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Does slow and steady win the race?

In another post I talked about getting a temp control for a deep freeze. The day after I pitched, the temps got down into the mid-fifties because of some iced over jugs that were in the freezer. I made some adjustments, and the temp gradually rose to around 66-67. Tomorrow will be day seven, and I’m still getting a steady flow of bubbles (approx. 5-7 seconds). This is a Single Hopped Best Bitter that should only take a week with the safale-s04. I know that this time is a ballpark, and I’m not panicking whatsoever.

I have not taken a gravity reading because there’s still steady fermentation, and I don’t want to risk infection. I am in no hurry for the fermentation to finish, but I just wanted to see if you guys thought the yeast may have been slowed by the low initial temperature. There are no bad smells, so I assume that there are still plenty of yeast working, even though there’s not a thick krausen like there was initially.

I am guessing that with the temperature being controlled better that this batch may take longer than others where I’ve had to swamp cool and had very little control over the temp. They were usually done around four days.

Lastly, at what point has fermentation been going on too long if the bubbles are still steady? Just thought I’d get some feedback about extended fermentation times.

Go ahead and raise the beer temp to 68F (dryhop if you want), let it go another 3-4 days, then take a gravity sample.

There’s really no “too long” here, but keep in mind that a bubbling airlock is not always indicative of fermentation. So far, it probably is, but the only way to be sure is with gravity samples.

Shade, I moved it to 70 deg. about three days ago (counting today), so should I move to the high end of the yeast’s recommended ferm temp now? On a few basic brewing podcast interviews, John Palmer (if I remember well enough) suggests that the first few days are the most critical for keeping temps lower and then you can raise them and leave them up towards the high end after that.

Sorry these might be simple questions, but this is the first time I’ve had such control over my beer ferm. I’m wanting to do it well to make sure that the beer tastes good. I just brewed a speckled heifer and got lots of banana flavor because I couldn’t keep the temp regular or at low temps for a good amount of time. Even though I never went above the recommended temp, I stayed at the high end for most of the fermentation. I’m really expecting this beer to come out well because of my new toy.

[quote=“hekkubus”]Shade, I moved it to 70 deg. about three days ago (counting today), so should I move to the high end of the yeast’s recommended ferm temp now?[/quote]Ignore the recommended temps for most ale yeasts (these get people in trouble all the time because they are notoriously too high) and keep the beer at 68F or lower throughout the fermentation. Having it sit at 70F isn’t a problem, but I like to keep things a little cooler if possible.

Okay, I’ll lower it. I did a gravity reading and got 1.012. OG was 1.052 (actually higher efficiency than the 1.045). I’m calculating a 76.9% attenuation, so it looks like we’re getting good. I chilled and tried the test sample, and it’s pretty dang good.

So…I think after checking my gravity for the next couple of days I’ll start cold crashing til the 2 week mark. I think I’m going to skip secondary after listening to podcasts that suggest that if you’re bottling, doing a secondary doesn’t make a big enough difference to risk infection. Any suggestions on this? What temp do you guys cold crash?

Let it go at least two weeks at fermentation temp before cold-crashing, then get it as close to freezing as you can for at least a couple of days (it’ll take a day or so to get cold), then remove from the fridge, let it sit maybe 30 minutes to re-settle the trub, and rack.

On another topic, Shade, how long would you leave an ale on the yeast without feeling that the autolysis will ruin it? I think in the past, I have been quick to pull my beer after primary fermentation ended because I was afraid of autolysis. I’d maybe wait 3 days after primary before racking to secondary or bottling.

I’ve had a 17% mead sit on the primary yeast for over 1 year with no ill effects.

[quote=“hekkubus”]On another topic, Shade, how long would you leave an ale on the yeast without feeling that the autolysis will ruin it? [/quote]I’ve never had autolysis but I tend to rack within about four weeks of pitching, six max.

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