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pitching temps too warm - fusels??

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the_wickster

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Started brewing again after 10+ years off and did my "first" batch last friday.

I did a partial mash blonde using WY american ale yeast with a starter.

I got impatient waiting for the wort to cool in my ice bath and after adding cooled top off water my pitching temp was upper 80's. I then moved the primary to the basement which has a constant ambient of 70.

Frementation is going well, but I'm afraid my warm pitching temps are going to give me tons of fusels and bad flavors.

The smell from the air-lock was very hoppy at first but after a couple days that has subsided and the smell seems more malty sweet. When I rack to secondary is there a way I can tell if I've done any damage? Or am I being paranoid?

TIA
 

brewitnow

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the higher temp certainly will affect the final flavor, but most likely not enough to screw it up. It should simply bring out some characteristics (fruitiness, "hotness") more than others. I bet it will be just fine. That yeast should be fine at higher range you describe. You might lose some of the citrusy characteristics which Wyeast says occur at lower pitching temps, but it should be fine overall. Good luck!
 

david_42

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If the batch cooled down (which it probably did) before fermentation started, you should be fine. The high pitch temperature just means the growth stage progressed faster.
 

ohiobrewtus

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Your beer will likely end up tasting just fine in the end.
 

Beerthoven

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Hmmm...I'm not so sure I agree with the optimistic assessments. I made the mistake of pitching into two beers while they were still hot (80's). Both turned out awful, and I think this was the reason. One I dumped (https://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=36225), the other will be dumped soon.

Still, I think you should see the beer through to bottling and drinking to make an assessment for yourself. At the very least, you'll learn something.
 

DeathBrewer

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brloomis...i don't think that simply pitching in the 80s would cause your beer to taste "awful". certainly it could give it some fusel alcohols and undesired fruity flavors, but if the temperature dropped soon after i'd say something else was the culprit.

it is my understanding that the initial fermentation (not the pitching) is where you get the majority of your flavor...when you first pitch, they are in a reproductive stage and are not producing as much. when they run out of o2 and start eating up the sugars is when they'll poop out those fusel alcohols.
 

Beerthoven

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DeathBrewer said:
brloomis...i don't think that simply pitching in the 80s would cause your beer to taste "awful". certainly it could give it some fusel alcohols and undesired fruity flavors, but if the temperature dropped soon after i'd say something else was the culprit.

it is my understanding that the initial fermentation (not the pitching) is where you get the majority of your flavor...when you first pitch, they are in a reproductive stage and are not producing as much. when they run out of o2 and start eating up the sugars is when they'll poop out those fusel alcohols.
Yes, I think you are right about that. The problem is it can take 5 gallons of liquid a long time to cool down to ambient air temp from pitching temp, especially when the temperature differential is only ~10 degrees. Long enough for the yeast to produce enough fusels to ruin a batch, in my experience. YMMV. :)

Plus fermentation produces heat, so the beer temp may not get as low as ambient temp. In my two bad batches, the beer temp stayed above ambient until fermentation finished, then it fell.

FWIW, I used dry yeast (SafAle S-04, I think) that tends to finish quickly, so that may have compounded my problem. A different yeast might do better.

I'm not saying wickster's beer will be ruined, or that he should give up on it. I've had two bad batches (so far) and they both had high pitching and fermentation temps. That is what I attribute the badness to, and it fits with what I have read about off-flavors, but something else could have been going on there.

:mug:
 
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the_wickster

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Well we'll wait and see I guess. This weekend I plan to rack to secondary for a couple weeks. I'll take a taste, when I check the FG. Is it fair to say if I caused any off-flavors I'll taste them at this time? All I remember from "pre-tasting" any of my previous beers from years ago was that they were definately flat and green.
 

Beerthoven

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the_wickster said:
Well we'll wait and see I guess. This weekend I plan to rack to secondary for a couple weeks. I'll take a taste, when I check the FG. Is it fair to say if I caused any off-flavors I'll taste them at this time? All I remember from "pre-tasting" any of my previous beers from years ago was that they were definately flat and green.
Bottle it like usual. Wait until the beer is completely finished and ready to drink before making an assessment. Even if its not too good at first, let it age for 2-3 months. It may well improve.

Let us know how it turns out. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Cheers! :mug:
 
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the_wickster

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Well after 2.5 weeks in secondary I racked to a keg put 11.5 PSI of CO2 on it and put it in the fridge. At that point it was warm flat beer. not good but at least it tasted like beer.

Its been sitting for about 5 days in the fridge and not fully carbed yet and it has some chill haze, but its definately drinkable.

I would say it tastes a bit "green" and hoping another week or two would definately help. I would almost say that it may have a slight "twang" or aftertaste bite but I used DME with late addition. Perhaps its more bitter than what I was expecting (because of the late add) I'm still new (again) and don't know how to adjust for those variances.

What do fussel alcohols taste like? Any descriptions of what I should be looking for.

FWIW the recipie I used:

Partial
1lb pale 2-row
1lb flaked corn
.25lb crystal

steep/mash 150 deg F for 45min

drain/rinse - boil (3 gals)

1 oz saaz 60 min
.5 oz saaz 10 min
.5 oz saaz 1 min

at 5 min left of boil
4lb light DME
1lb honey

cold make up water to 5 gal
 

Bobby_M

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The problem I'm picking up is the fact that the 80F wort was placed in 70F ambient. I am quite sure that fermentation would start up prior to the wort hitting 75F, then you have the heat generated by fermentation. I wouldn't be surprized if the active ferment actuall occured at near 80F or higher.

I'll sometimes pitch a bit on the high side, near 78F but I put the fermenter in a fridge with the controller set at 68 and the probe taped to the fermenter itself. IOW, it will continue cooling until the actual fermenter hits that temp, not the ambient air.
 

TexLaw

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Fusels have a solventy aroma and flavor. It's along the lines of acetone.

I pitch at warmer temperatures all the time, and I've never had a problem with fusels. It does take five gallons of wort a good amount of time to drop in temperature, but the lag time for fermentation should get you to a safe temperature. The problem comes when you can't get to that safe temperature because you don't have a good spot for it (e.g., a basement or temperature control).


TL
 

BrewDey

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I think I may have the same problem. I pitched an Alt pretty warm, and I thought it tasted pretty good at bottling. Now-after 3 weeks in the bottle, it's got that cotton-candy-ish flavor that some have said could be esters. I'm wondering if it was just warm conditioning temps...too warm initial fermentation...or a possible infection (only say that because a seperate batch had a similar flavor). It's drinkable, but I'm just wondering if it will mellow out, or if it may be beyond repair (I'll still drink it!)
 

malkore

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I pitched at almost 90F once, and the beer had no fusel hotness, no off flavors from esters...because I got it down to 70F within 36 hours.

luckily the lack of a starter gave me the lag time to get it cooled off...not that I'd suggest such a technique.
 

grasshopper1917

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Ive fermented one at 78f and had no bad off flavors - but on the other hand it really will give you one wallop of a hangover the next day if you drink too many. I would say though if your fermenter was at 70 that would be fine.

I find though fermentation usually adds 3-4 degrees - for this batch I though i was going to be fine cause my basement was at 70f but it ended up being 74 in the fermenter - which im thinking should still be ok.
 
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the_wickster

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Well an extra week made a huge difference. It turned out awesome. There is no solvent taste at all. Maybe a little "warmth" or citrusiness. Perhaps esters? May be concidered a fault for this style of beer but mmmmm it tastes good!

:mug:

Very pleasantly surprised for my first brew in 10+ years. :ban:
 

brewt00l

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Something to consider about these "off flavor" discussions is that every has a different palate and ability to recognize/detect some of these elements. I have a pretty high sensitivity to fusels and will get wicked headaches after consumption.
 

Beerthoven

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the_wickster said:
Well an extra week made a huge difference. It turned out awesome. There is no solvent taste at all. Maybe a little "warmth" or citrusiness. Perhaps esters? May be concidered a fault for this style of beer but mmmmm it tastes good!

:mug:

Very pleasantly surprised for my first brew in 10+ years. :ban:
I'm glad it turned out well. This is one instance where I'm happy to be wrong! :D

Cheers!

:mug:
 
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the_wickster

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brloomis said:
I'm glad it turned out well. This is one instance where I'm happy to be wrong! :D

Cheers!

:mug:
Yes thanks for the concern.
 

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