Author Topic: I am not getting any airlock activity  (Read 17025 times)

Jason Elmes

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I am not getting any airlock activity
« on: March 02, 2010, 07:24:12 AM »
I sealed the lid of my bucket about 40 hours ago, and I have had no airlock activity.  I pitched my yeast at 73 degrees after pouring the wort aggressively from the brew pot into the fermenting bucket a couple of times.  I would think it would have been very oxygenated. 

I used a packet of Wyeast that had an activation pouch in it.  I kept the wyeast refrigerated until about six hours prior to breaking the packet.  When I broke the interior pouch I shook it the pack vigorously as directed in the directions.  The pouch did puff up.  Before I pitched the yeast I sanitized the package. 

It seems like the lid is tightly on the bucket.  I slowly pushed on the lid and could hear oxygen escaping from the airlock so I do not believe the airlock is blocked or the hole is inadequate.

I pulled out the airlock last night and looked in the bucket.  I could not see very well but I could tell there were patches of "stuff," maybe yeast, on top of the wort. 

Should I take the lid off and take a closer look?  Do I need to take another hydrometer reading?  My initial reading was 1056.  I am brewing Flat Tire. 

Thanks for any and all input.  I am learning and appreciate your thoughts and suggestions.

Jason

Jason Elmes

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Re: I am not getting any airlock activity
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2010, 07:26:22 AM »
I also forgot to mention.  It smells like beer.  No bad smells  ;D

Offline Broohoose

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Re: I am not getting any airlock activity
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2010, 08:14:03 AM »
Patience.  Patience. Patience.  I don't ferment in a bucket, but have heard the seal is not always 100% so CO2 could be escaping around the lid.  Also, if you are on the cooler side of the yeast temperature range, there could be some delay, but I am guessing you are fine.  I would kick back, have a home brew and take a hydrometer reading in 4 or 5 days.


jwehr

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Re: I am not getting any airlock activity
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2010, 08:29:29 AM »
If you have stuff, then you likely have fermentation.  My experience, especially with Wyeast, is that start time is in a large part, related to the age of the yeast. If the yeast is only a few weeks old, the smack packs blow immediately, and you should have fermentation within 24 hours. The older the yeast, the slower the start time. I've used Wyeast that was 6 mo out, and it took 4+ days to start. Now, I am pretty picky about really fresh yeast. When you pay $6-$10 for Wyeast, it should be fresh.

Offline MaltLicker

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Re: I am not getting any airlock activity
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2010, 12:35:20 PM »
It's likely fine........bucket's do leak, they have larger headspace, some yeast are slower, temperatures could be dipping overnight?, etc.   One nice thing about Wyeast packs is that if the package swells you know some cells are alive.  To Jwehr's point, liquid yeast do degrade quickly over time, so starters become critical after a few months on the shelf. 

Check out the yeast pitch rate calc at mrmalty.com and play with the date of production.  After 3 months, viability drops off the cliff.  That means a 3-month old package might be 34 million cells and not 100 million, which would indicate you need two packages or a 2-liter starter to compensate.  (If the package is over three weeks, I do a starter and then decide how much of the yeast slurry to pitch.) 

http://www.mrmalty.com/calc/calc.html

Offline Maine Homebrewer

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Re: I am not getting any airlock activity
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2010, 05:11:33 PM »
I'd suggest warming to the low 70s, at least until you see some activity. 
It's easy for me because I've got forced air heat, so I can simply set the bucket on the vent. 
If that doesn't work, or you can't easily warm it, then you could try adding a packet of dry yeast.

Or you can be patient.

Your experience has happened to me more than once, and is one of the main reasons I don't use liquid yeast. 
The stuff is too darn expensive, especially when you buy a dud.
"To alcohol! The cause of - and solution to - all of life's problems!" -Homer Simpson

Jason Elmes

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Re: I am not getting any airlock activity
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2010, 07:22:36 PM »
Thanks for all of the information.  It makes it a lot easier to wait when I get answers from people more informed than myself.

I did take a look under the lid this evening though and there is a this level of yeast on the top!   ;D

Offline Beer_Tigger

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Re: I am not getting any airlock activity
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2010, 03:46:50 PM »
I use buckets and occassionally get the same problem.  Sometimes the activity happens while I'm asleep and its over in a few hours.  But if you see the yeast growth, wait your planned time and continue with confidence - it'll be fine.
"Let's see if this here beer will help me to stop procrastinating." - my cousin

Jason Elmes

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Re: I am not getting any airlock activity
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2010, 06:49:14 AM »
I thought it was probably the seal between the cover and the  bucket so I took some electrical tape and brought it around the cover once to ensure that no air could get through.  Probably 20 cents of tape and...Boom!  Airlock activity!

Thanks for the input everyone!  I hope others with the same problem will just make a seal with tape.  Cheap, easy and effective.  It beats buying a new primary when it isn't really needed. 

Offline Beer_Tigger

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Re: I am not getting any airlock activity
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2010, 12:23:59 PM »
I have 1 bucket that is particularly troublesome so I put that rope like styrofoam insullation stuff in the cover channel to make a gasket.  That fixed that one.
"Let's see if this here beer will help me to stop procrastinating." - my cousin

HopToad

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Re: I am not getting any airlock activity
« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2010, 10:08:36 PM »
  Glad you have joy,   :D   and don't want to hijack your thread,   :'(

  But I am in a similar situation, although brewing in a glass carboy.  I used Wyeast "smack pack", swelled up pretty good.  After more than 2 hours, when it was time to pitch, wort was about 80 deg - per recipe.  That was about 5:00 PM.  Almost midnight now.  No activity, nothing floating, all settled.  I estimate it is room temp now, or about 72F.

  Here is something I noticed in a couple of batches, tell me if I am full of it.  As the wort cools, it actually can start a vacuum in a well sealed carboy, drawing the water out of the airlock and into the wort.  I think this is still going on with my batch, definitely no pressure.

  I'll wait a while.

8:00 AM - nice foam on top of wort and bubbling quite a bit.  Patience often works.

« Last Edit: May 11, 2010, 06:55:00 AM by HopToad »

Offline BobBrews

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Re: I am not getting any airlock activity
« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2010, 07:12:08 AM »
HopToad,

Yes a vacuum will occur if the seal is too great and the wort is to warm. This will pull in any water to infect your wort with any beasties that it may contain. My water will kill anything. This is the reason I use cheap vodka in my airlocks. If vodka is sucked in, so what! When the fermentation is done drink the airlock!
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Offline MaltLicker

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Re: I am not getting any airlock activity
« Reply #12 on: May 11, 2010, 12:29:40 PM »
As the wort cools, it actually can start a vacuum in a well sealed carboy, drawing the water out of the airlock and into the wort.

Bob's right.  Always use vodka or sanitizer in airlocks.  Those plastic Better Bottles can flex too, sucking airlock contents into wort. 

HopToad

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Re: I am not getting any airlock activity
« Reply #13 on: May 11, 2010, 03:57:49 PM »
I hope the airlock was not be a problem this time around.  Although it did contain water, and it may have drawn some in, it had been boiled and the lock sanitized..   She looks like a nice beer right now, with a firm gold head.

That vodka idea, its a keeper. 

Offline Maine Homebrewer

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Re: I am not getting any airlock activity
« Reply #14 on: May 11, 2010, 05:41:54 PM »
Quote
This is the reason I use cheap vodka in my airlocks.

Vodka in the airlock is cheaper than a lost batch of beer.
"To alcohol! The cause of - and solution to - all of life's problems!" -Homer Simpson

 

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