Originally Posted by BOBBYTBREW
Thanks so much for the quick response Revvy (and Tipsy Dragon) for the advice. I obviously need to buy some books and do some more reading because the information I've received so far makes it sound like the Airlock IS an indicator that fermentation is going on.
I have no problem being patient (even though that goes against my very nature!!) with this batch because a good tasting beer is ultimately the goal, right?! I'll just leave it be for another 10 days or so and then begin taking gravity readings to see where it is at (I don't have a secondary fermenter yet)
Over half of my beers have had no airlock activity...AND that is spread out among carboys, buckets. water bottles, and anything else I may ferment in, and regardless of the type of airlock...I have 9 different fermenters...
That's why I and many others say repeatedly that the only gauge of fermentaion is your hydrometer
(or refractometer) . Those are precision calibrated instruments...
More than likely your fermentation is going nicely at it's own pace but for a dozen possible reasons your airlock isn't bubbling...simple as that. Get out of the habit of thinking it is a precision instrument and you will find you are less worried...The only precise methid of gauging fermentation is taking gravity readings.
Back in the bad old days, the predominant airlock was an s type...and often they were made of glass and sat relatively heavy in the grommet, and that's where people like papazain and those who influenced him got into the habit of counting bubbles...but now adays with 3 piecers being the norm, and most things being made crappy these days...it's just not a reliable means anymore.
The trouble is, that even the authors for the most part have been brewing so long that they don't pay attention to the airlock, yet the perpetuate the myth from the old days of bubbles meaning anything....though I figure, as a writer myself, they have long moved past the basic methodology that they wrote about...it's easy to do...to "preach" something very basic, while doing a process somewhat more complex...or like most of us who have been brewing awhile, taking shortcuts.
Co2 is heavier than air...there can be plenty of co2 going on, plenty of active fermentation happenning but there is not enough excess co2 rising or venting out to actually lift the plastic bubbler
The 3 piece airlock is the most fallable of them all, often there is simply not a strong enough escape of co2 to lift the bubbler. Or they can be weighted down with co2 bubbles, ir hteir is a leak in the grommet or the bucket seal, anynumber of factors.
If you push down on your bucket lid often you will suddenly get a huge amount of bubbling as you off gass the co2 that is there present but no needing to vent on it's own.
I find that the older S type airlocks, even plastic are much more reliable...in face I have started to use those old school ones exclusively. Not to use them as a gauge of fermentation...but because I like to watch the bubbles..
But even those don't always bubble..BUT you can tell theres CO2 pushing out because the liquid will be on the farthest side away from the grommet or bung hole.
Even not bubbling. you can see that something has pushed the water to the other side...
There's quite a few people on here who do not use an airlock at all, they simply loosely place their lids on the bucket, or cover with saran wrap, or tinfoil or pieces of plexigalss, these just sit on the top and if the CO2 needs to void out it doess...Because as I said before if the co2 is pushing out, then NOTHING is getting in.
If you look around on here at all the supposed "stuck" fermentation panic thread are not true Stuck fermentations, or deads yeasts, but are simply people like you using treating the vent like some precision instrument...And they, just like you use the words "Signs of fermentation." And that is our clue that you are going by arilocks.
And 90% or more come back and say they took a hydro reading...and everything was fine...
Rarely do yeasts these days get stuck...this isn't like the 70's when there was one or two strains of yeast, and they came from Europe in dried out cakes, and nowadays with our hobby so popular, even most tinned kits with the yeast under the lid trun over so fast that they are relatvely fresh most of the time.
So nowadays the only way our yeast "dies" or poops out is 1)If we pitch it into boiling wort 2) There is a big temp drop and the yeasts go dormant and flocculate out, or 3) if there is a high grav wort and the yeast maxes out in it's ability to eat all the sugar...and even then the yeast may poop out at either 1.030 or 1.020...But other than that most fermentations take....
AND this is regardless of any airlock bubbling...
Seriously, many of us pitch our yeast, walk away for a month and then bottle, and our beers have turned out great...The yeasts have been doing this for 5,000 years...they know what they're doing,
Hope this helps! You will find you are much more relaxed and able to RDWHAHB...if you ignore the airlock...