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Old 07-08-2013, 02:03 AM   #1
Hell_Sinky
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Default Quick Question on fermentation

First off, let me introduce myself. I am new to home brewing and stumbled upon it when trying to figure out how I could get some wine but cheap (I am an impoverished grad student, living off of Ramen etc) and found that I could make cheap wine with some Grape juice, yeast, and sugar.

9 days ago I put a bottle of juice into primary fermentation. One bottle of Welch's (with some juice taken out), 2 cups of sugar, and one packet of Lalvin EC 1118 I picked up from my supermarket.

Now I couldn't find an homebrew store nearby (for airlocks and iodophor) so I loosened the lid slightly and put some scotch tape on it to allow the CO2 released by the yeast to escape, and I sanitized everything as best I could beforehand with hot water.

I left the juice sit until today when I took a flashlight to take a peak, and I didn't hear any fizzing or see any obvious signs of fermentation. I left the lid on and decided I should wait for another 5 days or so before taking the juice out for secondary fermentation.

My only worry is that because I couldn't take a hydrometer reading and didn't see any bubbles, I made a mistake and the yeast didn't take? I should have checked a few days earlier. I was wondering if this means I have failed, or primary fermentation is over, or could it be working still?

I know I don't have much data to offer for you guys to analyze my situation, but any thoughts or advice you can offer me is much appreciated. Especially on how long I should be waiting.

Thanks and cheers!

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Old 07-08-2013, 03:09 AM   #2
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i dont think your yeast activated. make a yeast starter with a little yeast and pitch it into your juice and itl start up. also look up how to make a quick ballon airlock on google since you couldnt buy one.

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Old 07-08-2013, 03:14 AM   #3
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In a pinch I use a piece of tin foil wrapped over the opening and a rubber band for an airlock.

If you shake the bottle a bit, do you see an fizz? When I have made wine I didn't get typical beer krausen, but I certainly got some fizz if I shook the fermenter. You could always pitch another pack of yeast (as long as the juice isn't infected).

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Old 07-08-2013, 04:53 AM   #4
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buy some latex gloves in a pharmacy, do a small hole with a needle in one of the fingers, fit it around the bottle neck and tape it tight.

Work as a charm for a cheap replacement if you cant find a airlock.

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Old 07-08-2013, 11:12 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Hell_Sinky View Post
I was wondering if this means I have failed, or primary fermentation is over, or could it be working still?

I know I don't have much data to offer for you guys to analyze my situation, but any thoughts or advice you can offer me is much appreciated. Especially on how long I should be waiting.

Thanks and cheers!
Howdy, and welcome to the club! Really, without more information, any of those could be your current state. Given your current set up, perhaps the easiest way to tell what's going on with your wine is to taste it. If it still taste like juice, then your fermentation never got off the ground. If it tastes like vinegar or something equally disgusting, something went wrong. But, if you can taste some alcohol, with a odd little fizz, everything is most likely proceeding swimmingly.

If you have the latter situation, there's no way to tell if fermentation done unless you take readings with a hydrometer. You could just wait it out though and have a fairly high confidence its finished. Sounds like you're two weeks into the whole process. Depending on your fermentation temp, it could still be going or could have finished up a week ago. EC-1118 is a very aggressive fermentor so my guess is, if you did in fact get fermentation, that its already plowed through the sugar.

I once read that you should say good morning and good night to your in progress wines. I would recommend doing the same.

Couple more items. Get some balloons or latex gloves as suggested for an air lock substitute. But you'll need to figure out something different to use once fermentation has stopped. You always run the risk of blowing something if you simply replace the cap or use a solid rubber stopper. I'd recommend saving a few pennies and buying a real air lock.

Sanitation: again, scrape together a few pennies and buy something to sanitize with. I hesitate to recommend chlorine bleach, but it'll work in a pinch. Just rinse really, really well. Hopefully you can get your hands on something like Sanistar or potassium metabisulphite.

Last item. How long you should be waiting depends on a slew of things. I'd say to just follow one of the recipes in this forum as closely as you can. You should end up with something that, at a minimum, is drinkable.

Good luck!
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Old 07-08-2013, 03:56 PM   #6
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Howdy, and welcome to the club! Really, without more information, any of those could be your current state. Given your current set up, perhaps the easiest way to tell what's going on with your wine is to taste it. If it still taste like juice, then your fermentation never got off the ground. If it tastes like vinegar or something equally disgusting, something went wrong. But, if you can taste some alcohol, with a odd little fizz, everything is most likely proceeding swimmingly.

If you have the latter situation, there's no way to tell if fermentation done unless you take readings with a hydrometer. You could just wait it out though and have a fairly high confidence its finished. Sounds like you're two weeks into the whole process. Depending on your fermentation temp, it could still be going or could have finished up a week ago. EC-1118 is a very aggressive fermentor so my guess is, if you did in fact get fermentation, that its already plowed through the sugar.
Thanks everyone. I did as you suggested and took a sample, lo and behold it definitely isn't juice anymore . I also noticed that the bottom seems to be covered in dead yeast, hopefully a good sign that alcohol was made.

The taste itself is quite tart and a strong kick. Not sure what % ABV I have made but I would hazard a guess north of 10%.

Now I suppose I should filter the wine from the dead yeast and set it for secondary fermentation. I only worry that the wine might be turning into vinegar now, so I should probably screw the lid on completely yes?

Also, I think I read somewhere that a few tablespoons of sugar after primary fermentation, when shaken up, add carbonation. Is that correct?

Thanks again everyone!
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Old 07-09-2013, 12:57 AM   #7
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i dont know about the carbonation but if i were you i would not put a lid on it. since you posted its only been going for 9 days. theres probably still fermentation going on in the wine. after you rack it off the dead yeast, lees, put your airlock back on it and wait. il bet in a week there will be more dead yeast at the bottom. this will make the abv higher but if its good enough to your liking now you can drink it whenever.

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