Stalled Fermentation?

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matt-tastic

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Alright, on my 3rd beer, a Brown Ale Kit, i got everything going well, finally remember to top the water level off to 5.5 gallons to account for trub (I kept getting higher gravities due to not enough water), and put in the fermentation chiller. Things are looking good, airlock in place, wort is happy.

After day 1, I noticed some wort had pushed up through the airlock and splattered on the top of my fermenter. no worries, it happens all the time i'm sure. I went to change ice bottles later that day, and my airlock had been completely emptied of starsan water, and was filled with disgusting bubbly mess.

so, I remove the airlock, scrub it out as best as possible (its one of the "S" chamber ones), refill it with Vodka (no more starsan handy) and replace it in my bucket. since then, there has been no airlock activity. I can push on the top of the fermenter, and move the liquid in the airlock, but it hasn't bubbled that i've seen in 3 days.

do i pull the lid and make sure there isn't a gap in the airlock seal? do I just give it a good shake and try to reactivate the yeast? do I repitch?

Or, is there another piece of information you need to determine what may be going on? I don't want to let it sit stalled for a week, only to find out i could have helped it along.

One last piece, I used a Nottingham dry yeast (ferm temp is 64-70 according to the pack), but my temps have been at or just below 64 (my fermentation chiller is REALLY efficient). could the yeast have gotten to cold and gone dormant? I wouldn't think they are that finicky.
 

Ryush806

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I would say the most likely culprit is that when you put the airlock back in place you didn't get a tight enough seal. The gas will take the path of least resistance which is apparently not through your airlock. I'd try pushing it down a little bit more (careful though...I once pushed that little grommet right into the bucket)

Mid 60s should be fine for your fermentation temp. I can't say for sure but unless you made a huge downward temp swing your yeast are probably fine.

That being said the only way to know for sure if your beer is still fermenting is two gravity readings a few days apart.
 

ChessRockwell

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If you push down on the top of the bucket lid, you see the liquid level in the airlock rise, right? Now if you hold it there, pushed down, does the level in the airlock equalize pretty quickly or can you keep it at the same (elevated) level by holding pressure on the bucket? If it equalizes itself and drops down pretty quickly, you've probably just got an air leak. If not, well, you probably still just have an air leak somewhere. Unless your temp. majorly dropped I really don't see anything you could have done to halt fermentation so quickly.

Either way, I wouldn't do anything yet - give it a week or so and take a gravity reading to see where you're at.
 

TopherM

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Have you taken gravity readings? The vigorous fermentation would suggest that it could very well be complete, but the only way to know for sure is gravity readings. You probably don't have to worry about repitching or anything like that. Take a gravity reading, and if you are at or close to FG, let it sit as-is for another week or two.

Oh, and if you are stable at 64, and the yeast calls for 64-70, you are just fine. Remember that the ambient measured temp is going to be cooler than the actual temperature of the wort, since fermentation is an exothermic process. If the outside temp is 64, the wort tmep is probably closer to 67-70ish, so you are certainly not too cold.

Everything you have described is perfectly normal. I would bet active fermentation is complete, you need to let it sit for about another week, and it's then ready to move to your next step.
 
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matt-tastic

matt-tastic

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If you push down on the top of the bucket lid, you see the liquid level in the airlock rise, right? Now if you hold it there, pushed down, does the level in the airlock equalize pretty quickly or can you keep it at the same (elevated) level by holding pressure on the bucket? If it equalizes itself and drops down pretty quickly, you've probably just got an air leak. If not, well, you probably still just have an air leak somewhere. Unless your temp. majorly dropped I really don't see anything you could have done to halt fermentation so quickly.

Either way, I wouldn't do anything yet - give it a week or so and take a gravity reading to see where you're at.
I am a path of least resistance guy, and i'm embarrassed not to have thought of this test before! I did it, and got no real variance in pressure after i pushed on the lid, so i'm not thinking there is an air leak. I'll take a gravity reading on Sunday (1 week after ferm) and see where we stand.

Thanks for the tips guys!
 
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