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Old 10-05-2010, 08:23 PM   #1
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Default Are there styles/recipes that are less sensitive to temps for novice brewers?

I've been thinking about this and wondering:
In your opinion, are there certain styles/recipes that are less sensitive to mash temps and fermentation temps when it comes to producing the final product?

Or another way to ask this would be: Are there types of beers whose mash/ferm temps aren't as crucial to the final flavor?

My gut tells me that there are no such styles/recipes, because my gut tells me that tempreature control is one of the most critical elements in making beer and that's why all of my beers so far have been ok, but not great.

I'm saving for a Johnson controller and a freezer/fridge to convert into a fermentation chamber, but in the meantime it would be great if I could make a "great" beer without perfect temp control.

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Old 10-05-2010, 08:26 PM   #2
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Its about to be winter

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Old 10-05-2010, 08:32 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by delusionalsociety View Post
Its about to be winter

I'm in north Idaho, so even the summer isn't too bad in terms of temps. But even with a water bath I find that my temps fluctuate 2-3 degrees throughout the day. I may be wrong, but I'm guessing that is why my beer is just OK.
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Old 10-05-2010, 08:40 PM   #4
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what is it that is disappointing you about your beer ?

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Old 10-05-2010, 08:42 PM   #5
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If temps tend to get too hot, try brewing a saison, seems like the hotter the better for those. however the winter months are better for the slow and low lagers.

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Old 10-05-2010, 08:50 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishin-Jay View Post
I'm saving for a Johnson controller and a freezer/fridge to convert into a fermentation chamber, but in the meantime it would be great if I could make a "great" beer without perfect temp control.
Two things. First of all, fermentation control, combined with improved sanitation, will be the biggest difference makers in your results. I do have a suggestion. I use a dorm fridge for my fermentation chamber (a 6 gallon better bottle squeezes in perfectly, and I hook my temp controller to a fermwrap around the carboy. I keep the fridge at a constant temperature, (say a 55 degree setting for an ale, 45 degrees for a lager), and let the fermwrap heat the carboy as needed. I think it makes more sense to keep the ambient temperature constant, and control changes in the wort, rather than monitor changes in the air, and try to keep changing the ambient temperature.

To answer your original question, and this is completely unfounded, but I think the San Fran Lager, as well as Charlie Papazian's "Cry Havoc" would be interesting yeasts to use without precise control. San Fran Lager basically developed because brewers couldn't control fermentation temps, and Charlie's yeast is noted for fermenting at both ale and lager temperatures....I wonder how different the two yeasts really are.

Good Luck,
Joe
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Old 10-05-2010, 08:57 PM   #7
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what is it that is disappointing you about your beer ?
My beer seems to have off-flavors, especially in the finish. For example, I brewed a Karankawa Pale Ale kit from AHS. It tasted great when it first hit my mouth, then it tasted "thin" and had a slightly off aftertaste. I've been reading about the various off flavors, but I still can't quite put my finger on it. Maybe slightly astringent, or slightly oxidized (wet cardboard), but not exactly either of those.

I have also brewed a California Common, a Sierra Nevada clone, and a Columbus Pale Ale that all tasted OK, but lacked the clean, full flavor I wanted.

When I brewed I hit my mash temps within ~1 degree, hit my volume perfect, made an appropriate starter, oxegenated the wort, and pitched the yeast. Then while fermenting in a water bath reaching 3/4 way up the side of the Better Bottle, it averaged ~67 degrees, but swung each day as low as 63 and as high as 69. The only way I have to control the water bath temp is by adding hot or cold water. (My tap water is ~58 degrees at it's coldest).
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Old 10-05-2010, 09:09 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfowler1 View Post

To answer your original question, and this is completely unfounded, but I think the San Fran Lager, as well as Charlie Papazian's "Cry Havoc" would be interesting yeasts to use without precise control. San Fran Lager basically developed because brewers couldn't control fermentation temps, and Charlie's yeast is noted for fermenting at both ale and lager temperatures....I wonder how different the two yeasts really are.

Good Luck,
Joe
Thanks for that advice. The California Common I have is still lagering right now. The one I tried was green so I probably shouldn't have included it in my list since I haven't waited long enough to be sure it didn't come out right.

I hope you're right and this one reaches my standard for a great beer!
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Old 10-06-2010, 02:48 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishin-Jay View Post
Then while fermenting in a water bath reaching 3/4 way up the side of the Better Bottle, it averaged ~67 degrees, but swung each day as low as 63 and as high as 69. The only way I have to control the water bath temp is by adding hot or cold water. (My tap water is ~58 degrees at it's coldest).

63-69F isn't all that extreme of a temp swing to me. Maybe look at some other factor.
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Old 10-06-2010, 03:42 AM   #10
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Since most brewers have simple equipment mash temps and fermentation temps are sometimes hit and miss. Sure, we can get close by following a few simple rules using simple equipment but really we don't have accurate enough equipment for consistent results (a la commercial style equipment). So speaking for myself, I brew simple brews that do not require any steps in the mash (aim for 67C in the mash) and try to keep my fermenters at a constant temperature using iced bottles or heaters where appropriate. I brew pale ales, porters and simple alt ales using these methods and get a reasonable result most times. I don't have a lager fridge so I don't lager. When the sun, the stars and the moon align, occasionally I get a great brew and occasionally I get crappy brews. But overall I have been consistent by trying to brew something within my controls rather than attempt things I have little control over.

You ask two different questions. Mash temps will affect the fermentable/infermentable sugars extraction of the wort. Fermentation temps affects the yeast and how it will work. Understand both and you'll go a fair way to answering your questions. Trial and error has taught me how to get relatively consistent mash strike temperatures.

I would say rather than try to brew something to survive your temperature variations, recognise that these variations do not sound too excessive and are therefore detrimental. The wort temp will not fluctuate as much as the outside controlling water bed. To this point, where are you measuring your fermentation temp? Do you have a probe inside the fermenter or an external thermometer. You mentioned the water bath temp variations - but measuring the temp of that will not give you the temp inside the fermenter.

Lastly, there are also factors outside mash and fermentation temps that will affect your beer, such as water quality, malts used etc. How often is your beer judged by good beer judges? Maybe the problem is you being over critical of your beer.

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Reason: re-read and re-considered the questions asked.
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