Day in and day out a new brewer will pitch their yeast, snap on their airlock and 24 hours later freak out because their beer is not fermenting… and nine times out of ten it’s because they are not seeing airlock activity…

Perhaps their airlock hasn’t started bubbling yet, or maybe it did start bubbling, but stopped after only a couple of days…

Either way, they are looking at the wrong indicator…

Checking for airlock activity to see if fermentation is happening is like checking for oil fluid by checking the gas level gauge on the dashboard…

Airlock activity tells you one thing and one thing only… CO2 is being produced… that’s it…

To check if fermentation is happening or not, then you must take a gravity reading using a hydrometer…

If you take a gravity reading you will see whether or not the amount of sugar in your wort is declining or if it’s constant… If you don’t take a gravity reading, you will not have a way to tell if fermentation is happening or not…

What is fermentation anyways?

Fermentation is yeast eating sugar and turning it into alcohol among many other things…

And that’s why taking a gravity reading will tell you what’s going on with your fermentation… If your gravity is dropping, then yeast are eating sugar and therefore fermentation is active… if your gravity is constant, yeast are NOT eating sugar and that means your beer is not fermenting!

This is a basic fact to understand when you learn how to brew beer, because it tells you how much your beer fermented (how much alcohol was produced) and how much residual sugar you have left after fermentation…

Less residual sugar will give you a drier beer while more residual sugar will give you a maltier beer…

You also make sure that your beer is fully fermented so you don’t bottle beforehand and end up with bottles exploding due to too much carbonation being produced in the bottle…

So if you ever feel like your beer is not fermenting, don’t pitch more yeast or take any sort of action until you’ve taken a gravity reading over 2 or 3 consecutive days and see if gravity is dropping or remaining constant…


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