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Old 02-26-2010, 11:32 AM   #1
StarCityBrewMaster
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Default Temperature question/concern

I am going to be purchasing my kit this weekend so I'm trying to get a feel for the conditions in my house before I brew. I read a lot about people being concerned with fluctuating temps and understand this affects the fermentation process. Most of the concerns are regarding temps fluctuating to the high side - say 70 - 80 degrees. Mine on the other hand are concerns for the low side of the chart.

I have a basement in my house and just put a digital thermometer down there. The temp is still falling from when I set it there but looks like it is going to level off at 60-61 degrees. The temp outside is in the 20's right now and the winds are gusting to above 40mph which may be why my basement is that cold.

I don't have much room upstairs in my house but could maybe set a carboy or two in a closet. Upstairs we use a digital thermostat. Our room temp in the day is 70 degrees but from midnight to 5am we let the temp drop to 64 degrees to save on energy costs.

How much of a problem will this be with the fluctuating temps on the low side? What is too low? How will the low temps effect fermentation?

Thanks!

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Old 02-26-2010, 11:43 AM   #2
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Temp has now fallen to below 60 in my basement and still seem to be creeping down. It'll probably level off at or above 55 degrees.

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Old 02-26-2010, 11:48 AM   #3
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A good thing to do is try to find a place where the temperature changes the least. Generally, in dark areas that receive little traffic and away from drafts. If you want to know the temp in a closet or another area, set a thermometer in a glass of water and take readings from it in different intervals throughout the day for a couple days. You can do this in multiple areas until you find the most convenient spot.

As for low temps for fermenting such as in the basement, check the range of the yeast you are using. Most ale yeasts range from 60 to 70-72 degrees. So check your yeast to make sure it is within that temperature range. A basement that has an ambient temp of 60 is in the range of some ale yeasts, just on the low side. Although you would still want to monitor the fermentation temp to make sure it is not dropping below your recommended temperature for the yeast.

55 degrees might be too chilly to ferment any ale's, I wouldnt feel comfortable putting any fermenting beer down there, but that is just me. Maybe someone who ferments around that range of temperature has more info.

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Last edited by Kirbster; 02-26-2010 at 11:50 AM. Reason: OP posted lower temp.
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Old 02-26-2010, 12:25 PM   #4
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How about with a brew belt bucket warmer? I have the same situation as Star City, in that my basement flirts with 62-65 degrees, depending on where I decide to put the bucket.

I bought a brew belt, but when I read the instructions, it said it would keep the brew at 75-80 degrees. That sounds too hot.

Not sure what I should do. Sorry for hijacking the thread, Star City, but you and I are in the same boat.

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Old 02-26-2010, 12:33 PM   #5
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no need for apologies - it sounds like your situation is a lot better than mine! From what I've read 62-65 degrees is safe for most ales but under 60 is not recommended.

Now I guess my basement is great for lagers once I get to that point..........

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Old 02-26-2010, 12:55 PM   #6
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At least you're in the right direction - cool. Many folks pitch their yeast at 75F, then put the bucket in a corner somewhere and let it sit at room temps, which can be 70-75. Add in the 4-10 degrees that fermentation creates and you have a hot fermentation. While 55 is not ideal, perhaps you could rig a lightbulb near it, or just wrap it in a sleeping bag - if you can adjust the temp to your liking when you finish brewing (pitching temp-say 60-ish) the fermentation activity will get you to 65 and the sleeping bag will hold it there.

just a thought...

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Old 02-26-2010, 12:56 PM   #7
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I'm a complete novice, so experienced brewers please chime in and tell me what an idiot I am. I have a similar temperature problem, so here's what I did:

I used the belt for the first week. The directions state it should be left on for no more than a week. I'm not sure why, but I adhered to that. I kept the belt on while it was in the bucket. When I racked to the carboy, I placed the carboy in the now unused bucket and filled the bucket with water. I put an aquarium heater in the bucket, and it seems to keep the bucket water at about 66 degrees.

Someone will probably chime in with a great reason why this is a bad idea, then I'll stop doing it.

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Old 02-26-2010, 01:19 PM   #8
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Seems pretty intelligent to me but I don't know much.........

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Old 02-26-2010, 01:23 PM   #9
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If fermentation creates heat then I'm in pretty good shape in my upstairs closet which is sitting at 65 degrees.

The fact that fermentation creates heat lets me better understand why so many have trouble maintaining temps and also makes me realize how necessary it is to have a fermentation chamber of some sort to truly control the environment if you want to make good beer.

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Old 02-26-2010, 05:10 PM   #10
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I fermented my first batch at low temps. The temp was about 60 during active fermentation, then dropped to about 57 when it slowed. This caused me to have to move the carboy up off the floor. I also wrapped the carboy in a few blankets to protect it from the light. I think this also helped with the temperature problems as well. I bottled and am awaiting the "true" results, but initial tasting while bottling gave some GREAT encouragement. We said... if it tastes like this cold and carbed we will be STOKED!!

P.S. the low temps caused the fermentation process to be a bit slower than some experience here.

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