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Old 05-05-2011, 06:35 PM   #1
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Default Three times in a row No Fermentation

I started homebrewing a few months ago and I have yet to make a drinkable beer. On my first try I think i pitched the yeast while the wort was still to hot. EDIT: It was about 110F

On my second try I think I was a little overzealous about sanitation and I forgot to rinse my PBW out of the fermenter and maybe that killed the yeast. The more i read about this the more skeptical i am that this actually happened. After a week of nothing happening I repitched using bread yeast because that was all I had. The specific gravity dropped but there was no foam on the beer and there was no obvious airlock activity.
EDIT: The beer had apparently gotten infected during the first week while i tried to get more yeast. Also the yeast cake had sunk to the bottom of the fermenter. I thought ale's were supposed to brew on top. SG had dropped from 1.04 to the 1.01 that had been stated as the final gravity.

I am currently on my third try and it has been five days since the original pitching of yeast and two days since I re pitched the yeast and still no activity. I realized this time that I had never put water into my airlock. It is a two piece airlock. Will that kill the yeast altogether? It seems to me that the fermentation would go normally but the beer would come out infected. Is there something else I am doing wrong? What gives?

More EDITS: I brewed two different recipes for Irish Red Ale using dry yeast. The first came from midwest brewing. The second and third came from Northern Brewer. The fermenter stayed at a steady 68F-72F. This was at the high end of the yeast's comfortable temperature.

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Old 05-05-2011, 06:40 PM   #2
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How much SG dropped and what was the starting point?

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Old 05-05-2011, 06:43 PM   #3
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Not putting water in your air lock won't keep the beer from fermenting, and even then, it's tough to get an infection. Some beers are made with open fermentation. That being said, if there is sugar and yeast in the wort, and somewhat in the yeasts temperature range... there will be fermentation. Tell us some more about your process to get a good idea of whats going on because if the sugar is present and the yeast are viable and in their temperature range, you'll make beer.

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Old 05-05-2011, 06:44 PM   #4
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Are you seeing foaming on top of the wort? What are you pitching, dry or liquid yeast? How old is the yeast? If the yeast is dry, are you rehydrating it? Are you aerating the wort before pitching? At what temperature are you fermenting?

Not putting water in the airlock won't affect the fermentation. Enough yeast pitched will, as will both the pitching and fermentation temps.

Use Star San for your sanitation; it will reduce your rinsing concerns, as it's a no-rinse sanitizer.

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Old 05-05-2011, 06:47 PM   #5
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What temp is your wort when you pitch your yeast. I bring mine do to at least 70 degrees before I pitch my yeast.

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Old 05-05-2011, 06:48 PM   #6
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What yeast are you pitching?

You need to make friends with a hydrometer. The airlock won't tell you enough, especially if you don't put water in it (Star-San is better). The hydrometer may tell you if fermentation has or is occurring - but you need to check at the start, before you pitch, so you have a starting point for comparison.

When in doubt, follow the directions - whose directions are you following? Not trying to be sarcastic or anything - in all seriousness, you need to follow a tried-and-true method. You don't want to be making it up as you go.

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Old 05-05-2011, 06:49 PM   #7
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What is the recipe? Are your treating the water with sulfates?

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Old 05-05-2011, 06:50 PM   #8
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If the specific gravity dropped, there was fermentation whether you saw airlock activity or krausen or not.

Take a quick gravity reading, and post the result, along with the original gravity reading. We can help you figure this out!

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Old 05-05-2011, 09:19 PM   #9
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I posted a lot of edits to the OP.

I checked just now and there is whitish stuff floating in the body of the brew. Not on top like foam but down in the brew. Yeast colonies? The SG has dropped from 1.045 to under .99. So i guess that means it is fermenting. The recipe called for a final gravity of 1.01. No idea why this happened.

I am not treating the water with anything.

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Old 05-05-2011, 09:24 PM   #10
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Sounds like you're equating airlock bubbling with fermentation. Don't ever. There are tons of times an airlock will bubble or not bubble regardless of whether the airlock bubbles or how fast it does.

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