Educate me on temp control.

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Wables

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I’ve been brewing beer for 20 years, and dropped off this site and all others in 2009, but kept on brewing the beers that I love, APA, IPA, the occasional stout, etc. After a couple weeks back on this site, and watching countless YouTube videos, I’ve learned that because of the way that I brew my beer should suck…but it doesn’t. I typically brew the above beers, 10 gallons each of 2 parallel brewed AG beers on a brew day. I primary for a couple weeks in buckets, then half goes into kegs and half into secondaries. Or all into secondaries if my kegerator is full. I have 2 all-rounders with pressure kits on order to dabble with the no O2 contact theories, and I am interested in fermentation temp control. What would it do for me?

A bit more background info…my fermentation is done in my basement, and the temp stays close to 65 degrees year round. In August I may hit 70. The only off flavors I’ve picked up in any of my beers is astringency in the lighter ales when brewing with my hard tap water. I’ve just purchased a pH meter and got a Ward Labs test to chase that dragon. My primary yeast is S05, but sometimes I hit a naughty streak and pitch some S04. I wouldn‘t mind trying the pressurized lager technique at some point but…what am I missing here? Is it worth the investment for me?
 

csantoni

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Well, for one thing, S05 is really forgiving and your basement temps are in its sweet spot. Temp control is really more important for lagers and styles where you want specific character from yeast (Belgians, Hefes), in my opinion.
 

Beernik

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Like @csantoni said, you have good generic ale basement temps. I used to have a cold storage room that was the same way: high 60s in the summer, low 60s in the winter. I still found improvement & better consistency with temperature control.

You can reduce your risk of diacetyl and unwanted esters and phenols. You can also better control when you want esters and phenols
 

3 Dawg Night

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After a couple weeks back on this site, and watching countless YouTube videos, I’ve learned that because of the way that I brew my beer should suck…but it doesn’t.
Why should your beers suck? Nothing from your description of your process would keep me from trying your beer, and I would expect to enjoy them!

What fermentation temperature control will gain you is consistency. You'll be able to encourage your yeast to give you the flavors you want while leaving out the flavors you don't.

As has been stated on HBT innumerable times, fermentation is exothermic. Even if your basement is consistently 65-70F, I think you'd be surprised at how warm your beer actually gets while fermenting. Try slapping one of those stick-on thermometer strips on the side of your fermenter and see what your temperature actually gets to.
 
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Wables

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Why should your beers suck? Nothing from your description of your process would keep me from trying your beer, and I would expect to enjoy them!

What fermentation temperature control will gain you is consistency. You'll be able to encourage your yeast to give you the flavors you want while leaving out the flavors you don't.

As has been stated on HBT innumerable times, fermentation is exothermic. Even if your basement is consistently 65-70F, I think you'd be surprised at how warm your beer actually gets while fermenting. Try slapping one of those stick-on thermometer strips on the side of your fermenter and see what your temperature actually gets to.
According to the internet, by beer sucks because (a little tongue in cheek):
1) I don’t use a hop strainer. Gotta have one of those.
2) I primary in food grade buckets, then secondary in glass carboys.
3) I rack from primary to secondary to keg with an auto siphon.
4) I force carb by crash cooling in the keg for 24 hours, putting on 30# of pressure, and shaking 130 times like fast rocking a baby. Pull 2 dirty pints and consume immediately. Headspace purged of course.
5) My kegerator lines are older than some members on the site. Finally getting the patina I’m looking for.
6) My kegs are all still pin locks.
7) No temperature control on fermentation.
8) Did I mention brewing with my hard well water?
I‘ve never gotten hints of phenols, fusels, fdiacelyls, or any other f-bombs in my beer other than the fastringency that I already mentioned. I feel like we were making great beer back in the 2000’s and now there a bunch of solutions out there for problems that we didn’t have and people are out there preaching on the pulpit about how to avoid these issues with out ever experiencing them, just regurgitating info they have learned online. Rant over. Still curious about pressure lagering though! Also wonder what I’m missing on temp control when brewing session beers with ale yeast.
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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As has been stated on HBT innumerable times, fermentation is exothermic.
It's also true that yeast strains work at different speeds (see Fermentis Tips and Tricks brochure; I have confirmed some of that information to my satisfaction).

So with US-05 (assuming it is a slower working yeast), it could be that the heat is spread out over more days.
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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I feel like we were making great beer back in the 2000’s and now there a bunch of solutions out there for problems that we didn’t have
Some people like to apply "continuous improvement" to their beer making processes. Nothing wrong with that.

People taste beer differently, people describe beer differently.

Most of the time, I just want to have enjoyable time making good beer.
 

Barbarossa

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Temp control is kind of optional for ales. As long as you stay between lines of what is recommended on the packet, you will be fine.

If you want to go pro, then your beers will need to be brewed exactly the same way, with same temp etc... Otherwise, you're fine.

And I see that you brew hop and malt heavy beers. In these beers, the yeast is not what you need to optimize to get a good tasting beer.
 

3 Dawg Night

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According to the internet, by beer sucks because (a little tongue in cheek):
1) I don’t use a hop strainer. Gotta have one of those.
2) I primary in food grade buckets, then secondary in glass carboys.
3) I rack from primary to secondary to keg with an auto siphon.
4) I force carb by crash cooling in the keg for 24 hours, putting on 30# of pressure, and shaking 130 times like fast rocking a baby. Pull 2 dirty pints and consume immediately. Headspace purged of course.
5) My kegerator lines are older than some members on the site. Finally getting the patina I’m looking for.
6) My kegs are all still pin locks.
7) No temperature control on fermentation.
8) Did I mention brewing with my hard well water?
I‘ve never gotten hints of phenols, fusels, fdiacelyls, or any other f-bombs in my beer other than the fastringency that I already mentioned. I feel like we were making great beer back in the 2000’s and now there a bunch of solutions out there for problems that we didn’t have and people are out there preaching on the pulpit about how to avoid these issues with out ever experiencing them, just regurgitating info they have learned online. Rant over. Still curious about pressure lagering though! Also wonder what I’m missing on temp control when brewing session beers with ale yeast.
I figured your comments were a little tongue-in-cheek! To me, that's the beauty of homebrewing. You can make it as simple or as complicated as you want and still get good beer. HBT currently has 165,759 members, which probably represents around 400,000 different brewing processes!
 

Terpene

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I‘ve never gotten hints of phenols....
You won't get phenols off S05 or S04 no matter what you do, because they're POF- strains. They lack the enzymes to convert ferulic acid to phenols.

Maybe have some BJCP certified judges taste your beers. They might identify flaws that you have not identified in your own beers. It happens sometimes, trust me.

But, at the end of the day, if you're totally happy with your results without temp control, then why bother with it? Do it your way if its working for you.
 
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Wables

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You won't get phenols off S05 or S04 no matter what you do, because they're POF- strains. They lack the enzymes to convert ferulic acid to phenols.

Maybe have some BJCP certified judges taste your beers. They might identify flaws that you have not identified in your own beers. It happens sometimes, trust me.

But, at the end of the day, if you're totally happy with your results without temp control, then why bother with it? Do it your way if its working for you.
I truly enjoy my beers, but I'm wondering what else is out there. For example I've stuck with US05 as my primary strain because it is cheap and has always worked well for me. Up until now I considered myself kind of a volume brewer. I'd devote an evening to churning out 20 gallons of beer that I have a ton of experience brewing, maybe changing up some hops or crystal grains now and then. I'm getting older, don't drink as much beer as I used to, and I'm tired of brewing in an unheated garage in the dead of the MN winter. I'm in the process of building a brew area in my basement and have a 65l Brewzilla on order. I figure that this will make it easier to make 5 gallon batches that I can experiment an explore with, and still make the occasional 10 gallon batch. As I said earlier I have a couple pressure fermenters on the way as well to experiment with. If I am going to do temperature control, I'd like to design that into my brewery. As of now I'm considering going the chest freezer route but I need to do more research.
 

Terpene

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I use Fermentrack. It was a project building the controller, but well worth it. I use it not just for fermenting but cold crashing too. There's long threads on here about it.

Lots of options for temp control -- even a $35 inkbird is good and turn key.

Chest freezer should work great.
 

GoeHaarden

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According to the internet, by beer sucks because (a little tongue in cheek):
Ugh. Another one of these "I do everything wrong, my beer is good, argue with me" threads...

Temperature control during fermentation, specifically preventing temperature swings, will make better beer. Period. Do what you want, but don't knock it until you try it (goes for anyone who says otherwise)

Epiphany: I've never heard of anyone deciding to stop using fermentation temp control, because "it didn't help." Quite the opposite actually...
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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Ugh. Another one of these "I do everything wrong, my beer is good, argue with me" threads...
@GoeHaarden : did you miss this

If I am going to do temperature control, I'd like to design that into my brewery. As of now I'm considering going the chest freezer route but I need to do more research.
comment from OP?
 

CascadesBrewer

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Epiphany: I've never heard of anyone deciding to stop using fermentation temp control, because "it didn't help." Quite the opposite actually...
I fermented in a cool lower level for many years making some adjustments with the seasons (and a cool basement before that...and some places without much in the way of cool areas). About 2 years ago I moved to using a chest freezer with a controller. When my $25 craigslist freezer died, I rushed out to pick up a new one to replace it. The pure convenience and control that temperature control added made it very hard for me to go without. It also made it possible to get down to pitching temps when my tap water is running at 75F this time of year, and added the ability to cold crash to drop out hops.

But to the OP...I say that the first problem you have to solve is your biggest problem. In your case, your water might be a higher priority to tackle.
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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I fermented in a cool lower level for many years making some adjustments with the seasons (and a cool basement before that...and some places without much in the way of cool areas).
My lower level generally makes it practical to ferment "at ambient". In the summer, I often need to use some basic temperature control. Either way I get beer that I enjoy. And, I guess, I'm one of those people who "quit using fermentation temperature control" and rarely talk about it - as I have a relatively unique situation.

But OP is looking for advice on fermentation temperature control for their new brewery. Let's see if we can get this topic back on track.
 
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Wables

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But to the OP...I say that the first problem you have to solve is your biggest problem. In your case, your water might be a higher priority to tackle.
I won’t disagree with that. I’ve been playing with adding a portion of distilled water to my recipe in BeerSmith. Putting in a RO system is not out of the question. I already have a water line run that bypasses my water softener.
 

GoeHaarden

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@BrewnWKopperKat : did you miss this?

Temperature control during fermentation, specifically preventing temperature swings, will make better beer. Period. Do what you want, but don't knock it until you try it (goes for anyone who says otherwise)
What more is there too say? Plenty of threads explaining how to do it and the various ways to achieve such goal...
 

prankster1590

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I’ve been brewing beer for 20 years, and dropped off this site and all others in 2009, but kept on brewing the beers that I love, APA, IPA, the occasional stout, etc. After a couple weeks back on this site, and watching countless YouTube videos, I’ve learned that because of the way that I brew my beer should suck…but it doesn’t. I typically brew the above beers, 10 gallons each of 2 parallel brewed AG beers on a brew day. I primary for a couple weeks in buckets, then half goes into kegs and half into secondaries. Or all into secondaries if my kegerator is full. I have 2 all-rounders with pressure kits on order to dabble with the no O2 contact theories, and I am interested in fermentation temp control. What would it do for me?

A bit more background info…my fermentation is done in my basement, and the temp stays close to 65 degrees year round. In August I may hit 70. The only off flavors I’ve picked up in any of my beers is astringency in the lighter ales when brewing with my hard tap water. I’ve just purchased a pH meter and got a Ward Labs test to chase that dragon. My primary yeast is S05, but sometimes I hit a naughty streak and pitch some S04. I wouldn‘t mind trying the pressurized lager technique at some point but…what am I missing here? Is it worth the investment for me?
Some equations

Brewing Vessel Calculations (jansson.us)
 

GoeHaarden

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Let's see if we can get this topic back on track.
Shall we?

I‘ve never gotten hints of phenols, fusels, fdiacelyls, or any other f-bombs in my beer other than the fastringency that I already mentioned.
What about those (f)ruity esters? I've gotten almost peachy flavors from US-05 at 74+. Nottingham is super clean at 60F, but starts getting weird at "normal" ale temps. Want to train your palate on what diacetyl taste/feels like, ferment 1968 at 65F. Temp control will allow you to express different nuances yeast may be able to produce at different temps...
 
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jerrylotto

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If you ever want to brew a lager or experiment with Kveik, you are going to NEED fermenter temp control. If you want to brew consistently great ales, you are going to want fermentation temperature control. If you have a process that you are happy with and don't change anything, I guess that more precise fermentation temp control would be superfluous.
 

jerrylotto

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@jerrylotto : in #11, OP states they are building a new brew area. They are interested in ideas on fermentation temperature control to make brewing easier.

moving to a broader audience:
OPs previous process, while unconventional, is interesting to a number of us here. Anticipate that curiosity about that process will likely lead to side discussions.
I use a chest freezer on an Inkbird ITC-308 controller. I have a 5" round duct elbow with a computer fan on the horizontal entry and an oil pan heater inline (wall mounted) at the vertical exit. The fan runs 24/7 and the oil pan heater runs off of the controller. I can maintain anything from 32F - about 120F +/- ~3 degrees. The temp probe has an inline connector so I can hook it up to an ambient probe or the thermowell probe. My fermenter fits inside but I had to build a box to increase the vertical clearance inside the chamber as well as a platform to level the base.
 

CascadesBrewer

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But OP is looking for advice on fermentation temperature control for their new brewery. Let's see if we can get this topic back on track.
That was the point of my reply. I was in the camp questioning if dedicated temperature control was needed or would improve my beers. I now believe that temperature control is a significant upgrade for any brewer, even if you have a cool area and all you brew are ales with US-05. The ability to chill to pitching temps, soft crash, cold crash, cold ferment lagers, and ferment warm (kveik, Belgians) are just added benefits.

One misconception that I had was that "temperature control" only meant cooling or just controlling the temperature rise during active fermentation. I was really surprised how often I use the heating side. My basement is usually in the 65F to 68F range, but most of my ales spend 70% of their fermentation time warmed above ambient temps.

My standard fermentation schedule with a yeast like US-05 is to chill to 64F, hold at 64F during active fermentation, start to raise the fermentation temp as the krausen starts to fall (day 3 or 4), raise the temp up to 70F to hold until packaging. I have not figured out an exact "best" temp schedule for dry hopping. I have had good luck dry hopping at 70F for 2 days then cold crashing for 1-2 days. I have also played with dry hopping at cooler temps.

A controlled chest freezer or fridge with a heater (I like my seedling mat) works well for this. I have a 5 cu ft chest freezer with an Inkbird, and I also have a non-working chest freezer that I use with a heat controller and a seedling mat. That extra "heat box" opens up options for fermenting or conditioning above ambient temps. I am sure a blanket with a controlled seedling mat would work just about as well.

There are other options that don't require a freezer/fridge. A swamp cooler or adding ice to a tub of water can be used to control the temp rise during active fermentation. A temp controlled seeding mat is inexpensive, and moving the fermenter to a warmer location is an option.
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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But OP is looking for advice on fermentation temperature control for their new brewery. Let's see if we can get this topic back on track.
That was the point of my reply.
I apologize for any misunderstanding or confusion on my "back on track" statement. I had intended that statement to be for readers at large.

aside: any curiosity that I may have about OPs current process may appear in other topics.
 

Bobby_M

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There is no doubt about it that home brewed beer has made vast improvements on average in these modern times. If you ask any BJCP judge that has been at it for at least a decade, they will tell you that there are far more beers being entered and scored as excellent or even world class now than ever before.

I won't say that ALL homebrew sucked 20 years ago, but I would say a lot of it did. There's still plenty of suck out there, but at least now the info and equipment is out there for those willing to learn.

Without temperature control, I find it hard to believe that NONE of the beers exhibited diacetyl or acetaldehyde. Both are relatively common for beers that naturally cool off after peak fermentation. You'd have some of that some of the time. The cheapest fix for that situation is a temp controller like the Inkbird 308 with a heating mat. Tape the probe to the side of your fermenter and then insulate that probe externally with a block of styrofoam. Observe the average temp during peak fermentation, then set the controller to that temp. When things slow down, the heat mat will keep the temp up for adequate and fast clean up of byproducts.

Then when the seasons of ambient temps in the 70s comes around, use the same controller/heater combo but add a refrigerator to keep the active fermentation temps in the lower or middle range of the yeast you're using. Add heat later in the ferment for the same reason as above.
 
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