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General Category => Extract/Partial Mash Brewing => Topic started by: mmskelly on May 04, 2011, 01:31:00 am

Title: No fermentation?
Post by: mmskelly on May 04, 2011, 01:31:00 am
I brewed an amber ale (Fat Tire tribute) on Friday night.  Because my yeast was a bit older (4 months old), I gave it 2.5 days to activate before pitching.  Per the recipe instructions, I waited until the wort was at 80 degrees, then I added the yeast.  I became concerned when, by Sunday, there were still no bubbles in the air lock.  So, I went to my local supply store and inquired.  They said that the particular yeast does better around 70 degrees or less.  So I bought some new yeast, activated it, and pitched it that night.  It is now Tuesday and still no bubbles in the air lock.  I have accepted the fact that this batch is a bust.  However, I'd love to understand what I may have done wrong before brewing another batch.  Any ideas?
Title: Re: No fermentation?
Post by: tschmidlin on May 04, 2011, 01:55:13 am
If you are fermenting in a bucket, it is probably just that you don't have a good enough seal between the lid and the bucket, so there is no pressure in the airlock.  Take a peak inside and see if there is any froth on top.  If you have a hydrometer, take a gravity reading.  It's likely fermenting.
Title: Re: No fermentation?
Post by: Hokerer on May 04, 2011, 01:57:10 am
First thing to know is that no bubbles in the airlock doesn't really mean anything.  A lot of lids don't always make a complete seal so the CO2 from fermentation can escape without going through the airlock.  Second thing, by talking about "activating" your yeast, does that imply you're using Wyeast "smack packs"?  If so, in addition to activating them, you should also make a starter with them.  An "activated" pack by itself isn't really enough yeast for anything more than a relatively low gravity beer.

You could already have fermentation going on or it could be slow starting due to underpitching.  Best bet is to give it another day and then lift the lid and take a peek.  If a krausen has formed on top of the wort, you've got fermentation going on.

Don't write off this batch yet.
Title: Re: No fermentation?
Post by: weazletoe on May 04, 2011, 04:07:10 am
+1 I agree you are fine. Lids are famous for not sealing. Next time, pitch that yeast a lot cooler though. Better to pitch your yeast cooler than you want it, and let it warm up. I cool my wort to at least 65* before pitching. If you pitch too warm, you'll get all kinds of funky off flavors going on.
Title: Re: No fermentation?
Post by: tygo on May 04, 2011, 11:18:30 am
+1 I agree you are fine. Lids are famous for not sealing. Next time, pitch that yeast a lot cooler though. Better to pitch your yeast cooler than you want it, and let it warm up. I cool my wort to at least 65* before pitching. If you pitch too warm, you'll get all kinds of funky off flavors going on.

Like weaz says pitch it a lot cooler and try to keep it that way.  Ignore the instructions with the kit and try to keep the fermenting wort in the mid-60's.  Remember also that fermentation generates heat so the actual temperature of the fermentation is going to be several degrees higher than the ambient temperature.
Title: Re: No fermentation?
Post by: mmskelly on May 04, 2011, 03:34:04 pm
Thanks, all, for the input.  Looks like you are all correct.  I gently pushed on the lid last night, and, sure enough, built up gas was forced to escape.  Then, this morning, bubbles in the air lock!  So I feel better.  However, I have certainly learned a few things: 1) don't depend on bubbles in the air lock for certainty, 2) as a habit, always pitch the yeast at cooler temps, and 3) inquire at the supply store about starters...  Thanks again for the quick replies.
Title: Re: No fermentation?
Post by: denny on May 04, 2011, 03:37:44 pm
2) as a habit, always pitch the yeast at cooler temps,

Remember that fermentation generates heat, so pitch at a temp below your intended fermentation temp

and 3) inquire at the supply store about starters... 

Take a look at mrmalty.com for some great info on starters
Title: Re: No fermentation?
Post by: JKL on May 04, 2011, 04:59:57 pm
However, I have certainly learned a few things: 1) don't depend on bubbles in the air lock for certainty, 2) as a habit, always pitch the yeast at cooler temps, and 3) inquire at the supply store about starters... 

I've been brewing off and on (more off) for the past 15 yrs and every beer is still a learning experience.
-J.K.L.
Title: Re: No fermentation?
Post by: weazletoe on May 13, 2011, 02:07:08 am
Ignore the instructions with the kit

I think that was the biggest lesson I learned on the other board when I began brewing. Seems to me, the instructions that come with the kit are designed to give your neww brewers a fast and furious fermentation, so they feel good about what they did. You'll make a lot better beer by cooling it down, and fermenting it slower.
Title: Re: No fermentation?
Post by: jamminbrew on May 13, 2011, 02:15:59 am
Ignore the instructions with the kit

I think that was the biggest lesson I learned on the other board when I began brewing. Seems to me, the instructions that come with the kit are designed to give your neww brewers a fast and furious fermentation, so they feel good about what they did. You'll make a lot better beer by cooling it down, and fermenting it slower.
I brewed my very first kit beer following Charlie Papazian's directions in TCJOHB, and when I was cleaning up, realized there were instructions in the bottom of the box the kit was in. CP's method was better, and all was well with the world! I never used the instructions in a kit after that.  Now that I do AG, its a moot point.