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I'm doing my first brew and it doesn't seem to be going too well! I know there are loads of questions along these lines but I couldn't find one that matches my scenario closely.

I did all the prep and work but when it came to doing the SG reading I found the hydrometer in my kit was shattered so was unable to take a reading.

I had read that using filtered water was a good idea so I used our filtered-water-dispensing-fridge to get some so was concerned about temperature but also didn't have a thermometer to hand.

Add to that that our heating has broken so the house is much cooler than usual and it hasn't been a great start!

3 days later and very little seems to be happening. The room where it is doesn't smell malty at all and I'm yet to see any bubbles through the airlock. I had a look inside and it looked pretty much as it did when I left it.

So now I'm not sure what to do! Warm it up in the airing cupboard for a bit and see if it starts? Take an SG reading now (with the replacement not-smashed hydrometer)? "Pitch" more yeast (which I assume is just sprinkling more on top)? Give up and get a new kit?

Advice appreciated!

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Firstly, stop opening it, you looking at it isn't going to make anything good happen and could potentially lead to an infection.

Try to get it somewhere warmer, assuming it's an ale yeast (you didn't say what type of yeast you were using) try to get it to 65-70F. Swirl it very gently a few times when it's in the warmer area to try to get the yeast active again. Then wait several days. During that several days go buy another hydrometer. Once you have it and your fermenter has been in the warmer area for a week take a sample and check the gravity. If fermentation has occurred you should see a gravity at or about the gravity of your kit FG, 1.014. If fermentation hasn't occurred then you can worry about pitching more yeast.

And by the way, a bubbling air lock is only one sign of fermentation, and it doesn't always happen. The only way to be sure is to take gravity readings. What sort of beer was it? A kit? IF you can tell us that we can tell you what sort of final SG you should expect.

  • Sorry, not used to posting and missed out some info. Had looked elsewhere about opening or not and balance seemed to be that it was OK. I'm in the UK and it was a kit from Woodforde's - their Wherry Ale. It says the SG "is usually below 1014". I have a working hydrometer now so I guess I should take a reading ASAP? Will do that and try moving to warmer place for a bit. Will also see if I can get a thermometer to use in the room and in the mix. – x3ja Dec 2 '15 at 22:13
  • There's really little need to open a fermenter to "take a look", a "look" isn't going to fix anything and if you're a first time brewer a "look" isn't going to teach you anything because you have no real idea what you're looking at. And by taking a look you're risking disturbing the layer of CO2 on top of your brew that helps to stop bacteria growing. Not to mention debris dropping in there, skin flakes, hair, whatever. My suggestion is never to open the fermenter unless you want to put something in it, hops, fining agent, whatever it might be. – nemmy Dec 2 '15 at 22:22
  • OK, so I opened it up again to take an SG reading (figured that was enough of a reason) and it came out at 1020. The example start in the booklet is given as 1044 and finish at 1013 - so should I take it to mean things are going OK? Or can you never know unless you took the first reading right at the start? – x3ja Dec 2 '15 at 22:44
  • Forgot to say - thanks for the quick responses - no idea what I'm doing really and appreciate the support! – x3ja Dec 2 '15 at 22:45
  • Yes, things are going fine. Get it into the warm area, leave it for a few days and take another reading. As I said a bubbling airlock doesn't always happen :) – nemmy Dec 2 '15 at 22:47
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If you're using a malt extract then there isn't really much you can do to make an unfermentable wort. Warm it up, it will start fermenting. It helps to have one of those stick on thermometers on the side of your fermentation vessle.

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As they have concluded, airlock was giving a false positive for non fermination.

Review No airlock action. Causes: dry airlock, no c02 generation, bad fermentor seal.

Visual pictures go a long way, since you did open the fermentor ( not recomended) a pic may have let a member identify krausen line, and confirm fermentaion.

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