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Old 02-25-2009, 06:57 PM   #1
oms1981
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Default fermenting at the bottom end of yeast's temperature range?

This coming saturday I am going to have some friends over and we are going to be brewing 2 batches. We are doing a nut brown ale and a basic hefe. I do all of my fermentation in the basement in my "beer area." The basement is basically just 1 huge open space so I just use the area that has the least light exposure. Anyway, I went down there last night with my digital instant thermometer and got a reading of 61.3 degrees F. I will be using Wyeast #3333 which has optimum of 63-72 degrees F and Wyeast #1028 with optimum of 60-72.

I am wondering what are the ramifications of fermenting at the bottom end of the yeast's optimum range (or just below optimum in the case of the hefe yeast)? I'm assuming that I will just have a slower rate of fermentation, but is there anything else I should be concerned about? I will be using starters for both batches to ensure they get going as quickly as possible.

I guess the real pain here is that it's not really possible for me to control the temperature down there. This became a problem at the opposite end of the spectrum for a batch I did in july. It fermented at around 73-74 degrees and although the beer still tastes quite good, the discerning connoisseur will definitely detect the fusel alcohol.

I'm moving in May so I'm not really concerned with trying to remedy my temp control issues too much right now. This will probably be my last or second to last brew session at this house so I just want to worry about this one right now.

So, yeah.. any concerns or comments I should be aware of for fermenting ales at around 60 degrees? I've never done a batch at a temp this low before.

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Old 02-25-2009, 07:37 PM   #2
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Looks like you #1028 yeast should be in the prime spot for low fussel alchol strains. You could use a brewers belt (warming belt) to bring the temp up on the #3333 yeast, but personally I'd leave it after pitching at say 65deg it may take off and maintain temp (exothermic reaction of converting starch to alchol) then after 3-4 days as the temp of the beer decreases with activity add the brew belt to again bring the temp up to the Yeasties normal range.

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Old 02-25-2009, 07:50 PM   #3
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By fermenting the hefe at a lower temperature, you're going to lose out on some of the esters that are typical of that style... it will probably be a good beer, just not as "fruity" as it could be if fermented towards the higher end of the temperature range. That's my understanding of it, at least.

Would you be able to sneak the wheat up into the house once it's done with it's vigorous fermentation? With no risk of blowoff, you should just be able to stash it in a closet somewhere if the SWMBO is averse to having it upstairs...

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Old 02-25-2009, 08:39 PM   #4
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I experimented with fermentation temps on two identical Dunkelweizen recipes.

The one I fermented at 60 degrees was great. Nice clove flavor, not much of a fusel taste.

The one I fermented at 72 degrees I did not care for as much. More flavor and a bit of a fusel taste to me.

My basement sits at around 62-64 degrees right now. Personally, I still set all my brews up in a swamp cooler and work to keep them around 60 degrees. No problems with stuck fermentations or anything yet. You should be fine!

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Old 02-25-2009, 08:58 PM   #5
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Lower temps may affect the taste of the beer but mostly to the better. Another problem with low temp fermentation is slow and sluggish fermentation towards the end. Sometimes making you believe that it is over when it is not. The result is an overly sweet beer due to the large amount of residual fermentable sugars. Like Hopaholic said, moving the beer into the warmer house after the fermentation slows down can help with that.

When I ferment my ales cold it helps me to know where the FG will be. This way I know if the yeast gave up to early. This test is fairly simple and you do it on a sample that is fermented with lots of yeast and warm (I ferment mine in our bedroom which is the only room we keep at 70F all the time) which makes sure that the yeast won’t give before it is done: http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=Fast_Ferment_Test

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Old 02-25-2009, 10:10 PM   #6
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I could try moving it upstairs, but I'm a little bit hesitant to try moving the fermenters up that staircase. It's the type with a landing and 90 degree turn half way up. I'd be really concerned with disturbing the contents. Another issue is that it's probably only marginally warmer upstairs. This house has little to no insulation and a sh*t head landlord. So it's been costing us a small fortune to even maintain 60 degrees. It's warmer today, but we've seen a lot of single digit weather. The only room that approaches 70ish is my bedroom and it's very small. really the only open spot in this room would place the fermenters right in front of the heating duct; prob a bad idea. Man, I can't wait to move.

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Old 02-25-2009, 10:19 PM   #7
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In addition to sluggish fermentation, you also can have low attenuation due to premature flocculation. That's not an insurmountable obstacle at all. As the others said, you can move the beer to a warmer spot after the fermentation dies down a bit. You can also rouse the yeast. Fermenting at or slightly below the lower end of the range just takes a little more TLC.


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Old 02-26-2009, 12:06 AM   #8
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ok i just took another reading downstairs and it's 58 degrees down there right now. this definitely isn't going to work. I thought it would stay more stable down there. looks like the fermenters are going next to my bed where it is a comfortable 66 degrees. thanks for the input guys.

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Old 02-26-2009, 12:50 AM   #9
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You can't always go with the temp. of the room. Your beer will be a couple degrees warmer sitting in your plastic primary bucket.

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Old 04-24-2009, 03:21 PM   #10
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What about trying to put the fermenter in a cardboard box. It will give you some, although little, insulation value. What little heat comes from fermentation should keep it a bit warmer in the box.

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