View Full Version : Question for the pros

03-23-2012, 01:56 AM
Ok, I keep bees, now going on my 3rd year. Just now got around to making my own mead. 3 weeks ago started 2 batches. One 1 gallon, and added blackberries that I had in freezer that I had picked last summer. That batch took off like nuts! Used D47, one pack, one quart of my own honey. Next morning after starting it, it had spewed yummy liquid all over table I had gallon jug sitting on.
2nd batch, 5 gallon in 5 gallon bakery bucket with gasket lid. Sanitized everything same way, 5 gallon and 1 gallon batch. 5 gallon batch started out being traditional, with the exception of raisins used for nutrients. Left out that one gallon batch had them too, along with blackberries.
Ok, so like I said, 1 gallon went nuts, used 2 packs of D47 in 5 gallon batch, rehydrated same way as I did the 1 gallon batch.
What I'm getting at, is 5 gallon batch never seemed to take off like the 1 gallon. I'm thinking maybe not enough oxygen? Stirred like crazy before pitching yeast. Anyway after a few days, and doing some reading about fruit and such, got 4 fresh peaches from grocery store and cut them up and threw in there too. Backing up for a minute, before that added some more raisins, and when I took off lid of bucket, was convinced had fermentation going on. In fact when threw the more raisins in, u could actually HEAR the bubbling pick up. So a few days later, and still not seeing the bloop bloop in the airlock like I was seeing in the 1 gallon, thats when I added the peaches. well that seemed to pick things up, and let me know that perhaps the lid was not making a perfect seal, as liquid was bubbling out of certain areas of lid. Now the lid has a gasket, bakery bucket, sterilized, so I duck taped around the lid LOL. . still not blooping like I would like to see. But like I said, both times I lifted lid up to add raisins and peaches, smelling like a good fermentation. Don't have hydrometer yet, doing it hillbilly style for the moment. So, I know this is not really good info, but with what i've shared, any suggestions on the 5 gallon batch? Plus I started another 1 gallon batch of traditional with only raisins added, and it seems to be doing fine. My thoughts are with smaller batches it's easier to get more oxygen in by shaking the mess out of the must before adding the yeast. One thing I couldn't do with a 5 gallon bucket. Any input would be appreciated!

03-23-2012, 02:17 AM
Left out how much honey in 5 gallon batch, 5 quarts, 15lbs

03-23-2012, 08:08 AM
The airlock is not a 100% indicator of fermentation activity, but it can usually be used to judge at the beginning if it is going on.

For some reason when I use the buckets for my primary I see a lot less activity in the airlock than when I use a carboy. Not sure why this is but I'm guessing it has to do with the larger area for the CO2 to blanket before going out the airlock and I'm sure they don't seal as well. I have a blueberry in a bucket now and there's no airlock activity, but the hydrometer proves it is fermenting rather quickly.

03-23-2012, 08:24 AM
Buckets are notorious for having poor seals and leaking gas through places other than the airlock.

It's not a big deal at all really. Most people here, including myself, ferment in open top buckets during primary (With sanitized mesh or towel to keep bugs & debris out). When you have fruits it's sooooo much easier to deal with cap management.

As noted above, airlock activity is only a way of seeing that something is happening early on. It's a very poor sign of how active the ferment is, and it's not useful at all late in fermentation.

The only way to know for sure just how active a ferment is going, is to take daily hydrometer readings. The daily point drop is the best metric of activity. By secondary, it's about the only way to tell. My concord pyment for instance, dropped another 4 points in 4 weeks during secondary. You'd never notice this by watching the airlock, it's too slow, but the hydrometer tells me for sure that something is still going on there.

03-23-2012, 09:44 AM
Thanks ya'll! Thats about what I was figuring on with the bucket. Just wanted to make sure. I'm hoping for the best with the 3 batches I have going, since I don't have a hydrometer yet. Thanks for the input!

Sadie Lady
03-23-2012, 10:59 AM
For some reason when I use the buckets for my primary I see a lot less activity in the airlock than when I use a carboy.

I see the same thing. I have one going that the airlock never bubbled, but sg was falling at nice pace.

Chevette Girl
03-23-2012, 11:13 AM
I have a couple buckets that don't seal well too, but I have noticed that doing a 1-gal batch in a 5-gal bucket often is far more vigorous than a 5 gallon batch in a 5-gal bucket, I think it's probably because of the amount of headspace for possible oxygenation.

And if your 1-gal batches insist on spewing fermenting chunks all over your kitchen, you might want to try a blowoff tube instead, for the first few days when it's going gangbusters.

Welcome to the forum!

03-24-2012, 02:05 AM
Thank you all very much for your input! I know this isn't rocket science, but it's nice to get some feedback from some of ya'll that have been doing this for awhile. Many thanks!