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Old 11-18-2008, 11:55 PM   #1
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Default No Temp Controls - Options?

I'm going to brew a lager using Wyeast 2633 which likes to ferment between 48 and 58 deg. I don't have a dedicated beer fridge with temp controls (yet), so getting to that temp range is problematic. My options are 3 fold:

1. Ferment in guest bathroom that today had a temperature at floor level of 64 deg. (we don't want our guests to feel too comfortable in our guest bathroom).

2. Ferment in utility sink full of water and frozen milk jugs.

3. Take advice of LHBS guru and don't worry about it. He fermented same beer at just under 70 deg and it "was delicious".

I understand that if lagers ferment at temperatures higher than "suggested", unwanted fruity esters may result, so I'm leaning towards option 2. If I go that route, how long do I need to babysit the ice bath? Through primary fermentation (1 week), or all the way through secondary fermentation (another 2 weeks +/-).

Obviously, I'm a noob., or as I prefer to say, a recreational brewer, but if I can twink the process and end up with a better product, I'm all over it--- so what do you all think my best option is?


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Old 11-19-2008, 12:26 AM   #2
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I fermented a lager at 70.
The beer is definately drinkable... but its overly sweet, and overly... well, just overly something.
Ales are forgiving, but you can tell its a bit off. Good, but sweet and estery.

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Old 11-19-2008, 12:35 AM   #3
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If you don't have a way to keep the temperature at 50 degrees or so, you might want to try option #1, but use a clean well attenuating ale yeast. If you use nottingham, and try to ferment closer to 60 degrees, you will have a lager-like beer. If you use lager yeast at 65 degrees, you may have some sulfur and off-tasting flavors.

You could try option #2- that's sort of what I do. Not for primary- I do that at 50 degrees, but for lagering. I fill an igloo ice cube cooler with some water and my carboy (I even made a styrofoam lid for the cooler, to insulate better) and a floating thermometer in the water, and use ice bottles to bring the temperature to 34 degrees for 8 weeks or so for the lagering phase. Sometimes a bigger beer will be lagered for 12 weeks.

Primary fermentation for lagers may take longer than week or two. You may want to ferment at 50 degrees for about 10 days, or until primary is about 75% complete. Then, you can raise the temperature to 60 degrees for the diacetyl rest. After 48 hours at 60 degrees, you can rack to secondary and then reduce the temperature 5 degrees per day until you're lagering at 34 degrees or so. Your time table of a week in primary, 2 in secondary will need to be adjusted.

If it was me, I'd just use some neutral ale yeast and go with #1. I think 64 degrees is a bit high but it'll work. I rarely ferment any ales above 62-64 degrees, though. I know a few ale yeast strains like it a tiny bit warmer, but I've learned that my beers are more to my taste when fermented on the cool side of the yeast's preferred temperatures.

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