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Strange fermentation

I have a few firsts going on on my latest batch, and I’m noticing a strange fermentation.

I did an all grain clone of the Gonzo imperial porter. My efficiency kind of sucked, so it only ended up with an OG of 1.075 (I know, “only” is a relative term here). I used a new immersion chiller (first first), and chilled to pitching temperature of close to 70%, aerated by splashing through a strainer and shaking vigorously. I pitched WLP001 (second first). I pitched one fresh vial and one starter of it and plopped the bucket into a swamp cooler (third first). It’s been sitting at an ambient 68 degrees, with six inches of 60 degree water in the swamp cooler. I pitched on Sunday, saw a few bubbles in the airlock on Monday and Tuesday morning, but as of Tuesday afternoon, no airlock activity. I peeked, and have a healthy krausen going, then checked the seal again as of last night. But no more airlock activity. Oh, another first, I also added the recommended 1/2 tsp of Wyeast yeast nutrient to the boil.

I guess I expected either a runaway fast fermentation right away, or a slow fermentation that would last longer than a day and a half. Not a slow (not vigorous), fast (only lasting a day and a half) fermentation. I know, I should just let it sit for a while then check gravity again, just seeing if anybody knows what of my way-too-many changes to procedure may be leading to unexpected fermentation behavior.

My guess would be your pitching rate. You said you pitched a vial and a starter? How was the starter done? Also, what is the recipe you’re using(because I wanna make some Gonzo)?

Good call on the pitching rate… I did a 2 qt. starter for four days (shake every time I walked past it method). It went crazy, but after cold crashing, the yeast cake seemed a little thin, so I picked up an extra vial. I thought I would need epic amounts of yeast, but since my efficiency was a bit low, I guess I did pitch a pretty healthy amount. I know, not the most scientific approach, but seemed right to me.

As for the recipe, I snagged it from BYO:

http://byo.com/stories/item/1454-tasting-double

The resulting wort was pretty syrupy and promising… we’ll see how it turns out after a good long while. The recipe recommends a pretty warm fermentation temperature, but I’m keeping it cool at least for the immediate future. I’ll let it slowly warm up starting this weekend… maybe get a little more fermentation happening.

The only other thing I can think of is maybe you mashed a bit high and have more unfermentable sugars. Thanks for the recipe link, now I just have to decide Gonzo or Yeti first.

What are you fermenting in A bucket? If so they tend to seal like crap.

I disagree with this. unless its been due to human error (me not securing the lid), I find these to seal really well (?) are you talking about the airlock o-ring?

I disagree with this. unless its been due to human error (me not securing the lid), I find these to seal really well (?) are you talking about the airlock o-ring?[/quote] no I’m talking about the buckets rubber gasket around the lid. Its the number one reason why new brewers don’t see active fermentation because of a bad lid seal.

Do a search with the words bucket and seal and you will find allot of post/topics about bad sealing lids on buckets.

Yes, it was in a bucket. It seemed to be sealed properly. I did check the gravity soon after, and it looks like it fermented out. I’m guessing I just had a decent amount of yeast, and the swamp cooler kept the fermentation down reasonably. I’m thinking “strange” should be what I shoot for… I’m adjusting my expectation of “normal,” as the sample I took tasted really very clean.

+1 Thus no airlock activity. The gas is finding the easiest route out.

I disagree with this. unless its been due to human error (me not securing the lid), I find these to seal really well (?) are you talking about the airlock o-ring?[/quote] no I’m talking about the buckets rubber gasket around the lid. Its the number one reason why new brewers don’t see active fermentation because of a bad lid seal.[/quote]

I rotate between 3 different buckets with lids. Two of the lids I have blow off tubes built in. I regularly have a situation where I get nothing out of the airlock and/or blow off tubes, yet fermentation is chugging along just fine. None of my lids even have rubber gaskets but some seal fine.

I’m not meaning to doubt anyone here (or the internet at large)'s experiences, but I almost always get significant airlock activity out of my buckets. I typically use the single-piece ones (as opposed to the 3 piece)…maybe they seal better? Sorry to thread-jack.

Are you referring to the seal at the air lock as opposed to the seal at the bucket lid?

Are you referring to the seal at the air lock as opposed to the seal at the bucket lid?[/quote]

both. I get bubbles is what I’m saying.

I do most of the time, but 15-20% of the time I do not. I don’t panic, I just crack the lid. make sure I have krausen and carry on.

I’ve never had a problem seeing airlock activity from any of the 3 buckets or carboys I have used for primary fermentation. I now use a 20-gallon food grade plastic container, that also shows plenty of airlock activity. But the most important thing is, as long as fermentation is taking place, the space above the fermenting wort is filled with CO2, and how the air, and later excecss CO2 is pushed out is less important than keeping airborne critters out of the brew. Gravity checks is the only really sure way of knowing what is going on.

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