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General Category => Yeast and Fermentation => Topic started by: maineyanks on January 01, 2011, 05:45:59 pm

Title: Can I brew Ales at ambient temps in 50's
Post by: maineyanks on January 01, 2011, 05:45:59 pm
Excuse my ignorance, but I am ready to brew my first beer. However, I have a very cold house- live in Maine and keep my house at 52-55 degrees. I would brew in basement which has stable temp of 55 degrees.  Can I brew ales at this ambient temp?  I am not as interested in brewing lagers.  My first beer is going to be a Belgian triple and yeast states 64-72 as best temp. I don't care if it takes longer to ferment at these temps, but don't want to kill the yeast.  Thanks for any help.
Title: Re: Can I brew Ales at ambient temps in 50's
Post by: Kaiser on January 01, 2011, 05:53:25 pm
With some insulation you can get the fementation temp into the 60s during the most active part of fermentation. However, the problem will become the final part of the fermentation when the yeast needs to ferment the last sugars and clean up off-flavors. At that time the temperature will drop back into the 50s.

What's your bugdet for temp control? Some brewers place the carboy in a water bath heated with an aquarium heater. I use a heating blanked under the carboy controlled by a programable thermostat.

Kai
Title: Re: Can I brew Ales at ambient temps in 50's
Post by: corkybstewart on January 01, 2011, 06:22:48 pm
I've brewed at 57F fermentation temp with Nottingham yeast and had great success with it.  The only problem is that once fermentation slows down I let it warm up so you may have to move your fermenter to someplace warmer.  Another option is a fermenter heater of some sort like Fermwrap, or just a heating pad you can set the fermenter on top of.
I just finished making a cider in a room with an ambient temp of under 50F by sitting the carboy on top of a cheap heating pad.
Title: Re: Can I brew Ales at ambient temps in 50's
Post by: maineyanks on January 01, 2011, 06:42:25 pm


What's your bugdet for temp control? Some brewers place the carboy in a water bath heated with an aquarium heater. I use a heating blanked under the carboy controlled by a programable thermostat.

Kai
[/quote]

I keep my house at 55 degrees - so, I'm pretty cheap!!!  Actually, budget really isn't a factor. I suppose if it is difficult to brew at these temps, I need to invest. I don't want to wait until summer to brew. I was thinking about an aquarium heater, but maybe a Fermwrap would be easier and cleaner/drier.
Title: Re: Can I brew Ales at ambient temps in 50's
Post by: Kaiser on January 01, 2011, 09:25:39 pm
I think there are some low cost ideas for fermentation temp
control. At the more expensive end is a heating blanket on a Ranco controller. That may run you about $80-90 (65-75 for the controller and $15 for the heating blanket).

Or you choose strains that work at this temperature. What about fermenting an ale recipe with a lager yeast? Or use a low temp tolerant ale yeast like the German Alt yeast WY1007.

Kai
Title: Re: Can I brew Ales at ambient temps in 50's
Post by: bfogt on January 02, 2011, 06:52:45 am
It's probably worth looking at some lagers that you may not have been exposed to, too.  Bocks aren't what people usually associate with a lager when they're just starting out.  I find that Belgians really want a warmer temperature the whole way through.  I put a carboy in a broken chest freezer with a shop light when I want to get the temp up at the end.  A sweatshirt on top of and under a carboy is a nice way to add a few degrees, too.  When I'm fermenting a lot in the winter, my basement brew room looks like it's having a frat party.
Title: Re: Can I brew Ales at ambient temps in 50's
Post by: ipaguy on January 02, 2011, 10:35:28 am
OP, are you dead-set on brewing a Belgian style?  If so, you are probably going to need to do something to increase your fermentation temperature.  There are several styles that might work perfectly in your environment without additional equipment: An altbier, or a kolsch, or maybe a Scotch Ale.  Among the WYeast strains you might consider 1007 German Ale, 1728 Scotch Ale, or 2565 Kolsch.  It might be an interesting experiment to try Belgian Triple ingredients with the 1728, which is very alcohol tolerant.  I have no idea how it would turn out; might be great or might suck big time.  I would only do that if (like me) you take a very casual attitude about brewing to style.
Title: Re: Can I brew Ales at ambient temps in 50's
Post by: denny on January 02, 2011, 11:21:56 am
[It might be an interesting experiment to try Belgian Triple ingredients with the 1728, which is very alcohol tolerant.  I have no idea how it would turn out; might be great or might suck big time.  I would only do that if (like me) you take a very casual attitude about brewing to style.
[/quote]

It would have virtually none of the esters or phenolics that identify  beer as Belgian.  It isn't so much about hitting a style as brewing what you intended to brew.
Title: Re: Can I brew Ales at ambient temps in 50's
Post by: ipaguy on January 02, 2011, 11:41:53 am
It would have virtually none of the esters or phenolics that identify  beer as Belgian.  It isn't so much about hitting a style as brewing what you intended to brew.
+1.  & those characteristics are quite temperature dependent.  However, the OP asked if he could "brew ales at ambient temps in the '50s".  I would have to say 'Yes, absolutely!'  If he had asked if he could brew Belgian style ales at those temps, I'd say 'No way!'
Title: Re: Can I brew Ales at ambient temps in 50's
Post by: denny on January 02, 2011, 12:25:20 pm
There's no problem fermenting ales in the 50s...I routinely ferment my alt at 52F (or even a bit less) with WY1007.  That same yeast would make a great APA or AIPA.  But when you say "Belgian tripel ingredients", to me that includes the yeast, since that is just about the key ingredient in a tripel.
Title: Re: Can I brew Ales at ambient temps in 50's
Post by: ipaguy on January 02, 2011, 01:13:35 pm
There's no problem fermenting ales in the 50s...I routinely ferment my alt at 52F (or even a bit less) with WY1007.  That same yeast would make a great APA or AIPA.  But when you say "Belgian tripel ingredients", to me that includes the yeast, since that is just about the key ingredient in a tripel.
Even if you could get something like WY3522 or 3787 to ferment at those temperatures, I doubt if they would give you the esters & phenolics you want.  Best bet would be increase fermentation temperature or choose a different style.  Nothing wrong with choosing the style you brew based on ambient conditions.  People have been doing that for years.
Title: Re: Can I brew Ales at ambient temps in 50's
Post by: denny on January 02, 2011, 01:28:05 pm
Nothing wrong with choosing the style you brew based on ambient conditions.  People have been doing that for years.

I absolutely agree...that's why I brew lagers in the winter.
Title: Re: Can I brew Ales at ambient temps in 50's
Post by: tubercle on January 02, 2011, 04:20:25 pm
Nothing wrong with choosing the style you brew based on ambient conditions.  People have been doing that for years.

I absolutely agree...that's why I brew lagers in the winter.

 That's where all these styles came from.  ;) That and local water profiles and wild yeast strains.

 Experience says US-05 can handle those temps. YMMV.
Title: Re: Can I brew Ales at ambient temps in 50's
Post by: maineyanks on January 02, 2011, 06:15:47 pm
Great information. I appreciate all the knowledge. I suppose I should hold off on a triple until we warm up here in Maine( maybe in May). I think I'll consider more of an AIPA or scotch ale here in the winter.
Title: Re: Can I brew Ales at ambient temps in 50's
Post by: wamille on January 10, 2011, 12:37:38 am
Denny... getting back to your comment about the Wyeast 1007 Alt yeast.  Why do you say it would make a good IPA yeast?  I love IPA's and would like to make mine better. 
Title: Re: Can I brew Ales at ambient temps in 50's
Post by: abraxas on January 10, 2011, 05:08:46 am
I start S05 around 55F if I am going for a really clean ale.  I've had very good luck with 1728 down at lower temps as well, I make a decent size starter and rouse the yeast a few times, (1728 is very floccuant might not attenuate as far otherwise).

Personally I keep my fermentation room at 50F in the winter and it's great.  I have a water bath (large storage bin big enough for two carboys, $8) with an aquarium heater with a built in thermostat (on sale at a pet store for $30).  The plastic housing broke off the thermostat which allows me to turn it below the 70-95F range, though it takes a little trial an error.  I'm holding 63F right now because that is as low as I can take WLP002, I'm guessing a Belgian yeast is going to have similar issues this cold but I haven't tried.

You could also make a fermwrap for $15 with a dimmer switch in the circuit.  I can't recommend a Brew Belt since both I've purchased failed on me pretty quickly.

Both these options are only like $.10/beer if you make a couple batches which is cheap if you consider what you are saving in heating bills vs the $50+labor you are risking in making a bad batch.

Title: Re: Can I brew Ales at ambient temps in 50's
Post by: SiameseMoose on January 10, 2011, 03:54:00 pm
The local Rock Bottom brewer made a really nice Tripel using 1728, but I'm sure he didn't ferment it at a low temperature.

The official conference beer for the '08 NHC was an imperial cream ale fermented with WLP001 (California Ale) at 57°. The brewer had no trouble getting it to ferment out without raising the temperature, despite a starting gravity somewhere around 1.085 (I'd have to dig deep into the archives to fins the exact number).
Title: Re: Can I brew Ales at ambient temps in 50's
Post by: abraxas on January 18, 2011, 11:55:03 am
Just wanted to add in that I think I get some selective breeding with yeast when I ferment cold.  Usually the first gen takes a while, the 2nd seems faster and the 3rd gets going really fast.

There's a lot of other variables but this is something I have been observing recently.