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No signs of fermentation, but there's an Alcohol smell

So I got my brother a starter kit and a American Wheat Extract kit. I helped him successfully brew the beer and put it in the primary with safale s-05 dry yeast. I kept it at a safe temperature in the middle of the optimum fermentation temp. after nearly a week there was no sign of life so i bought some yeast nutrient and a new packet of yeast. When I opened it up the smell of alcohol burned my sinuses! I checked if the airlock was plugged but no such luck. I added the yeast nutrient but not the new yeast, and still no luck. Am I going crazy or are the wheat beers just extremely slowly fermenting beers? please let me know if you guys have any input.

Did you take any gravity readings?

You can always taste it to see if it fermented out.

What were the visible signs that you did not see? Is it in a carboy, or a bucket (ie could you actually see the beer not ferment the whole time, or were you relying on airlock activity as your indicator?)

What was the “ideal Fermentation temp?”

Possible it fermented out very quickly as opposed to too slowly?

I didn’t take the gravity as i was brewing another batch that night and forgot. It is in a bucket and so my main visual indicator was the airlock, but there didn’t even seem to be any pressure at all coming from the fermenter. I was checking it about every 8 hours so i think it would be more likely to have been a slow process as opposed to all fermenting over a 8-12 hour period. The ideal ferm. temp. is 59-75 and it was kept between 67-68 for the first week then I tried a warmer 70-72 area to increase the activity.

I am wondering if perhaps the lid was not sealed quite as well as you thought and the gases escaped from there versus a bubbling, visual airlock…

Which, if so, I have read on here others don;t think it is that big a deal. Again, just a thought perhaps on what might of happened

That is a possibility I had not thought of. I figure it is probably a small oversight on my part and i will just leave it for the full two weeks in primary without the additional yeast and give it a taste to insure fermentation has occurred.

I’m guessing the smell you mentioned that burned your sinuses was actually CO2 (which will take your breath away in concentrated form), which is a sign that your brew is actively fermenting. I see you’re brewing in a bucket. It’s not unusual to get leakage around the lid, in which case bubbling in the airlock would be nonexistant. Also, in my experience, US-05 isn’t much of a beast, it seems to ferment more slowly and steadily than most other yeasts I’ve used. I’m betting you’re fine, though I’d be curious to know what the krausen looked like when you popped the lid to put the yeast nutrient in.

There wasn’t much of a krausen left when I opened it up but what was there looked healthy and was a thick light brown color. It didn’t have much residue on the sides of the bucket which was part of the reason i believe there was little to no fermentation. I really appreciate the help you guys!

[quote=“fullhousebrew”]I am wondering if perhaps the lid was not sealed quite as well as you thought and the gases escaped from there versus a bubbling, visual airlock…
[/quote]

This is what I am thinking.

You should taste it. If it fermented, it is beer. If it did not, it is sweet wort - you would know the difference. If it is contaminated it will smell like ass, and taste like a belgian’s toe cheese.

Smell and taste are what beer is all about.

You did not mention the Krausen in your O.P. That is a dead giveaway for fermentation.

Don’t overthink things. Every fermentation is unique. If you start worrying about how this one does not look exactly like my last one, you will go insane very quickly.

if it matters, at least for me, I really (really really) have to press down to get the lid to seal on the fermenting bucket.

and as I said above, if you did not get that completely sealed, I really wouldn;t panic, most likely you had a very small gap and most of the time air was blowing out versus sneaking in anyway. I bet you are just fine.

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