The beer is fermenting away. I was a little concerned at first because there was no visible activity (bubbling airlock) after more than 48 hours. This seemed a little odd given that I had gone to all the trouble of making a starter, etc. Tonight I popped the lid off the bucket, and the beer was quite obviously fermenting. It turned out that the fermenter was not completely airtight. There was a leak around the little grommet that seals the airlock to the bucket lid. I fixed the grommet and put the lid back on, and the airlock is now bubbling about once per second.
All this reminds me why I’m not crazy about fermenting in plastic buckets. The lids are hard to seal and a pain to put on and take off, and you can’t observe the fermentation through the opaque plastic. If I decide to really get back into the homebrewing thing, I may need to break down and buy a 6.5 gallon glass carboy.
This weekend (or whenever the primary fermentation activity has died down) I’ll rack the beer into the 5 gallon carboy for secondary fermentation. I’ve been letting the beer ferment in the boiler room where it’s around 70°, and I’m inclined to leave it there until I rack the beer. At that point I might move it somewhere slightly cooler, say 65°. White labs recommends a temperature range of 65°-70° for this strain of yeast, so it’s in the range either way.