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General Category => Yeast and Fermentation => Topic started by: captnjohnny1618 on August 30, 2010, 03:46:35 AM

Title: Can't Get Temp Down
Post by: captnjohnny1618 on August 30, 2010, 03:46:35 AM
I brewed a Ginger Brown Ale yesterday (saturday) and am fermenting with the White Labs American Ale Yeast blend.  I live in an un-airconditioned dorm room however which is keeping me from getting the temp any lower than ~80.  I'm definitely above the "optimal" temperature of 72 as suggested by the white labs website.

2 questions:
1. Any tricks to cool things off a bit?
2. What should I look for as a characteristics of this not-quite-optimal fermentation in the finished beer?

One thing is for sure though: the yeast is going to TOWN on the beer right now. I'd estimate that it'll be finished in the next 24-36 hours.

Title: Re: Can't Get Temp Down
Post by: tschmidlin on August 30, 2010, 04:27:39 AM
Find something you can put the carboy in, like a shallow pan.  Put a wet t-shirt over the carboy, and put some more water in the pan so the water wicks up the shirt.  Blow a fan over the whole thing to get better cooling, it'll drop a bunch.

Fermenting something that warm with that blend is likely to lead to solventy flavors.  Most likely you'll get some nail polish remover and probably some higher alcohols.

Good luck, let us know how it turns out.
Title: Re: Can't Get Temp Down
Post by: majorvices on August 30, 2010, 12:06:02 PM
You need to be fermenting much cooler than this - 72 is the absolute highest you want teh fermentation temp to be, preferably no warmer than 68. My air conditioned house is kept at 75 this time of the year and even if I kept the ambient air at 68 that would still be too warm seeing as fermentation is exothermic and can generate as much as 6-8 degrees over ambient.

A swamp cooler is what many people use as a low cost solution. You can immerse the fermenter in a trash can or rubbermaid container or even a cooler and rotate out frozen water bottles. The ideal solution is a small chest freezer or fridge with a ranco controller to regulate temps.

I would not try to lower the temp now. The fusel damage will already be done. The most critical period of fermentation is the first 72 hours or so. That is why you should never pitch your yeast warm. Always cool your wort down to the mid to low 60s before pitching any yeast, even if you have to give the fermenter an ice bath or leave it in the fridge over night before pitching.
Title: Re: Can't Get Temp Down
Post by: captnjohnny1618 on August 30, 2010, 11:56:21 PM
So using the fermenter-in-a-pan-covered-by-a-t-shirt-and-hit-with-a-fan seems to be helping a lot! I did that last night and it seemed to lower temps 5-6 degrees.  That was within 36 hours of pitching the yeast so it may yet have helped some.

Living in a dorm is definitely not ideal for brewing, but I'm not gonna let a few higher order alcohols stop me! The past few dorm batches were quite good even though they all were fermented at a bit higher than ideal temp.

Thanks for the advice guys!
Title: Re: Can't Get Temp Down
Post by: euge on August 31, 2010, 02:44:28 AM
You might regret the fusel alcohols the next AM after drinking just one! This might be a real skull splitter.
Title: Re: Can't Get Temp Down
Post by: tschmidlin on August 31, 2010, 04:49:03 AM
I'm sure living in a dorm you won't have a lack of volunteers to help you dispose of this batch if it isn't totally to your liking.  As the weather cools off you should have more luck, the t-shirt trick works when the beer temp is 70 but you want it at 65.
Title: Re: Can't Get Temp Down
Post by: majorvices on August 31, 2010, 12:09:05 PM
You are going to be simply amazed at how much better the beer tastes when you get the temps down into the proper range - and how much better your head feels the next day. As Euge says - those fusels will split your skull!
Title: Re: Can't Get Temp Down
Post by: GrainSpiller on September 01, 2010, 04:54:30 AM
Hmmm....  Maybe dip it halfway in a cooler with 65F water around it, but the sudden temperature change may shock some of the yeast and slow fermentation down.  Your only hope is to cool it down gradually and have a fan blowing on it in a dark area.  Ultra-Violet light from the sun is beer's worse enemy and the 80's temperature range can produce a lot of diacetyl during the lag and the exponential phase (beginning to the climax of fermentation).  I hope the beer turns out though, although cooler temperatures won't allow as much diacetyl cleanup produced during the fermentation phase that was in the 80F range.  Hope it works out for you.