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Old 01-30-2013, 04:47 AM   #1
kurzschluss1
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Hi. I'm brewing my first ever beer from a kit right now: Brewers Best Kolsch.

I made it and got it into the primary fermenter on Sunday afternoon. It was fermenting slowly them vigorously peaking yesterday evening at the 24hr mark. At its peak yesterday when it was fermenting I smelled the air coming out of the air lock and it smelled great. This evening I checked it and the bubbles have reduced significantly and I smelled the air again and it smelled more fruity.

This freaked me out so I went on the internet and it looks like I may have been fermenting it at too high of a temperature?

The room I had it in probably stayed between 72 to 77 degrees for those initial 48 hours which I now realize is probably too warm. I just moved it into the garage where I think the temperature should be in the upper 50s and 60s for at least the next 24 hrs. Maybe even colder after that if the weather starts acting wintry again.

Have I ruined this batch? Will it heal itself? Any sage advice out there for me to correct it?

Thanks!

 
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Old 01-30-2013, 04:53 AM   #2
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It should be fine, Kolsch's are pretty forgiving. It probably should have been closer to 67f (fermenter) which during active fermentation the ambient air should have been nearer 63f. The ambient (outside) air will usually be cooler than the fermenting wort.

 
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Old 01-30-2013, 04:54 AM   #3
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at this point, it doesn't make much difference. the yeast develops a taste profile in the first 72 hours usually, and doesn't change much as long as it doesn't get crazy high. what yeast did you use?
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Old 01-30-2013, 04:57 AM   #4
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If you used the Wyeast Kolsch yeast then you should have been fermenting between 55-65, the lower the better. I have no idea what off-flavors you may get, if any, but anything over 70 is too high for that beer. This stuff also loves a cold secondary. Get it at a constant temp if possible and let it sit there for 3-4 weeks. Right now mine is sitting at 44.8 in a crawlspace and that temp won't change until July.
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Old 01-30-2013, 05:16 AM   #5
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Ya, and I use White Labs 029 at around 65f and its one of the warmer fermenting Kolch's. If your ambient was 72-77, your beer was that temp or higher. Worst case is it will have a sulfer smell and taste, but leave it in the fermenter 4 weeks minimum after you cool it to what ever the yeast manufacturer recommends and you should be good.

 
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Old 01-30-2013, 01:19 PM   #6
kurzschluss1
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Thanks everyone. This first batch is nerve wracking. I really appreciate the advice.

I used the kit yeast. The instructions only call it a yeast sachet and recommend fermenting at 64-72F. I overshot this for most of the first 48hrs unfortunately

It stayed in the garage overnight where the temperature never got above 60F last night. The temperature will vary between that and ~35F in the garage depending on the weather. Unfortunately the weather is all over the map in Virginia (the 75F day yesterday helped melt the weekend snow!).

Should I be concerned if the temp drops into the 30s or if there are wide fluctuations?

 
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Old 01-30-2013, 01:30 PM   #7
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You REALLY want to keep the temps near constant and at the proper range. I do not want to be the bearer of bad news, but I think your beer would have been much better at a lower temp. Nothing to do now but to ride it out and see how it tastes after a couple of weeks in the bottle.

The most important time for yeast is during the heavy fermentation when the krausen is formed. That is where most of the flavor is developed. During the clean up phase, when the yeast run out of their preferred food, they switch over to some other things, which are the things that cause the off flavors. So you "can" lose some off flavors by letting the yeast eat them. But there are plenty that the yeast do not eat, so next time maybe rig up a swamp cooler to help keep the temps steady.

Get a LARGE bucket or tub, place fermenter in tub, add frozen soda bottles to help keep the temps down. Alternatively, you can use an aquarium heater in the swamp cooler, or even a "Brew Belt" on the fermetner directly to warm up a fermenter if it's too cool.

Best is to get a small fridge or freezer and wire up a temp controller, but that the more expensive (and much easier to use) option. With a swamp cooler and ice bottles you have to rotate new bottle sin twice or three times a day.

I'd shoot for high 50s for that yeast, going by the recommended temp range. That's ambient air. The yeast will create their own heat, which could make the beer 5 or so degrees warmer, depending on how hard they are working.

 
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Old 01-30-2013, 01:36 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kurzschluss1 View Post
Thanks everyone.

Should I be concerned if the temp drops into the 30s or if there are wide fluctuations?
Yes. The reason is that they yeast adapt to their environment. The do certain things and create certain compounds as a response to their environment including the temperature.

Too hot and they leak excess compounds and cause off flavors. Too cold and they switch from fermenting to preparing for hibernation.

What you want is to maintain a temp where the yeast are happily fermenting and not producing compounds that give an off flavor.

 
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Old 01-30-2013, 02:24 PM   #9
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Get it out of the garage. The temp swings there will be too much and you risk putting the yeast to sleep if you let it get that cold. I'm guessing that the kit didn't even use a real kolsch yeast anyway so don't worry as much about the off flavors from the high temp. It will be drinkable but it probably won't be a kolsch. Leave it in as cool a place as you can in the house and let it sit for a couple of weeks. That's the best you can do at this point.
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Old 01-30-2013, 03:10 PM   #10
kurzschluss1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Homercidal View Post
I do not want to be the bearer of bad news, but I think your beer would have been much better at a lower temp. Nothing to do now but to ride it out and see how it tastes after a couple of weeks in the bottle.
...

I'd shoot for high 50s for that yeast, going by the recommended temp range. That's ambient air. The yeast will create their own heat, which could make the beer 5 or so degrees warmer, depending on how hard they are working.
Yes I kind of figured out the bad news when I smelled the fruity aroma. I appreciate the tips and education. I have some space and options (garage, attic, crawlspace, spare closet) for maintaining 50F but with the unpredictable weather they are all imperfect. I'm leaning towards the swamp cooler ideas now.

 
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