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Pitching temperature

It may have been discussed before, but I can’t find a direct answer:

What is the best wort temperature to pitch dry yeast and what is the logic behind it?

I am a novice brewer, so I am ‘trying’ different approaches. (In that, ‘trying’ means making mistakes and trying to learn from them.)

I was brewing yesterday, finishing up late with a German blonde (insert joke here) and pitched the yeast around 85F. I had regrets almost immediately, but since it was done, I just let the wort cool down to 70F with the yeast in it overnight.

Early this morning I found the wort/yeast moving around somewhat intensely, with some foam on top, but bubbling about happily. It actually looks good, makes me think that the yeast is into this…

But when I read up on the topic, there is a stew of different opinions, some being concerned that higher temps/fast fermantation creates odd flavors, others saying that dry yeast starts better in warmer wort.

My only personal observation on this topic is fermenting saison on a higher temperature (and that beer came out amazing…) so I’d love to hear what others with more experience will say.

Thank you in advance!

Both things you have read are correct: yeast (both dry and liquid) will take off and ferment more actively at higher temperatures, and you will get better tasting beer if you don’t let them party like that and instead make them work in the cold.

Of course, this varies somewhat by yeast strain, and saison yeast is an outlier in that it will still produce good beer at much higher temperatures than other yeasts.

But in general, you should try to cool your wort to fermentation temperature or a little below before pitching your yeast. When it is pitched warm, it is much more likely to create fermentation by-products that can lead to off flavors in the beer. And as long as you pitch enough healthy yeast and it is not below the recommended strain for that yeast, it will ferment strongly enough to get the job done.

Shortest Answer: Pitch at temps lower than the package recommends.

Short Answer: Lowering pitching temp will typically cause lower diacetyl (butter flavor) production by the yeast and lower fusel alcohol (solvent/rubbing alcohol) production.

Longer Answer: I have had a lot of success, and award-winning beers by pitching low (ie 1-3 degrees lower than your intended fermentation temperature), letting the exothermic heat of the yeast reproduction/metabolization of the sugars raise it up to the intended temp, hold for a few days, then manually raise the temperature with some sort of heating element for the remainder of the ferment. This facilitates minimal diacetyl, acetaldehyde and fusel production, but a strong fermentation and a dry, drinkable beer. This is a version of the “Narziss” method of fermentation. You can pitch warm, and cool to ferment temp, but that will then increase the importance of raising the temp at the end of fermentation, to facilitate the yeast to absorb the excess diacetyl they will produce. I don’t like this because of the risk of creating fusels and/or acetaldehyde.

Longest (well, not quite) answer: http://www.amazon.com/Yeast-Practical-F … 0937381969 (and a great read!)

With respect to your saison, not sure what yeast you used, but check out the following thread:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=123311&hilit=dupont

85°F is the preferred temperature for rehydrating yeast. Rehydration of dry yeast before pitching is a best practice.
Pitching the yeast in wort that is warmer than the fermentation temperature, and then cooling the wort, stresses the yeast that will already be in the initial growth phase.

[quote=“flars”]85°F is the preferred temperature for rehydrating yeast. Rehydration of dry yeast before pitching is a best practice.
Pitching the yeast in wort that is warmer than the fermentation temperature, and then cooling the wort, stresses the yeast that will already be in the initial growth phase.[/quote]
True, but pitching the yeast into wort that is more than 10C (18F) lower than the rehydration temperature can stress the yeast also. And don’t think about letting that yeast rehydration media cool down first, as you don’t want to leave it for more than 30 minutes tops.

As is obvious, there are many ideas about what is “best” and the reality is that what is best for one factor may be suboptimal for others. Everyone one eventually gets something that works well for them, but it is absolutely true that mastering fermentation is going to make the single biggest difference in the quality of your beer. More important than pretty much any other factor save sanitation.

Great advice with elevating the temparature later in the process, pietro, thank you!

One more thing stood out from pitching warm: some of the yeast sunk down right at the beginning, now seemingly fermenting everything at once, instead of working on the top of the wort. Is that a good thing or rather the opposite, too-much-too-fast?

Thank you all for taking the time to respond, much appreciated! :cheers:

[quote=“rebuiltcellars”][quote=“flars”]
As is obvious, there are many ideas about what is “best” and the reality is that what is best for one factor may be suboptimal for others. Everyone one eventually gets something that works well for them, but it is absolutely true that mastering fermentation is going to make the single biggest difference in the quality of your beer. More important than pretty much any other factor save sanitation.[/quote][/quote]

Very true… I have a long way to go, but love every single step of learning! :smiley:

Couldn’t help but to notice that you are located in Finland; as I am working on my house/move to Alaska, I have to ask your opinion regarding differences in fermenting temps in colder climates, if you don’t mind to share, please.

[quote=“sponge”][quote=“rebuiltcellars”][quote=“flars”]
As is obvious, there are many ideas about what is “best” and the reality is that what is best for one factor may be suboptimal for others. Everyone one eventually gets something that works well for them, but it is absolutely true that mastering fermentation is going to make the single biggest difference in the quality of your beer. More important than pretty much any other factor save sanitation.[/quote][/quote]

Very true… I have a long way to go, but love every single step of learning! :smiley:

Couldn’t help but to notice that you are located in Finland; as I am working on my house/move to Alaska, I have to ask your opinion regarding differences in fermenting temps in colder climates, if you don’t mind to share, please.[/quote]
That entirely depends on what you have available. Back when I lived in the US, I had an old house that was poorly insulated, but had a basement that kept cool even in the summer. The inside temperature varied from place to place so much that I could always find a good spot somewhere in the house to ferment. In Finland, houses are much better insulated and kept warmer, so I found I couldn’t ferment in the house. Instead I built an insulated chamber in my outdoor shed. I can heat that to proper temperatures for 9-10 months of the year, and heating is pretty easy to do compared to trying to keep the beer cool.

Or you could just get an old fridge with an external temperature controller, like many brewers do, and the whole issue becomes pretty easy to manage.

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