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Old 02-12-2013, 11:49 PM   #1
124Spider
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Default No bubbling....

I brewed up a batch of Red Ale from a Brewer's Best kit on Friday. Within hours, bubbles were coming through the air lock.

It continued to bubble at about a bubble every second or two through the weekend.

Yesterday, there were few bubbles. Today there are no bubbles.

Is the batch dead? If so, what happened?

Thanks.

Mark

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Old 02-12-2013, 11:59 PM   #2
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Bubbling in primary SHOULD slow or stop eventually...Bubbling stopping or slowing down doesn't mean fermentation has stopped it ONLY means bubbling has. An airlock is a VENT, a VALVE for EXCESS CO2. It's not a magic fermentation gauge. When the majority of sugars are eaten in the initial burst of fermentation, lots of co2 is released. As it slows down, bubbling ceases or stops altogether because there's not as much EXCESS Co2 being released.

But that doesn't mean fermentation is over, just that it's slowed down.

Fermentation is not always dynamic...just because you don't SEE anything happening doesn't mean that the yeast aren't happily chewing away at whatever fermentables are in there....the only way to know comes from gravity readings, and nothing else.

Activity, action, bubbles, even krausen can be affected by the envoironment just as much as it being caused by the yeast...so going by that is NOT reliable.

If you want to know what's going on with your beer, then take a gravity reading. 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....

Counting bubbles does not equate to anything usable in fermentation. It's not like "x bubbles/minute= y gravity points." It just means that co2 is being released....but it could also NOT be bubbling, and still fermenting away.


Relax, leave your beer alone and let it do it's thing for a couple more weeks, and most importantly, IGNORE what your airlock does or doesn't do.

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Old 02-13-2013, 12:00 AM   #3
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You should really a few stickies on here that are all about this topic. They are extremely helpful for beginning brewers and they answer a lot of these questions that many new brewers come across.

Chances are most of your beer has been fermented over the weekend but it's still likely fermenting but at a slower rate. It's usually a good idea to wait at least two weeks for fermentation to finish. It's an even better idea to buy hydrometer and check for completion. You do this by taking gravity readings a day or two apart. If the readings are the same that means your fermentation is done, if they are different it means it's not done.

Edit: or what revvy said.

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Old 02-13-2013, 12:06 AM   #4
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Thanks, guys. I have a hydrometer, but I'm a bit squeamish about opening up the fermenter before it's done.

Do I take the top off, or remove the airlock and siphon some out for the SG reading? And, given that I don't get any hints from the airlock, when's the best time to do that?

Mark

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Old 02-13-2013, 12:19 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 124Spider
Thanks, guys. I have a hydrometer, but I'm a bit squeamish about opening up the fermenter before it's done.

Do I take the top off, or remove the airlock and siphon some out for the SG reading? And, given that I don't get any hints from the airlock, when's the best time to do that?

Mark
There's no need to be squeamish as long as you are smart and sanitary about what you are doing. To take a sample for a gravity reading I simply sanitize a metal measuring cup and scoop out about a 1/2 cup of beer. (I assume you're using a bucket...if a carboy, you'll need to siphon or use a wine thief or even a sanitized turkey baster). Take your measurement and then drink the sample. Do not return the sample to the fermenter.

There is no need to do this now. Generally I wait at least 10 days before taking a sample. And then another 4-10 days for a second reading and determine if it's ready to bottle. Of course there is no harm in doing it earlier - in fact, opening it up and taking a peek would be very educational in terms of experiencing what the various stages of beer making looks like.

On another topic...Given that you had a very active airlock in the first couple of days, I am concerned that you had a too warm fermentation, which tends to speed things up, but which can also lead to some unwanted flavors. At What temp are you fermenting this?
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Old 02-13-2013, 12:22 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 124Spider View Post
Thanks, guys. I have a hydrometer, but I'm a bit squeamish about opening up the fermenter before it's done.

Do I take the top off, or remove the airlock and siphon some out for the SG reading? And, given that I don't get any hints from the airlock, when's the best time to do that?

Mark
I'm squeamish about that too so I just leave mine alone for at least 2 weeks before I open them. Most of the time I wait for three weeks before I check them. If you are in a hurry for your beer, open the top at the end of 2 weeks and check, making sure to sanitize anything that goes into the fermenter. I use a turkey baster to collect my sample and have the hydrometer in it's plastic tube to do the reading. The plastic tube caps leak slowly so don't leave your sample in it longer than it takes to get your reading, then drink the sample (don't drop the hydrometer when you do that, they are very fragile) so you can see how the ferment has progressed. A second sample 2 or 3 days later that is the same reading means you can bottle it.
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Old 02-13-2013, 12:25 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 124Spider View Post
Thanks, guys. I have a hydrometer, but I'm a bit squeamish about opening up the fermenter before it's done.

Do I take the top off, or remove the airlock and siphon some out for the SG reading? And, given that I don't get any hints from the airlock, when's the best time to do that?

Mark
I've had a dog that eats his own **** drink unfermented wort out of the bucket before I put the lid on and the beer survived. Someone might tell you differently but I honestly believe it is rather difficult to infect your beer so long as the environment is right for yeast to survive and you pitch enough in to gain the upper hand. There will ALWAYS be microbes hanging out in your unfermented wort but given that the environment is friendly and your yeast pitch rate is proper it's like sending in all branches of the military to break up a gas station hold up.

DISCLAIMER: I am in NO WAY suggesting you throw feces into or use your fermenter as a trash receptacle.
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Old 02-13-2013, 12:30 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JLem View Post
There's no need to be squeamish as long as you are smart and sanitary about what you are doing. To take a sample for a gravity reading I simply sanitize a metal measuring cup and scoop out about a 1/2 cup of beer. (I assume you're using a bucket...if a carboy, you'll need to siphon or use a wine thief or even a sanitized turkey baster). Take your measurement and then drink the sample. Do not return the sample to the fermenter.

There is no need to do this now. Generally I wait at least 10 days before taking a sample. And then another 4-10 days for a second reading and determine if it's ready to bottle. Of course there is no harm in doing it earlier - in fact, opening it up and taking a peek would be very educational in terms of experiencing what the various stages of beer making looks like.

On another topic...Given that you had a very active airlock in the first couple of days, I am concerned that you had a too warm fermentation, which tends to speed things up, but which can also lead to some unwanted flavors. At What temp are you fermenting this?
Every time I've looked at it, it's been at 70 degrees F, well within the 64-72 recommended range. I don't think temperature should be a problem.
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Old 02-13-2013, 05:11 PM   #9
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Every time I've looked at it, it's been at 70 degrees F, well within the 64-72 recommended range. I don't think temperature should be a problem.
Well, if the ambient air temperature is at 70°F, your actual fermentation temp may be as high as 75-78°F (the metabolic activity of the yeast produces heat). The temperatures listed for the yeast are usually fermentation temps, so you probably fermented it above the recommended temperatures.

I do not know that this will definitely cause any off-flavors...but if you notice any out of place fruitiness and/or hot alcohols, it could be from too warm a fermentation.
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Old 02-13-2013, 05:22 PM   #10
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+1 for what Phelan said... Not the dog thing though. I haven't had that happen yet.

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