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Question about dry yeast packets

I’m still trying to master the art of harvesting my yeast and making a starter so until I get it right I’m still using dry yeast. It seems like they need more heat to operate properly. Two batches ago I put my five gallon primary into an area that was 58-60F, pretty much the perfect range, and it didn’t ferment completely in three weeks. The last batch I put into my bedroom which has pretty wild temp swings, 70F or higher when I’m home and 58-60 when I’m away or asleep. During the periods I was in the same room as the beer I could hear it chugging and snorting like crazy, but in the mornings when it was coldest there was no activity. Has anyone else noticed this? I put the batch I just brewed yesterday into a place that is pretty consistently 58F during this time of the year and I’m hoping I don’t have to move it to get it started.

The yeasts will usually require a little higher temp to get kicked off and then they’ll run fine after that. I just made two batches with dry yeast, and what I’ve found is that they usually kick off within 4-8 hours (much sooner than the liquid smack packs) and ferment quickly at about 66 degrees ambient temp. I pitch at about 75 and put the carboy in the basement where the temps then gradually fall toward ambient over the next 12-24 hours.

Check the recommended temp ranges for the dry yeasts, 58 seems to be on the lower end but they should still work, just much slower. Definitely fermentation at 70 will be much much quicker than at 58. Also I would say that your fluctuating temperatures are messing the yeast up and they’re having a hard time keeping up with the temp swings.

The other thing you can try doing is get the yeast kicked off at the 70 degree temp, then move it to 58 and let it run for a few weeks. If you don’t think you’re done you can bring it back into the warmer area for a few days to get the yeast to finish the job.

What strain(s) are you using? Any ale yeast will ferment in the mid-60s, but to ferment in the upper 50s you’ll need to select something that can handle the cooler temperatures, like US-05. No matter what yeast you’re using, you should try to avoid large temperature swings as they can cause the yeast to flocculate prematurely and lead to under-attenuation.

Controlling temperatures in order to get the desired results from a given yeast strain is probably the single biggest influence a brewer can have on the finished beer’s flavor.

Swamp cooler and either frozen water bottles or a fish tank heater will control temps pretty well.

If you are sitting on a cold basement floor, that will pull too much heat out of it and could stall the fermentation. Sit the fermenter on a piece of cardboard or something to isolate the bottom from a cold floor.

+1 on that. I always ferment my beer in the basement because it happens to be a perfect 66 degrees and steady. I place the carboys on a piece of 1" pink styrofoam insulation…works great!

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