Is my beer fermenting?

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NathanYearout

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Hello all, hope you guys are having a good one. I'm new to brewing and decided to give a blue moon clone recipe a try as I like Belgian ales.
The recipe was a bit different than my first beer but my local homebrewing shop printed it out for me and said it should be good. The wort turned out good, I cooled it down and added yeast from white labs. It's been 4 days as I did that last Sunday and there's very little bubbles and no airlock activity. My amber ale was burping almost every 4 or so seconds. It could be an air leak but I took out the airlock and sniffed it and there's none of that Co2 nose burn.
Unfortunately I don't have the tool for detecting gravity. The fermenter is in a coldish basement and I'm currently getting an exact temperature.
Is it going very slowly? Or is it stalled?
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Henbrew

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It's definitely showing signs of fermentation from the looks of it but hard to tell without a gravity reading. Depending on how cold your basement is and the type of yeast, it might take a little while to get started. The airlock isn't always a great sign of fermentation as there maybe leaks around the lid.
 

raddad

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I don’t brew often, but when I do I make IPA and it bubbles quickly. This time I made a German wheat beer and noticed nothing for 3 days, airlock and inside my bucket. Finally after 4 days I noticed a few bubbles inside (see image). Does this mean it’s brewing?

thanks
 

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Henbrew

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I don’t brew often, but when I do I make IPA and it bubbles quickly. This time I made a German wheat beer and noticed nothing for 3 days, airlock and inside my bucket. Finally after 4 days I noticed a few bubbles inside (see image). Does this mean it’s brewing?

thanks
Looks like it’s starting to show signs of fermentation to me.
 

hotbeer

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Keep the lids on for two weeks or whatever the recipe said. Don't worry about whether the airlock bubbles or not. They only have entertainment value.

In the meantime order a 5 dollar hydrometer and a wine thief or turkey baster to get a sample.... after the two weeks. Then wait another 3 days and get another sample. If the SG (specific gravity) is the same as the prior measurement, then you can bottle it now or sometime weeks in the future. No big hurry necessary. You can buy beer at the store if you need something to hold you over.
 
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NathanYearout

NathanYearout

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It's definitely showing signs of fermentation from the looks of it but hard to tell without a gravity reading. Depending on how cold your basement is and the type of yeast, it might take a little while to get started. The airlock isn't always a great sign of fermentation as there maybe leaks around the lid.
Thanks man, really appreciate the response. I checked the temp and it's about 61°F at the moment. It's a cheap fermenter from Northern Brewer's "Brew Share Enjoy Kit." Not that it's bad but I always have to pry the lid off so an air leak wouldn't shock me. I'll buy a gravity hydrometer tomorrow and check.
 
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NathanYearout

NathanYearout

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Keep the lids on for two weeks or whatever the recipe said. Don't worry about whether the airlock bubbles or not. They only have entertainment value.

In the meantime order a 5 dollar hydrometer and a wine thief or turkey baster to get a sample.... after the two weeks. Then wait another 3 days and get another sample. If the SG (specific gravity) is the same as the prior measurement, then you can bottle it now or sometime weeks in the future. No big hurry necessary. You can buy beer at the store if you need something to hold you over.
Good point, I'll buy one tomorrow. Just was concerned I'd have to pitch the batch since I spent a little more cash on the orange peels and Correander and such. Would just stink having to rebuy it. I'm going to just set it and forget it.
 
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NathanYearout

NathanYearout

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Good point, I'll buy one tomorrow. Just was concerned I'd have to pitch the batch since I spent a little more cash on the orange peels and Correander and such. Would just stink having to rebuy it. I'm going to just set it and forget it.
Update for anyone curious: started to get foam/bubbles on top slowly over the course of tonight. Realized my beer was in a room that was too cold which probably caused it to ferment slower. Moving it to hotter room.
 

3 Dawg Night

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I checked the temp and it's about 61°F at the moment.
What yeast strain are you using? That's on the cooler side for most ale yeasts.

Realized my beer was in a room that was too cold which probably caused it to ferment slower. Moving it to hotter room.
How much warmer are you talking about?
 
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NathanYearout

NathanYearout

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What yeast strain are you using? That's on the cooler side for most ale yeasts.


How much warmer are you talking about?
Using white labs Belgian Wit Ale. Found out it ferments at around 65-70°F.
I moved my beer to my upstairs room which is around 63°F - 64°F at the moment. I heard the fermentation process causes the beer to get about five degrees warmer so I figured its fine.
I was also curious to see if I should let my beer ferment for a little over three weeks now to make up for the slow fermentation.
 

3 Dawg Night

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Using white labs Belgian Wit Ale. Found out it ferments at around 65-70°F.
I moved my beer to my upstairs room which is around 63°F - 64°F at the moment. I heard the fermentation process causes the beer to get about five degrees warmer so I figured its fine.
I was also curious to see if I should let my beer ferment for a little over three weeks now to make up for the slow fermentation.
You should get yourself a hydrometer or refractometer and ferment until you get stable readings spaced a couple of days apart. Happy brewing!
 

GrowleyMonster

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Yes, a very active fermentation will raise the internal temp. But you have to get it warm enough to start fermenting in the first place. Do you happen to have an electric blanket? If you can at least temporarily warm it up to about 66f or maybe 68f, it should take off on its own.

One question though... could you have pitched the yeast when the wort was still too hot? If this might be the case then you should immediately pitch new yeast. The batch might still be salvageable.

Fermenting in buckets is a PITA. Sometimes you don't get a good seal. Sometimes the lid is really hard to get off. You can't see the beer without taking the lid off, and you shouldn't take the lid off until it is done. Before you brew your next batch I very much recommend that you get one of the wide mouth clear plastic carboy type fermenters, with a spigot. It is a real game changer. You can see, you can seal it and open it easily, and you can get a sample for testing from the spigot. With the wide mouth, it is still easy to clean. I use the Big Mouth Bubbler but the Fermonster looks good, too. Neither one is very expensive. Only thing is you need to keep it covered for protection from UV. I use a black tshirt.

A hydrometer is practically a must have item. If you can afford it, a Tilt hydrometer is a fine purchase. You can just let it float in the fermenter the whole time, and take a reading with your phone any time for up to the minute SG and temperature. The Ispindel is cheaper and uses wifi rather than bluetooth, and you can DIY it yourself. The old fashioned vertical brewing hydrometer is adequate, though.
 

RM-MN

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Using white labs Belgian Wit Ale. Found out it ferments at around 65-70°F.
I moved my beer to my upstairs room which is around 63°F - 64°F at the moment. I heard the fermentation process causes the beer to get about five degrees warmer so I figured its fine.
I was also curious to see if I should let my beer ferment for a little over three weeks now to make up for the slow fermentation.

Fermentation can raise the beer temperature up to 10 degrees F. but it depends a lot on the starting temp. I put my fermenter into a room with ambient temp of 64F and the beer only gets a couple degrees warmer than that. However, the yeast activity increases with temperature and that increased activity increases the temperature rise. Were I to start the fermentation process with the beer near the top of the yeast's preferred range it would get much warmer unless I had active cooling to keep that from happening.
 

hotbeer

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Temperature stability is important too. If you have temp swings then it might interrupt how fast and how well the yeast work.

What the duration and how much those temp sings are that create concern, I'm not sure. But in general, if the beer cools a few degrees from what the yeasts got happy in, they start shutting down and might end the party until they go change clothes or something of that sort that one knowing yeast biology will need to explain. :)
 
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NathanYearout

NathanYearout

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Yes, a very active fermentation will raise the internal temp. But you have to get it warm enough to start fermenting in the first place. Do you happen to have an electric blanket? If you can at least temporarily warm it up to about 66f or maybe 68f, it should take off on its own.

One question though... could you have pitched the yeast when the wort was still too hot? If this might be the case then you should immediately pitch new yeast. The batch might still be salvageable.

Fermenting in buckets is a PITA. Sometimes you don't get a good seal. Sometimes the lid is really hard to get off. You can't see the beer without taking the lid off, and you shouldn't take the lid off until it is done. Before you brew your next batch I very much recommend that you get one of the wide mouth clear plastic carboy type fermenters, with a spigot. It is a real game changer. You can see, you can seal it and open it easily, and you can get a sample for testing from the spigot. With the wide mouth, it is still easy to clean. I use the Big Mouth Bubbler but the Fermonster looks good, too. Neither one is very expensive. Only thing is you need to keep it covered for protection from UV. I use a black tshirt.

A hydrometer is practically a must have item. If you can afford it, a Tilt hydrometer is a fine purchase. You can just let it float in the fermenter the whole time, and take a reading with your phone any time for up to the minute SG and temperature. The Ispindel is cheaper and uses wifi rather than bluetooth, and you can DIY it yourself. The old fashioned vertical brewing hydrometer is adequate, though.
Thanks for the thought out reply! Purchased a hydrometer today and currently taking a reading. Swished my beer around to suspend the yeast and put it in a 66°F room. Looks to be fermenting now (hopefully) as there's slight bubbles and the air lock isn't at equal librium any more.
And I really want a better carboy and some better equipment but money's a bit tight since I quit my job recently to focus on my grades. I think of it like this, if I made perfect beer from the get-go then I wouldn't have fun improving my batches every time. 😅🍻
 
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NathanYearout

NathanYearout

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Temperature stability is important too. If you have temp swings then it might interrupt how fast and how well the yeast work.

What the duration and how much those temp sings are that create concern, I'm not sure. But in general, if the beer cools a few degrees from what the yeasts got happy in, they start shutting down and might end the party until they go change clothes or something of that sort that one knowing yeast biology will need to explain. :)
It would make sense, I just slowly brought up the Temps and I think we're fermenting faster now. Will take some hydrometer readings and let you guys know. 👍
 

bracconiere

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i remember when i was living in a place that didn't have heating. HAD to use lager yeast to get it to ferment at temps like that.....
 
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NathanYearout

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I ferment in nothing but those same buckets going by the picture, and they seal extremely well....

YMMV

Lon
Just throwing out ideas. I thought maybe I damaged it while prying off the lid with my hands as I wasn't too gentle. I think fermentation is starting as pressure is building so it looks like the buckets most likely all good.
 

JaggersBrewingCo

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In the last sixish years that I have been brewing I have been using the same buckets. I even ferment with them at about 95F with Kveik. I just recently got an all rounder to be able to do other styles and such. Up until now I have mostly fermented at room temp with out a problem.

As other have said air lock activity does not mean fermentation is going or not going. Having the ability to take gravity readings is almost a must if you want to be able to make great brews. But be ware when taking reading with a refractometer after pitching yeast, the reading will be off due to alcohol being in the beer.

I have had air locks that didnt seal very well, or the little seal for the air lock to lid not seal that great either be reasons why I didnt see any air lock activity. Remember to try and keep that lid on as much as you can to help prevent infection.
 
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NathanYearout

NathanYearout

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In the last sixish years that I have been brewing I have been using the same buckets. I even ferment with them at about 95F with Kveik. I just recently got an all rounder to be able to do other styles and such. Up until now I have mostly fermented at room temp with out a problem.

As other have said air lock activity does not mean fermentation is going or not going. Having the ability to take gravity readings is almost a must if you want to be able to make great brews. But be ware when taking reading with a refractometer after pitching yeast, the reading will be off due to alcohol being in the beer.

I have had air locks that didnt seal very well, or the little seal for the air lock to lid not seal that great either be reasons why I didnt see any air lock activity. Remember to try and keep that lid on as much as you can to help prevent infection.
Appreciate all the good advice. I did purchase a hydrometer and it appears to be fermenting now after putting it in the proper temperature. My airlock bubbles like once and hour now, have to admit, seing my amber ale bubble every second was like a firework show. Endless entertainment. 😅
 
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