What to expect when controlling temp?

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by JohnAdam, Feb 15, 2017.

  1. JohnAdam

    JohnAdam New Member

    Jul 15, 2016
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    #1 JohnAdam, Feb 15, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2017
    I have brewed around 10 batches since starting HB this year. In the summer I keep my house cool at 68deg or so... but in the winter the furnace brings it to 70 or so. I decided this last batch I would actively control the temperature beyond leaving it at room temperature.

    I have been keeping the fermenter in a laundry tub filled with cold water and swapping out 2L of frozen water bottles every 4-7 hrs or so. The temp fluctuates between 58 and 63. The airlock bubbled well for 3 days then activity ceased. Safale T58.

    I've enjoyed all the brews I made so far. I can definitely taste the difference between each of them, but there has been a lot of similarity between them also I think because they're all made from the same pale malt mostly. But who knows, maybe the similar taste comes from fermenting took warm?

    My questions are:
    1. How long should I control temps this way? Until fermentation activity slows down? Or every day for the full 4 weeks to bottling day?
    2. What difference in taste /quality should I expect from keeping the fermenter cooler?
    3. What other differences should I look for.

    It's a lot of work to control temps manually so I'm trying to test if it'll be worth the effort.

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  2. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

    Mar 30, 2016
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    Well first you will have more control over fermentation and be able to repeat the same fermentation temperature resulting in more consistency.

    I know through reading the forums and through brewing my current batch of saison that the warmer the fermentation the more esters that are produce changing the flavour of the beer from maybe a crisp clean beer to an eatery phenolic soupo_O. I know most of these flavours are produced by yeast early in the fermentation so controlling the temperature at the beginning of the fermentation is important if your trying to get a clean tasting beer with no crazy off flavours from the yeast. When the temperature of the wort fluctuates heaps they can freek out and start producing unwanted flavours so trying to keep the fermentation consistent for the first 3 days.
    Also when their pitch rate isn't sufficient they can get overwhelmed by partying to hard for too long and either conc out before the party's over and or leave some of the same eatery flavours.

    I usually let my fermentation free rise from this set temperature setting to around 20c to encourage the yeast to convert all the remaining fermentable sugars and clean up after their crazy fermentation party before manually putting them to bed by slowly decreasing temperature to 0c for a few days.

    This is where a temperature controlled fermentation chamber is needed to create these different conditions that are favourable to our yeast.

    I think if I can keep the yeast as happy and well as possible by giving them the right minerals, ph environment and lots of fermentable sugars they are going to keep me happy:D
  3. Myndflyte

    Myndflyte Active Member

    Nov 27, 2016
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    I'd say at least keep trying to control the temps this way for 2 weeks. After that, if you but it in a room that doesn't get real warm (basement), there probably isn't enough fermentation going on to really heat it up that much. But the longer you can control the temps, the better it'll be for your beer.
  4. Brew Cat

    Brew Cat Active Member

    Mar 6, 2014
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    If you have a temp controller chamber that you can set and forget 10 days or so is what I do. For a swamp cooler maybe 3 or 4 days. I've done it both ways and haven't noticed a difference. One thing I like to do is get the wort temperature down low before pitching the yeast to let the temperature rise into and through the zone.
  5. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

    Jan 19, 2016
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    Austin, Texas
    Totally depending on the beer style, when using a water bath I've kept relatively cool for the first few days and then allowed the temp to rise naturally. You still should be below 70 for most ales and a lot cooler for lagers.

    If I'm using a fast-fermenting yeast like S-04, I'll try to drop it to 65 to pitch and then hold it around 63 for 2 -3 days. After that, ester production is low and that yeast will stall if I don't bring the temp up.

    For US-05, I like to pitch at 68-70, hold at 65 for the duration of primary if possible and let it raise to "room" temp for a week or 10 days to finish up and mellow out.

    For lagers, I've done water bath, but only with S-23 dry yeast. It works extremely because that yeast is not as temperature sensitive as some lager strains. If I can hold below or around 60 for the first few days, it's perfectly happy raising up to higher temperatures once it drops at least halfway to it's final gravity.

    If I'm using my controlled chamber, I can just let it run at a preferred temp and not think about it. Both ways totally work but for "real" lagers, cooler for longer period of time is a must, so it's full-on temp control for that.

    One of the primary concerns is holding a relatively steady temp. No yeast likes big swings. Just holding in a water bath will slow the swings, but be careful of adding too much ice at once, if that's your intention. Once the temp rises, don't try to cool it back down much. Just keep it below 70 (maybe except for Hefe and Belgian yeast) and it'll be fine.
  6. emsroth

    emsroth Member

    Dec 4, 2016
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    +1 Chill your wort to a few degrees below the optimal fermentation temp, and let the yeast free rise.

    The ice baths work well, and should be used until about 4-7 days or until activity really slows. Then let the beer free rise again. Turning up the heat toward the end of fermentation is good for a number of reasons.
    Trialben likes this.

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