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Is krausen an automatic sign of active fermentation?

I brewed a German beer on Sunday with some old wyeast that I stepped and stepped again both at about 1.5L. I didn’t wait until the second step was done before chilling it (it was going nuts). I pitched chilled starter wort without draining it or warming it up because the yeast never dropped (and I was ready to go to bed). The fermentation bubbles in the airlock started about 8 hours later and were pretty happy and moving along and continued bubbling for about two days getting weaker every hour (this is all at about 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit.) So anyway, the fermenter stopped bubbling and I got worried tonight and peaked in and tasted a little. Sweat tasty wort. The other thing I noticed was a thick goo of brown yeast with bubbles all over it. Is it definitely fermenting still? I’m worried about wild yeast starting up since there are no more bubbles coming from the airlock 2 days after brewing with no blow off happening and while only at 60-65 F.

You did not mention what yeast ale or lager? I’m guessing ale yeast by your indicated ferm temp. But I’d say it looks like its fermenting. Air lock activity is not the best way to know if there is active fermentation. I’d say let it go and let the yeast do its work.

Ale is correct. Yeah I would normally just let it roll and see what happens, but my second to last batch tastes bad (like something is missing) and there was similar bubble activity with that one. That one was not aerated well, so I assume that’s what got it (that and the shaking of the bucket a few times to get things moving over the three weeks).

So I will let this be for a couple days and then check it again. I’d just hate to screw another one up so soon.

If in doubt, keep an eye on the gravity. A couple consecutive days at the same gravity is a reasonable sign that it’s not actively fermenting.

I always leave my primary until the yeast drops out. Normally I transfer in about 10 days but there are exceptions. I’ve had krausen look like that before. Yeasts can work in different ways, show different signs etc.

Krausen is sign of fermentation, but lack of krausen is not a sign of lack of fermentation.

Dropping gravity is a sign of fermentation. Dont go by looks. Give it time and check gravity.

Denny, you should have started your sentence off with "Grasshopper, "

Very Sensei-like :cheers:

You may also have a small leak in your seal seeing that it’s in a bucket, quite common I believe…since fermentation has slowed down, it’s possible that enough CO2 might be leaking through that there’s not enough pressure to have airlock activity

Wild yeast will also create krausen and airlock activity.

It was the same picture yesterday when I checked it, maybe a few more bubbles. That was 5 days after pitching. After I opened the lid and looked inside, a couple of the bubbles popped suggesting possibly that co2 was coming up from solution. I have never brewed anything that had a thick krausen this long and no co2. I have been considering the leak possibility as well as yeast not getting to the sugars because it’s stuck up top.

If when I check tonight I get a high reading like 1.03 (og was ~1.05), then would it be wise or reckless to swirl that thick layer around and try to submerge it or even stir it in? I plan to let it hang out for 2-3 weeks to clean up.

“When you can skim the krausen from the fermenter, your training will be complete.”

I just checked the gravity one week out. ~1.022. It was a real mess to take a sample. The yeast got all over the place. Then I swirled the thick paste around on top. I hope I didn’t oxidize. The sample was bubbling so I guess the fermentation is just slower than I’m used to. Tasted a tad fruity but nothing overpowering.
I think I’ll wait a couple weeks and check it again.

Was this Wyeast 1007 by chance. If it was it looks pretty normal.

genius! lol yeah it is. Is it normal for a long slow going with no airlock activity?

genius! lol yeah it is. Is it normal for a long slow going with no airlock activity?[/quote]

In my experience it ferments pretty fast and then ever so slowly gasses off. My guess is that the remaining co2 gets trapped in and under that thick layer of yeast on the top, making it much slower. That krausen will take forever to drop. You can either rack out from under it or cold crash it to drop the yeast to the bottom. Be prepared for cloudy beer because this yeast will hang around for a while.
I’m bad I haven’t done the FG test in years. I only take one for my records when I keg. I can’t tell you how long to leave it in primary, but mine are usually around ten days. :cheers:

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