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Old 12-29-2011, 10:24 PM   #1
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Default Fermenting Temps for a noob - how serious do I need to get?

Will have my first brew day within a few days, however, I do not have any method of regulating my brew temp while it ferments. I plan on keeping it in the basement, which is a fairly consistent 60 degrees or so.

So, lay it on me straight - as a rookie will I even notice a difference? Should I let the stuff bubble away happily in blissful ignorance or should I set up some swamp bucket thingy like I have read about and try to monitor / control the temps??

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Old 12-29-2011, 10:26 PM   #2
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fermentation temps are pretty important. lucky for you, 60 degrees ambient temp is pretty much ideal for ale fermentation!
you can also search 'swamp cooler' on this forum for great, cheap and easy ways to control temps even better.

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Old 12-29-2011, 10:30 PM   #3
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If anything you may want to put it in a tub of water with a fish tank heater set at 64F to keep it warm enough.

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Old 12-29-2011, 10:31 PM   #4
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If you can get it to ferment at 60 degrees, then you'd be fine. Some ale strains don't work quite that low, but they also don't taste very good over 72 degrees so usually right about 66-68 is the "sweet spot". I have great luck with fermenting at 62 degrees.

You could make sure the fermenter is off of the basement floor, and perhaps insulated with a blanket, as fermentation itself produces heat and may be all you need to keep your fermentation temperature at 63-65 degrees.

Remember that fermentation temperatures are for the actual beer temperature, not the room temperature, so a "stick-on" thermometer for the outside of the fermenter.

How much you care really depends on how particular you are about how the beer tastes. Some brewers want commercial quality in their homebrews, while others are very happy to drink less-than-great beer. If you want to make an ok beer, you probably don't need to worry about the fermentation temperature. If you want to make a good beer, you'll want to make sure you're in the yeast strain's optimum fermentation range.

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Old 12-30-2011, 01:42 AM   #5
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The important rule of thumb is basically don't ferment in May in so cal ambient air like me. As long as you pay attention to trying to keep the temps in the 60's, you will be o.k.

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Old 12-30-2011, 03:49 AM   #6
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as long as the temp. is consistent you are good to go.

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Old 12-30-2011, 03:53 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davekippen View Post
So, lay it on me straight - as a rookie will I even notice a difference? Should I let the stuff bubble away happily in blissful ignorance or should I set up some swamp bucket thingy like I have read about and try to monitor / control the temps??
Here's my take. You are going to absolutely love this beer, because you made it. Down the road, you will probably be able to notice a difference between proper temp control and no control, but I think on your first, you're gonna love it no matter what. I sure did! Looking back, I understand that my first beer was definitely drinkable, but not wonderful. But at the time that beer was heaven!
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Old 12-30-2011, 10:56 AM   #8
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What kind of beer are you making and what yeast will you use? These combinations tell you what temperature you would want to ferment at.

Temperature control is important in making beer as the activity of the yeast is somewhat determined by the temperature of the wort and that level of activity indirectly influences what flavors are produced during the fermentation. Once you know what yeast you are intending to use you can find the optimal range of temperature for that yeast. I'd try to keep it toward the bottom of that range. I'm using Nottingham or Safeale US-05 and ferment in a 62 to 65 F. room and I like the results much better than when I fermented in a 72 F. room. My fast ferment no longer is over in a day and a half though. I find active fermentation takes 5 to 6 days now. Once that active part of the ferment is over I bring the beer (not wort anymore, it's fermented) into the 72 degree room to let the yeast finish the cleanup phase as the flavor compound were produced during the lag time when the yeast were building up their numbers and the fast ferment period when the yeast was producing alcohol and CO2. The 2 to 3 weeks at room temperature helps the yeast consume some of the compounds that they produced earlier that we find objectionable and makes sure that they have eaten all the sugars so I don't get overcarbonation from leftover sugars added to the priming sugar.

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Old 12-30-2011, 11:13 AM   #9
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Unless you're using something really fancy like a Saison yeast, you should be fine at that temp. I ferment ales in similar temps and it works fine for me. If you're really concerned, you might want to keep it at the low basement temp for the first 3-4 days or so when fermentation is really, really active, and then, when it slows down, move it somewhere warmer. That will help it finish up and will not produce off-flavors.

After a couple weeks, check your gravity a couple times, make sure it's at or around the projected FG and stable, and above all RDWHAHB. Cheers!

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Old 12-30-2011, 11:35 AM   #10
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Keep in mind that fermentation = exothermic reaction. That is the process produces heat. The gain may be anywhere from 5-10 degrees. Keep your primary at room temp only until you see signs of fermentation and then move it to the basement. You'll be fine.

Remember, when we talk about fermentation temps we are talking about the actual temp of the wort and not the ambient air.

Fermentation temp is very important. Would you expect to bake a cake at 100 (or 500) degrees when the optimum is 350 and the finished product is top notch?

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