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Old 11-12-2008, 03:47 AM   #1
mjn12
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Default Temperature swings and brewing

So this is not meant to be taken as a "new guy is afraid thread" more as a "new guy is curious and a search has not yielded anything" thread. Relax everyone, I'm not worried and I'm having a microbrew (from a brewery only 25 miles north of me that I just discovered after living here a year).

I'm assuming a constant fermenting temperature is ideal. I'm also assumign that having the fermenter temp change very gradually (as the surrounding air changes) would not shock the yeast. But how do temp swings affect the quality of the finished product? Do you risk the same off flavors as you do when just fermenting too hot or are temperature changes a whole new animal aside from just hot temps.

The kind of swing I am talking about is between 65-75 degrees F and I'm obviously brewing an ale.

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Old 11-12-2008, 03:50 AM   #2
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you can use a bigger container to place your carboy or fermenter in; and then fill it with water - water takes temp changes better...meaning it holds temps more consistently.

If you think you're gonna be on the hot side; put a wet t-shirt on the fermenter with a fan blowing on it

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Old 11-12-2008, 03:58 AM   #3
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Its not an issue of brewing hot. The current temp on the stick on thermometer is 70deg and for most of the time since sat night it has been between 68-70. The exceptions were when my thermostat went renegade and decided to heat our apartment to 80 degrees all night - then it jumped up to about 75 until I started sweating enough to wake up and open a window. With the window open the temp dropped down to about 64 and the heater decided it was sorry and did not kick on again.

Again, no worries and I'm sure the brew will come out fine. I'm just curious if anyone has experienced the same conditions and if there were any pronounced effects. I only ask because I'm curious now and don't want to have to wait a month for bottle conditioning to be complete and finally have my answer.

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Old 11-12-2008, 04:06 AM   #4
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In short - you'll be fine.

I live in a place where we have extreme temperature swings. I try to keep the fermentation temps 70 or under for the ales, but sometimes a hot day or two will just jack up the house temp way above that.

You might sense some "off" flavors when you first taste the beer when it's green - but the flavors should mellow when it ages properly...

hope that helps...

post back and report...

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Old 11-12-2008, 04:12 AM   #5
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Not sure if this helps, but on a side note, I just read that Duvel golden ale is fermented at 68 and the brewers slowly increase the temp to 84f until it's finished. So, it'll impart unique flavors but they are not necessarily negative.

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Old 11-12-2008, 04:14 AM   #6
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Put the fermenter in a cooler with water in it. Add frozen 2 liter bottles of water as needed. If you make a foam lid to fit your fermenter it works even better.

I do lager primaries that way, with ales you usually don't even need the bottles, the water itself tends to equalize out the temperature.

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Old 11-12-2008, 07:06 AM   #7
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Without looking up citations, my general understanding that temperature shifts of 10 degrees F will start shocking the yeast and slowing the process. Going to the high end of the yeast preferences will start producing off flavors, (esters, sulphur, basic things you don't want).
Lower just slows things down more.
Controlling the temp is easy with wet towels, Putting the fermenter into a larger container with water, ice, wet T-shirt/towel. Adding a Fan if the humidity is low really helps. You can do a search on "swamp coolers" for more information.
When you get paranoid about it, fermentation chambers, etc helps you control the temp, not just lower it. Not required until you want to make the best beer you can.

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Old 11-12-2008, 07:19 AM   #8
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I wouldn't want this type of temperature swing to happen daily as I would imagine it would affect the finished beer but if you found it hot and lowered and kept the temp in the yeast range I don't think it would have a large impact.

In my experience fermentation temperature control is really important to making a quality beer.

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Old 11-12-2008, 10:32 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjn12 View Post
But how do temp swings affect the quality of the finished product? I only ask because I'm curious now and don't want to have to wait a month for bottle conditioning to be complete and finally have my answer.
IMO it depends a lot of factors and each situation can be different. One consideration is the range of temps you're dealing with...too cold and your yeast can shut down. Too warm and you have excessive esters, phenols w/ the possibility of diacetyl & fusels. If you're bouncing the yeast all over the place, your results can be unpredictable (if it doesn't just stall out).

Where is the yeast in the fermentation process? During the initial stages of fermentation, temp is more critical since this is where the bulk of those esters, phenols and fusels can be produced. During this part of the process, heat is actually being produced as a byproduct of fementation too. This relates to what jmo88 referred to where you initially ferment cool to minimize the ester & phenol production then gradually let the temp warm up so that the yeast can hit max attenuation.

The strain of yeast plays a role since different strains react differently to conditions. Yeast health and pitching rates prb also have a side effect too since unhealthy under-pitched yeast would likely be more susceptible to the effects of temp swings.
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Old 11-12-2008, 06:47 PM   #10
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It seemed that the most active fermentation was during the first 24-36 hours after the yeast was pitched. I used the yeast that came with the kit (don't have the name right now). I rehydrated it per the instructions on the packet - lukewarm water (that had initially been boiled) for 14 minutes then pitched. There was visible (albeit small) bubbling in the yeast goo right before I pitched. The fermentation that occured didn't generate foam put putting your ear to the pail you could hear the bubbling. The temp was around 68 degrees at this time.

It was as fermentation was subsiding that the temp dropped to 63 (gradually as the apartment cooled). The heater went on and for 18 hours brought room temp back to 68-70 then later went renegade, bringing surrounding temp to 80, fermenter rose to 73 or so until someone caught the heater and room temp has stabilized around 68 for the past few days with very little bubbling from the air lock. Yeah I know bubbling isn't a sure fire indicator, but when it was practically percolating it was easy to see something was going on.

I'm just assuming fermentation happened as it should and taking my sg reading after its been in the primary for 10 days. Despite all temptation I'm not peeking in the pail until 10 days. Wish I had a better bottle so I could watch it all happen.

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