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Thread: First batch. No airlock activity after 5 days.

  1. Default First batch. No airlock activity after 5 days.

    Hi,

    This is my first post and also my first batch of mead!

    I'm new to brewing in general, so forgive me if this sounds really basic.

    I'm going for a real simple, sweet mead - and intend on making it sparkling later on.

    I've had my mead in a 10Ltr FV for primary for 5 days and haven't seen a single bubble in my airlock. I've checked the seal on the bucket lid and airlock seal and they both seem to be tight.
    I've opened up the bucket and can hear fizzing/hissing, when I aerate the mead there is significant bubbling activity and there is definitely a 'fermenty' smell / taste to the must (it doesn't smell / taste unpleasant or vinegary).
    The FV is sat at room temperature out of direct sunlight.
    Everything was sanitized before use.

    I don't have a hydrometer at present - so I don't have a gravity reading, but I will get one if you guys reckon that's the best way to check if fermentation has started.

    My question is, should I be worried for lack of airlock activity? - using my other senses, things certainly seem to be going as planned. But I wanted to know if I'm going about my first mead the right way.


    Here's the recipe I used:

    • 3KG Honey (heated to 70C for 15 minutes with enough Spring Water to make 10 litres of must.)
    • 1x 5g Sachet of Lalvin Sparkling Wine Yeast EC-1118 (pitched into the must when it reached 40C - as directed on the yeast packet)
    • 2x teaspoons of VinClasse Yeast Nutrient (pitched with the yeast)


    Looking forward to your answers!

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rystein View Post
    I don't have a hydrometer at present - so I don't have a gravity reading, but I will get one if you guys reckon that's the best way to check if fermentation has started.
    Unfortunately, a hydrometer is an essential tool and the only way you are going to be able to know what is happening with your fermentation. With 3kg Honey to a volume of 10L, your starting gravity should have been approximately 1.09.

    If fermentation seems to be going, you could definitely be getting leakage through the edge of the lid without airlock activity, but there is no way to know without a hydrometer reading.

    edit- By the way with EC-1118 your mead should ferment dry. You may need to stabilize and backsweeten if you want a sweet mead.
    Last edited by danr; 03-15-2015 at 10:11 PM.

  3. Default

    Thanks for the quick reply! I've ordered the hydrometer so should be delivered tomorrow. Am I right in thinking if the gravity drops over time, this confirms fermentation is in progress? How much of a drop is regular? How often should I check?
    Thanks again!

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rystein View Post
    Thanks for the quick reply! I've ordered the hydrometer so should be delivered tomorrow. Am I right in thinking if the gravity drops over time, this confirms fermentation is in progress? How much of a drop is regular? How often should I check?
    Thanks again!
    I am not sure why there is no longer a link to the newbee guide on the site, but here is a thread with a link: Newbee Guide. There is a lot of great information for you in there.

    Generally, you should take a hydrometer reading after you first mix the must and up to daily after that until your fermentation is complete. It is common to aerate and add nutrients to your mead until the fermentation is approximately 1/3 complete. I usually take daily gravity readings until the "1/3 sugar break" and then less frequently after that. At a minimum, you will want your original and final gravities. Make sure you practice good sanitization techniques when you check the gravity. To read about nutrients, search for Staggered Nutrients Additions or SNA.

    Fermentation should usually be active within 2-3 days after you pitch your yeast. Fermentation times will vary, but the specific gravity should steadily drop after fermentation starts. There will likely be a very active period as the yeast multiply and then a slowdown when the alcohol percentage rises.

    With your recipe, you final gravity will likely be below 1.00. When your gravity is below 1.00 and does not change over the course of a week, your fermentation will be done.

    Report back after you take your first hydrometer reading and have fun.

  5. Default

    Will do! Thanks for the link, I'll check it out.

  6. Default

    Wahoo! My hydrometer has just arrived.
    I sanitised it and took a reading of about 1.045 (I re-tested a couple of times just to make sure).
    With the approximation of my must being around 1.09 at start up, does this sound like a healthy / normal drop in gravity since I pitched (12th March)?

    Looking forward to your answer!
    Thanks!

  7. #7
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    Bucket lids and airlock grommets can "seem" tight, but if it ain't bubbling, then it's leaking somewhere. Don't sweat it, you seem to have confirmed that it's fermenting and as CO2 is heavier than air/O2, it will have pushed any air/O2 out already.

    When you need to open the bucket to do a test, just make sure that the bucket is in a draught free area and then the CO2 blanket will remain in place.......
    here's me home brewing blog (if anyones interested....)
    and don't forget
    What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away! Tom Waits.....

  8. Default

    I've been taking readings every 2 days (now at 1.02) so I assume it's safe to say that my must is fermenting? Thanks for your help! Got Mead is great!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rystein View Post
    I've been taking readings every 2 days (now at 1.02) so I assume it's safe to say that my must is fermenting? Thanks for your help! Got Mead is great!
    Your mead is definitely fermenting. Do not feel compelled to check as often now; you might want to wait a week or so before your check again. You may find that the fermentation will start slowing down as the amount of sugars reduces and the alcohol percentage rises.

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