No airlock activity

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by RAtkison, Jan 3, 2017.

  1. RAtkison

    RAtkison Member

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    First off I am new to home brewing, planning on brewing my first all-grain batch this weekend.

    I have brewed 2 batches so far, both malt Better Brew extract kits, and both have been IPA's. My primary fermenter is a 6 gallon bucket with lid. During the primary on both batches I saw no activity in the airlock. Only thing were very small bubbles that appeared to be suspended in the water, nothing like I see on other peoples videos of airlock activity. I threw the first batch out, thinking it was due to operator error or bad ingredients. The second batch I pulled out after a week, bottled and it turned out pretty good. Yeast used in both was out of the kit, BRY-97 that was hydrated as instructed and then pitched into the wort.

    My question is, is this common to have no airlock activity? Is there something wrong with the bucket or should I be doing the primary in a carboy rather than a bucket?

    Thanks for the help, look forward to joining the homebrew community!
     
  2. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    this is probably the most common issue with new brewers, in most cases you have a leak in your lid somewhere and even with a leak the beer wont be bad just wait 7 to 14 days and check it with a hydrometer
     
  3. RAtkison

    RAtkison Member

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    Thanks for the response! Would you suggest doing the primary in a glass carboy instead of the bucket for my next batch?
     
  4. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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  5. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    agree with Ozarks. if anything, maybe get a plastic carboy so you can do a double batch or secondary (if you do that). i've got a glass one too, but i'm deathly afraid that's going to break some day. i'd also recommend a carrying harness doo-hickey to make it easier to lift

    also, regarding the dumped batch, it's hard to not make at least some kind of beer. it might not be the best, but you have to actively work against the yeast. i'd even say in general terms, that if you're unsure if a batch turned out ok or not, it's probably ok to drink. you'll definitely know a bad batch when you have one. if it smells bad (baby vomit, goat, electrical fire, sour when you didn't intend to make a sour beer, etc.), then yeah, go ahead and dump it

    and good luck with the all grain this weekend. way to jump right in. you doing BIAB or mashing in a cooler?
     
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  6. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    #6 Ozarks Mountain Brew, Jan 3, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2017
    One thing make sure you shake well for a good oxygen level
     
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  7. RAtkison

    RAtkison Member

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    Thanks for the info!

    I put together a water cooler setup this past weekend for mashing. Will most likely be batch sparging.

    Concerning the use of a plastic carboy, I assume this could be just a 5 gallon water jug used for bottled water? I guess I would need a 6 gallon one to have enough room?
     
  8. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    you need a 6 to 6.5 gallon bucket, thats another thing people get wrong 5 gallons of finished beer starts at 5.5 gallons in the fermenter and you need another gallon to account for yeast foaming krausen
     
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  9. jeffpn

    jeffpn Well-Known Member

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    As mentioned earlier, a change in hydrometer readings is the best indication that that fermentation is happening.
    Nothing wrong with fermentating in a bucket. I used to do that for years. I still have it.
     
  10. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Gday ratkinson that is just about standard in Aus to ferment in bucket. Having that lid may cause problems with air lock activity and not sealing lid. Use your hydrometer use all your senses too smell it taste it look at the wort in the hydrometer tube gradually you'll spot the signs of active fermentation and inactivity just by looking at the fermentor.

    When fermentation is active all the wort is turbulent. When activity is slowing off you'll see a definite trub layer settle out at the bottom of fermentor this is a good sign that fermentation isn't far from complete:). Cheers and good luck . Be positive ha ha
     
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  11. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    IDK if the water jug is made from the same type of plastic as the homebrew ones (off the top of my head, I think it's PET plastic that you need?). I'd suggest getting one from the homebrew store, you should be able to get a 6 - 6.5 gallon one for under $30
     
  12. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    as trialben pointed out, seeing what is going on during fermentation is pretty darn cool too
     
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  13. Mark D Pirate

    Mark D Pirate Well-Known Member

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    I like the Coopers /Mr Beer FV
    No airlock and tap is well off the bottom
     
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  14. Reebman1

    Reebman1 Member

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    #14 Reebman1, Jan 4, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2017
    Just a couple days ago I was looking into this very thing on the web and landed on YouTube for a bit. One I watched was by CraigTube titled 'Airlocks 101'. I found it pretty informative and it set my mind at ease by my non active airlock! With everything in place - lid, airlock with liquid - gently press down on the lid and watch the liquid in the airlock rise to a point and then hold it there few several seconds. If the liquid level remains static, then there's no leak but if it does begin to settle out then there's likely a leak in the lid/bucket.

    My current small one gallon batch was appearing to have no airlock activity well after one week in the ferment cabinet. After removing the lid it was obvious that fermentation was happening as there was a nice foamy layer of krassen over top the wort. Hope this helps. Best of many brews to you
     
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  15. RAtkison

    RAtkison Member

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    Went to my local homebrew shop and brought this question up, his suggestion was maybe the lid I was using didn't have a gasket and that's where the air was escaping. I bought a new lid, got home and what do you know, he was right. Just put my first all grain batch in the bucket with the new lid, will keep this thread updated with my findings.
     

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  16. Gerry P

    Gerry P Active Member

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    I started with a bucket, then a glass carboy, then Mr. Beer fermenters (actually pretty good for small batches), and now I'm back to the bucket. The bucket wins for me, especially since I don't do secondaries any more. Easy to clean, easy to move, durable, and cheap.
    If I decide to do a secondary in the future, it will be in a corny keg.
     
  17. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    That theoretically is my secondary/Lagering vessel.
    +1 for bucket fermentor. You don't need to worry about boil overs. My fermentor has a clip down lid = no thread or rubber gasket where nasties can hide.
     
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  18. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Can I scream,. don't worry about the freaking airlock, rely on your hydrometer instead?
     
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  19. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    That was your only mistake. ;)
    Unless beer in the fermenter is literally scummy (yeast rafts and krausen residue don't count) and putrid smelling (sulfur stench from lagers doesn't count), it'll be drinkable.
    Be patient.
    I almost never get really active airlock activity in buckets. If I do, it's usually fermenting much faster than I'd prefer and the beer quality suffers. Try not to obsess over the airlock. It'll get there.
    Be patient.
    Keep some good craft brews on hand to drink while you're waiting for your pipeline to fill up. That'll serve a couple of functions:
    First, it'll give you inspiration and help you get a better idea of styles and ingredients you want to explore.
    Second, it'll give you something you can enjoy and help calm you down when you have a hard time trying to ...
    Be patient.

    :)
     
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  20. Mark D Pirate

    Mark D Pirate Well-Known Member

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    it's a rather comforting sound though ! i dont trust it but i do like hearing it burping away
     
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