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Lunch2000

Temp range for fermentation - What's really required?

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Sooooo I just finished bottling my second batch (Northwest Pale Ale - Craft refill) of Mr. Beer and I'm tasting a lot of (I think) Acetaldehyde. This is bothering me because my first batch (American Light) also bottled with a lot of the same flavors and was still cider/green apple tasting after the two weeks in the bottle. I have not gone back to the AL for about two weeks and will be tasting again in a few days. I'm afraid I'm approaching this wrong and so would like some guidance...

 

So in making my first batch (American Light) I followed the Mr. Beer instructions and pitched as instructed (did not check temp before pitching) our house is very cool so I put the LBK in a cooler to help maintain temps for fermentation. Primary fermentation seemed to go fine, cooler maintained heat and stayed warm. about a week later we went away for the weekend and the house got cold (we generally drop the house down to 58 F at night) we came back, the cooler felt the same temp inside as outside (house temp high 50's). At that point concerned about maintaining a good fermentation range I purchased a $15 temp controller on Amazon with an external sensor. I taped the sensor to one end of the keg and put a home heating pad on the other end of the keg. I set the controller to maintain a range of 20-24 C (it only works in C this should be correct to maintain 68-74 F). This seemed to maintain temp, I bottled at week 3 (just the earliest I could do it). Tasted green apple, bottled, waited two weeks grabbed two of the firmest bottles (the rest were still pretty soft) for tasting - still tasted green apple and cider. Have not gone back to the batch - its now been about 4 weeks since bottling.

 

Batch number two (Northwest Pale Ale) determined  to keep temps maintained the whole time , after mixing and pitching according to instructions (still no thermometer to check pitch temp) I placed the LBK in the cooler, this time with the heating pad against the long side of the keg and the sensor in the air at the other side thinking that I should peg the heating to the air temp not the keg temp. Primary fermentation went without a problem, maintained heat in the cooler to the point that it did not kick the heater on until a day or two after primary , about day 4 or 5. Figured out a week and a half in that the heating pad may be to "aggressive " a heat for the yeast. Rearranged the heating pad so it was not in contact with the LBK and put it on the lowest setting. Bottled about 5 days later (today) and I'm getting green apple ,cider and wine this time. Have bottled into 12 oz glass and I'm hoping some conditioning time will work this out. 

 

 

So here I am - realizing that the heating pad was probably too aggressive I've purchased a seedling mat heater that is a far gentler heat at about 18 watts. Am I over thinking this? How cool can I let the beer get after primary fermentation is complete without them yeasts getting too sleepy? My basement stays a constant 55 F - would this work if I kept the keg in an unheated cooler? I have Belgian Blanc

lined up to make but don't want to proceed until I can get this figured out. Everything else seems to be OK, the flavors are there am I just not being patient enough about conditioning?

 

 

Lunch2000

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Welcome.  A few tips, but my signature has lots more info.

 

You want your WORT, not the air, to be around 65.  Low 60s can work.  Below that is not going to work for Mr. Beer yeast, although Josh can give the LOWEST temp you could go.  55 won't work, no.  A simply hot water bottle in a close cooler can work fine, but at peak fermentation a closed cooler can be too hot.

 

You want to ferment for THREE WEEKS.

 

You then bottle, and put in a 70 degree or higher environment for FOUR WEEKS.  Tasting after 2 weeks is simply a waste of time.  

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Be sure you are using refrigerated water when filling your LBK and topping it off. This will cool the wort down to the optimal temp range for pitching (65-70). Warmer than 75 can promote off-flavors such as acetaldehyde. The Coopers yeast can maintain temps in the low 60s, but 55 will be too low. And when fermenting that low, be sure you do at LEAST 21 days of fermentation. If you aren't using a hydrometer, then give the beer a taste after 21 days to be sure it has fermented fully because fermentation will be slower at lower temps. A beer with a potential ABV of 6% or higher may even need up 4 weeks to fully attenuate at low temps, depending on the yeast.

 

The Belgian Blanc uses the WB-06 wheat yeast, which isn't known for acetaldehyde usually. In fact, it's more acceptable to brew that yeast at much higher temps to gain certain esters from it (banana notes). So my guess is that the yeast was pitched too warm, or the beer was somehow oxidized during fermentation or bottling. Another possibility would be large temperature fluctuations. Finding a good temperature range is important, but temperature consistency is just as important. Maintaining good temps throughout the fermentation will prevent temperature shock of the yeast. Temperature shock will promote off-flavors or a sluggish/stuck fermentation. 

 

The apple flavor may dissipate with conditioning, but this depends on the ppms of the acetaldehyde. If it's really noticeable, it may not condition out completely, but it will mellow over time. If it's subtle, then the flavor will probably go away after a few weeks of conditioning at room temps.

 

EDIT: I just looked up the temp range of the WB-06 and the manufacture says it can tolerate (53.6F - 77F), but ideally at (64.4F - 74.2F). So you should be good in the basement, but I would at least place it in a container such as a camping cooler to help raise the temp a few degrees.

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We have well water, so the tap temp for the cold water is low 40s high 30s. I guess cooler is better, and the more consistency the better? I.E. low 60s is probably fine, but it would be better to keep consistent at 60-62 rather than keep the temp higher and have it swing from 68-74 ?

 

Thanks for the input.

 

Lunch

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2 minutes ago, Lunch2000 said:

We have well water, so the tap temp for the cold water is low 40s high 30s. I guess cooler is better, and the more consistency the better? I.E. low 60s is probably fine, but it would be better to keep consistent at 60-62 rather than keep the temp higher and have it swing from 68-74 ?

 

Thanks for the input.

 

Lunch

 

Yes. As long as the yeast can handle those low temps, then it will do fine, but you'll really get more benefits from that yeast when brewed at the recommended temps. Like I said, I think it was either temperature fluctuations, oxidation, or pitching temp that caused the off-flavor. If this is still an issue with future batches, try using different water. It's rare that this would be the culprit, but still possible. 

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Cracked open the American Light again last night, still cider notes to it, 4 weeks into conditioning, however from the previous posts I'm probably conditioning to cold. I'll move them to an upstairs closet and give it two more weeks.

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19 hours ago, Lunch2000 said:

Cracked open the American Light again last night, still cider notes to it, 4 weeks into conditioning, however from the previous posts I'm probably conditioning to cold. I'll move them to an upstairs closet and give it two more weeks.

 

I think this is the wise course. Time and patience. There is no rush. If it takes a few extra weeks to condition out then so be it. Especially since it sounds like your temps are low.

 

And if not...it is your first batch! My first batch was a disaster. But I drank it. Most of it. I have one bottle left and I am going to let that sucker condition forever. I am seriously considering trying to wait a year and open it up on the "anniversary" of it's bottling just to see if that damn green apple taste is gone.

 

And listen to Rick Beer! No point after this in opening a beer before the three day mark.

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Josh/Rick...In my haste to try out a new refrigerator that maintains 63-64 degrees I brewed up a batch of CAL w/ booster. 

 

The issue is I pitched at 79/80 degrees. It's in the cooler now for the next 21 days but I hate that made this error as I wanted all my variables to be the same except for this fridge.  Insight?

 

The good news is 63/64 is the highest I can set it at but I can get it to 50's for true lagers. Just need to brew/drink through my ALE stockpile.

 

 

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It should be fine.  But if you followed the directions using cold water it would have been cooler.

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Just to loop back around, I moved my first bottles upstairs and conditioned around 20 C (68 F) and tried one again last week. WHAT A DIFFERENCE!, seriously folks bottle condition in warmer temps. Its American Light, so I wasn't expecting a lot , but the green apple has mellowed significantly and the beer has a smoother malty flavor. Some of the research I did suggested that you did not need to maintain the same temperature consistency that you need for good fermentation and the beer will do fine conditioning at warmer temps 21-26 C (70-80F) - can anyone comment on this? With summer coming I'm afraid my  home office will be too warm for conditioning while the basement will probably be too cool.

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I highly recommend you read the forum a bit.  

 

Yes, you want to condition at 70 or higher.  68 works, but slower than 70.

 

If your home office won't exceed 80 then it's fine for conditioning.

 

Ferment at 65 if you can.

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I've conditioned plenty of batches in the basement at mid 60's. It does work, as long as you're aware it's going to take a long time.

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2 hours ago, RickBeer said:

Yes, you want to condition at 70 or higher.  68 works, but slower than 70.

 

I've been storing/conditioning in temps probably averaging just below 70. It's worked out, but I think the beers that have benefited from conditioning would be progressing faster and better if I moved them to an area that's slightly higher temps. I won't have any choice soon, anyway. We had the highest March 15th temp in 80 years here yesterday and we gave in and turned the AC on. It'll be tough to keep any place in the house or shop less than 75 very much.

 

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Hello everyone I just started my second batch and enjoy brewing so far. I am a little confused. Does fermenting times and bottling times differ from one beer to another? If so where can i find that information? My third batch will be  an Irish stout and my forth is diablo ipa. Currently I'm brewing my second batch of aztec and the first came out pretty good using the included dvd instructions.

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37 minutes ago, redskinray said:

Hello everyone I just started my second batch and enjoy brewing so far. I am a little confused. Does fermenting times and bottling times differ from one beer to another? If so where can i find that information? My third batch will be  an Irish stout and my forth is diablo ipa. Currently I'm brewing my second batch of aztec and the first came out pretty good using the included dvd instructions.

Fermenting times? No. Bottle conditioning time? Sometimes.  I use Yankeedag's rule of thumb and let the OG determine the conditioning time. 0.0X0 the X is the indicator. I.E.  If your OG is 1.062 that ale needs to condition for 6 weeks minimum.

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Thank you for the clarification. so the original gravity determines bottling time. Thank god for Rick Beers glossary and quick links. I'll use my newly purchased hydrometer for this batch.

 

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Remember, it's a guideline, not a rule.  Longer is almost always better.

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13 minutes ago, RickBeer said:

...  Longer is almost always better.

That's what she said

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1 hour ago, redskinray said:

Thank you for the clarification. so the original gravity determines bottling time.

 

No. It indicates what the potential alcohol will be, but this is also dependent on what the final gravity is, too. But even after the sugars are all gone, other processes are still at work. For example, during the 3rd week, the yeast may start consuming byproducts in the beer "cleaning" it of any potential off-flavors. The yeast will also flocculate (settle to the bottom) better allowing for a clearer final product.

 

So while a hydrometer will tell you how much sugar you have in your batch, what the potential ABV might be, and when the fermentation is done, it's NOT an indication that your beer is ready to bottle. That decision should be left to your palate. Taste the beer. Does it taste "green" (cidery, tart, etc)? If so, let it sit longer. Does it taste like flat beer? If so, it's probably ready to bottle.

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I just bottled a CAL that was "green". I went three full weeks. I used a refrigerator that would not go higher than 64.

1.  Can I condition the green/tart flavor out?

2. Going forward should I just get lager yeast for the rest of my pipeline?

 

I can lower the temp of the fridge but 64 is the highest it will go.  I want to get away from water bottles in a cooler.

 

 

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Tasting beer that is done fermenting, but not yet conditioned, should always taste like it's not ready.  As posted numerous times, the lighter Mr. Beer brews tend to have more of the green apple taste then the darker ones.  Conditioning can only help - but making plain CAL is never going to be "great".

 

I've made one lager batch in nearly 4 years, and wouldn't make another one.  I find the darker beers quite nice, and my wheats come out just fine also.

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On the topic of temperature...  Stupid northeast!!!  2 days ago the outside temps were in the 70's & my beer was sitting (fermenting) pretty at 68, but now it's back in the 30's and the temperature in my "fermentation room" dipped down to the lower 60's.  Thank goodness I'm bottling just about everything tomorrow! 

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14 minutes ago, AnthonyC said:

On the topic of temperature...  Stupid northeast!!!  2 days ago the outside temps were in the 70's & my beer was sitting (fermenting) pretty at 68, but now it's back in the 30's and the temperature in my "fermentation room" dipped down to the lower 60's.  Thank goodness I'm bottling just about everything tomorrow! 

same here driving thru ice snow and rain,,,

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51 minutes ago, Stroomer420 said:

same here driving thru ice snow and rain,,,

Be careful!  We sent some districts home early.  

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LOL.  Saturday afternoon/evening we had driving snow, grass totally covered.  Melted Sunday in the low 40s.  Today hasn't broken 40 and tomorrow is to be cooler.  Looking out though, 70s end of next week.  

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Today high 80s. Tomorrow High 80s. Wed in the 90s.

 

Starting Thu 70s and raining.

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It's going to be in the low 90s today, and about 95 tomorrow. Here in Arizona, we don't get a spring or fall. We only have 2 seasons, winter and summer...lol. 

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12 minutes ago, MRB Josh R said:

It's going to be in the low 90s today, and about 95 tomorrow. Here in Arizona, we don't get a spring or fall. We only have 2 seasons, winter and summer...lol. 

You guys just love rubbing it in don't cha?  It's April 4th, 12:45, and THIRTY DEGREES here in NY!  ;)

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2 minutes ago, AnthonyC said:

You guys just love rubbing it in don't cha?  It's April 4th, 12:45, and THIRTY DEGREES here in NY!  ;)

 

I'm not rubbing anything in. I hate the heat. If I didn't have such an awesome job, I'd be living in the Pacific Northwest right now. I much prefer the cold to the heat.

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cruising thru Ct at a balmy 29-32... But sunny and opening day of fishing is Saturday.. Bottling beer making beer and fishing.....should be a fun day...!

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We've actually breached the 35 degree mark here in good ole NY.  Pretty sure I saw a few gazelles, giraffes, and possibly and ape run by since it's so warm here!  : /

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On February 22, 2016 at 2:51 PM, Nickfixit said:

You could always drop some fruit flavoring in and pretend it is something else - lol

Hahaha

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