Sleeper Cells: Trouble in Fermentation Town

A little glitch in the process this batch. The initial stages of fermentation went smooth. There was a nice layer of foam (aka krausen) on top of the liquid for a few days and a good amount of activity in the airlock.

Fast forward to the first Friday of fermentation. I went into the basement closet to check on the beer. First sign of trouble was too little water in the airlock, meaning the beer was exposed to oxygen for who knows how long. I topped it off with vodka and then moved on to the next issue: no krausen. It had dissipated much quicker than other batches in the past.

I grabbed a thermometer and checked the temperature on the outside of the fermenter and it read 59F. Just below the yeast’s optimal temperature. The basement closet had gotten very cold this year, and despite a towel to provide some insulation from the cement floor, it chilled my beer much lower than I wanted. So to prevent the yeast from going dormant, I moved the beer to a better heated area.

Searching for warmer locations to move the beer, I settled on a closet upstairs that was better heated. I also found a heat belt that I forgot I had and put it on the fermentor and hooked up to my temperature controller to make sure the beer stayed warm. Both had been originally purchased for my ill-fated fermentation fridge, but that’s a story for another day.

I covered the fermenter in a blanket to keep light out and heat in. Since this closet received more traffic than the downstairs one, I didn’t want to risk a light being left on that would skunk the beer.

After a day or so checked the temperature and was happy to see it had slowly risen to 64F. It was nice to have semi-accurate temperature readings thanks to my controller’s temp probe being attached to the side of my fermenter and being insulated with a towel. I was now able to keep my beer at a more consistent temp, which is better for overall flavor.

We’ll see how everything turned out on bottling day.

Cheers,

TJ

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