My malted cider had been brewing after about a week in my plastic brewing bucket to the point where the little 'hat' thing in my airlock fell onto the 'neck' (no internal pressure).

I opened it up to take a gravity reading (1.003) and saw a bunch of gunk on the wall above the level of the wort. After I put the lid back on, I swirled it around a bunch to get the gunk mixed back into the wort, and it's been fermenting fine for the past four days.

Other notes:
* When pitching, I just sprinkled the yeast on top, put the lid on, and stuck it in a corner
* There has been no discernible temperature change

Just curious if this is normal.

I checked the gravity after a couple days and it's down to 1.002 now, so I believe it's still fermenting away.

  • Please read the FAQ - although there are some specifics that you mention that I'll address in an answer - a lot of "what is normal" is contained in the FAQ. Cheers!
    – mdma
    Commented Mar 1, 2012 at 22:12
  • The difference between 1.003 and 1.002 is so small (especially if measured with a hydrometer) that I would consider it measurement error most likely.
    – bk0
    Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 17:11

3 Answers 3


Yes, this is perfectly normal.

Given your gravity is 1.003, I'm not sure if fermentation actually started, or you just caused some of the CO2 to come out of solution - in both cases you'll get bubbles in the airlock. Ah, 4 days you say, that's quite a long time. It could be that you got "stratification" - bands of higher concentrated sugars at the bottom. By rousing the yeast you give them more contact with the sugar. You'll know for sure if it really was still fermenting by taking another reading in a couple of days after airlock activity has subsided.

The "gunk" on the bucket above the wort level shouldn't really be mixed back into the wort. It won't harm you, but it may taste bitter. I thoroughly recommend John Palmer's book, How to Brew, and IMHO should be considered required reading before attempting to brew. In it, he mentions about the crud:

The brown scum that forms during fermentation and clings to the side of the fermentor is intensely bitter and if it is stirred back into the beer it will cause very astringent tastes. The scum should be removed from the beer, either by letting it cling undisturbed to the sides of an oversize fermentor, or by skimming it off the krausen, or blowing off the krausen itself from a 5 gallon carboy. I have never had any problems by simply letting it cling to the sides of the fermentor.

Please post back if this affected your cider, but keep in mind that the cider itself may be a little bitter, not just because you stirred the trub back into the beer. 1.003 (or lower if it fermented on) is pretty low - depending upon your original gravity - there may not be much sugar left to provide sweetness.

  • "...if this affected your beer, but keep in mind that the cider itself may..." Is it beer or cider? It won't be more bitter if there were no hops used.
    – brewchez
    Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 1:28
  • 1
    @brewchez, in my experience, cider, like mead can become bitter from the other compounds left in the juice if it ferments down to 1.002 or lower. The sugar balance is needed to offset these. I've fixed the typo - changed beer to cider - although the OP mentions "malted cider" so this could be a beer too.
    – mdma
    Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 16:41
  • 4 gallons of cider, a gallon of various malts and water, half ounce of hops. it's both i guess. look up graff recipe and you'll find a thread about it going back a few years
    – MStodd
    Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 16:54
  • Thanks for the clarification. I've made Braggots, but Graff was a new concept for me. Taste of a cider, body of a beer - nice!
    – mdma
    Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 17:08

The gravity reading pretty much indicates fermentation was done. Shaking the bucket just knocked the CO2 out of solution, like shaking up a can of soda.

The crud you were trying to get back into the "beverage" is called krausen. Its mostly yeast and other proteins from the malt.

Not knowing your recipe I don't know if you used hops or not as part of the "malted" part of your cider. If you did use some hops you might expect the "beverage" to be slightly more bitter than if you left the krausen on the bucket walls.

Its normal to just leave it stuck to the walls.

  • I'm not sure why you wrote this - it pretty much duplicates my answer above that I wrote 3 hours earlier, although I do include a reference where the OP can find more details. Also your downvote on my answer seems harsh - just because I referred to the beverage as beer rather than cider, when the OP indicates that the brew is a bit of both.
    – mdma
    Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 17:03

Cider will ferment for about a week, maybe a bit more depending on the sugar level of cider you are using. Being that close to 1.000 means it's done fermenting, time to transfer into your secondary for clarity or drink away.

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