors.
    A lot of the temperature ranges on the packages of even the best yeast providers are largely BS. You'll make beer at those temps but not great beer. Maybe not even good. Most vet home brewers will tell you that 62-68* F is a much better range for the first 3-5 days of fermentation.
     
  16. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,407) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Safale is a brand, not a strain. i.e. there are many (or at least several) strains from Safale. Do you know which one(s) you've been using?

    Yikes. Does the package actually say to pitch once you get to 80F?

    For your next batch, I'd recommend posting the recipe (or at least the style) here, along with the strain to be used, and ask for recommendations for pitching and fermentation temps, until you get a feel for it.
     
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  17. davedog_7

    davedog_7 Initiate (149) Jun 26, 2017 Georgia

    Yeah, the fact that I'm in Georgia and it's summer means the groundwater that goes through my hose into the wort chiller is itself not much cooler than an ideal pitch temp. It gets it down to 90 in good fashion, but I worry that, after that, it gets to a point where it might take too long to get it much below 80.

    I think next time, I'll keep the thermometer sanitized and check it after aerating. It will be good to know the exact temp. Unfortunately, it's not logistical very easy for me to do both wort chiller and ice bath, but I may have to revisit that possibility, at least in the summer.
     
  18. davedog_7

    davedog_7 Initiate (149) Jun 26, 2017 Georgia

    OK, double checked, and the recipe says 'below 80' but the package says 77 or below.

    So, I guess that leads me to....I understand quicker is better, but how long can I take cooling the wort before time is really against me?
     
  19. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,407) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Given where you live, if you stick with this hobby, you're probably going to be looking for a solution to get chilling done in a reasonable time.

    Do you have a utility sink? Or a large bucket? A great way to get faster chill times with an immersion chiller is to use a cheap pond pump to move ice water from a sink/bucket, through the chiller, and back into the sink bucket. (i.e. recycle it.) Just chill the normal way (water only) until the chilling begins to slow noticeably, then switch to ice water.
     
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  20. davedog_7

    davedog_7 Initiate (149) Jun 26, 2017 Georgia

    Hmm. Yeah, that might have to be something I look into. Thanks!
     
  21. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,407) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Yeah, even 77F is high for most strains. Better than 82F though!

    Well, if you can keep the wort sanitary, you have lots of time. That's kind of a big if, though. Personally, if it were taking longer than, say, an hour, I'd start to get concerned. Not to mention frustrated with how long a not very interesting part of the process is taking.

    I'm in PA. Not as hot as Georgia, but it still gets pretty hot, even 100F+ at times. In the summer, I can get from boiling down to lager pitching temps (<50F) in under 20 minutes.
     
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  22. riptorn

    riptorn Initiate (134) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina

    Looking at a pack of US-05....temperature range of 53.6° - 77°F
    The Fermentis pdf for US-05 references 77°F to 84°F, which is for rehydrating.
     
    #22 riptorn, Jun 12, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
  23. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,407) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Hmmm. I'm assuming Fermentis is expecting the user to let the temperature come down after rehydration. US-05 is a little more tolerant (from an off flavor perspective) than a lot of strains, but I personally wouldn't push it to 77F. (And that's 77F fermentation/wort temp, not ambient.)
     
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  24. riptorn

    riptorn Initiate (134) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina

    Maybe not after, but perhaps during. It doesn't indicate a specific temperature at end of hydration, it does give a time of 45 minutes from start to finish (15 min rest, the 30 min stirring, then pitch).
    They don't directly specify a ceiling for sho' nuff pitching temp.

    To add to the mix, the pack data seems to contradict the pdf:
    Pack - temperature range of 53.6° - 77°F
    PDF - "FERMENTATION: ideally at 18-28°C (64-82°F)"

    I sprinkle and shoot for midway of ~ 65°
     
    #24 riptorn, Jun 12, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
  25. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,407) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Good grief. I'm glad Fermentis makes yeast, and not beer. I wonder how many degrees they would tack onto that for "not ideal, but okay."
     
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  26. riptorn

    riptorn Initiate (134) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina

    Pitch @ flameout?



    EDIT: failed to mention in a post # 22 that the ideal range on the pack is 59.7° - 71.6°
     
    #26 riptorn, Jun 12, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
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  27. davedog_7

    davedog_7 Initiate (149) Jun 26, 2017 Georgia

    Thanks again for all the help. And, because I know you were all on the edge of your seats...:slight_smile:

    (what should be) FG is right at 1.012, so it definitely fermented. And, it smells like a pumpkin ale.

    Lemme run this by you. The IC does a bang up job until it gets down to about 90. That's where it really slows, at roughly the 10-15 minute mark.

    Would it be appropriate/acceptable to aerate and seal it, and then plop it in my chest freezer for about another 10-15 minutes? Maybe 20?

    It's a plastic bucket, so it obviously doesn't conduct ambient temperature especially well, but at a sub-zero temp in a small space, I wonder if that might take it down to at least the low to mid 70s within a reasonable time before pitching.

    Of course, I want to make the best beer I can, and at the same time, I'm not a professional beer taster. A slight introduction of fusels probably won't be detected by me or my friends, and research tells me that they are non-existent or at least negligible when pitching at 75 degrees or so.

    Again, not ideal, but overall, aside from some very slight risks, am I courting problems?
     
  28. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,407) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    I think you might be surprised by how long it takes the wort temp to drop in the freezer. Of course, it also depends on how cold the freezer is. But putting the fermenter in the freezer is similar to sitting it in an ice water bath: it's not very efficient, because neither the wort being cooled nor the cooling medium (in this case air) is moving in relation to the other. But give it a shot and see how long it takes and decide if it's for you.
     
  29. davedog_7

    davedog_7 Initiate (149) Jun 26, 2017 Georgia

    Gotcha. Certainly not expecting it to drop like a stone, but seems like it's "wort" a shot.

    Thanks!
     
  30. riptorn

    riptorn Initiate (134) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina

    Good to be in a proactive mode for your next batch.
    The suggestion below is what I'd do. It eliminates the step of closing, plopping and removing. All you have to do is change your water supply from the running tap to the pump that's already in the bucket of iced water; a simple disconnect-reconnect.
     
  31. Prep8611

    Prep8611 Aspirant (294) Aug 22, 2014 New Jersey

    I brew late at night cause of my daughter and routinely finish cooling to about 80 around 1:30 am. I then stick on my ferm freezer with probe set to 60. I pitch the next day after aerating. This works for me. In the winter I can obviously pitch same night.
     
  32. davedog_7

    davedog_7 Initiate (149) Jun 26, 2017 Georgia

    I think I'll give this a shot one time just to see, and then ultimately move to the pump/ice water approach once it's been a long enough time since my last homebrew equipment purchase. Every time a package arrives lately, my wife asks, "What's that?" and I think she's starting to get slightly annoyed that I respond with "something for my home brewing." :slight_smile:

    Looks like a pump can be had for around $60.
     
  33. davedog_7

    davedog_7 Initiate (149) Jun 26, 2017 Georgia

    OK, makes sense. Seemed like there were differing views on how long to leave the wort before pitching, but as you've had no issues whatsoever, that's good enough for me.
     
  34. Prep8611

    Prep8611 Aspirant (294) Aug 22, 2014 New Jersey

    To be clear my freezer is not 60 ambient. It’s actually much colder until beer reaches pitching temp. I have a small ceramic heater in there to prevent it from getting too cold.
     
  35. davedog_7

    davedog_7 Initiate (149) Jun 26, 2017 Georgia

    I'm pretty sure you know this, but just in case, they make temperature controllers/regulators for fridges, freezers, and other applications so that you can easily control the temp (good for home kegs as well). Sorry if that was a noob response to an experienced home brewer, but just in case, or for any other folks reading that are new to home brewing.

    https://www.homedepot.com/p/Hydro-C...BEgK3-fD_BwE&dclid=CL3-uaTL0dsCFUZ_YgodtHMENg
     
  36. riptorn

    riptorn Initiate (134) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina

    FWIW.....How to brew by John Palmer is a fountain of information. Chapter 7 of the online version (older than the print version) is about cooling the wort and goes over several reasons why, and a few ways how.
     
  37. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (745) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    US-05 (dry Chico) is probably one of the most forgiving yeast around...but stand by for a peach bomb at those temps :astonished:
     
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  38. Prep8611

    Prep8611 Aspirant (294) Aug 22, 2014 New Jersey

    Np I actually have both my freezer and ceramic heater plugged into a similiar temp controller.
     
  39. davedog_7

    davedog_7 Initiate (149) Jun 26, 2017 Georgia

    I have read a lot from Johnny P (we're friends. not really.) He is a human encyclopedia on beer-making.

    To go tangential for a second, you ever wonder how beer has been brewed for centuries when things like wort chillers, sanitizers, etc. have only really been available recently? Granted, the beer probably didn't taste as good, but still.
     
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  40. riptorn

    riptorn Initiate (134) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina

    Nope....like most home brewers I am perpetually and wholly uninquisitive about all things beer. :wink:
     
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