Splashed the Mash and Pitched on Warm Wort

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Well-Known Member
Apr 23, 2010
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So here is my "did I (verb) my beer" thread.

Some friends and I were playing pretty continuous beer pong while I was in the process of brewing my first all-grain. :tank: To paraphrase certain government officials... "Mistakes were made." I forgot to stick the manifold into the mash/lauter tun. I had to transfer the mash to another bucket, attach the manifold, and then sparge. I tried to keep it to a minimum, but there was definitely some splashing of wort and grains.

Later, when I was cooling the wort, I ended up misreading the temperature and pitched too warm. The side of the brew kettle felt cool (it was in an icebath) so I siphoned the wort into a carboy, pitched the yeast, and for about a minute to aerate. Apparently the wort along the sides of the brew kettle (what I had been touching), was cooler than the wort in the middle since I noticed that the vessel was now warm to the touch. It wasn't hot, but warmer than room temperature. I stuck it in a 60F water bath and it was at normal temp in the morning.

It's a pretty potent IIPA - really pushing the boundary into barleywine territory - O.G was about 1.095. I made a big yeast starter but I'm concerned I may have heat shocked the yeast when I pitched the room-temperature slurry into a warm wort. Is there a risk of off flavors or a stuck fermentation from that? I just froze down some of the yeast I used, so I could start growing it back up if need be, but I don't want to go to the trouble if I don't have to. Also, is my beer in danger of oxidation-related off flavors? From what I've read here, you really have to go out of your way to oxidize your beer and the damage takes awhile to develop. I'm kind of worried since I was planning on letting this beer condition awhile since it started at such a high gravity.

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I agree. I study yeast and we commonly grow at ~90 degrees F, and they can tolerate higher than that for a while. I would say take your readings and, keeping in mind the apparent/actual attenutation for the strain, make your calculations and see if your FG comes out where you thought, or if the fermentation seems to stop early (for a brew this big, I would expect primary to last more like 6-8 days rather than 4-7, but that's just a guess).

As for oxidation, hot side aeration is still (last time I checked) a heated debate. I listened to a Podcast from BasicBrewing.com where they beat the hell out of this brew in the hot stages and it did not come out noticeably different. But we definitely know that aeration after fermentation is no bueno.
You probably put the yeasties to sleep by cooling them down to 60F. By doing so you might encounter a lengthy lag time (2-3 days). As long as you didn't fry them they will eventually wake up and realize what they've been missing..
So it's now been 1 week since I pitched the yeast. I had about a 36-hour lag period, but fermentation was very vigorous after that. Gravity is still dropping, but not as much airlock action now. It tastes like half-fermented beer :D but no wierd off-flavors that I can notice. Oxidation takes a while to become apparent, but I think the yeast took my abuse like champs.