Author Topic: Unusual beer turnaround after ferment temp spike  (Read 2670 times)

Offline brewsumore

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Unusual beer turnaround after ferment temp spike
« on: December 10, 2012, 06:13:58 AM »
I made 10 gallons of a Falconer's Flight Pale Ale at the end of July, and ended up pitching US-05 considerably warmer than usual, at 70F and put the beer in a 66F basement bedroom.  Luckily that temp held for at least a couple days.  However, after that 2 days I left the state for a family reunion at which same time the outdoor temps spiked, making the ambient basement temps also rise.  When I returned five days later the beer room was 68-69F, and the beer was smelling really estery - no surprises there.  And it was due to pure laziness.  I could have sanitized my thermowell and thrown the two primary fermenter buckets into my temp controlled fridge.  Anyway, when I returned I smelled the gawdawful stinkiness, but knowing that it had been at least 48 hrs before the temps spiked, I decided to try to save the beer thinking it was esters rather than fusels that were the problem.  Ten days after pitching the yeast I added dry hops in bags and left the beer on the yeast cake to clean up while dry hopping at the same time for another ten days.  I then removed the dry hops but left it for maybe another week on the yeast cake.  Not exactly sure how long because in my disgust I quit taking notes.

So, after 4 - 5 weeks in primary it was still stinky and I dumped 5 gallons, and the other 5 gallons I put into a keg, purged it, pressurized it, and left it for 4.5 months at (edit) ~65F, i.e. cellar temps at my house.  After another couple weeks at mid 30'sF in the kegerator, the beer is drinking great although it still has just a tad of an estery smell that doesn't affect the taste.  The hop flavors are clean and complex, and it is definitely not headache beer.  Now I wish I had not dumped half of it.  At least I had the sense to know that since the first 48-60 hours were within reasonable fermentation temp range, that logically this beer had a chance, regardless of being stinky at the time.

The moral of the story is 1) trust that initial sensory perception is not the final determining factor when questioning potential for saving a beer after a ferment temp fault, and 2) don't ever stray from your best management practices, in this case using temp control when it is available.   :-*
« Last Edit: December 10, 2012, 06:23:21 AM by brewsumore »

Offline Jimmy K

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Re: Unusual beer turnaround after ferment temp spike
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2012, 03:23:27 PM »
You dumped it because it spiked to 69F? I call that crazy.
But seriously two things. The bulk of fermentation occured at the correct temp and that was the most critical time. Also, fermentation smells often do not carry through into the final beer.
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Offline Iliff Ave Brewhouse

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Re: Unusual beer turnaround after ferment temp spike
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2012, 04:35:01 PM »
Yeah I find that strange. I ferment US05 around 70 frequently and have not had any issues. I prefer to keep it in the mid 60s but luckily it is pretty forgiving.
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Unusual beer turnaround after ferment temp spike
« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2012, 05:07:31 PM »
I've brewed several beers with US-05 that have probably gotten as high as the low 70's at the peak of fermentation, and I've never noticed any undesired fermentation character in the finished beer. My basement is about 68F ambient all summer, and I use US-05 for at least half of my brews. Sounds like something else might be going on to me.
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Offline andrew000141

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Re: Unusual beer turnaround after ferment temp spike
« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2012, 10:27:27 PM »
in the book 'yeast' by the guy who owns white labs(cant remember his name) he says almost all flavor compounds for beer are created in the first 2 days of fermentation. i think you have a different issue on your hands if it sat at the right temp for the first 48-60 hours.
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Offline brewsumore

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Re: Unusual beer turnaround after ferment temp spike
« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2012, 03:26:56 AM »
Yeah, I was aware that the first 2-3 days are most critical for keeping ferment temps down, and when the flavors are largely established.  I understand others' doubts based on my first post.  In actuality, my notes state that I guessed that ferment reached ~74F, possibly by 50-55 hours after pitching.

I have let beers get away from me early on before, and have cellared those with solventy fusels for +2 years to see if the fusels would eventually convert to esters.  Ultimately they were headache beers for so long that they were worthy of dumping just so as to get rid of questionable inventory.  But I had a friend carry the cap around for a week in his pocket to ask me about one of those beers that had cellared long enough to be really enjoyable, and I gave him my last bottle of it yesterday.

My processes were fine up until the ferment temps.  I was just pointing out that based on the timing of the ferment temp swings, I was amazed at how well the STINKY beer rebounded.