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Old 08-13-2009, 04:28 PM   #1
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Default No visible signs of yeast activity?

I have a red malt ale going now for 48 hours using a dry reydrated yeast. I proofed the yeast at 100 F for 15 minutes prior to pitching it to the cooler wort which was somewhere below 90 F. Due the process my hydrometer fell off of the counter and shattered so I have no idea about the original SG. There are no bubbles coming through the air-lock and no visible signs of krausen developing when I open the lid. The kit was a partial grain partial LME and the type of yeast used was not labelled. A batch of summer ale I made earlier that day is showing visible signs of fermentation. Both batchs are at 72 F right now.

I know that the air-lock activity (or lack of) is not a reliable indication of fermentation but I am not sure if I should try repitching the yeast (and if so, what type should I use) or if I should just wait to see what happens? The closest LHBS is over 90 minutes away. I ordered another hydrometer but it will not arrive for 7-10 days. Does anyone have any recommendations?

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Mick

PS. My homebrew was a hit at my wedding and reception. I brought 100 bottles of homebrew (8 different types) and 120 bottles of microbrews and had only 6 bottles of homebrew and 20 bottles of microbrew left at the end of the evening. Thanks to all that have helped this newbie...

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Old 08-13-2009, 04:34 PM   #2
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Have you even taken a grav reading yet? If you know that airlocks are not a good measure you do realize also what is, right?


(Your Hydrometer)

That would answer your question about your beer instantly and have given you piece of mind, instead of using a flawed method like looking at an airlock as a guide.

But, since it has only been 48 hours.....and http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/ferm...e-signs-43635/ it really is even too soon to worry about that.

Right now your yeast is coming out of a dormant period; it finds it self surrounded by 5 gallons of food, so it is waking up, and waking up its friends...THEN before it starts truly diving in the yeast start growing an army to best eat it, so they have a wild orgy and then make a bunch of yeast babies. Then they get to work. So that is why it can take up to three days before the really get going..it's called lag time, and it is perfectly normal.

Remember, fermentation is not always "dynamic," just because you don't SEE anything happenning, doesn't mean that anything's wrong, and also doesn't mean that the yeast are still not working dilligantly away, doing what they've been doing for over 4,000 years....

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.....

Thinking about pitching more yeast before taking a hydrometer reading after waiting an intial 72 hours, is the same thing....thinking about a "cure" before we even know if the beer is even "sick."

But really, Relax, it's really really hard for this stuff NOT to turn out.

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Old 08-13-2009, 04:44 PM   #3
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Pitching at 90F is a bit high but probably not lethal to your yeast. It could be just old or slow to start.

I'm going to go a bit against Revvy here (forgive me Rev) and say that if you do not have visable signs of fermentation in another 24-36 hrs, repitch with something like US-05 or Nottingham.

The airlock is not an indication of fermentation. Krausen, however, is. It may not be a volcanic blow-off, but you should at least see krausen forming on the top of your beer. Without a hydrometer to know for sure, I'd wait for signs and if none appear, repitch with one of those yeasts if it were me.

(I am assuming you're fermenting in a transparent container. If not, don't continue to expose the beer to risk of infection by opening the lid.)

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Old 08-13-2009, 04:45 PM   #4
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You did read the part where he said his Hyrometer Broke right?

Dude give it another day or two I am sure it will turn out fine. If you are in a bucket then the lid could have a leak and the co2 escaping that way too.

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Old 08-13-2009, 04:52 PM   #5
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Thanks everyone, the beer is in a bucket and I don't want to continue checking it too often. Is there anyway to take a gravity reading without having a hydrometer? I initially read through Revvy's post online last night about air-locks not being good indictaions of yeast activity but I wanted to know if there are other visible signs I could look for other than krausen development. I think I will buy a second hydrometer in the future just in case this would happen again.

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Old 08-13-2009, 04:54 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Revvy View Post
Right now your yeast is coming out of a dormant period; it finds it self surrounded by 5 gallons of food, so it is waking up, and waking up its friends...THEN before it starts truly diving in the yeast start growing an army to best eat it, so they have a wild orgy and then make a bunch of yeast babies. Then they get to work. So that is why it can take up to three days before the really get going..it's called lag time, and it is perfectly normal.
I love how you personify yeast..haha
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Old 08-13-2009, 04:55 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hugh_Jass_Gnome View Post
Pitching at 90F is a bit high but probably not lethal to your yeast. It could be just old or slow to start.

I'm going to go a bit against Revvy here (forgive me Rev) and say that if you do not have visable signs of fermentation in another 24-36 hrs, repitch with something like US-05 or Nottingham.
Uh...if my math is right...48 + 24 is 72 hours, right? So I think we're in agreement about waiting.
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Old 08-13-2009, 05:06 PM   #8
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That's quite the sermon on hydrometer usage directed towards someone who clearly stated he didn't have one because his broke.

For the record, I need to partially disagree with this whole 'do not use an airlock as a fermentation gauge' mantra. If your airlock is bubbling, it's because pressure is pushing out CO2 - 99.9% of the time the cause of this is going to be fermentation (if anyone knows another source, let me know). If your airlock isn't bubbling, your beer may very well be fermenting but you could have the airlock installed improperly, the lid on your bucket not tight, etc. etc.

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Old 08-13-2009, 05:19 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Revvy View Post
Uh...if my math is right...48 + 24 is 72 hours, right? So I think we're in agreement about waiting.
Yes, we do agree to give it another day. I was just pointing out that there might not be the X-rated orgy going on in the bucket after all. If he wants to have one, he might have to get some new, more virile participants.

To the OP: The hydrometer (or refractomer) is the best way to judge fermentation. Without it, krausen, IMO, is the best indication something is happening. Others may know of other indications. Good luck.
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Old 08-13-2009, 05:33 PM   #10
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As stated by Ohiobrewtus, My fermenting buckets are anything but air tight, therefore my airlocks are practically useless. As mentioned above I just look through the sides and see if there is any krausen, which is the tell tale proof that the beer construction is underway.

My airlocks are peacefull but if you bend down and smell near the lids, you can SMELL the love!

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