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Old 01-30-2014, 04:45 PM   #1
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Default Getting ready to brew... have 1 question and requesting opinions

Hoping to start brewing for the first time as soon as I find time and get the last of my equipment.

My question is... how important is a consistent temperature in the fermentation process? I live in an apartment and I live in Denver (temperature fluctuates by the hour here..). Is this something I really need to try and stay on top of or can I just be mindful of it but don't need to worry too much?

Now I would also like an opinion.. what should I brew first!? I love just about all beer so it's not really a "well which ever you like to drink most" scenario. What do you recommend for first time brewers? what was the first beer you brewed? Is there a beer you wish you had brewed over another first?

Thanks!!

Cavallaro

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Old 01-30-2014, 04:50 PM   #2
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Fermentation temperatures are one of the most critical things to making good beer. Research swamp cooler if you think you can't keep the temp at 64-68 degrees for the first week.

As for your first brew...Keep it simple. Don't pick something with spices or dry hops or any other craziness. Try to make a nice clean ale like an amber and get your process down first. Their will be plenty of time after that to try and brew harder and harder things.

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Old 01-30-2014, 04:54 PM   #3
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Ok. Here is my 2 cents...

Fermentation temperature control is one of the most important things you can do to improve the quality of your beer. Especially your first batch. Yeast will do their thing in just about any temp, but the cooler it is the better your beer will end up tasting. My first beers suffered from the fact that I did not understand this. There are a lot of other things you can do to improve your brews but this is one that should be near or at the top of the list. If your apartment is warm, look up swamp coolers. A big bucket, like a keg tub, full of water and ice bottles will do wonders as a cheap way to keep temps down for you.

For your first brew, I would recommend something with a simple grain bill and simple hops additions. You want your first brew to be as good as you can imagine, so start easy. I good amber or english brown would be a great place to start. Both are ales and will be relatively temperature forgiving (still control them if at all possible, you will reap the rewards if you do.) and are simpla and fast to ferment. Double IPA's and imperial stouts are great but you should cut your teeth on something easy first. You will think you are making mistakes and worry about the process the first time. Remove steps to make it as easy on yourself as possible the first time. Once you have learned how things go, then try something harder.

Good luck!

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Old 01-30-2014, 04:55 PM   #4
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I agree with psycotte. Maintaining a good fermentation temp is critical to making good beer. The best temp depends on the yeast you use, so take that into account. There are simple ways to stabilize the temps like a swamp cooler.

A good simple medium gravity beer is a good choice for a first brew. Stay away from a big high gravity beer for the first time.

My first brew was an American Pale Ale. It came out great and started me on this great addiction/hobby.

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Old 01-30-2014, 04:56 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Psycotte View Post
Fermentation temperatures are one of the most critical things to making good beer. Research swamp cooler if you think you can't keep the temp at 64-68 degrees for the first week.

As for your first brew...Keep it simple. Don't pick something with spices or dry hops or any other craziness. Try to make a nice clean ale like an amber and get your process down first. Their will be plenty of time after that to try and brew harder and harder things.

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+1, especially on the importance of fermenting at the right temp. One thing you can do to help in this regard is to pitch the
yeast into wort that's been chilled to 60-62*F.

Also be aware that lagers are much more technically demanding than ales and require precise temp control around 50*F plus weeks of cold storage.

At first, use dry yeast (which is just fine for many styles). For most beers, liquid yeast needs to be cultured (in a starter) to get the right number of billions of cells.
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Old 01-30-2014, 04:58 PM   #6
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+1 on the swamp cooler. It's really easy. You can either go out and buy a big tupperware container (the kind you'd pack clothes in), or like me, i just had one sitting around. My first couple brews I didn't regulate the fermentation temp and they were almost undrinkable. almost. It's as easy as filling it up with water to the level of the beer, and rotating ice packs (or warm water if you need to bring the temp up) to keep a constant temp in the previously mentioned range. Seems almost too simple of a task to make that much of a difference in your beer, but trust me, it makes a world of difference.

As for you beer to brew, I agree with psycotte. Pick something simple and clean until you get the whole process down (ie, sanitation, procedure, etc..). You don't want an over complex recipe to sidetrack you from the basic steps and end up missing something really simple. You've got plenty of time to work your way up to that stuff. Good luck and Welcome to the homebrewing club

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Old 01-30-2014, 04:58 PM   #7
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Temp swings are best avoided. The good news is that it's cheap and easy to do. I found a large plastic planter at Lowes that I fill with water and put my fermenter in.

Te thermal mass of the water keeps things steady and I can either add ice or use an aquarium heater to control the temp if needed.

As for the first brew, I'd suggest an extract recipe to keep things simple and reduce the number of variables that can go wrong. Austin Homebrew has a large number of kits, some clones of commercial beers, and some their own recipes. I've been impressed with the quality of the kits.

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Old 01-30-2014, 05:04 PM   #8
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Temp Control, and Sanitation are very important..

That being said, 63-68 deg is a safe window to ferment.

As for your first brew, KISS (Keep it simple student)
Amber ales
Cream Ales
Try to keep the Original Gravity of your first brew 1.060 or less..
I encourage you to use a dry yeast your first go...

Liquid yeast and complex recipes take time to work in to, get a solid base learning the steps to brewing before you branch out, BUT branch out!!

The world of hombrewing is limited only by your imagination

Enjoy the hobby

For a Laugh read here, there is quite a bit of sarcasm here but some very good points
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/ston...-advice-54362/

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Old 01-30-2014, 05:15 PM   #9
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All good info. Start simple... maybe a pale ale. Base malt, a little crystal, and a few hops additions. One of my best and easiest beers I brew is my house pale ale.

8 - 9lbs Base malt (2row, Pale, Maris otter - whatever your liking)
1lb C20 (You could use any crystal really, depends on your tastes)
1lb cane sugar (I like my APAs and IPAs on the dry side. A little sugar helps dry it out)

1/2oz Magnum at 60min
1/2oz Cascade 15min
1/2oz Cascade 10min
1/2oz Cascade 5min
1oz Cascade flame out

Any American hop would work for the late additions. I prefer Cascade, Citra, Centennial, Amarillo. Depends on your tastes. You could even use a blend of several hops.

Ditto the fermentation temp info from above. You really want to hold fermentation temps pretty steady and in the lower 60's for at least the first 3-4 days. After fermentation slow or stops, and increase in temperature isn't a big issue. Most of the flavors attributed by the yeast form within the first few days.

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Old 01-30-2014, 05:42 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhumbline View Post
Temp swings are best avoided. The good news is that it's cheap and easy to do. I found a large plastic planter at Lowes that I fill with water and put my fermenter in.

Te thermal mass of the water keeps things steady and I can either add ice or use an aquarium heater to control the temp if needed.

As for the first brew, I'd suggest an extract recipe to keep things simple and reduce the number of variables that can go wrong. Austin Homebrew has a large number of kits, some clones of commercial beers, and some their own recipes. I've been impressed with the quality of the kits.
To this advice, add some insulation. Your temperature swings aren't going to be terribly different than the yeast would like but adding a sleeping bag over the tub of water with your fermenter inside can help a bit more.
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