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Just did my first batch using the fast ferment conical fermenter. Brewed an extract kit from Northern Brewer....their Smashing Pumpkin Ale. It's a 1.054 OG brew and I used a dry yeast to ferment. 48 hours after pitching at a safe temperature, I'm getting NO action on my airlock. Scared, I cracked the lid and almost passed out from the CO2 waft...so fermentation is indeed occurring, just not presenting itself in the airlock.

Anyone else have this issue or have any ideas what's going on? My initial thoughts are the CO2 is escaping from a leak in the plumbing somewhere...although my inspections haven't confirmed this (smell, sanitized water to look for bubbling). The foam cap on the fermentation was definitely there, although not ridiculously voluminous. Oddly, there was a lighter area of foam in the middle surrounded by a darker area of foam.

Any thoughts would be appreciated!

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This sounds like a serious problem: pressure in the fermenter!

The foam you have described sounds just right: the dark patches are happy yeast floating on the foam.

But the "waft" of CO2 from "crack(ing)" the lid makes me wonder whether your fermenter is pressurized. Opening a fermenter should never result in a sudden release of CO2. The CO2 should hardly be noticeable.

You should carefully crack that lid again ASAP. If there is hissing, then you have prevented an explosion.

Then when the pressure is gone, remove the airlock, check it for clogging or other blockage (is the airlock new too? Maybe the hole is blocked?). Change to another airlock, or a blowoff tube, or anything that will let CO2 out and keep bugs from getting in. Otherwise, leave the lid cracked while you run to your homebrew store for another airlock.

OTOH, if there is no hissing when the lid is loosened, then there is a CO2 leak. The escaping CO2 will keep oxygen out during the rapid fermentation, but you should rack to another fermenter before it slows too much (before the foam goes away).

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Fermentation is done or perhaps stuck when the specific gravity remains unchanged for a few days. Sometimes a fermentation will seem to stall but then pick back up. The amount of bubbling through the airlock is not a great indicator of fermentation completion.

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I had a same problem when I first started brewing. My starter kit came with one of those cheap plastic s-shaped airlocks.I got little if any bubbling through it. I threw it out and bought one of the cup style ones and never had the problem after that.

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