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Fermentation Temps - Ales

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jlietzow

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I have what seems to be a simple question, but I have seen conflicting information on this topic. I have brewed about a dozen 5 gallon extract batches since I started brewing back in January and have been very happy with just about all of them.

So far I have been fermenting in an interior closet in my house where the temps had been fairly consistent at about 70 degrees. However, my house has been warming (about 74 degrees now) and will continue to get even warmer through the summer months. When it gets much warmer I will run my A/C in the house, but I'd expect temps in the closet to be about 76 degrees on average.

I have another option of fermenting in my basement. It is much cooler and quite consistent. Over the winter it was about 63-64 degrees, but now is 64-65 degrees.

Which is the better option? Are both viable solutions? And if the basement is better, should I move the beer that I already have fermenting upstairs to the basement or just let it finish where it is?

Thanks in advance for the shared wisdom!
 

TwistedGray

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They are both viable solutions, but you should look at the type of beer you are making alongside the yeast you are using. Yeasts put out different profiles at different temperatures, and best effectiveness of certain strains vary depending on temperature.
 

lootcorp

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It really depends on the style you are brewing and the yeast strain you are using. Each strain has a preferred temp range (and some act differently at different temps - ex: Hefeweizen yeast which produces more of the banana/bubblegum esters at higher temps).

Back when I brewed in an apartment before I got a fermentation fridge, when the ambient temps started creeping up in the summer I would brew beers more tolerant of the heat — Saisons for example. Colder temps will cause slower fermentations with cleaner flavor (but too cold and you could stall out), but if temps get too hot you can get nasty fusel alcohol and other off flavors.

I’d check out a few different strains of yeast and find some that will work in the temps you have available. Both of the ranges you mentioned are not too extreme. You could also try a brew belt or heating pad in the basement to get the temps a few degrees higher if needed.
 

BrewerE

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Basement every time for all normal beers.

If you are making the stuff that tastes like dirty socks, then by all means, put that crap in your hot closet.
 

flars

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Your basement ambient temperatures are ideal for most ale yeasts. During active fermentation the temperature of the wort will be at least 3°F higher than the ambient for low OG beers that are within the yeasts temperature range. The fermentation temperature can increase 10°F over ambient for high OG beers.

Look up the temperature range for your yeast. Some yeasts have a very wide range for fermentation temperatures but a listed narrow range to prevent excessive ester production. A lot of ale yeasts do their best at 66°F to 68°F.

When it is necessary I use an temperature controlled aquarium heater in a water bath to maintain the temperature of the beer in the fermentor after active fermentation begins to decrease when the ambient temperature is too low.
 

Kent88

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I would go with the basement, and maybe think about the Swamp Cooler method to chill it during krausen.

I have links to Wyeast and White Labs in my sig, they usually list the desired temperature of that yeast on its page. I have a fermentis and lallemand listed in my sig, too, but I don't know how they are about listing the temperature ranges for their yeasts.
 

lootcorp

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I will also add that the best purchase I ever made to improve my beer quality was a cheap dorm fridge and a temp controller. Being able to precisely control fermentation temps will improve your quality control a ton.

I use a dual-stage temp controller, the fridge turns on if it needs to cool things down and I have a heat mat in the fridge that turns on if temps get too low. Allows me to keep things in a pretty tight range.
 
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jlietzow

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Thanks for the insights all. I'll try my basement for this batch, a grapefruit IPA. The yeast I'm using is Safale US-05, which says the ideal temp range is 59 - 71.6 degrees. Seems like a no brainer in hindsight.
 
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jlietzow

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Thanks for the insights all. I'll try my basement for this batch, a grapefruit IPA. The yeast I'm using is Safale US-05, which says the ideal temp range is 59 - 71.6 degrees. Seems like a no brainer in hindsight.
I've had my eyes open for an inexpensive fridge used someplace, but nothing yet. I may come back for advice on how to use with a temp controller if I'm able to find a bargain.

Thanks again all.
 

lootcorp

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I've had my eyes open for an inexpensive fridge used someplace, but nothing yet. I may come back for advice on how to use with a temp controller if I'm able to find a bargain.

Thanks again all.
I found mine on Craigslist years ago, if you live by a university they tend to pop up when kids are moving out. Old full-sized refrigerators or chest freezers also work great if they’ll fit what you’re using to ferment in. For me, the dorm fridge was perfectly sized for a 6G bucket (and also fits the Brewtech Brew Bucket I’m using now). Downside is I can only ferment one batch at a time.
 

danielthemaniel

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The easiest solution would be to look at the package of yeast. It will give you the ideal temperature range on the packaging for that particular yeast strain. If the preferred temperature is closer to the closet then do it there or if it is closer to the basement, do it there.
 

kh54s10

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Add a vote for the basement AND temperature control. If your basement get to 65 degrees your fermentation temperature could go as high as 75 or so. Thus, even in the basement it is above the high end of the range for US05. Look on the package of each yeast you use or the manufacturer's website for the temperature range and in most cases shoot for the middle or just a little lower.

My favorite fermentation chamber is a 7 cf chest freezer and an Inkbird controller. It holds 2 six gallon Better Bottle fermenters or 2 buckets at a time. I control the temperature of the most recent one and let the older one just stay in there. When one is done I take it out for a couple of days before packaging.
 

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