I attempted to make a 4 gallon batch of hard cider ale from scratch last Saturday 4/10/2010 in our 6 gallon beer making fermenting barrel. I used 1 packet wine yeast and about 2 lbs. of dextrose corn sugar.
I sterilized the fermenting barrel & added 1/2 gallon of BJ wholesale apple juice (containing no preservatives) & dissolved the sugar in it before adding the rest of the 3.5 gallons of juice. After that, I dumped the yeast packet on the top of the juice, sealed & put the airlock on top. The yeast produced only a little foam on the top by the next day, but the airlock didn't bubble. The foam seemed to start sink to the bottom. I had the barrel in my kitchen which was about 70-72 degrees F. I read a few blogs that said to store between 60-70 degrees, so I moved the barrel to the top step in my basement which brought the temp down into the 60's. After 3 days, the liquid seemed clear and no fermenting had begun, so I dumped out the batch (which had some fizz to it as I dumped it and actually tasted good). I started a batch this past Wed. nt 4/14/2010.
I simmered 1/2 gal of the apple juice with the 2 lbs. of dextrose sugar. I mixed that when it got down to room temp with the 3.5 gals of apple juice in the sterilized fermenting barrel. I used champagne yeast this time and stirred it into a half cup of warm water first to dissolve it and then mixed it into the must/mix.
I sealed with the airlock and put on the top step in my basement which is currently around 60 degrees F.
Again, I have no bubbling going on in the airlock and the mix looks clear.
Does anyone think the reason it's not bubbling is possibly because it's 4 gallons of liquid in a 6 gal. barrel and the 2 gal. of air in between isn't allowing the fermenting to begin?
I'm very discouraged at this point, but plan on leaving it in the barrel for a few more days and see if anything happens.
Any comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I've made 2 batches of beer in the past few months using beer kits and they both came out great.