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Old 02-15-2011, 12:37 PM   #1
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Default Never ending fermentation? 11 days in primary and still bubbling once every 5 sec

I did a search and couldn't find my exact scenario. This is the first time this happened to me so I am a little unsure as to what to do.

I know not to go off of the bubbles but I usually check gravity when the bubbles slow to one every 60 seconds or longer which usually only takes a week. My worry is probably more grown out of imapatience than anything. I don't want to transfer before it is done.

I guess my question is: Should I just relax and let it finish no matter how long it takes?

This beer is an double batch of Arrogant Bastard clone and I used Pacific Ale yeast.

Batch 1: OG = 1.084
Batch 2: OG = 1.091

Thanks ini advance for any advice.

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Old 02-15-2011, 01:27 PM   #2
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Bubbles do not equal fermentation. Your beer may or may not be still fermenting, but the only way you can know is to take a couple of hydrometer readings over the span of 48 hours. If you want to get this into a secondary after all the sugars have been metabolized for whatever reason, you have to check. Otherwise, I would just leave it alone for at least another two weeks. Stop futzing! Your yeast are getting annoyed!

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Old 02-15-2011, 01:48 PM   #3
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High gravity = longer fermentation.

Also your pitch rate affects fermentation rate.

Stop worrying.

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Old 02-15-2011, 02:03 PM   #4
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How much yeast did you pitch?

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Old 02-15-2011, 02:06 PM   #5
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Something you need to understand I think...The airlock is NOT a magical fermentation tool or gauge. Your beer will ferment regardless of whether you use an airlock or not. ALL an airlock is is a vent, a valve to release excess co2. Nothing more. It's not even a gauge of fermentation.

All it is is some way to let gas escape from your beer so you don't blow the lid off your fermenter and paint your ceiling with beer. Lots of folks don't even use an airlock, some even just cover their fermenters with tin foil or plexiglass. Half my fermentations have no airlock activity whatsoever, regardless of buckets or carboys....In fact Northern brewer now has a little rubber valve that fits in the grommet hole and just lets excess co2 out. No need for an airlock (which is good for folks trying to do temp controlled fermentation in dorm fridges and stuff where there might not be room for either a tall airlock or a hose.

Which goes to show how inconsequential to the actual fermentation process they really are.

But you really really really need to get a hydrometer. You can't go by looks alone....I can't stress this enough.

Airlocks bubble or they don't it doesn't mean anything is wrong.

Half my beers NEVER have a bubbling airlock, but I've never had a fermentation not happen before.

Airlock bubbling and fermentation are not the same thing. You have to separate that from your mindset. Airlock bubbling can be a sign of fermentation, but not a good one, because the airlock will often blip or not blip for various other reasons...

If your airlock was bubbling and stopped---It doesn't mean fermentation has stopped.

If you airlock isn't bubbling, it doesn't mean your fermentation hasn't started....

If your airlock starts bubbling, it really doesn't matter.

If your airlock NEVER bubbles, it doesn't mean anything is wrong or right.

Your airlock is not a fermentation gauge, it is a VALVE to release excess co2. If it bubbles it is because it needs to, if it doesn't, it just means it doesn't need too...

Often an airlock will bubble if the fermenter has been disturbed in some way, like a change in temperature, change in atmospheric pressure, the cat brushing against it, opening it up to take a hydro reading, any number of things. The co2 has sat in stasis for a period of time, then it was disturbed so it is not longer at equilibrium with everything else now. And therefore it is blipping in your airlock...

Or you could indeed have fermentation happening, since maybe your fermentation was laggy and a change in temp restarted fermentation.

Airlock bubbling only tells you that co2 is coming out of the airlock, it is not telling you why. And there's various reasons. That's why it's not a good idea to equate airlock bubbling with fermentation...It could be because it is fermenting, or it could not be because of fermentation...so it's not a trustworthy tool.

And airlocks sometimes bubble or they don't. And airlock is a valve, a vent to release excess co2...NOT a fermentation gauge. It's important to make that distinction, or you'll be panicking everytime a an airlock doesn't bubble, or stops bubbling.

Fermentation is not always "dynamic," just because you don't SEE anything happening, doesn't mean that any-thing's wrong,, and also doesn't mean that the yeast are still not working diligently away, doing what they've been doing for over 4,000 years.

external visual cues like airlock bubbling and even krausen development are not as good or accurate indicator of what is happening "under the hood"....and why the one consistant indicator is gravity reading.

All krausens look different, even using the same yeast on different batches.

The amount of krausen can vary for whatever reason, it can come quick and depart quickly or it can linger long after fermentation is complete, and it all be normal.
or example, I had a wit beer that I pitched bottle harvested Hoegaarden yeast on Dec. 26th, LAST YEAR that STILL had a 2" krausen on it three weeks later. I took a grav reading and it had reached terminal gravity, 1.010. So the beer was done, but the krausen still lingered. I finally gently swirled the beer to knock it down, and let it settle for another week before I bottled it. I'm not normally a fan of knocking them down, and usually let it do it naturally.

But some yeasts are low flocculating, and may have a difficult time. I figured since mine was bottle harvested, and I had pitched the starter at high krausen, maybe it was "genetically mutated" with the flocculation "gene" off or something. So I gently swirled it and let it fall.

I brewed another batch with another mason jars worth of that yeast several months later and had the same thing happen.

Beligan wits are notoriously long krausening.

That's why it's fruitless to try to use those things as indicators, they aren't consistent from one batch to another....even with the same yeast.

That's why you need to take a gravity reading to know how your fermentation is going, NOT go by airlocks, or size of krausen, or a calendar, the horoscope or the phases of the moon (those things in my mind are equally accurate).

The most important tool you can use is a hydrometer. It's the only way you will truly know when your beer is ready...airlock bubbles and other things are faulty.

The only way to truly know what is going on in your fermenter is with your hydrometer. Like I said here in my blog, which I encourage you to read, Think evaluation before action you sure as HELL wouldn't want a doctor to start cutting on you unless he used the proper diagnostic instuments like x-rays first, right? You wouldn't want him to just take a look in your eyes briefly and say "I'm cutting into your chest first thing in the morning." You would want them to use the right diagnostic tools before the slice and dice, right? You'd cry malpractice, I would hope, if they didn't say they were sending you for an MRI and other things before going in....

So all you know is that your airlock is bubbling...NOT that your beer is fermenting or not.

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Old 02-15-2011, 02:06 PM   #6
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I made a yeast starter for each batch and used 1 vial of liquid yeast for each starter. Fermentation started within 12 hours.

It sounds like I need to continue to work on my patience. Brewing beer seems to do that.

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Old 02-15-2011, 02:19 PM   #7
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There we go again. The trademark Revvy response. If your fermentation started within 12 hours of pitching and is still bubbling every 5 seconds after 11 days you SHOULD wonder what is going on. With proper pitching rates, oxygenation, and temperature, your beer should be at terminal gravity and done fermenting by 11 days. I can't imagine too many scenarios that would cause the airlock to bubble every 5 seconds other than fermentation. Maybe Revvy would like to actually help someone answer that question instead of always pasting his long dissertation about how airlocks are not a fermentation guage. I am so sick of seeing that every time someone has a fermentation question. I guess we should just ignore the science behind proper pitching rates, temp, and oxygenation because Revvy once had a beer take 3 weeks to ferment and every fermentation is different and if it takes 3 weeks then it takes 3 weeks and you are just being impatient if you wonder why it isn't done yet.

Take a hydro reading and the rest of us will help diagnose what may be going on.

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Old 02-15-2011, 02:31 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MachineShopBrewing View Post
There we go again. The trademark Revvy response. If your fermentation started within 12 hours of pitching and is still bubbling every 5 seconds after 11 days you SHOULD wonder what is going on. With proper pitching rates, oxygenation, and temperature, your beer should be at terminal gravity and done fermenting by 11 days. I can't imagine too many scenarios that would cause the airlock to bubble every 5 seconds other than fermentation. Maybe Revvy would like to actually help someone answer that question instead of always pasting his long dissertation about how airlocks are not a fermentation guage. I am so sick of seeing that every time someone has a fermentation question. I guess we should just ignore the science behind proper pitching rates, temp, and oxygenation because Revvy once had a beer take 3 weeks to ferment and every fermentation is different and if it takes 3 weeks then it takes 3 weeks and you are just being impatient if you wonder why it isn't done yet.

Take a hydro reading and the rest of us will help diagnose what may be going on.
Do you actually just read my response or just troll me. I DID say to take a hydro reading...... :rolleye:

Quote:
I can't imagine too many scenarios that would cause the airlock to bubble every 5 seconds other than fermentation.
But he won't know that without a grav reading will he.

I can imagine several scenarios myself....change temp, change in atmospheric pressure, a lot of initial co2 just coming off the beer. Lots of it in trub holding in co2...maybe it's still fermenting, maybe there's vibration from traffic outside or something vibrating in the house that causes the fermenter to shake a bit, maybe an infection...... that's why he needs to seperate the idea of bubbling and fermentation, Because the airlock only tells him the WHAT....that his airlock is bubbling, not the WHY, and the only way to know THAT is WITH A HYDROMETER....

Besides, my " trademark" response tends to be correct 99% of the time......Because most of the time the poster, is using the words fermenting and airlock bubbling interchangably...and often equating a problem with the airlock's behavior. That's why I post it. To actually help people.

*shrug*
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Old 02-15-2011, 02:34 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MalFet View Post
Bubbles do not equal fermentation. Your beer may or may not be still fermenting, but the only way you can know is to take a couple of hydrometer readings over the span of 48 hours. If you want to get this into a secondary after all the sugars have been metabolized for whatever reason, you have to check. Otherwise, I would just leave it alone for at least another two weeks. Stop futzing! Your yeast are getting annoyed!
Gee and to think, you didn't troll MalFet for giving the SAME answer did you?
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Old 02-15-2011, 02:39 PM   #10
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I have a specific recipe that will have krausen for up to 2 weeks. In my opinion and experience, if you still have krausen, you are still fermenting. It is very true that your airlock is not a fermentation gauge, but if there is still CO2 being generated and it is still bubbling the airlock on a GLASS carboy then you're more than likely still fermenting. If however, you have a plastic bucket, changes in atmospheric pressure can cause the beer to outgas and cause bubbling in the airlock, especially if there is a good seal. The bucket can compress slightly under changing atmospheric pressure and "squeeze" some CO2 up and out of the airlock.

Thats my take on this, my $.02

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