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Fermentation started but.... did it die off?

Hi all. Last night I did my 2nd batch (3rd try - first failed, 2nd worked), as a new brewer. I pitched yeast at 9:20pm. At 11:50 I had light bubbling - a few bubbles a minute. (this seems a bit quick to be fermenting, doesn’t it?) There was light bubbling when I went to bed about 12:25, about the same. I’d stand and watch and some bubbles would come maybe 2 times a minute. Btw, our OG reading was 1.042 (adjusted) when pitched at about 76 degrees.

I woke up this morning and the bubbling has stopped. The water in the airlock is still sort of pushed to the one side but there are no bubbles in it at all and I sat and watched for 5-10 mins with no action. This was 9:30 (but 10:30 in terms of hours due to day light savings switch).

My question is: what do I do?

I am concerned the fermenting didn’t complete - and that the yeast started but never really ‘took off’. Last time I brewed I had some heavy bubbling and it stopped about noon. (we brewed and got done roughly on the same timeline as this most recent brew).

I am thinking my options are:

  1. just let it be - it probably worked. If so, when should I do a new hydro reading and what should I expect it to be to convince me it worked?
  2. pitch more yeast - it couldn’t hurt, could it? And if so, how soon do I need to pitch the yeast before I’ve ‘lost the batch’?

I would really appreciate any input on what you think happened and what I should/shouldn’t do.

I tend to stress because the first time we tried to brew was a failure, before our previous successful try discussed above. So this is our 3rd try.

Thanks so much!

It’s not likely that it fermented at all - just leave it be for at least another day before worrying about it.

I’d wait a few days and then take a gravity reading. As long as there’s some yeast in the beer, it will ferment.

You say you pitched at 76°F, but what was the beer temperature (not air temperature) during fermentation? If you had a healthy pitch of active yeast, and it started at 76°F, then it could have gotten near 90°F. A low-gravity beer could ferment out in <24 hours under those conditions (and would probably taste pretty nasty as a result).

A good rule of thumb is to ferment ales no warmer than 72°F, typically more like 68°F. That means maintaining an ambient temperature of <64°F unless you have some other means of cooling the beer (water bath, jacketed fermenter, forced air, etc.). Just in case the beer hasn’t started fermenting yet, get the temperature down ASAP.

Thanks. Yeah, the bucket (with wort in it) read about 76 when i pitched the yeast. Now the bucket still reads about 76. So I am going to try and get the temp down. Possibly I killed off the yeast or should it pick back up if I get the temp down? I put it in a cool bath with some ice in the water hoping it will help. Thing that sucks is I live in an apt and don’t really have a cool space.

Takes a lot more than 76F to kill yeast - they’re quite happy in the 90-100F range.

hey thanks for the quick reply. So I get the temp down - wait a day or 2. If nothing happens, should I just pitch more yeast and assume it didn’t work?

In other words - what do I lose by adding more yeast? Is it bad? I feel like, if it isn’t bad, then I’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain by pitching more yeast. I am just wondering how long I can wait until I do that? A few days, a week? At a week - I could probably get a hydro reading and a good sense of where things are before bothering to pith again?

A hydro reading today will tell you whether you’ve had any fermentation. Do another one 24 hours later to tell you if you’ve got fermentation still going on. With buckets, the airlock isn’t always going to tell you a lot.

For my first couple of batches i was using a generic brand primary that didn’t have a great seal, so i never saw the airlock action i expected. You might have a similar problem. I bought an Ale Pail primary with an o-ring seal and have seen airlock action in every batch since. What did/does the surface of the beer look like? It should show signs of fermentation.

I haven’t opened it yet. I was going to do the reading but got busy. I did shake the bucket a little - having read elsewhere that it could be a lack of aeration (though I thought I’d done a decent job). That caused some bubbling which sustained about an hour and has since died off. Not sure what that’s an indication of, though I know you aren’t supposed to shake too much. I suppose curiosity got the better of me.

So, with this done, I don’t know if it is a loose airlock if I am getting bubbling when I did that shake.

What would be some signs of fermentation?

I think I will do a hydro reading tomorrow.

It should have a nice thick foamy looking layer of krausen on top of the beer.

It’s an indication that you did indeed already have fermentation - it’s CO2 coming out of solution.

ok. awesome thanks for all your help! It appears the only question is, did it ferment enough or get the beer skunky at too high a temp. Nothing I can do but wait and see come drinking day, right?

Keep your temps in the low to mid 60’s leave it alone for 2 weeks then take a gravity reading. If it is lower then leave it alone for another week or two then take more gravity readings over a couple of days. Allowing the yeast 3-4 weeks or more will let them clean up the flavors and clarity. Then if the numbers don’t change, fermentation is done and you can bottle.

If after about 72 hours the gravity hasn’t dropped then you have a problem and should pitch some more yeast. It is fairly rare that the yeast will not do their work without your assistance. So look into pitching rates at mrmalty.com and making yeast starters.

For the most part RDWHAHB.

And Happy Brewing.

:cheers:

just an update. took a hydro reading today and 1.5~ - so alcohol fermentation is going! thanks for all ur help!

Is that in degrees Plato? Or is it a typo?

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