Well, I thought between the exothermic reaction of the yeasts and the house being kept in the mid-60s that the fermenter would warm up a little. Unfortunately when I woke up this morning, I checked on the fermenter to find out that it was still in the low 50s. Also, there were signs of fermentation, but not heavy krausen and constantly bubbling airlock I was expecting. Based on all these signs, I decided that it was necessary for me to move the fermenter to a little warmer area of the house. Seeing as my wife isn’t necessarily keen on keeping a fermenter in our bathroom, I moved it to an inside room of the basement. I’m banking on the carpet keeping it a little insulated from the cold concrete floor in the utility room. After a few hours, these paid off and the heavy krausen and constantly bubbling airlock are present and accounted for.
Even though fermentation appears to be going in full force, the temperature is still reading 57F. Of course, I’m using a fermometer to measure fermentation temps and while I think these are reading in the general vicinity of the fermentation temp, I’m not exactly sold that they are completely accurate. I’m also not sold that the recommended fermentation temps from the yeast suppliers are the best temps to ferment at. Basically, I think they are reasonable temperatures, but I think the manufacturers make them a little warmer than necessary to ensure that your average beginner brewer gets a complete fermentation. With the proper care – enough yeasts, nutrients, etc. – even ale yeasts can ferment in lager yeast temperature ranges, so I’m glad I went with the larger starter. I’m figuring, though, that the fermenter temp is probably in a few degrees higher than what the fermometer is reading which means I’m just a few degrees lower than the recommended fermentation temps.
I also covered the fermenter with an old t-shirt not to insulate the fermenter but to keep out light as that can have deleterious effects on beer. It’s not an issue when I’m fermenting in my buckets, but I’m currently on a carboy kick. I think that’s because I have an easier time kegging from the the carboy then the buckets because my auto siphon is jacked up right now.