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Njaim

Temperature fluctuations after a week of fermentation...

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Batch #3: Weissbier Deluxe (so Weissbier + Golden DME, no other additions)

Batch #4: Horse's Ass Ale (followed recipe, only differences is I added half a cup of honey and a booster)

 

I'm currently brewing my 3rd and 4th batches of Mr Beer (in the LBK) and a gallon of simple mead. They've been fermenting for about a week now (and about 4 weeks on the mead, which I plan to rack to a secondary carboy soon).

 

Seems Sacramento decided to get rather warm the last couple days. I watched my two LBKs yesterday and they maintained the 65-68 degrees or so they've been at for most of the process with no problems. I couldn't stay home today to watch, but immediately checked when I did get home to find they shot up to around 72-76 degrees on the beers and a whopping 82 on the mead (which isn't stored in a cooler but rather just a glass carboy in a bucket with some ice bags around it as needed).

 

I know it's best to keep temperatures pretty consistent, but should I expect this sudden spike to cause me any major problems with off flavors or fusel alcohols? Everything I read about fluctuations seems to talk about the first few days of fermentation being the most impact, since the majority of fermentation happens then, but I'm still nervous.

 

Any advice on how to maintain cooler temperatures longer when you can't afford (or find room) for a fridge+temp controller or similar setup? I have stints where I leave for the weekend quite often. I can try the swamp cooler idea (cool water + towel + fan), but I'm uncertain this will retain low enough temperatures.

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3 hours ago, Njaim said:

Batch #3: Weissbier Deluxe (so Weissbier + Golden DME, no other additions)

Batch #4: Horse's Ass Ale (followed recipe, only differences is I added half a cup of honey and a booster)

 

I'm currently brewing my 3rd and 4th batches of Mr Beer (in the LBK) and a gallon of simple mead. They've been fermenting for about a week now (and about 4 weeks on the mead, which I plan to rack to a secondary carboy soon).

 

Seems Sacramento decided to get rather warm the last couple days. I watched my two LBKs yesterday and they maintained the 65-68 degrees or so they've been at for most of the process with no problems. I couldn't stay home today to watch, but immediately checked when I did get home to find they shot up to around 72-76 degrees on the beers and a whopping 82 on the mead (which isn't stored in a cooler but rather just a glass carboy in a bucket with some ice bags around it as needed).

 

I know it's best to keep temperatures pretty consistent, but should I expect this sudden spike to cause me any major problems with off flavors or fusel alcohols? Everything I read about fluctuations seems to talk about the first few days of fermentation being the most impact, since the majority of fermentation happens then, but I'm still nervous.

 

Any advice on how to maintain cooler temperatures longer when you can't afford (or find room) for a fridge+temp controller or similar setup? I have stints where I leave for the weekend quite often. I can try the swamp cooler idea (cool water + towel + fan), but I'm uncertain this will retain low enough temperatures.

A good camping cooler with a frozen water bottle would hold my temps between 63-64F for 12-15 hrs during high krausen and after that I could hold 64F with half a frozen bottle.

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As for your question about flavor problems, I would so you're most likely ok. First week, I'd be more concerned. By the third week the yeast is looking for food and wondering why it didn't finish eating those off flavor compounds in week one.

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Thank you everyone for your input. I also use the bottle and a cooler method, but I'm not always able to be home within the 12-15 hours a bottle melts or cools down (depending on time of year). Can't really afford anything nicer.

 

18 hours ago, D Kristof said:

As for your question about flavor problems, I would so you're most likely ok. First week, I'd be more concerned. By the third week the yeast is looking for food and wondering why it didn't finish eating those off flavor compounds in week one.

 

It was day 8, hence my concern. I assume it was mostly fermented by then, but who knows. Guess all I can do is wait and see anyway! But still your response makes me feel less nervous.

 

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esters are usually created during active fermentation ie the first week. kristof is spot on. by week three they will eat whatever is around like waste compounds created during active fermentation.

 

if you dont mind leaving a fan plugged in and running , you can use a fermentation bucket in a laundry basket with water up to the wort line. have the fan circulate air over it. (swamp cooler).  i personally wouldnt worry by the mid to end of week 2.  in fact i usually let the temp climb by the end of week 2 to encourage fat bloated yeast to get busy cleaning up shop.

 

 

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I live in a very warm climate and I’m able to maintain mid 60’s with one normal size frozen water bottle every 24 hrs in a Coleman cooler. 

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As you can see, there are different strategies for different points in the fermentation cycle, as well as different strategies for different climates.  By and large, wide temperature fluctuations should be avoid. 

 

Peak fermentation creates the most heat.  Weeks 2 and 3 have much less.  Practice with an LBK full of water when you have the chance.  Maybe multiple bottles of REFRIGERATED water will work better in week 2 than a frozen bottle, which sends it too low and then it fluctuates more.

 

If you use Zorak's method, make sure that the spigot is carefully sanitized before bottling (you should do that anyway).  

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As I brew a lot of lagers in Arizona (yes, Arizona), I use camper coolers and combine cold water with those wonderful blue re-freezable blue square units.  The water both slows down the unfreeze in the squares, but hold a cool temp for the water.  I am very able to keep the combined team in the mid 50s.  I use 2 of the larger blue units/cooler. Yes, ice needs to be re-done daily (Blue units that is).  As well, I cool down the coolers and water for a full day before entering the LBK.  I am lucky in that I can take over a secondary bathroom which has no windows and one where I can shut off the room and keep the cool air con air within it.  If I had to brew in just about any other area of our apartment,  lager fermenting would not be possible. 

 

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Tldr: thank you all. I have done alright with temperature control since this major fluctuation. But had major beer loss during cold crash. But my previous batch came out great.

 

Long version:

 

Thank you everyone for all the great advice. I've been using the cooler method since my second batch, and other than this one major fluctuation, I've been able to keep the temperatures in normal ranges changing out only one frozen water bottle per day in each cooler.

 

I was going to bottle my Horses Ass Ale Monday morning, and I cold crashed my LBK in the fridge for 3 days with it slightly propped up as the suggestions go. I was away all day yesterday and came home to my vegetable drawer full of flat, delicious smelling beer. Apparently the LBK leaked on day 3. It didn't leak for the 3 weeks it fermented at all. Very sad day.

 

I am only lucky it did get caught mostly in the drawer or the mess I had to clean at midnight would have been so much worse.

 

What was left in the LBK was almost two 740ml bottles worth of the trubbiest bit of the beer. I went ahead and bottled and added sugar for carbonation. I tasted a very small sample and it showed great promise. Very sad indeed.

 

I decided to retire this LBK (as it was a huge pain for both batches with the spigot being difficult to seal perfectly after cleaning and sanitizing) and start looking into different vessels for future beer making. Ideally something on the smaller sides as I'm not ready for 5 gallon batch sizes yet and don't know how I'll do temperature control outside of my coolers.

 

If my other LBK (has a Weissbier kit going) doesn't leak, I may continue using it for at least one more batch. But I'm deathly afraid to cold crash it now and may just try to do so in the cooler itself and no propping.

 

As a positive, the Long Play IPA (batch #2) that conditioned for a month is pretty damn tasty. My first real success followed immediately by the loss of so much time and the ingredients/cost for the Horse's Ass Ale.

 

Rambling aside, I do feel my process is getting tighter with many thanks to the advice on this page.

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