What is the perfect ferment temperature?

I love to use Nottingham yeast. Once again I have an Irish red going in the freezer. I put it there Friday evening at 60 degrees F. That’s pretty low in the range for Nottingham and so it has been a slow start. I was actually concerned because I saw no airlock activity even this morning so I opened the bucket and I see a very nice krausen building. But I got to thinking, is there an optimal temperature? I assumed that slow and low is the way to go. So I was happy to see the krausen but then I thought, am I going too slow? Should I be fermenting at a higher temp for BEST results, or is a nice slow ferment the key? Is a multi tiered approach better? Should I pitch at 70, and then bring the temp down once activity begins?

I find Nottingham a slow starter even at warmer temps. I try to ferment in the mid sixties with most ale yeasts and havnt had any problems with flavor. I don’t see what you will gain by fermenting lower except more time before you can keg it. I let it rise to the upper 60s ambient after 3 or 4 days at around 65. I can turn out a good pale or IPA pretty quick. Of course a lager would be another story.

Well, I guess I am playing the game of going for a nice clean fermentation. In that I will get no off flavors from a warmer fermentation. So I am not experienced enough or well educated enough to know at what point the off flavors of warm fermentation begin to occur. Is it one of those things where patience is indeed a virtue, and the slower the better? I have experienced the negative impact of a very warm fermentation. I will do my best to always avoid that from now on. But I don’t know what the limit is, or when the return on investment of time to ferment is negligible.

From what I have read Nottingham ferments clean at the low end of the temperature range. Warmer fermentation temperatures will produce fruity esters. Nottingham will also finish well in the low temperature range, ramping up the temp of the beer is not needed.

IMO, Notty NEVER ferments clean. The best you can do is minimize fruitiness, but I always get tartness from it.

I think I’ve toured around 6 small craft brewery’s in the last year or so. All but one of them ferment in basically a big walk in cooler set at 60. The largest of the brewery’s I checked out has there fermenter’s out in the main brewery room but they have a jacket around them that runs a liquid through it at 65 degrees. With the coolers set at 60 the temp of the fermentation goes up to about 65. The ones that have the fluid running around them stay at 65. So I try and duplicate them by having my ambient temp at 60 and have had great results. Some of them said with proper yeast they can go from start to servingin 9 days . And none of them said they raise the temps at all to help the yeast clean up. I actually got some pretty funny looks when I asked about warming them up.

When I said I let it rise I didn’t mean I warm it up I just stop putting ice in the swamp cooler and let it go up to room temp. You don’t have to ,but I’m lazy so I don’t keep making ice. By the way I have left it in the swamp cooler with ice all the way to the end of fermentation and didn’t notice anything different doing the same recipe either way. If I had a dedicated cooler I would keep it 65 I suppose.

Pitching and holding at 60 for the first 3-4 days (72-96 hours from pitching time) then raising up to 70* will produce a pretty clean fermentation profile with minimal esters/phenols with most american ale yeasts.

I agree with Denny, however, I frigging hate Notty. I don’t like the tart/tang it imparts in most beers (though the flavor can work in british bitters, reds like you made, and porters, maybe stouts).

The majority of the esters and phenols are produced during the growth phase, which is why you see so many people controlling temp for a few days, then letting it free-rise. I am not sure who these craft brewers are that have the capital for glycol-jacketed fermenters, but scoff at the idea of raising fermentation temp. I’d like to taste their beer. Actually, maybe I wouldn’t like to taste their beer.

If you like that yeast though Cat, I would do a few batches of the same beer, fermented with different schedules (maybe one with 60 the whole way through, one at 60, free-rise/warm to 65* for one week, and one at 65 the whole way through).

And yes, to your latest question, just take it out of the bath after 3-4 days and let it sit in a 70* room. The yeast aren’t making a lot of esters at that point, just finishing up fermentation and reabsorbing intermediate compounds.

I used Nottingham for three porters last winter wasn’t really impressed. I may make some porters this year using a different yeast. I have to do some research.

Probably not so much of a scoff at the idea, but more of a look of, are you about done asking questions. I was that annoying guy with all the questions on that tour. But I agree raising temps after a few days isn’t going to hurt anything and will save you the work of adding ice to swamp coolers. But for the breweries that have let’s say 8 fermenters in a cooler at all different stages of fermentation, leaving the temp the same is less work for them and really the only option for some. Same principle I think most home brewers follow, make the best beer possible with the least amount of work as possible.

That was you?

Ha! I have been that guy. I reached a point shortly thereafter of having no patience for listening to yet another brewery employee screaming from a catwalk, “AND THIS IS THE MASH TUN, WHERE WE STEEP THE CRUSHED MALT WITH HOT WATER TO EXTRACT THE SUGARS”…I’m all about taproom tours now :mrgreen:

Also agreed on work:quality of beer made ratio.

OK, so my love of Nottingham is mainly because of its tendency to congeal in the bottom of the fermenter. It makes transfer nice. So for those who have been doing this longer, what is a good yeast that has a clean flavor profile and also congeals like that? Is that what we call flocculation?

Yes, that is flocculation. I gotta admit that it’s about the least thing I worry about. I’m much more concerned about flavor.

Denny, I guess I am at that point in my brewing career where maybe I have not tried enough things to know yet. Give me suggestion though. My next beer will be a porter. What would you recommend as a yeast that makes you say “Oh yeah, now that’s a nice yeast”? Yes, I know that I have to move out of my comfort zone with yeast. I prefer dry but if you were to push me toward a liquid I may give it a try.

US-05 is a fairly neutral dry yeast. Can be a bit fruity, but not bad. Many people don’t even notice it. Not exceptionally flocculant, but not bad either. However, I find it has just enough downsides that I’ve gone back to using WY1056 for my neutral yeast. If you use that, I recommend making a starter for any beer over 1.040 OG.

Glad you mentioned us-05 for a porter. I was just contemplating making my porter using that yeast. I have a lot going on in my rum barrel porter and I don’t really want anything else from the yeast except to eat sugars.

And to weigh in on Denny’s starter, you don’t need a stir plate to make a lot of starter… Yes I made a stir plate, but a few problems later that sucker was in the trash. I find that its like a mini brew and I will gently swirl for a day ahead of brewing and I get plenty! Sneezles61

For dry yeasts, I like S-04 for porters (and english ales). If you are going liquid, I like WLP002, 005, or Conan/VT Ale. I think yeasts like those enhance malt character more than West Coast ale yeasts like Chico (US-05/1056/WLP001).

Bless you Denny and Pietro!
I thought it was just me being less-than-enthused with Notty.
Last spring I did my usual Irish Red/Honey Porter back-to-back brews.
In the past I’ve used WY1084, WY 1450, or S-04. with great success each time. But my LHBS was out of WY1084 so I decided to try Nottingham.
With the Irish, the temp did get up to upper 60s in the 1st 24 hours before I caught it and added ice bottles to my swamp cooler. With the Porter(reused the yeast) I was prepared and kept the temp down at 60-62.
The IR had an objectionable(to me) estery profile that has mostly faded by now 3 months after packaging. The Porter, no such off-flavor.
In the future I think I’ll skip the Notty and stick with yeast I’m happy with. :cheers: