Author Topic: First Time Brewing, Concerns with fermentation  (Read 757 times)

Offline tmaniac

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First Time Brewing, Concerns with fermentation
« on: October 26, 2010, 06:58:54 AM »
Hi all,
I just got into homebrewing and purchased a basic starter kit with a plastic 5 gallon fermentation bucket and I have some concerns with my first batch of beer-
I started out with a blonde ale and everything seems to be going good so far except the temperature in the fermentation bucket went from 72 degrees (the beer is fermenting in a dark closet that is at a constant 72-73 degrees) to 77 degrees.  I understand that the fermentation process creates heat, but the ambient air temp is 4-5 degrees cooler and I'm concerned that this fluctuation in temperature will harm my batch of beer.  Everything else appears to be normal, the airlock is bubbling and we were extremely anal about sanitation.  Is this temp change something that I should worry about, or is this normal? 
Thanks!

Offline Slowbrew

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Re: First Time Brewing, Concerns with fermentation
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2010, 07:29:43 AM »
That's a pretty typical difference between ambient and fermentation temp.  You'll probably be okay but you may notice some off flavors, it shouldn't be too bad. 

It sounds like everything is going along fine.  I would try to get my ambient temp down in the 62-68 range for ales on future batches if you can, just to avoid the chance of higher alcohols being produced.

Welcome to the obsession.   ;D

Paul
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Offline beerstache

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Re: First Time Brewing, Concerns with fermentation
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2010, 02:50:04 PM »
Those fermentation temps are a little high.  Keeping fermentation temps under control are the most important thing for a clean tasting beer.  I've learned by trial and error to start my ferm. around 60 to 62 degrees for most ales.  I am amazed by how the exothermic activity of ferm. causes the temp. to creep up usually anywhere from 6 to 10 degrees from the starting point!
Without a regulated fermentation chamber (converted fridge) it is a challenge to keep the proper temps.  A couple of things you can do is to wrap a cold towel around the ferm. vessel or give it a chilling bath in tub or something similar.

Offline troy@uk

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Re: First Time Brewing, Concerns with fermentation
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2010, 01:49:18 AM »
There are many methods for better control of the fermentation temps.  One easy and inexpensive way is a small bath in a tub large enough to fit the fermenter in.  It only needs to be in about 6 - 10" of water and you can wrap a towel aroud it to wick the water up and it will cool about 2-3 degrees. To cool even more you can add some soda bottles full of frozen water once in a while.  You'll have to watch it once in a while, but this brings you closer to the process.  Watch the temp after the first stage of active fermentation is over, the temp from the yeast activity will lower and your beer temp may fall lower than you want, as this happens just remove the ice , then remove the towel, and if necessary remove from the water all together.  Play with it as you gain expiereince.  You can also search this forum for other ways to cool your beer.

Welcome and enjoy, research and development are fun here.
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Offline euge

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Re: First Time Brewing, Concerns with fermentation
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2010, 10:16:22 AM »
Hi all,
I just got into homebrewing and purchased a basic starter kit with a plastic 5 gallon fermentation bucket and I have some concerns with my first batch of beer-
I started out with a blonde ale and everything seems to be going good so far except the temperature in the fermentation bucket went from 72 degrees (the beer is fermenting in a dark closet that is at a constant 72-73 degrees) to 77 degrees.  I understand that the fermentation process creates heat, but the ambient air temp is 4-5 degrees cooler and I'm concerned that this fluctuation in temperature will harm my batch of beer.  Everything else appears to be normal, the airlock is bubbling and we were extremely anal about sanitation.  Is this temp change something that I should worry about, or is this normal? 
Thanks!

I think it's more than likely that off flavors will be produced at those temps. You'll probably get a solvent flavor- reminiscent of acetone. It's a hard lesson to learn, but steady temp control really is one of the most important factors in brewing. The approaches suggested work really well.

Just don't give up if it doesn't turn out. Start all over again armed with new knowledge...
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline Steve

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Re: First Time Brewing, Concerns with fermentation
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2010, 10:45:20 AM »
Do you have a cellar? Mine is about 62-66º this time of year through June with very gentle fluctuations in temperature.  It is also cooler nearer to and even cooler inside the bulkhead going to the outside. Nature's refrigerator.  I also second the damp towel with one end plunged into a bucket of room temp tap water. The evaporation of water from the towel will wick up more water That process will keep the fermenter cooler a few degrees. This works better with a glass carboy than a plastic fermenter.
Steve
 
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Offline coypoo

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Re: First Time Brewing, Concerns with fermentation
« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2010, 02:18:45 PM »
The 'tub' people are speaking of is called a swamp cooler. Do a google search (add beer or homebrewing in the search so you dont get the swampcooler AC type things) and you will see tons of hits and some pics to help you better visualize it. They do work well once you figure out your system. But if you can save up, search craigslist and find a fridge and then buy a temp controller and you'll be able to have so much more control over everything. I know it was your first batch, but you will see, you always need more toys. Good luck