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Old 09-26-2011, 02:36 AM   #11
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I'm pretty new to all this, but my first batch had lots of airlock activity, my second batch had none. Both fermented out fine per the hydrometer. I wouldn't stress about it, it'll likely turn out just fine.


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Old 09-26-2011, 10:01 AM   #12
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I don't like the advice that airlock activity isn't a good determinant of fermentation. I know that it is the gospel of Revvy and many here. But from a purely scientific standpoint, fermentation produces CO2. No two ways about it. If you are fermenting, you are producing CO2. If you have a sealed system, the co2 MUST go someplace - and that place is out of the airlock. If you have a perfectly airtight system, and you are fermenting. You WILL have airlock activity. If you don't, you are not fermenting. End of story. I know this is a point of contention and that's fine. But science is science. No two ways about it.
The "airlock" is a pressure release valve, nothing more. There is no reliable way to accurately gauge the state of your fermentation by observing the bubbles. The fermentation may have slowed to the point where you don't see a bubble before you get bored and declare it finished, but it is certainly still fermenting; atmospheric pressure and temperature changes can cause airlock activity to slow or speed up; the level of water or sanitizer in the airlock can also have an effect. I did a fruit beer that kept fermenting for a month after all visible airlock activity had stopped.

It's fun to watch, but all the bubbles really tell you is whether or not your beer is fermenting vigorously.


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Old 09-26-2011, 11:47 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Captain Damage

The "airlock" is a pressure release valve, nothing more. There is no reliable way to accurately gauge the state of your fermentation by observing the bubbles. The fermentation may have slowed to the point where you don't see a bubble before you get bored and declare it finished, but it is certainly still fermenting; atmospheric pressure and temperature changes can cause airlock activity to slow or speed up; the level of water or sanitizer in the airlock can also have an effect. I did a fruit beer that kept fermenting for a month after all visible airlock activity had stopped.

It's fun to watch, but all the bubbles really tell you is whether or not your beer is fermenting vigorously.
These points may well be true. But especially for noobs, looking for bubbling in the airlock is a very important method to make sure fermentation has started. I only ever use a hydrometer to tell when it's finished, but IMO, using a hydrometer in fresh wort multiple times trying to determine if your yeast are doing their job is an unneeded infection risk - again, especially for newer brewers.

Atmospheric pressure and temp changes can absolutely cause blips in an airlock bubble, but neither will produce constant regular bubbles. Once you see that, regardless of conditions, you know fermentation has started.
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Old 09-26-2011, 12:05 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by cimirie

These points may well be true. But especially for noobs, looking for bubbling in the airlock is a very important method to make sure fermentation has started. I only ever use a hydrometer to tell when it's finished, but IMO, using a hydrometer in fresh wort multiple times trying to determine if your yeast are doing their job is an unneeded infection risk - again, especially for newer brewers.

Atmospheric pressure and temp changes can absolutely cause blips in an airlock bubble, but neither will produce constant regular bubbles. Once you see that, regardless of conditions, you know fermentation has started.
Not necessarily true. Many things can cause quite a lengthy and rapid stream of bubbles (depending on your ides if lengthy/rapid) during the important timeframe... and it's not like people are going to sit at their airlock 24/7 seeing if the bubbles stop for a while.

But that's besides the point, because you don't need to act on a healthy fermentation... just let it do its thing. What REALLY matters is when there is an absence of bubbled. Even a tiny, microscopic break in the seal (either at the lid or the grommet), will cause all the air to leak out that way instead of through the airlock - it only has to push out against atmospheric pressure, and so it becomes the path of least resistance compared to the additional pressure (determined by the height of the liquid) in the airlock or blow-off vessel. And this happens all the time to people, FAR more frequently than an actual fermentation no-go.

And so your logic is totally wacky, because even if you DO use the airlock to detect such problems, you STILL have to use your hydrometer to verify them. Especially since a non-bubbling fermentation likely only means a little innocuous air leak, acting on it as a fermentation problem without checking if the SG has actually changed is just absurd.

Not sure what newer brewers have to do with any of this though. I really only use my hydrometer before bottling, but I still don't use my airlock as a sign of fermentation.
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Old 09-26-2011, 12:27 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by go_inbroke View Post
Put a batch in the fermentor 5 days ago. (Multi-Grain Red with Safale S-04) OG @ 1.057. Little activity through the airlock, but foam on the wort for 3 days. Now no activity. Took a reading and it came in @ 1.02. I'm used to 1.01 after at least two weeks. Question: Should I wait and take another reading in 10 days or re-pitch?
Are you using a bucket or carboy. I hardly ever see airlock activity in my bucket when making beer. Ciders produce a lot though. I have know idea why. Every beer in my bucket that I thought wasn't fermenting ended up being fine.

Carboy's on the other hand I almost always see some type of airlock activity.
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Old 09-26-2011, 03:18 PM   #16
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Wow. Saying you MUST have airlock bubbles with fermentation is totally wack. A vigorous fermentation will bubble like crazy. Maybe need a blow off rig. But cooler,slower ferments I've done with dry yeast sprinkled on have finished fine without a single bubble. It's not a matter of being someone's "drone",& blindly following their beliefs. That's nonsense.
Think about the rest of the science. Solution density,ambient air temps,& amount of head space all come into play here. Over & above how well the FV seals Or how much liquid is in the airlock. And how many healthy yeast cells were pitched into how much wort.
All these things contribute to how quickly co2 is produced,& how much time it takes to reach sufficient levels of pressure to be released through the one way valve better known as an airlock.
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Old 09-26-2011, 04:06 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by unionrdr View Post
Wow. Saying you MUST have airlock bubbles with fermentation is totally wack. A vigorous fermentation will bubble like crazy. Maybe need a blow off rig. But cooler,slower ferments I've done with dry yeast sprinkled on have finished fine without a single bubble. It's not a matter of being someone's "drone",& blindly following their beliefs. That's nonsense.
Think about the rest of the science. Solution density,ambient air temps,& amount of head space all come into play here. Over & above how well the FV seals Or how much liquid is in the airlock. And how many healthy yeast cells were pitched into how much wort.
All these things contribute to how quickly co2 is produced,& how much time it takes to reach sufficient levels of pressure to be released through the one way valve better known as an airlock.
It's not wacked. Fermentation produces CO2, period. I think you are implying above that you've fermented beer without CO2 being produced (or at least without CO2 being released from your fermenter). If so, you are wrong.

The rate of CO2 being created is affected by temperature, but at the end of fermentation, the amount of CO2 will be same regardless of the temperature. More of the CO2 will remain in solution in a cold ferment, but that's negligible compared to what is released to atmosphere.

The only reason noobs here are told not to worry about a lack of bubbles is because a lot of them use buckets, and they seem to often have airleaks through which the CO2 escapes, and so they don't see bubbles in their airlock and get freaked. Rest assured, if there was fermentation, a LOT of CO2 escaped the fermenter. Revvy's advice does not imply that there was no CO2 released, only that it might not have gone through the airlock.
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Old 09-26-2011, 04:56 PM   #18
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It's not wacked. Fermentation produces CO2, period. I think you are implying above that you've fermented beer without CO2 being produced (or at least without CO2 being released from your fermenter). If so, you are wrong.

The rate of CO2 being created is affected by temperature, but at the end of fermentation, the amount of CO2 will be same regardless of the temperature. More of the CO2 will remain in solution in a cold ferment, but that's negligible compared to what is released to atmosphere.

The only reason noobs here are told not to worry about a lack of bubbles is because a lot of them use buckets, and they seem to often have airleaks through which the CO2 escapes, and so they don't see bubbles in their airlock and get freaked. Rest assured, if there was fermentation, a LOT of CO2 escaped the fermenter. Revvy's advice does not imply that there was no CO2 released, only that it might not have gone through the airlock.
I was referring to what was said in the previous post. Airlocks are just a one way pressure release valve,not a gauge of activity as was insisted. I just found that if I pitched dry yeast,at a cooler temp,the co2 was produced more slowly. I didn't get any "bubbles". But it finished just the same. In one fermenter,however,I did have to cut off some molding flash where the seam ran through the lid sealing surface. Problem solved on that particular one.
But to insist that there must be bubbling is a little off to me. Some did. Some didn't. Some did a lot where a blow off was needed. Some just released a steady stream of bubbles. Each ferment is different when you do enough of them to see this. That is what we're all trying to relate here. I just like to keep it accurately described as to the actual process going on.
I may not always state the facts to everyone's grammatical satisfaction,But they are facts never the less.
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Old 09-26-2011, 06:51 PM   #19
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Here's my process. Click on it for a biggie.

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Old 09-26-2011, 06:55 PM   #20
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Good ol' flow chart. We had to make those in college programming back in the early 80's.


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