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Temperature Swings make for Unhappy Yeast

by Alberta Rager
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Most ale and wine yeast performs best when the temperature remains constant at 70°–75°F. Although there is a little leeway, if the temperature swings too far one way or the other or the temperature continues to change the yeast will rebel. With the weather pattern we've been experiencing, the issue has not been too warm, but fluctuation temperature; too cool especially at night then warming up and cooling off again. If the ambient temperature is too cool, the fermentation will progress very slowly and may stop all together. Just like us, when the yeast gets too cool, it just settles to the bottom of the fermenter and takes a nap. This is one time that the hydrometer is critical. Rather than counting days or looking for decreased activity in the airlock, make sure the specific gravity has reached recommended range listed on the recipe or wine kit instructions before proceeding to racking or fining. If you are seeing little or no activity in the airlock, but have not reached the recommended gravity for racking or fining and have a layer of sediment on the bottom of the fermenter, roust the yeast (stir it back into suspension) and warm it to 70°–75°F. It is important to maintain the 70°–75°F temperature. This may be done putting a sweatshirt or blanket around the fermenter or, better yet, with a Brew Belt.

This article was published on Monday March 02, 2015.
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