Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Fermentation temperature for ales

So you have temperature control on a spare refrigerator.  With it set to 68 deg, you should be fine for ale fermentation temps, right?  Maybe not.  The temps in active fermenting wort can be quite higher than the surrounding room temperature, which means you may need to compensate with the temp control to maintain proper and consistent temps.

With that in mind I've kept my temp set to 64 deg, and recently realized the temp inside an active carboy was still at around 75 degrees (which is warmer than preferred).  I only know this because I splurged the other day and purchased a $3 (something like that) thermometer strip, which will show the temp of the liquid inside the carboy.  A little knowledge can be a powerful thing.  It has already shown to be a good tool (plus it looks cool).

Why does temperature matter?  Different temps will have an effect on the taste of the beer.  Higher temps will result in more esters in the beer (and quicker fermentation).  Too cold, and an ale will ferment slowly as well.  Each style and yeast strand will have the ideal temps for fermenting, and the more you are able to control the environment, the better beers you will brew.

In Florida, basements with consistent cool temps are rare, meaning either keep it in a closet (most likely too warm) or implement another form of temp control, which is what I've done.  Your local Homebrew Shop should have a solution, probably something similar or the same to this.