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Old 01-21-2009, 05:42 PM   #1
fezzman
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Default Question about ale fermentation at low temps

My past few batches have all had a bad off taste. After reading some threads on wild yeasts and consulting my lhbs, I've replaced all of the plastics in my brewing (except for auto-siphon). My thinking was that there was something with my spigot/seal in my primary that was causing the problem. I bought a new bucket without a spigot and threw together a very simple (cheap) ale* just to make sure I eliminated my problem.

I brewed it Saturday night. My Sunday morning fermentation still hadn't started. I looked at my thermostat and the house temp was 56...too cold for the yeast. I moved the bucket in my room and kept a space heater on to keep the temp at a steady 68 until active fermentation started. Bubbling stopped yesterday.

Finally, here's my question: Now that active fermentation is over, will it be okay for me to finish my week of primary and two weeks secondary by letting the temps drop back down to 55-60? Do I risk messing it up?

*For what it's worth, here's the recipe...sure to please my BMC friends:
3.3lbs Light LME
1lb Light DME
1lb Corn sugar
.5oz Cascade @ 60
.25oz Haller Tradition @60
.5oz Cascade @10
Cooper's dry yeast

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Old 01-21-2009, 05:51 PM   #2
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You really need to take a hydrometer reading to verify that fermentation is complete. Otherwise, you're just guessing. If you have the money, I'd run down to the LHBS and pick one up. Otherwise, I would leave it at current temps for at least 2 weeks total time. Lower gravity ales tend to ferment out completely in or under that time. But again, only a hydrometer reading will tell you if fermentation is complete. If you lower the temperature too early you risk ending fermentation prematurely and forcing the yeast into dormancy.

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Old 01-21-2009, 05:59 PM   #3
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I've got a hydrometer but didn't take a reading...kind of bad about doing that. Bubbling stopped yesterday but I still wasn't planning to rack to secondary until Friday night. Then two weeks in secondary before being kegged.

I don't have a furnace in my house which is why keeping a steady temp is an issue. Usually in Florida I have to fight to keep it cool...kind of the opposite right now though.

So should I keep the temp at ~68 until I rack to secondary on Friday?

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Old 01-21-2009, 06:03 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by fezzman View Post
I've got a hydrometer but didn't take a reading...kind of bad about doing that. Bubbling stopped yesterday but I still wasn't planning to rack to secondary until Friday night. Then two weeks in secondary before being kegged.

I don't have a furnace in my house which is why keeping a steady temp is an issue. Usually in Florida I have to fight to keep it cool...kind of the opposite right now though.

So should I keep the temp at ~68 until I rack to secondary on Friday?
Yes, keep the temp at 68. Also, get a hydro reading as soon as you can. That way, when you rack to secondary on Friday you can take another reading to verify that fermentation is complete.
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Old 01-21-2009, 06:38 PM   #5
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Yes, keep the temp at 68. Also, get a hydro reading as soon as you can. That way, when you rack to secondary on Friday you can take another reading to verify that fermentation is complete.
But won't opening up primary to take a reading allow oxygen to get in?? Would I be better off to take a reading when racking to secondary and another when racking to keg?

Thanks for the help, BTW.
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Old 01-21-2009, 06:56 PM   #6
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If you don't splash it around too much it'll be fine. There's a nice layer of CO2 sitting on top of the beer now and that'll keep a good portion of the o2 at bay.

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Old 01-21-2009, 07:00 PM   #7
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But won't opening up primary to take a reading allow oxygen to get in?? Would I be better off to take a reading when racking to secondary and another when racking to keg?

Thanks for the help, BTW.
For several weeks the yeast will be creating CO2,which provides a blanket over your beer. CO2 is heavier than the outside air and will protect your beer from becoming oxygenated. Just be sure when you're taking a sample not to spash around.
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Old 01-21-2009, 07:17 PM   #8
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Good 'nough. I'll take a reading tonight when I get home. Thanks much.

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