Author Topic: So when should I get worried  (Read 9731 times)

Offline Wildrover

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So when should I get worried
« on: January 26, 2009, 10:03:46 PM »
So, I gave Jamil's evil twin a go this weekend.  I'll jump straight to the problem all the way to the end.

We've had some warmer weather than normal here in FL the last few days so getting the wort down to fermentation temp was a little tough.  I did manage to get it into the 70's though with a lot of work.  I decided this way okay to pitch because although our days have been warm our nights have been cool enough to think that the temp would help bring the ambient air down a bit.  That and some frozen PET bottles, a frozen towel over the primary that is sitting in a nice cold water bath with a fan on it and I should be okay.  Well, it actually got pretty cold in my house so I'm thinking I may have shocked the yeast and they may all have fallen.  I pitched the beer late Saturday night and its now Monday and I have yet to see even a spec of life out of the yeast.  I've check the fermenter and can't find any sign of a leak.  The pressure in the airlock still looks balanced as well.  So, I'm wondering if its possible that the cold night killed or shocked the yeast to the point where they all fell out before they even got going? 

Having said that, the outside air never got below the mid 50's and the air in the house was in the 60's the whole time.  the bath water was also in the low 60's at its coldest so who knows.

Just give it more time, its getting close to the 48 hr mark, has anybody ever had to go longer than that to see activity before? 

Offline SleepySamSlim

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Re: So when should I get worried
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2009, 11:35:29 PM »
I think you have to work pretty hard to kill the yeast - but they can go dormant if it gets cold.

What is the temperature of the wort ? Thats your best indicator should be 65-75deg for most ales. I use those stick-on thermometers you can get at your brew shop or mail order. At least that gives you a rough idea - I'd focus on getting the temp right and maybe give the fermenter a shake or a stir with a sanitized spoon.

We're in the NW and we normally keep a cool house because we prefer that -- we keep our brew in the spare bedroom (office) between the computers and a nice space heater we maintain a 68 - 70deg temperature range.

Other big thing to look at is an immersion cooler - I built one for about $50 and we cooled our wort down from boiling to 85deg in 10 minutes. Big time saver
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Offline MaltLicker

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Re: So when should I get worried
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2009, 06:02:57 AM »
I would think the yeast are alive, so the issue may be allowing some other critters enough time to get a foot-hold.  If the temps are now fine, it's a judgment call as to when to add reinforcements.  Was it a package alone or with a starter?  IF starter, plus 48 hours, then I'd add yeast sooner than later.  But if the carboy is sealed it should be safe, right?  I keep reading that we home brewers worry too much about lag time, but I'm in that worrying crowd myself. 

Offline Rep

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Re: So when should I get worried
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2009, 06:17:01 AM »
I get my pre pitched wort down below 70F.  I will often see no activity for 48 hours or so.  That wort will be at 67-68F or so.

I have found a closet that I can almost lager in.  I have used it for a couple of ales but did worry about how the beer would turn out.  It was wonderful, as yours will be.

Offline UselessBrewing

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Re: So when should I get worried
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2009, 06:26:23 AM »
As SSS said, you have to work pretty hard to kill the yeast. I also use the stick on thermometers. It is actually my wort mark for filling the carboy. They don't like to get wet, so keep them out of the water.

Warm it up, and you will be fine. I have heard of +72 hours before, as long as everything is sealed up you will be fine.

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Preston
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Offline Wildrover

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Re: So when should I get worried
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2009, 09:06:46 AM »
Thanks for the input, Yeah, I've decided to let it warm up a bit, thinking that might help.  Its actually a plastic bucket but again, I've checked and can't find any leaks.  I did use a starter that I pitched at high kreausen (sp?).  When I do that I usually see activity the next day so for it to be taking this long is unusual. 

the only other thing that has me worried is that I may have mashed a little warm.  up around the 158-160 range.  I tried to add some water to cool it off but after an hour the idoine test showed full conversion.  I'm wondering if the wort is too dextrinious and there is nothing for the yeast to eat.  That sounds like a stretch to me but I'm not ruling out any possibilities.   

Offline Wildrover

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Re: So when should I get worried
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2009, 09:09:43 AM »
Other big thing to look at is an immersion cooler - I built one for about $50 and we cooled our wort down from boiling to 85deg in 10 minutes. Big time saver

Oh, I have two.  One that sits in the ice bath and one that goes into the wort.  Being in Florida, cooling a full boiled wort is one of the hardest things for homebrewers, especially if your one like me that lives in an apartment. 

Of course, it gets a little easier when you have the extra fridge etc.  But unfortunately, at this point, I don't

Offline SOGOAK

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Re: So when should I get worried
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2009, 09:35:08 AM »
Wild, What yeast?  When I used Wyeast 1214 -Belgian Abbey, it took 24-36 hours.  This is after I was getting lag down to 4-6 hours with good temps and starters.  So I did some hand wringing.  Then I mover the fermentor to the warmest room in the house overnight.

Bingo!

After the fact, I went back to wyeast's site and they state clearly that 1214 is a slow starter.

So don't panic.
Good Recipe, Good Ingredients, Good Procedure, Good Sanitation = Good Brew.

Offline Wildrover

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Re: So when should I get worried
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2009, 08:44:14 AM »
Wild, What yeast?  When I used Wyeast 1214 -Belgian Abbey, it took 24-36 hours.  This is after I was getting lag down to 4-6 hours with good temps and starters.  So I did some hand wringing.  Then I mover the fermentor to the warmest room in the house overnight.

Bingo!

After the fact, I went back to wyeast's site and they state clearly that 1214 is a slow starter.

So don't panic.

Sogoak,

The yeast and California Ale.  The good news is that there was actually a leak.  The bad news is now I look stupid but I'll admit the error.  I looked all around the bucket and it looked sealed.  I pushed it down again just to be sure and wouldn't you know it, although the appearance didn't change it was barely not sealed, I did hear a very small pop, it was so small that I didn't even feel it, just heard it but the lesson is that it doesn't take much to allow the co2 out.  As soon as it snapped, blub blub blub blub. 

Offline SOGOAK

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Re: So when should I get worried
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2009, 02:29:39 PM »
Excellent!  That early on, there should be enough CO2 going out to keep bad air out.  Plus the yeast has it's footing and should overpower any bacteria.

I am glad to hear you are bubblin'

Every brewer has had that worried feeling.  IT is $40 in ingredients, 4-5 hours of time, and worst is the anticipation once it goes into the fermentor that there will be great beer coming out.

Fortunately, if you do all the other stuff right ales are pretty foolproof.
Good Recipe, Good Ingredients, Good Procedure, Good Sanitation = Good Brew.

OCD Brewer

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Re: So when should I get worried
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2009, 07:24:33 PM »
Just a suggestion for future batches:  Get the unfermented wort down to about 70ish, pitch the yeast, then wait until fermentation has begun (as evidenced by the bubbles in the airlock).  Once fermentation has begun, then you should focus on dropping the temperature to your target temp.  It's very important to get the fermentation going quickly, so leaving the fermenter at around 70 is fine to start with.  Then, once fermentation has begun, if the ambient temperature is too warm (70 or above), wrap the fermenter in wet towels (or whatever your method of cooling is) to get the external fermenter temperature down to the mid-60's.  The fermenting wort will generate 7 or 8 degrees of internal heat, so you need to get it down in the mid-60's as soon as you can after fermentation begins.  Some of the prior posts mention long lag times of up to 48 hours...not good.  If you do yeast straters (which you really should do) and you properly aerate the wort, you should see fermentation within 12 hours max.

Offline MaltLicker

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Re: So when should I get worried
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2009, 05:44:21 AM »
......The fermenting wort will generate 7 or 8 degrees of internal heat............

Actively fermenting wort definitely generates heat, and I've wondered how much, but not seen the figure any where. 

I imagine it varies by diameter of mash tun, and distance from center, etc. Can you share where you've seen that discussed?  I use those fish-tank stick-on thermometers, but figured they were low by a couple degrees.

Edit:  Found the Palmer reference that OCD mentioned:  "Furthermore, primary fermentation is an exothermic process. The internal temperature of the fermentor can be as much as 10F above ambient conditions, just due to yeast activity." 

Does "ambient" mean a room, or also a chest freezer?  For the first two days, I usually set my freezer two degrees below my goal b/c I figure it will run hotter inside the carboy.  I could see a carboy outrunning the ambient temp in a room more easily than inside a chest freezer of 8 cubic feet. 
« Last Edit: February 02, 2009, 05:06:53 PM by MaltLicker »

OCD Brewer

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Re: So when should I get worried
« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2009, 08:23:23 AM »
Hmmm...it's discussed on many on line forums, Palmer refers to it in his on line book (wort temp can be as much as 10 degrees higher than ambient), and Noonan implies it in his book (by stating that if your target fermentation temp is 55-60, you should set your ambient temp at 50-55).  But I've not yet seen any syetematic, scientific study or discussion.  My reference to 7 or 8 degrees is just a guess based mostly on reading in the forums.  I'm going to look into it further, though, since this can really impact the final character of the beer.

Chris