When it comes to homebrewing, you learn something new with every batch. And that’s just what happened to me the last few days. This past Saturday I brewed the Bourbon Barrel Porter extract kit from NorthernBrewer.com and everything seemed to go just fine with the brew. I used dry yeast but re-hydrated it before pitching (and had done so according to the directions on the yeast packet). I cleaned up Saturday night thinking everything was hunky-dory and called it a night. When I awoke Sunday morning, I expected to find a great big bucket of blow-off suds (since the beer in the carboy was very close to the top) but much to my surprise, there didn’t appear to be any yeast activity whatsoever.
Now, every beer I had brewed previously (both the successful and unsuccessful ones) had shown explosive yeast activity within a matter of hours of being pitched, so I was a little worried. I posted to the Norther Brewer forum about my situation and asked for help. The response I got was not what I expected. The first helpful comment was,
It’s not unheard of to have a 12 hour, even 24 hour lag. Never pitch over 70 degrees and preferably cool your wort down in the mid to low 60s before pitching most ale strains. Fermentation temp, including pitching temp, is as important as sanitation.
“Lag time” – whatever that means – is not all that important. Just because they don’t make bubbles at first doesn’t mean the yeast aren’t hard at work consuming oxygen, growing, and multiplying. Yeast eat things in a certain order and they won’t eat sugar (and make alcohol and C02) until the oxygen is depleted.
After reading the comments I did exactly what I was supposed to. I relaxed and drank a homebrew. And, low & behold, I came home from work this evening to see a nice little pile of foam forming on top of the beer and the airlock bubbling away. I never realized that “fermentation temperature is as important as sanitation” but like I said, you learn something new with every batch brewed. Now only eight more weeks of patient waiting before I get to see if the yeasts really have behaved themselves (but that’s part of the fun).
What’s your most recent homebrew learning experience?