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jmhooten 07-04-2006 11:14 PM

Simple questions...
Okay a few questions...

(1) I wound up having to leave my wort out (covered) overnight to get it to cool enough to add yeast.... is it dead probably or???

(2) I live without a cooler in a warm climate - probably close to 85 degrees avg. and that is the temp the wort fermenting at - I was told it would be okay but probably it would take less time to ferment... do you agree or is this going to be a problem.

(3) I was told "keep an eye on the specific gravity" to know when to stop fermenting... how do I check this as right now I have it in a sealed bucket with an air lock? do I just pop the lid and grab a sample?

Thanks in advance.

gruntingfrog 07-05-2006 12:52 AM

1. Your wort will probably be OK this time, but to reduce the possibility of NASTIES getting into your beer prior to the yeast taking hold, next time put your wort pot in the sink with 6 pounds of ice and some water. It should cool off in about 45 minutes and allow you to pitch the yeast.

2. 70 degrees is a much better temperature for most yeast than 85 (not to mention yeast that prefers 60-65 degrees). Try putting your fermenter in a pail or the bathtub with some water surrounding it and a towel draped across the bucket (the base touching the water). This will wick water up through the towel which will evaporate cooling the fermentor (the same way sweat cools your body). If it is truly 85 degrees in your place, you may want to also put a fan blowing on the fermenter which will cause the water in the towel to evaporate faster and therefore cooling better.

3. If you have a hydrometer, you can pop the top of the fermenter to grab a sample after a week of fermenting. If you have an airlock on the fermenter, you can also go by the "one bubble every 2-3 minutes" rule to know when fermentation is complete.

Darth Konvel 07-05-2006 01:07 AM

1) Maybe, maybe not. The longer your wort goes without your yeast in there, the longer bad stuff has a chance to get a foothold. That said, you're probably okay, just no way of knowing until it's given some time.

2) frog already metioned some ideas, so I'll just add that the temp that you ferment at will affect the flavor profile of the final brew. Higher brewing temperatures can lead to funky / fruity and heavy alcohol flavors. You might not notice the effects in darker or heavier brews, but if you're trying for a lighter beer, they might show through. On a side note, some styles favor warmer brewing temps, although 85F might be a tad warm.

3) If you have a thief, just open your lid and grab a sample to measure. If your gravity doesn't change over the course of a few days, it's done. Honestly, I never bother doing so. Just give it plenty of time to do its thing, and watch for airlock activity (or lack thereof.) One thing to keep in mind with the fermentation buckets is that their lids don't always seal completely, which can make reading the bubbles misleading.

david_42 07-05-2006 01:22 PM

Stick with dried yeasts like salale56 and Nottingham that ferment cleanly and can handle higher tempuratures. Make porters & stouts that can mask off-flavors (a few blackberries in over-heated stout can work wonders). Use a water bath to cool the fermenter. At 85F, a week should almost always result in a complete ferment, but think about getting a spigot for your bucket.

todd_k 07-05-2006 04:24 PM

When grabbing a sample to test the gravity, be careful with sanitation. Make sure whatever you're sticking in there has been sanitized. I use a turkey baster to get a sample as this is quick and minimizes contact with the wort and the amount of time the lid is off the bucket.

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