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Old 09-06-2012, 01:13 AM   #1
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Default Can I ferment the first few days in my fridge?

I have very limited resources to control fermenting temp and I hear about all the off flavors that come from increased temps but not much about off flavors from low temps? I also heads that a lot of Belgian beers ferment at a really low temp for the first couple (few) days then they let it warm up and let the yeast go at it.

So can I just pitch the yeast and leave it in a regular fridge for a few days then let it come out and chill on a water bath that will prob stay near 72?

I want to have multiple batches going but all I have is one extra plastic tub that the buckets can sit in to stabilize the temp. Otherwise NorCal daily temps fluctuate 20 degrees from day to night plus there's the increased temp IN the bucket due to fermentation the first few days....?

Any input is much appreciated.

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Old 09-06-2012, 01:14 AM   #2
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FYI I'm brewing browns and a brown porter.

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Old 09-06-2012, 01:21 AM   #3
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Most ale yeast strains need to be in the low 60s or thereabouts or they go dormant. You can look up your yeast strain's specific needs on the manufacturer's website to see what the optimum fermentation temperature is for the strain you chose.

For example, I use a lot of White Labs wlp001, and here's what it says:

WLP001 California Ale Yeast
This yeast is famous for its clean flavors, balance and ability to be used in almost any style ale. It accentuates the hop flavors and is extremely versatile.
Attenuation: 73-80%
Flocculation: Medium
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 68-73°F
Alcohol Tolerance: High


My experience is that it does ferment ok in the mid 60s, so I tend to ferment it at 65-66 and allow it to rise up to 70 degrees at the tail end of fermentation. For most strains, you can go a few degrees cooler than the optimum temperature IF you pitch the proper amount of yeast (usually several packs).

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Old 09-06-2012, 01:24 AM   #4
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I really would not recommend trying to ferment an ale yeast at fridge temps.

Your yeast packet will say what range it is active in. Generally ale yeasts are viable at 60F+ or 65F+. If you're any lower than that, the yeast will not ferment, and may go into shock and fall out of solution / hibernate, particularly if they were stored at room temperature. (Lager yeasts generally prefer 50 F or so.) Best case, it will start fermenting when you warm up. Worst case, you kill the yeast and have to pitch again.

You'd be better off taking your chances with a 72 F water bath. You can also try the "swamp cooler" method of a wet towel wrapped around the bucket and cooling it with a fan. The evaporation will help to cool the carboy.

If you absolutely have no room anywhere except the fridge, I would just chill the wort and wait to pitch yeast until you can bring it back up into the 60s at least. This is basically the "no-chill" method that I hear is popular in Australia. There is more risk of infection, since the wort is more vulnerable without the yeast activity, but I would say it's better than killing your yeast.

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Old 09-06-2012, 07:42 AM   #5
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Mahalo for the feedback. I just brewed the brown porter tonight and decided to just leave it in the water batch where it will be around 70f most of the time. The drawback is that I had to take the brown ale that I brewed 2 weeks ago, out of the water bath. It should be done fermenting so I am guessing it is less vulnerable. I'll be bottling it in 9 or 10 days so hopefully it holds up.

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Old 09-06-2012, 11:39 AM   #6
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With out a temp contoller on your fridge you can't make it stay in the 60's, the built in thermostat is much lower then that.

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Old 09-06-2012, 07:05 PM   #7
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I've had success using an appliance timer to switch a fridge on and off. During active fermentation, I find it needs to be on at LEAST 50% of the time, often a bit more, to keep things around 65°F or lower. Leaving it on full time is, unfortunately, too much, even during the active stage. However, a timer can be had for $10-$15 (make sure you get one that can be switched on and off in half-hour increments). It's not super precise, but I've had a lot of success with it, and it's cheaper/easier than trying to set up a proper temperature controller.

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Old 09-07-2012, 02:26 AM   #8
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The first couple of days are the most critical for temperature control, since that's when the yeast is growing and there's the greatest potential for off-flavor production.

It's much better to put the new beer in the better-controlled environment. After 2 weeks the beer is basically done and it doesn't really matter what the temp is. So definitely good call on switching them. (Although I still would avoid the fridge until the fermentation is totally done, since dropping the temp that low will cold crash the yeast.)

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Old 09-07-2012, 06:32 AM   #9
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Cool thanks for the Aloha guys!!

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Old 09-07-2012, 04:15 PM   #10
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You could go ahead and put the finished beer in the fridge in a few days. A cold crash is a good technique to try.

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