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Old 01-06-2010, 04:48 PM   #1
Sol
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Default Ale fermentation temps: how cold is too cold?

Hey guys,

Living in So. Cal. we have relatively consistent temps in the winter that are pretty close to ideal for brewing beer (I have my primaries stored in my bar downstairs and they haven't strayed from 67-68 in weeks). In the summer it gets hot in my part of town...stupid hot. I frequently come home to 95 degree temps in the upstairs of the house.

I'm toying with the idea of using my wine cellar to ferment in. It's not a full blown cellar, but it's an independently air conditioned and insulated space under the stairs has a small walking aisle that's probably 2 1/2 ft. All of my long term storage wine is in the back of the cellar, so I can block it off without worrying about it.

The cellar is currently set at 59 degrees. I can toy with this a little bit but I've also got some very expensive bottles of wine in there that have to take priority over brewing. I'd feel comfortable bumping it up to maybe 61 or 62.

Enough with the chit-chat. 2 questions: I realize that different strains prefer different temps, but if the fermenting temp is generally going to be (at least IME) 3-5 degrees above ambient temp, what do you think about setting the cellar to 61? Is it more important that the fermenting beer be kept in an "ideal" temperature, or a consistent temperature?

Thanks!

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Old 01-06-2010, 04:54 PM   #2
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61 or 62 would be just fine for most ales (with the notable exception of some belgian ales) - in fact, its nearly perfect. The 59 degrees would also work for many ales and yeast strains. And yes, its important during fermentation to keep the temperature from wildly going up and down.

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Old 01-06-2010, 04:55 PM   #3
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personally, i'd fly with the 59 degrees. you should get some very clean fermentations that way. us-05, nottingham, american ale, kolsch, etc. will all work great at those temps. as you stated, it will get ~4 deg higher than 59, so that will work great. supposedly that's a good temp for hefeweizen also according to jamil.

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Old 01-06-2010, 04:55 PM   #4
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I generally try to ferment stuff in that range all the time with US-05.

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Old 01-06-2010, 04:56 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sol View Post
Enough with the chit-chat. 2 questions: I realize that different strains prefer different temps, but if the fermenting temp is generally going to be (at least IME) 3-5 degrees above ambient temp, what do you think about setting the cellar to 61? Is it more important that the fermenting beer be kept in an "ideal" temperature, or a consistent temperature?

Thanks!
The key here is "fermenting temps" and they can be up to 10 degerees above ambient but, if the mood isn't set right at the start you'll get no love in the cellar to keep the bugs warm. Lag phases can takes hours to days and of the yeast get too cold they'll just go to sleep.

Ideally, you want to maintain ferment temps in the ideal range.
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Old 01-06-2010, 05:18 PM   #6
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Every yeast has a temperature range that could be considered "ideal", and some yeasts are more sensitive than others to changes in temperature. Generally speaking, best results are usually had by maintaining a consistent temperature of the ale throughout the fermentation. This requires increasing the ambient temperature as the more active stage of the fermentation dies down.

In the winter, my basement is ideal for most ales as the temperature is right around 62-63 degrees. I will often bring my ales upstairs to finish out in a closet that is around 67-68.

Certain yeasts, such as White Labs Kolsch yeast, don't like the lower finishing temperature and could stall on ya, but a healthy starter can minimize this.

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Old 01-06-2010, 05:51 PM   #7
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Wow, thanks for all the responses guys!

I'm trying to avoid the expense of a thermowell, temp controller and brew belt for each of my primaries that I'd be keeping in the cellar. Is the variance of a few degrees of brew temp (constant ambient temp) throughout the fermentation process really going to make that big a difference in my end result?

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Keg priming: Raspberry Hefeweizen
Keg priming: Modified Ed Wort's apfelwein (half apple cider)
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On deck: Pliny the Elder clone
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Old 01-06-2010, 05:54 PM   #8
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A few degrees won't hurt, no.

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Old 02-02-2010, 02:40 AM   #9
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My fermentation foamed and went like crazy for first 15 hrs, now after just 2 days, is only bubbling about once every minute, its about 62 - 65 degrees. IS it ok to just let it continue as is?

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Old 02-02-2010, 03:03 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donnybak View Post
My fermentation foamed and went like crazy for first 15 hrs, now after just 2 days, is only bubbling about once every minute, its about 62 - 65 degrees. IS it ok to just let it continue as is?
sounds like all is normal. Leave it be.
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