Fermentation temperature

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Gee Tee

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I’m a first time beer brewer with a Northern Brewer 79 dollar starter kit. I am about to start bewing a 5 gallon bucket of ale. How important is the temperature for the first 14 day fermentation? Being summer time my apartment is about 80 to 85 degrees - with air conditioning I can get it in the mid 70s but it becomes expensive. Is this problematic or does it just speed up the fermentation? Any way I can work with / around this?
 
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Gnomebrewer

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With the yeast that comes with a standard kit, you'll end up with very harsh beer at 80 to 85. Without temperature control, you could replace the kit yeast with kveik though, which easily copes with those temperatures (it'll be even happier if it's a bit warmer). Alternatively, look up 'swamp coolers' as an effective but slightly laborious way to control ferment temps.
 

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With most yeast strains, fermentation temperatures in the 80s or even the mid/high 70s can cause elevated esters and fusel alcohols. And don't forget that your fermentation temperature will get a few degrees higher than the ambient temperature, and it's the fermentation temperature that matters.

Ideally, you'd use a thermostatically controlled fermentation chamber. But if that's not practical, you could partially submerge the fermenter in a tub of cold water, adding ice (or ice jugs) to the water as needed to keep the temperature where you want it.
 

AJinJacksonville

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You have to keep in mind that working yeast generate heat...so even if the ambient temperature in your place is in the 70's, it's going to be warmer in the bucket.

The fermentation temp depends on the type of beer you're brewing, as well as the yeast strain that you're using.

For a cheap fix, google a swamp cooler. I did that for a few brews until I set up my fermentation chamber (deep freezer converted with a homemade temp controller).
 
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Gee Tee

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With most yeast strains, fermentation temperatures in the 80s or even the mid/high 70s can cause elevated esters and fusel alcohols. And don't forget that your fermentation temperature will get a few degrees higher than the ambient temperature, and it's the fermentation temperature that matters.

Ideally, you'd use a thermostatically controlled fermentation chamber. But if that's not practical, you could partially submerge the fermenter in a tub of cold water, adding ice (or ice jugs) to the water as needed to keep the temperature where you want it.
Thank you so much for you reply. What would you consider the maximum ambient temperature I can get away with? I'll be spending a few days moving a thermometer around the apartment to see where might be better! Is there a piece of equipment that might keep a steady temp and save on air conditioning bills? Maybe ice in a tub as you suggested is the way to go!
 
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Gee Tee

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You have to keep in mind that working yeast generate heat...so even if the ambient temperature in your place is in the 70's, it's going to be warmer in the bucket.

The fermentation temp depends on the type of beer you're brewing, as well as the yeast strain that you're using.

For a cheap fix, google a swamp cooler. I did that for a few brews until I set up my fermentation chamber (deep freezer converted with a homemade temp controller).
Yes - I see a swamp cooler - that might be the way to go! Will a potential temp fluctuation be an issue? I'm using munton's active brewing yeast that came with the kit..
 

AJinJacksonville

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There will be a fluctuation, but as long as you keep it in as cool of a dark place as you can, and as long as you frequently and religiously switch out frozen bottles, ice, etc, you will do way better than just leaving it to ferment at your place. Aim to hit the mid 60's at least...and try to keep it there as best as you can. The first day or two will give you an idea of how many frozen bottles or ice you'll need...keep a log or notes as to how frequently you need to switch out or add ice. There's a learning curve, so just do the best you can with what you have.
 

Gnomebrewer

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Thank you so much for you reply. What would you consider the maximum ambient temperature I can get away with? I'll be spending a few days moving a thermometer around the apartment to see where might be better! Is there a piece of equipment that might keep a steady temp and save on air conditioning bills? Maybe ice in a tub as you suggested is the way to go!
Ideally, mid 60's. You can 'get away' with any temperature warmer than that, but it'll become progressively more estery and fusel-alcoholy (think bitey and harsh) as you go above that. The easiest option is to throw the yeast away and by a packet of this
1594767592308.png
 

AJinJacksonville

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When I used a swamp cooler, I would have about eight smaller gatorade bottles in the freezer, and switched out every six hours or so (as I recall-may have been more or less). I was able to keep it mid 60's, but it would have required a ton more work and ice to get it any lower. A fermentation chamber is a game changer in brewing quality.
 

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Ideally, mid 60's. You can 'get away' with any temperature warmer than that, but it'll become progressively more estery and fusel-alcoholy (think bitey and harsh) as you go above that. The easiest option is to throw the yeast away and by a packet of this
View attachment 689462
I can never get to my LHBS quick enough to get the Kveik...haha. One day I'll have the pleasure of brewing with it. That thing looks like it's a beast.
 

Gnomebrewer

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When I used a swamp cooler, I would have about eight smaller gatorade bottles in the freezer, and switched out every six hours or so (as I recall-may have been more or less). I was able to keep it mid 60's, but it would have required a ton more work and ice to get it any lower. A fermentation chamber is a game changer in brewing quality.
Using bags of crushed ice makes it easy to get lower. It gets expensive though! A ferment fridge/freezer quickly pays for itself.
 

AJinJacksonville

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I've been blessed in the freezer regard. Bought a $40 5 cubic foot freezer off CL years ago. Just inherited another one for free from my boss when he upgraded. Sadly that one won't be for homebrewing...will be used for freezing beehive frames...haha.
 

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For the OP, if you plan to get into brewing a bit more, the 'ferment chamber' we're talking about is simply a fridge or freezer that plugs into a temperature controller. Cheap temperature controllers can be bought for as little as $10 (STC1000 is the standard cheap unit) on ebay (from China = long wait) or maybe double that locally (I'm in Australia so am not really sure what your prices are). The controller has a long cable running out of it with a thermometer probe on the end that goes inside the fridge (preferably taped to the outside of the the fermenter) which (obviously) reads the temperature. The controller is set to the temperature you want and will switch the fridge on when the temp rises above the set temperature. For winter, you can put a heat pad or belt inside the fridge and run it to warm instead of/as well as cooling. It's fairly cheap and easy if you have space for a dedicated fridge or freezer.
 

AJinJacksonville

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To expand on Gnome, I believe you can buy the STC1000 on Amazon as well. Same Chinese unit, but gets here way quicker.
 
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There will be a fluctuation, but as long as you keep it in as cool of a dark place as you can, and as long as you frequently and religiously switch out frozen bottles, ice, etc, you will do way better than just leaving it to ferment at your place. Aim to hit the mid 60's at least...and try to keep it there as best as you can. The first day or two will give you an idea of how many frozen bottles or ice you'll need...keep a log or notes as to how frequently you need to switch out or add ice. There's a learning curve, so just do the best you can with what you have.
Thank you for the advice... I'm pretty resigned with the fact that the first batch won't be the best beer known to mind but I'm eager to learn and the second will be amazing!
 

AJinJacksonville

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No worries! It is a wonderful experiment in...science, experimentation, patience, adventure, creativity, etc. Besides controlling fermentation and learning all you can from the forums, sanitation is also a huge way to ensure you don't have to toss any of your hard work.

Cheers and enjoy the finished product (even if it's not exactly what you intended)!
 

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@Gee Tee If you are unable to get the fermentation temps down, in addition to trying the Kveik yeast suggested by others (have not tried myself...yet), a Saison yeast also loves the high 70s even into the low 80s. Fermentis B-134 is a great dry yeast that you could ferment up to 80 without issues, assuming you like the estery flavors and aromas of farmhouse ales. I made an awesome Saison with this at a peak temp of 81. Most yeast manufacturers will provide a range of temperatures. I'd stick within that range for best results. Below is a chart for White Labs yeast floating around the internet, adn you can find similar sources for Wyeast and others. I cant guarantee the accuracy, as I don't know the original source, but it looks close. You can see that sticking to Belgian styles in the peak heat of summer is a good way to cope with the higher temps. As it cools down, you have more choices. Welcome to brewing and good luck.
1594820722580.png
 

shrews824

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@Gee Tee If you are unable to get the fermentation temps down, in addition to trying the Kveik yeast suggested by others (have not tried myself...yet), a Saison yeast also loves the high 70s even into the low 80s. Fermentis B-134 is a great dry yeast that you could ferment up to 80 without issues, assuming you like the estery flavors and aromas of farmhouse ales. I made an awesome Saison with this at a peak temp of 81. Most yeast manufacturers will provide a range of temperatures. I'd stick within that range for best results. Below is a chart for White Labs yeast floating around the internet, adn you can find similar sources for Wyeast and others. I cant guarantee the accuracy, as I don't know the original source, but it looks close. You can see that sticking to Belgian styles in the peak heat of summer is a good way to cope with the higher temps. As it cools down, you have more choices. Welcome to brewing and good luck.
View attachment 689508
I'm definitely printing this off to use as reference. Thanks @catalanotte
 
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Gee Tee

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@Gee Tee If you are unable to get the fermentation temps down, in addition to trying the Kveik yeast suggested by others (have not tried myself...yet), a Saison yeast also loves the high 70s even into the low 80s. Fermentis B-134 is a great dry yeast that you could ferment up to 80 without issues, assuming you like the estery flavors and aromas of farmhouse ales. I made an awesome Saison with this at a peak temp of 81. Most yeast manufacturers will provide a range of temperatures. I'd stick within that range for best results. Below is a chart for White Labs yeast floating around the internet, adn you can find similar sources for Wyeast and others. I cant guarantee the accuracy, as I don't know the original source, but it looks close. You can see that sticking to Belgian styles in the peak heat of summer is a good way to cope with the higher temps. As it cools down, you have more choices. Welcome to brewing and good luck.
View attachment 689508
@Gee Tee If you are unable to get the fermentation temps down, in addition to trying the Kveik yeast suggested by others (have not tried myself...yet), a Saison yeast also loves the high 70s even into the low 80s. Fermentis B-134 is a great dry yeast that you could ferment up to 80 without issues, assuming you like the estery flavors and aromas of farmhouse ales. I made an awesome Saison with this at a peak temp of 81. Most yeast manufacturers will provide a range of temperatures. I'd stick within that range for best results. Below is a chart for White Labs yeast floating around the internet, adn you can find similar sources for Wyeast and others. I cant guarantee the accuracy, as I don't know the original source, but it looks close. You can see that sticking to Belgian styles in the peak heat of summer is a good way to cope with the higher temps. As it cools down, you have more choices. Welcome to brewing and good luck.
View attachment 689508
Wow! this is amazing and points to a solution. I have an ale kit (with syrup though I intend to start whole grain brewing once I get the hang of it). The warmest I can get my fridge is 45 degrees so if I get a German bock lager yeast, could I let the ale ferment in the fridge at 45 degrees? Is there a reason a lager yeast won't match well with an ale? The name of the ale is Block Party Amber and it comes included in the kit.
 

catalanotte

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The warmest I can get my fridge is 45 degrees so if I get a German bock lager yeast, could I let the ale ferment in the fridge at 45 degrees?
No reason not to unless you are tying to stick to a traditional styles. Ale vs lager is a yeast distinction. You could easily take a recipe for a traditional ale style and make it a lager by using different yeast. Just make sure you use enough yeast. Lager yeasts require nearly twice the yeast for a good fermentation.

As an option, you can buy a thermostat controller for your fridge that will give you precise temperature control through a wide range of fermentation temperatures. This would give you the temperature cotrol in the summer to ferment clean ales in the 60s. The one below is cheap and good.
 
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Gee Tee

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This is brilliant! 39 dollars solves all the problems and I don't need to stick anything in the fridge or run up a huge air conditioning bill! Thank you catalanotte. I'm ordering one now...
 
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No reason not to unless you are tying to stick to a traditional styles. Ale vs lager is a yeast distinction. You could easily take a recipe for a traditional ale style and make it a lager by using different yeast. Just make sure you use enough yeast. Lager yeasts require nearly twice the yeast for a good fermentation.

As an option, you can buy a thermostat controller for your fridge that will give you precise temperature control through a wide range of fermentation temperatures. This would give you the temperature cotrol in the summer to ferment clean ales in the 60s. The one below is cheap and good.
Sorry to keep asking so many questions, but you seem to know your yeasts! This yeast says
  • Wide range of fermentation temperatures between 25-40°C (77-104°F)
  • Very high optimal range of 35-40°C (95-104°F)
  • Flocculation is very high producing clear beers without
Does this mean I don't have to worry about the heat in the apartment?
 

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Gee Tee

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Ideally, mid 60's. You can 'get away' with any temperature warmer than that, but it'll become progressively more estery and fusel-alcoholy (think bitey and harsh) as you go above that. The easiest option is to throw the yeast away and by a packet of this
View attachment 689462
[/QUOTE I took you suggestion and ordered a packet.
This yeast says
  • Wide range of fermentation temperatures between 25-40°C (77-104°F)
  • Very high optimal range of 35-40°C (95-104°F)
  • Flocculation is very high producing clear beers without
Does this mean I don't have to worry about the heat in the apartment? What do you think the maximum room temperature is that I can get away with?
 

catalanotte

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Sorry to keep asking so many questions, but you seem to know your yeasts! This yeast says
  • Wide range of fermentation temperatures between 25-40°C (77-104°F)
  • Very high optimal range of 35-40°C (95-104°F)
  • Flocculation is very high producing clear beers without
Does this mean I don't have to worry about the heat in the apartment?
This is why a prior comment suggested a Kviek yeast. It is a very old Norwegian farmhouse strain of yeast that has found its way into modern brewing. It reportedly ferments very quickly at higher temperatures, but maintains a neutral profile. I just tried a Kviek IPA at a local brewery and thought it was good, but could detect a bit of off flavor. May just be the brew, rather than the yeast.
 
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Gee Tee

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It sounds that if I use that yeast at 80 degrees fermentation (probably closer to 85 degrees in the bucket) I won't need a thermostat or constant air conditioning. Did I get that right? I'm excited if I that's the case and can start right away...
 
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