View Full Version : No bubbling in airlock, mead not behaving as it should?

04-21-2015, 03:57 AM
Hey all!
Started with a batch this saturday, and I have some questions. Since I'm a pretty new guy at meadmaking, you guys probably knows more than me about this.

I started a batch three days ago, a big 23L batch with 7 kg honey (that's 6 gallon, 16 lb for you damn imperialists!) with the Lalvin K1-v1116 yeast, and I don't.. really know if the mead is behaving as it should. I had yeast nutrients added to the must and ALOT of foam the first day. Now? Nothing. The airlock isn't bubbling at all, there's no foam. I do hear a sizzling from the bucket, and it certainly smells like a mix of yeast, alcohol and honey so apparently the mead is fermenting as it should, but why isn't my airlock bubbling? It makes me nervous.

Should I aerate? Should I not aerate? Add some raisings? I have no clue.

04-21-2015, 04:15 AM

From your description it seems to me like it's indeed fermenting, but the way to find out for sure is to take out a sample and measure the specific gravity (assuming you have a hydrometer, which in any case you should have) and check if it's dropping.
Aeration is a good practice in the first days anyway.

If the gravity is dropping, then the bucket lid might not be airtight and it's letting some air go out. Having no bubbles in the airlock doesn't mean it's not fermenting.

04-21-2015, 04:23 AM
Hey Rogers!

I have indeed aerated it a couple of times. Weird thing about hydrometers.. When I measured the must before adding the yeast, it told me the SG was at 1.080. I measured it several times to be sure it wasn't a fault reading because according to my calculations it should've been at 1.095, but it said the same every measuring. 1.080. Today, SG was at 1.090. I have no idea how that happened.

If my calculations were correct and the must was around 1.095 and my measuring was faulty, would it be probable for the must to have dropped down to 1.090 in four days?

I have also checked the lid, and it's tight. Tight as in I can barely open it without hurting my fingers.

04-21-2015, 04:55 AM
I guess that in ideal conditions it would drop more than that. But it depends on many things (how viable the yeast is; yeast rehydration; nutrient addition; fermentation temperature), and could indeed be starting slower.

I don't know about your measurements. It could be that the honey wasn't fully dissolved when you took the first sample.
It could also happen that with some CO2 coming up in the liquid in later samples you would get a higher value than the real one (I'm not sure this would make a big difference). Shaking the sample and waiting a bit would make this clear, though.

I have some buckets that will still have leaks even if I close them as tightly as possible.

But if the gravity eventually doesn't drop, then you might have something else going on.

04-21-2015, 05:17 AM
I guess it's a slow starter, I only added the yeast nutrients and nothing else. Should I try adding some orange peels or raisins as well?

The honey not being dissolved is probably it, you're right about that. I was stupid as I didn't heat up the water a bit before adding the honey, so it took some time to dissolve. Newbie-mistake!

I'd prefer using carboys in glass as they are easier to get shut tight, but they are too expensive here. Haven't found a big one under $70..

04-21-2015, 05:34 AM
The yeast nutrients should be enough.
In the forum you can find a lot of references to staggered nutrient additions. Usually the nutrients are divided in 3 stages (although you'll find examples of different procedures): beginning of fermentation, 1/3 sugar break (when 1/3 of the sugar is gone) and 2/3 sugar break.

Another thing that might be of interest is checking the pH (can be done with a pH meter or, cheaper, some pH strips). It's also mentioned a lot in the forum the initial addition of potassium carbonate in order to prevent big pH drops later in the fermentation. If the pH get too low, the fermentation can get slow or even stop. It happened to me before, but not in the very beginning of the fermentation.

04-21-2015, 10:07 AM
Your math is right. I suppose it could take yeast 72 hours to get going, but 12-48 hours is much more common. Like Mr. Rogers said, check the pH. While you're at it, check the gravity again too. If your pH is below 4 you can add potassium bicarbonate to bring it back up. If your pH is fine and and your gravity hasn't moved, you may consider pitching more yeast.

Which nutrients did you use, and when did you add them? Some commercial blends contain DAP (Diammonium phosphate, an inorganic ammonia salt that's like crack for yeast) which can actually impede fermentation if added before the yeast are established. For example, Fermaid-K has DAP and is typically added only after the yeast are going.

04-21-2015, 10:22 AM
You didn't mention how you started your yeast. Did you use Go-ferm? Did you follow a rehydration protocol? Did you proof your yeast? Tell us the steps and data you had going on up to the time you pitched your yeast and we might be better able to help.

04-21-2015, 11:49 AM
Opened the bucket to aerate it a bit now. I can still hear it sizzling, and there's definitely alot of CO2 build up in there, almost like stirring Pepsi! Smells abit of alcohol and that sweet smell of honey. Can't check pH though, I don't have pH-sticks at the moment. Gravity has moved down a bit, around 1.087-88 now.

If I'm to be honest, I have no idea what my yeast nutrients contains. White bag with "Yeast nutrients" written on it. I've read somewhere it contains DAP, so that might be it since I added 10gr of it right after I stirred the yeast into the must.

I did not use Go-ferm, I've searched for it here but haven't found it. Guess we swedes has to get by without it. I added the yeast to about a pint of must for about 15-20 minutes to get the yeast going for a bit, then stirred it into the must. That's basically it.

04-21-2015, 12:55 PM
Rehydrating the yeast in must is probably not the best way to do it. I think it is recommended by the yeast manufacturers that you do that with plain (sanitary) water.
Doing it with must might have been a bit stressful to the yeast in the very beginning.

04-21-2015, 10:20 PM
MrRogers said it correctly. You started with compromised yeast.

If you don't have any Goferm you next best bet is to just put your yeast into clean water at 104 degrees. Sprinkle it in and try to avoid clumps. Let your dry yeast come to room temperature first before adding to the 104 degree water. After about 10 minutes into the re hydration process add a small amount of your must into your yeast. Do about 1/4 the total of added must to total of yeast batch. Do this until the yeast batch has come to within 10 degrees of your must temps. Your trying to slowly get the temps the same so your not temperature shocking the yeast. Once that is good just easily pour the yeast into your must. After you see signs of fermentation then begin your feeding protocol.

04-22-2015, 11:14 AM
So, I checked the mead today as well. No bubbling yet, and the SG is still at 1.090. What's my best bet by now? I have a bottle of Wyeast Nutrient Blend, should I try adding tsp to see if that kicks the fermentation into atleast starting mode, or is my yeast dead and I should just begin with a new yeast starter (doing it right this time)?

04-22-2015, 09:39 PM
I think you might want to start some new yeast. The longer it sits like it is the more prone it is for unfriendlies to start taking over.

04-23-2015, 03:42 PM
I think you might want to start some new yeast. The longer it sits like it is the more prone it is for unfriendlies to start taking over.

Pitched a new yeast today, the Lalvin EC-1118, to the batch. All according to your advice! Also pitched in some Wyeast Yeast Nutrients, so if this doesn't work I don't know what will.

04-28-2015, 04:44 PM
Pitched a new yeast today, the Lalvin EC-1118, to the batch. All according to your advice! Also pitched in some Wyeast Yeast Nutrients, so if this doesn't work I don't know what will.

Well? What's going on with this batch?

05-01-2015, 11:18 AM
Well? What's going on with this batch?

It started bubbling yesterday! I haven't dared to open it after I pitched the new yeast, but I've heard it sizzling inside the bucket. Hopefully it's all good now :) Took a while to get it going, man was I worried..