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How cool is too cool while fermenting?

Hi everyone! First post but long time visitor, I’ve already learned so much from all of you! :smiley:

I brewed my first batch today, An Amber Ale from a different website (it was a present! :oops: ) and I’m pretty sure everything ended up great. My OG was spot on as per the recipe kit (1.044) and I’m feeling really confident about my sanitizing efforts.

I pitched the (dry) yeast at 68 degrees and moved my primary into my garage and it has now settled for a couple of hours with no action in the airlock. As of 30 minutes ago, the ambient temperature in my garage is 49 degrees, with the temperature dropping even further outside… is that too cool for proper fermenting? I understand the actual ferm temp will be slightly higher but I still don’t know if that is high enough? The recipe kit that I got for Christmas says nothing about ideal temperatures but I’m guessing I want to be in the high 50’s with ambient temp?

Any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks!

What yeast strain are you using? We need that to answer the question accurately.

For MOST ale yeasts, you want the beer temperature to be in the low to mid 60s. A few strains will ferment down to the mid to high 50s, and a few (mostly Belgian strains) should be fermented warmer, 70s or even higher.

49 is too low an ambient for pretty much any ale yeast to deal with. Bring the fermentor inside where it is warmer. If you can find a spot in your house that is about 60 (near a window or glass door might work), that would be better.

Thanks for the reply!

As for the yeast, I can’t seem to find any mention of a strain? It came with my Amber Ale kit from Monster Brewing and is a tea-bag sized yellow and white pouch that is labeled Muntons Active Brewing Yeast.

My Mother has recently moved in with us and along with all of her things, has limited our extra space down to mostly nothing. The one spot in our house with sufficient space/temps is taken over by our never ending shedding chocolate lab and she loves beer! :lol: Everywhere else in our house is sitting at about 75ish ambient temp.

Our house fireplace is exposed in back (in the garage) and radiates a slight warmth so I’ve moved my primary onto a shelf that sits a foot or so away from the back of the fireplace. The wife reminded me that we had a couple extra stick-on therm strips from our new fish tank purchase so I’ve put one on the side of my primary furthest away from the fireplace. That was only about 10 minutes ago so I’ll check it in 20 minutes or so to see how it’s doing.

Thanks again for the help!

Muntons is (I believe) a pretty standard English ale strain. It should be fermented in the mid-to high 60s if you want to get typical English character, or low 60s if you want it a bit cleaner. The stick-on temp strips work great for figuring out beer temp.

You have Muntons standard ale yeast. Muntons other yeast is Premium Gold.
I was just at their site looking for information on rehydrating and starter or never do a starter infromation.
A bit of information I found, but not well explained, is that the standard yeast is more designed to ferment simple sugars. When spraymalt is substituted for the simple sugar, then Premium Gold should be used because it ferments the more complex sugars present.
I didn’t find information on the complex sugars that would be present in LME and the corresponding yeast to use. Standard must work because that is the typical yeast in the lower cost kits.

Hi flars, thanks for the reply! I have to be honest in that I don’t quite understand the simple/complex sugars? I did a little research when I first received the kit for Christmas and it seemed to be one of the simplest kits available, also the cheapest.

So before I went to bed last night, I scooted my primary closer to the backside of my fireplace and draped a couple pairs of snowboarding pants around the other side of my primary. As of 15 mins ago I’m showing 52 degrees ambient, 55 on the exposed primary side and reading 56-58 on the stick-on thermometer.

I’m also seeing an occasional bubble through the airlock which seems to be a good sign? My kit for Christmas started me with a bucket to ferment in so I can’t see through to check on any krausen but I’m thinking the temp increase helped get it going. I’ll check it after work to see how the day has warmed it up.

[quote=“Nok”]Hi flars, thanks for the reply! I have to be honest in that I don’t quite understand the simple/complex sugars? I did a little research when I first received the kit for Christmas and it seemed to be one of the simplest kits available, also the cheapest.

So before I went to bed last night, I scooted my primary closer to the backside of my fireplace and draped a couple pairs of snowboarding pants around the other side of my primary. As of 15 mins ago I’m showing 52 degrees ambient, 55 on the exposed primary side and reading 56-58 on the stick-on thermometer.

I’m also seeing an occasional bubble through the airlock which seems to be a good sign? My kit for Christmas started me with a bucket to ferment in so I can’t see through to check on any krausen but I’m thinking the temp increase helped get it going. I’ll check it after work to see how the day has warmed it up.[/quote]

Simple sugars would be like your table sugar or corn sugar (dextrose).

If you can get your wort to hold steady at a temperature in the range of 60° to 64° your beer will be fine. At 60° complete fermentation will take a little longer. Plan at least two weeks in the primary before your first Specific Gravity reading with the hydrometer.

If the fermentor is still to cool, and the fireplace chimney is always warm, you could put a box over the fermentor and open to the chimney to capture heat. Sleeping bag or quilt and duct tape would also work.

Yeast doesn’t like temperature fluctuations though. Wort temperature two degrees up and then two degrees down will affect the health and performance of the yeast.

I’m not doing a secondary so I was planning on leaving it in the primary for 18-21 days anyway. Not too keen on the idea of opening my primary to get a testing sample so I thought I’d just go a little longer to make sure it’s done :slight_smile:

With some help from the wife, we managed to get my stick-on therm to read 64 as I arrived home about 4 hours ago. I ran across a rinky-dink space heater this morning before I left for work and have that running on the other side of the garage. I also grabbed a couple thick quilts and draped them around and underneath my primary. As of about 15 minutes ago, stick-on still says 64 and ambient says 65. I’ll be checking on it every hour or so until I go to bed but I’m pretty confident it will stay within that range throughout the night.

Thanks again for all the help, I’m already trying to decide which kit to try next!

Just wanted to post a quick update on my progress for sake of closing this thread with a conclusion :lol:

Tomorrow will be 14 days in the primary and I was never able to bring the temp up above 64. The hydrometer readings have been stable at 1.012 for the past two days, it seems reasonably clear during testing and apart from being dreadfully flat, tastes fantastic! I’m hoping to bottle tomorrow before the Pro Bowl, if I can sneak away for a few hours…

On a side note - I’m making a check list tonight and was looking at my priming sugar packet that came with my kit and it doesn’t say which type of sugar it is, I’m assuming sucrose? If that’s the case, the kit says to add the entire 5 oz. but NB’s priming sugar calculator says 3.32 oz. - Which of those should I follow?

Thanks again for all the help everyone! I’m kind of bummed they won’t be ready for Super Bowl but that will give me a few more chances to save up some bottles! :twisted:

Happy Brewing! :cheers:

I often Ferment my ales in the garage during the winter months out of necessity. The temp is a stable 50 and my ales ferment at about 54. While this is below the recommended temperature range for ideal ale strains, the beer turns out fine. It takes a good two weeks or better to get to FG but almost always is done in two weeks. Am I missing out on some yeast character in my ales? probably. Does it make beer that is still better than commercial examples? Absolutely. Don’t fear the cold temps. The best solution, though is to LAGER!! Those temps are PERFECT for most lagers. My winter brewing habits include all the lagers that i love to drink in the summer for this reason. Don’t waste this opportunity to brew those crisp summer pales and light Czech pils. You wont regret it.

Thanks for the info about the colder temps, I was pretty worried about it for the first few days but figured it just might need a little more time in there. I was planning on leaving it in the primary for another week but I think since I’m at my target FG I should be clear to bottle?

We have an odd little storage room that stays around the mid 40’s right now, the lagering sounds like an excellent idea! I’m about to purchase a couple more primary fermenting vessels but am still stuck on whether to grab glass ones or just another couple buckets. The buckets would be much friendlier on my wallet but I like the idea of seeing the ferm process! I’ll definitely look into doing a lager or two though, thanks again!

[quote=“flars”]You have Muntons standard ale yeast. Muntons other yeast is Premium Gold.
I was just at their site looking for information on rehydrating and starter or never do a starter infromation.
A bit of information I found, but not well explained, is that the standard yeast is more designed to ferment simple sugars. When spraymalt is substituted for the simple sugar, then Premium Gold should be used because it ferments the more complex sugars present.
I didn’t find information on the complex sugars that would be present in LME and the corresponding yeast to use. Standard must work because that is the typical yeast in the lower cost kits.[/quote]

I used standard Munton’s on a mild last year that turned out great. O G: 1.040 F G: 1.014, right where I wanted it. I’m thinking that it would be a good yeast for an ESB, maybe an 80 shilling.

Most kits ship with corn sugar for priming. You should be able to look it up on the NB site, they list the full recipes and ingredients there.

Adding fermenters is a great thing to do. It allows you to brew more, so you can let beer sit longer (after bottling) to really develop the flavors. I’m a big fan of buckets; used to use carboys but read too many horror stories about shattering accidents, and as best I can tell there is no difference in the quality of the beer.

[quote=“rebuiltcellars”]Most kits ship with corn sugar for priming. You should be able to look it up on the NB site, they list the full recipes and ingredients there.

Adding fermenters is a great thing to do. It allows you to brew more, so you can let beer sit longer (after bottling) to really develop the flavors. I’m a big fan of buckets; used to use carboys but read too many horror stories about shattering accidents, and as best I can tell there is no difference in the quality of the beer.[/quote]

Mine was a True Brew kit from another site that I received as a Christmas present and even their description didn’t mention the type but I’m pretty sure it was corn sugar like you mentioned. I ended up adding the entire 5 oz so I guess we’ll see how it goes in a couple weeks! :slight_smile:

Thanks for the advice about the buckets, I’m looking to buy two more tomorrow and hopefully have them here for my next brew over the weekend! I too have read a few scary stories and would hate to be the one telling those stories so until I have a more designated brew space, I’ll be sticking to buckets. :lol:

Happy Brewing! :cheers:

I personally prefer buckets, they are less of a liability for me with two toddlers and rather frequent movement. Ive had the same half dozen or so for a few years and they are easy to clean and sanitize if you don’t use anything more abrasive than a sponge. You can never have enough fermenters…or airlocks.

Better Bottles and the like the perfect compromise between a glass carboy (you can see what is happening) and the plastic bottling bucket (no need for Annie Lennox {“Walking on Broken Glass,” for those that don’t remember the '80’s}). The downside is the are difficult to clean, but PBW takes care of that without a problem.

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