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Old 01-23-2014, 06:13 PM   #1
Coldground
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Default Lager Fermentation Temperature Question

I am not new to all-grain brewing. Have done many ales but only 2 lagers. I use mostly DIY equipment and try to keep things simple but like to hit my numbers and keep records. I am currently fermenting an American premium lager in the garage using Wyeast 2001 Urquell H strain. I have not used this strain before. I pitched direct from the smack-pack rather warm @ 60 degrees wort temp. No starter or bump-up of cell count. About 15 hrs later it was bubbling away pretty good in the house at ambient temp of 62 degrees. I then put a digital probe on the outside w/tape that ,from experience shows accurate wort temps., and moved to garage w/ ambient temp of 50 degrees. 4 days later (today) we have had a cold snap here that is predicted to last awhile. The garage ambient temp. is 36 degrees and the fermenting wort is 43.5 degrees. There is still a decent head of foam on the wort and the bubbler pops about every 30 secs. My question is, if it remains this cold for the next 2 weeks, is this too cold for primary ferment? I could bring it inside the house and warm it a little and then return to the garage, but I don't want to disturb the ongoing ferment by carrying it around. Please give me your thoughts. Thanks

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Old 01-23-2014, 08:02 PM   #2
skunkfunk
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Should not hurt anything to move it around during primary, I wouldn't think.

Won't you get some off flavors from starting the fermentation so warm?

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Old 01-23-2014, 11:38 PM   #3
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Thanks, you're right about moving it. I think after I asked my question I figured out that it is still fermenting at a decent rate at 43 degrees so I'll let it be.

About the off taste, This is the first time I've started a lager this way. I figured it's easier than making a starter. Here's how I rationalized it:


The smack pack was very fresh so the yeast was greater than 80 percent viable.
I was in a hurry and didn't want to take 2 days to step up the cell count.
The O.G. was only 1.052.
I figured I could pop it into the garage before the ferment took off and before off flavors would start.
The first step in the ferment is aerobic and no alcohol is produced during the first few hours. The yeast is doing pretty much what it would do in a starter which is usually done at room temperature. So you could argue that off flavors are created in the starter process, additionally I don't like the taste of DME which people usually use in starters.
Wyeast says on its site that you can start this way. Although, they do say it is probably preferable to get the cell count up and then pitch cooler.

So, it's an experiment and I'll let you know if it worked. At least it's fermenting well right now at 43 degrees and was only warmer for the first 24 hours or so.
Thanks for your input!

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Old 01-24-2014, 07:13 PM   #4
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the first 24-48 hours is the most critical to temp control, thats when the majority of off-flavors occur. doing a starter at room temp doesnt matter cuz you're generally decanting. fermenting a lager warm at the start can lead to more diacetyl production and generally a less clean flavor (not necessarily off, but more ale-like). i'd keep a very close eye on that ferment if the ambient is 36F, you're asking for a stalled ferment and a sulfur/butter bomb. the fermentation of a lager likely isnt active enough to keep that at a good ferment temp throughout, so if your options are too cold or too warm I guess you're going to have to keep moving it, which isnt a big deal, just obv annoying for you

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Old 01-27-2014, 08:47 PM   #5
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Thanks for your input. I will start transporting it in and out of the garage to get the ferment a little warmer. I think I got it into the garage quick enough initially to prevent a butter bomb.

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