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Old 07-15-2013, 08:52 AM   #1
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Default Brewing in summer... did I make a mistake?

Hi there,

A question for those who have gone before me: have I shot myself in the foot by brewing in warm weather?

Just over a week ago I got started on my first-ever brew, an IPA made with a one-gallon kit. Went quite well and I was fastidious about sanitizing as advised, but here's where I wonder if things might have gone awry: initial fermentation, which the kit's instructions said should take 2-3 days, seemed to be very active on day one and then pretty much settled down after that. The kit was sitting in my kitchen, which was not as air-conditioned as the rest of the apartment. I also noticed a ring of some sort emerge above the wort after that first day of active fermentation.

After two days I inserted the airlock into the 1 gallon jug and set it down in the coolest place I could find (a closet), which has pretty much been nicely air conditioned since then, but we do have a heat wave in progress and I may not be home for the entire week to keep the AC running. I am home most of the time on most days, though, as I work from home.

The kit's instructions say to leave the unit fermenting for two weeks total after the airlock has been inserted before bottling. If I proceed as instructed, that would have me bottling in just over a week.

Should I be concerned about the overall temperatures during that initial fermentation period possibly having skewed the beer? Anything I should do in the meantime as it finishes fermenting?

Thanks!

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Old 07-15-2013, 09:22 AM   #2
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There's nothing you can do now but wait the week (or more is fine) and bottle. The ferment sounds completely normal; activity peaks in a day or two then slows way down. Warmer temperatures accelerate the process, but unfortunately also increase the production of off flavors. Assuming effective sanitation, temperature control is the most important variable in beer flavor. It's not just about the room temperature either; an active ferment can raise the beer temperature up to 10 degrees above the surrounding air. There are many methods of controlling the temperature, and waiting for a certain season is the worst one. An extra fridge with a temperature controller is probably the best, but a "swamp cooler" type setup can do the trick. Do a search and you'll get lots of ideas. Most ales taste best fermented in the mid 60's. and that's BEER temperature, not ROOM temperature. What temperature would you say it was during peak fermentation?

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Old 07-15-2013, 10:19 AM   #3
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Curious as to why you waited to use an airlock until day 2?

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Old 07-16-2013, 07:58 PM   #4
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Thanks for writing, Demus and RedOktoberfest.

Glad to hear the fermentation sounds normal. RedOktoberfest, I waited to use the airlock until Day 2 simply because that was what was in the instructions--it's my first time brewing and I'm doing it "by the book," as it were, until I get the hang of things.

Demus, I'll look up the swamp cooler and fridge options--thank you. I don't see why anyone would want to wait until a particular season to be brewing beer either if there are ways to do it well now. So I pitched the yeast at 70 degrees, but more to the point of your question, I believe the room temperature was in the mid-80s (best guess) during those first initial days. So it could have been quite warm. Hope that didn't impact the flavor, but we'll know soon enough.

I've got a week to go until bottling and then two weeks after that for conditioning according to what the kit said to do, so I'll report back in about three weeks on how it came out. Thank you!

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Old 07-16-2013, 08:05 PM   #5
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It will impact the flavor......but it may not be too significant. By leaving the airlock open you have also inoculated your wort with local organisms. They may be a good thing or a bad thing. Always use the airlock to assure that the brew comes out as advertised.

Make sure it smells nice and yeasty before you try the first sample....if it does then you are good to go.

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Old 07-16-2013, 08:14 PM   #6
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Thanks two_one_seven,

Ah, now I think I understand the questions about the airlock. The kit I used called for the use of a blowoff tube for the first two days, then an airlock for the next two weeks after that. So I didn't have the airlock/gallon jug open except for a brief moment when I was switching between the blowoff tube and the airlock. Fingers crossed.

Will check on how yeasty it smells when the time comes, thanks!

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Old 07-16-2013, 10:44 PM   #7
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Blow off tube setup is basically a giant airlock anyway; there's no magic to an airlock. I generally just leave my brews with the blow off. The temperature is the biggest concern but you're right that only time will tell...

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Old 07-17-2013, 02:22 AM   #8
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Ah, then your golden........ a few moments isn't an issue. If it were several days then thats different. As a side note, some home brewers experiment with capturing wild yeast so it can be a fun experiment.

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Old 08-16-2013, 08:54 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by two_one_seven
Ah, then your golden........ a few moments isn't an issue. If it were several days then thats different. As a side note, some home brewers experiment with capturing wild yeast so it can be a fun experiment.
I was glad to hear this. And good news: I tried the IPA for the first time ago and I liked it. So did the family. Not bad at all for a first brew! I'm going to brew a Belgian blonde this weekend and that will be my last 1 gallon batch. I ordered a 5 gallon kit from Northern Brewer this week and am now thinking ahead to beers I will brew for the holidays.

Thanks, everyone, for your advice and suggestions! They were a great help. Cheers.
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