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I've been making a heather ale (so not of the usual process of making an beer wort). I got the Boadicea hops for aroma, but because I got them the day after making the wort (poor organisation on my part) I ended up just making a tea from about 30gms and then pouring in the whole tea and hops together before pitching the yeast, i.e. dry hopping.

After a day the ale became cloudy and a foam formed on top suggesting that the yeast had taken hold, but the airlock wasn't bubbling. I checked to see if there was a leak anywhere in my bucket and couldn't find one. The next day I tried removing as much of hops as I could, but the condition of the beer didn't change. I started to think that I'd pitched bad yeast into it.

Fast forward a few days and I needed to use the bucket for a different fermentation so I siphoned my 15L of heather ale into 3 demijohns. The first two of these demijohns are now blissfully bubbling away (suggesting that there isn't a problem with the yeast), whereas the last demijohn, which got the brunt of the hops that were left over after trying to remove it, is in the same position of having a bit of a head but also not bubbling through the airlock.

Has me thinking about whether the presence of too much hops early on in the fermentation retards the production of alcohol & CO2?

I've seen other questions about why people's brews aren't bubbling and answerers usually point to the yeast or not enough airation etc. My experience is that I have two demijohns that are doing fine and one that's not producing CO2. They're all from the same wort, same yeast and same airation etc. The only difference is that one of them has more hops in suspension.

UPDATE

I added some extra sugar water to the third demijohn to top it up as there was more of a gap at the top compared to the other two demijohns. I think I also switched the airlock on it and noticed that that particular airlock hasn't had its two halves quite as uniformly as my others, so it could be an air leak issue, but I was using a different airlock when the ale was fermenting altogether in a single bucket (that airlock has since worked fine on other ferments).

In short, I'm still confused, but the ale is fermenting fine now so whatever.

  • I think the 3rd demijohn has an air leak other than through the lock. Hops don't inhibit yeast (at least not brewers' yeast), only some bacteria. – Kingsley Aug 25 at 23:08
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Hops don't usually have a significant effect on fermentation speed.

How much yeast slurry you end up with in each fermenter does. If one fermenter got more yeast it could finish and flocculate much sooner, looking "finished" quicker, even overnight. It could also go the other way, looking more active because it has more yeast. All depends on the timing of when you observe it.

Take a gravity reading with a hydrometer and post an update if you can.

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