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Old 01-26-2009, 05:58 PM   #1
Jan 2009
Posts: 7

Hello all. My first post here. I've been lurking for a few weeks and have learned a great deal so far.

Anyway, on my second batch (BB kit: California Imperial Pale) everything was going pretty well with the boiling, etc. I cooled the wort down to ~72F using the ice bath method in the sink. All was well and good until I put the rest of the 3 gallons of ~35 to 40F spring water into the 6.5 gallon fermenter. This brought the temp down to about 48-50F.

I didn't think it would be good to put the yeast in the wort that was this cool, so we put the lit on lightly and let it sit for a while (an hour or two?) to let it warm up to about 58-60F at which point I went ahead an pitched the dry packet of yeast. I realize I probably increased my chances of contamination by waiting so long to pitch.

I haven't checked to see if any action is occurring yet (it's been 44 hrs?), but for future reference, what is my "safe range" for wort temperature when pitching the yeast? Would it have been better to pitch right away or let it warm up a bit first? Obviously keeping a better handle on the temps would have been the right thing to do in the first place...

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Old 01-26-2009, 06:10 PM   #2
davesrose's Avatar
Mar 2008
Atlanta, GA
Posts: 967
Liked 10 Times on 7 Posts

Since many an extract brewer has waited overnight to let the wort get to optimal temperatures, I think you might be being over-reactionary Really, risk of contamination is pretty minimal IF you had properly sanitized your fermentor and you have it properly sealed. My prediction is that your batch will turn out excellent!

As for pitching temps....your yeast manufacturer should have details about what ranges are optimal. Ale yeasts are going to not like 50 degrees, obviously, but lager yeasts will do fine. Though I imagine most yeast strains might just go dormant at 50, but won't die (IE no longer be viable).

One suggestion: if you don't have a floating thermometer, get one! I've always used one, and it's great for keeping abreast of your wort temp. You can either sanitize it while you're doing your boil, or with whatever sanitizer you use for your fermentor.
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Old 01-26-2009, 06:28 PM   #3
Shawn Hargreaves
Jun 2008
Posts: 344
Liked 5 Times on 4 Posts

Pitching too cool is generally ok - it'll increase the lag time before fermentation kicks in, but it won't kill the yeast and they'll wake up as the temperature increases. Remember that you stored them in the fridge before brewing - yeast don't mind a little cold, they just go to sleep.

Too cool is much better than too hot, which will stress or kill the yeast and can create off flavors.

The other good news is that if it was too cool for yeast to grow, it's also too cool for most other nasties, so contamination is less of a concern.

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Old 01-26-2009, 06:33 PM   #4
May 2007
San Diego, CA
Posts: 4,276
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During the summer out here, I cannot get my wort to below about 75 with my chiller, so I end up putting it into the fermenter and sticking it into the fridge for 4-6 hours until it gets to the temp I am looking for. I have never worried about contamination in this time. Since it can take up to 72 hours for a fermentation to start, a couple of hours is not a huge deal.

Also, pitching at 50 would have been ok, but 60 is better. It would have just started much more slowly at the lower temp.

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Old 01-26-2009, 06:46 PM   #5
Jan 2009
Posts: 7

Thanks for answering my n00b questions, folks! Once I get home from my day job, I'll put on my brew hat and check the stuff out.

I'll let you know how it turns out.

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