Brewing cold - what to expect?

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gromitXT

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First-timer here. I started an all-extract Dunkelweizen on Saturday. My local brew shop offers liquid or dry yeast options, and I picked the dry for this batch because the location I had planned for my primary fermenter is in a very cool basement more in line with the temp recommendations for the dry yeast (55-66 deg. F).

I pitched at 4 PM Saturday, started to see some activity yesterday AM, and as of this morning fermentation lock was bubbling every 2-3 seconds with maybe 1/2 to 1 inch of krausen formed. So things seems to be starting off well.

My question: The temp in my basement is much cooler right now than I was planning. In fact, a pitcher of water in the same location is holding steady in the mid to low 50s (F). If I keep it in this location, what can I expect?

-g
 

NYCHomebrewer

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I'm brewing an AG Dunkelweizen myself at the moment. 50 degrees is probably a little low, but I doubt your wort is actually 50. The yeast give off quite a bit of heat when they ferment and usually drive the temp of the wort up about 8-10 degrees. My guess is that if the ambient temperature of the air is 50, then you are actually fermenting at about 58-60 degrees.

Jamil recommends a fermentation temperature of about 62 for a Dunkelweizen so you are still probably a little bit low, but if it is actively fermenting you are probably fine. With a wheat beer like that I'd think erring on the low side is probably a good thing. If you get too hot you will end up with a beer that is too heavy on the cloves and banana flavors and may even stray into a bubblegum taste. At 60 you won't get as many of those flavors but you will probably get a much more balanced beer.

What else can you expect? A longer than average fermentation for one. If you are used to finishing the majority of your fermentation in the first 48-96 hours, then you can probably expect this one to finish in about a week, maybe even 9 days of active fermentation.

If you think things are going too slowly, you might consider moving it to a warmer location, but I think you are probably safe. Towards the end of the fermentation your temp is probably going to drop to the low 50s. You definitely might want to consider moving it then and try and maintain that 60-62 temp. Or you might buy a "brew belt", this little heater thing that wraps around and boosts the temp by about 10 degrees.

My batch had a very slow start but was chugging along consistently until about 7 this morning when I had my first blow out. After cleaning up (a second time! because I'm a total goob and thought the first was a fluke) I had to put a blowoff tube on. Here is to crossing my fingers and hoping things are ok when I get home from work.

NYCHomebrewer
 

Mountainbeers

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A cheap way to heat up your ambient temp is to place your fermenter in a bucket or trashcan filled with water. Then use an aquarium heater to heat the water to whatever temp you'd like. My heater only goes down to 68 but you may be able to find one that goes down lower.
 

pksmitty

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I'm fermenting a Belgian Wit right now in my basement. The original temp on the fermometer was 58 - 60. I put the bucket inside a big plastic tub and hung a droplight inside, with towels draped over top to hold the warmth in. (Nothing touching the light, so no worries there.)

At first, I had a 75 watt bulb in the light, but that got things too warm, so I switched to a 40 watt. That's holding the temp right at 70 - 72.
 

david_42

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The temperature of the wort will be a few degrees above ambient, so it should be fine. Just putting a blanket or a big cardboard box over the fermenter will add 4-5 degrees.
 
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