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graydragon2
02-07-2013, 08:59 AM
I know this is just me being a newbie but I gotta ask. I started my first real batch last night, ie with real equipment instead of a ballon and water jug, and I had a question about the airlock. Until I can make it back to my LHBS i only have a 3 piece airlock and was wondering how active they are supposed to be during primary fermentation. I took a reading yesterday when I made it and was at 1.096 and when I took it this morning it was at 1.084 so I am pretty sure its fermenting but I am seeing no activity in the airlock. When I am degassing it I am seeing CO2 bubbbles coming up too. I am using Red Star Montrachet yeast.

fatbloke
02-07-2013, 09:34 AM
Airlock activity is a poor way of gauging the ferment status.

There's many reasons why you might see little evidence at the airlock, which is why the only proof necessary and needed is the continual drop in gravity numbers as demonstrated by your hydrometer.

You should normally be able to see some tiny bubbles rising to the surface of the batch but unless a bucket seal/stopper/airlock arrangement are making a good and effective seal then you might see little or no evidence of activity at the airlock.

graydragon2
02-07-2013, 10:28 AM
Thanks FatBloke. Thats kinda what I figured but being a newbie its nice to have confirmation from more experienced people.

psychopomp23
02-08-2013, 09:21 AM
Thanks FatBloke. Thats kinda what I figured but being a newbie its nice to have confirmation from more experienced people.

Right now i have a batch that has a nice big foam head and i can see little air bubble burst inside but it doesn't give me the bubbles in my airlock but i figured that it's fermenting since the color of my metheglin changed color drasticly from a brown chocolate milk to a beige/brownish mixture so your best bet is like fatbloke said. With a SG reading your sure of what's happening

graydragon2
02-08-2013, 10:47 AM
It finally started bubbling like i feel it should be. I don't know if I didn't have a good seal or what but I just checked it and it is at 4% abv. Mainly just a newbie condition of impatience. It was a little on the lower end of the yeasts tolerance also when I pitched so that probably caused some of it too. It's fermenting like crazy now. When I went to check it this morning it had pushed some up into the airlock.

Marshmallow Blue
02-08-2013, 02:34 PM
Make sure you clean the airlock out good. You don't want anything nasty growing and dropping in for a visit.

graydragon2
02-08-2013, 02:40 PM
I cleaned it. I was doing my last nutrient addition and took care of it then. Thanks for the advice though.

graydragon2
02-08-2013, 09:38 PM
One more question I have is, if a mead is gonna finish dry and it is still in your primary and you decide you want a sweeter mead, which would be better, back sweetening or adding more honey. Say that it had only been fermenting for 2 or 3 days for example.

Marshmallow Blue
02-08-2013, 10:03 PM
I think thats a matter of personal preference. If it were me, I would wait since I might like where it ends up. But I know other folks (smertz off hand) adds to sweeten during fermentation. I'm not sure about the flavor differences that may be between adding during and after fermentation.

I'm not sure there is a "better" way to get the sweetness. It's you're brew, you're way.

graydragon2
02-08-2013, 10:15 PM
True. I am just going by the potential that it has to get to .096 that I got from one of the online calculators. I know that is considered very dry and I like a little sweeter wine so not sure yet about how dry a dry mead is. I may add just a little and see where that puts me. I was at 1.076 this morning and that was only at a day and a half of fermentation. Was a little tired when I started the batch and didn't think about adding more honey to bring my starting gravity up to a sweeter starting point.

smertz001
02-08-2013, 10:15 PM
Yeah, I am trying to mid sweeten, I guess you can call it. Just keep it fermenting and when the gravity gets low then add more honey back up. And keep it going until it stabilizes at the gravity that you want. ChevetteGirl was the one that suggested it to me. As this is mead #005 that I am doing it to. I definitely do not know how it compares to other ways of sweetening.

Marshmallow Blue
02-08-2013, 10:37 PM
Also according to ken schraams book adding more honey as it goes can boost your yeasts tolerance through a microcosm(is that the right word) of natural selection. I haven't experimented with that yet but it'd be cool to try. Small batch split in the beginning with honey additions in one and a regular fermentation in the other and see how high you can boost your abv above the yeasts tolerance. Need to taste regularly to make sure it's not getting stressed though.

smertz001
02-08-2013, 10:41 PM
Yeah. I really need to get his book and read it. Hoping to be able to real soon. Although my current reading list is super long!

Chevette Girl
02-09-2013, 01:28 AM
It's called step feeding if you want to search the forum for more info :) I've done it a time or two (maybe 4 or 5) but if you don't have a problem with using stabilizing chemicals, stabilizing it and backsweetening is really the easiest way to safely get a sweetness level you like, because, as was mentioned, it can really push your yeast's tolerance and also will take a while to finish and be safe to bottle.