Bucket Fermenting

I’ve always been a carboy user - until I dropped one full of fresh beer. So I bought a NB 6 gallon bucket and lid, thinking it might be safer. The problem I’m having is that I’m getting zero activity in the airlock. I took a quick peek under the lid and have copious amounts of krausen and the airlock is not blocked.

Could air be leaking out from somewhere else? The lid is on tight and I even set some weight on top to make sure it was snug. Anyone experienced this that may have a remedy?

When did you start fermentation? If lid is on can’t think of a reason it wouldn’t start fermentation other than maybe the yeast,

Most likely a leak/seal issue. Maybe the lid is not snapped completely.

I had the same problem recently on a batch - no bubbles in the blowoff tube - but I peeked insided and saw plenty of krausen so I know fermentation was working. Batch came out fine.

Same bucket and lid on my next batch it bubbled like crazy, so I’m guessing I didn’t quite have the lid in place properly (though it looked like it).

The standard ale pale type buckets do not have any sort of seal in the lid. Frankly it is amazing we ever see bubbles at all. My buckets are about 2 years old now and I would bet that I have one in every 4 batches that I cannot get airlock activity, but fermentation is just fine.

The 7.5 gallon bucket I have has a gasket in the lid and seems to seal better

Yes, air will leak out around the edge of the lid (even if you have a sealed lid). I wouldn’t worrying about it being sealed completely. The positive pressure of the carbon dioxide that is being produced will keep anything from getting into the bucket.


+1 to the above. I use buckets about 80-90% of the time, and I rarely get bubbling in the airlock. When I do, I generally switch to a blow off tube because it usually means that is what is coming next:)

Thanks everyone for confirming what I thought. There must be a leek somewhere. I’ll try a different lid next time and see what happens.

I know some guys who never snap the lids down anyway. As mentioned above, the positive pressure from CO2 release will keep anything from getting in.

I primary in buckets only and I don’t worry so much when I don’t see air lock activity. I get a little concerned, but not worried. I have been using healthy starters, aerating, and ensuring proper temps for a while now so I am REASONABLY confident of a solid fermentation.

If I see no airlock activity within a day or so of pitching I will check the seal of the lid by clamping it down around the bucket by hand…a bit at a time. For me it is usually 1 or 2 spots around the perimiter that don’t seal. Once I press them down I get a bit of movement in the airlock and I know I’m in business.

If that doesn’t work I just sniff around the floor of my fermentation chamber (waist level) and I can usually smell if it’s going.

I have yet to have to pop a lid to check. I would be more likely to pull the airlock and shine a light through the hole to check instead of pulling the lid, though.

Just how I do things.


The lid for the wine bucket sold on NB seals nicely. It will bulge upward during high fermentation and the airlock will gurgle away happily. I’ve also looked at Gamma lids, they might work well on your existing bucket.
As for dropping a carboy, I highly recommend the brew hauler. I own 2 and use them on my 3,5,& 6 gallon carboys,