Author Topic: temp control for beginners  (Read 1107 times)

Offline Downtown Joe Brown

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temp control for beginners
« on: December 24, 2014, 03:56:43 PM »
Hey everyone, first time poster, I'm sorry if this was covered a thousand times already...

I'm relatively new to brewing, and currently have nothing more than a brewpot, carboy, and copper immersion wort chiller (and will be putting together a mash tun this weekend).

It seems that the next step up would be a minifridge or something to help me control the temperature during fermentation.

I'm reluctant to buy more equipment until I've "earned" it by making at least a few more good batches. Whats the best way to otherwise control my temperature during fermentation? I've read about the ice bucket/t-shirt over carboy/fan setup...would my beer suffer much by going this route? And is there anything else short of buying a fridge that I'm overlooking?

Thanks everyone...

Online tommymorris

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Re: temp control for beginners
« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2014, 04:01:16 PM »
A water bath is another cheap and easy method. Set the fermenter in the base of a cooler or large plastic planter. Fill with water to below water line. Add frozen ice bottles to keep water cool. Beer in fermenter will stay very close to water temp. Need to add ice bottles 2-3 times per day. Cool to 3-5F below desired ferm temp and pitch yeast. Let warm naturally to desired ferm temp then regulate with ice bottles as needed.

Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: temp control for beginners
« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2014, 04:02:20 PM »
A water bath is another cheap and easy method. Set the fermenter in the base of a cooler or large plastic planter. Fill with water to below water line. Add frozen ice bottles to keep water cool. Beer in fermenter will stay very close to water temp. Need to add ice bottles 2-3 times per day. Cool to 3-5F below desired ferm temp and pitch yeast. Let warm naturally to desired ferm temp then regulate with ice bottles as needed.

+1
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Offline Stevie

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Re: temp control for beginners
« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2014, 04:13:15 PM »
The t-shirt method only works well in dryer climates.

+2 to the bucket of water method. You might even have an appropriate sized container around the house brining the investment to zero. It does take extra effort, but after a few days you can back off and let it ride at ambient.

Offline Downtown Joe Brown

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Re: temp control for beginners
« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2014, 04:28:22 PM »
Awesome, thanks everyone. I assumed this was the way to go.

Regarding how I can let it creep up to ambient temperature after a few days...why, exactly? Thats likely a naive question. I had assumed I needed to maintain the same temperature for however long I had it in the carboy.

Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: temp control for beginners
« Reply #5 on: December 24, 2014, 04:31:06 PM »
Awesome, thanks everyone. I assumed this was the way to go.

Regarding how I can let it creep up to ambient temperature after a few days...why, exactly? Thats likely a naive question. I had assumed I needed to maintain the same temperature for however long I had it in the carboy.

You'll encourage the yeast to finish up fermentation thoroughly and quickly as well as eliminating yeast derived off flavors and aromas.
Jon H.

Offline theDarkSide

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Re: temp control for beginners
« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2014, 04:31:47 PM »
If it's a matter of just doing a few more good batches and not money or space, I'd say go with the fridge (I have a chest freezer) now.  Controlling your fermentation temps is going to be one of the biggest improvements in your beer. 

I've done the t-shirt and water bath with aquarium heater, but nothing beats the chest freezer with 2 stage temp controller, especially with lagers.

Either way, it sounds like you're hooked.
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Offline Stevie

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Re: temp control for beginners
« Reply #7 on: December 24, 2014, 04:35:35 PM »

If it's a matter of just doing a few more good batches and not money or space, I'd say go with the fridge (I have a chest freezer) now.  Controlling your fermentation temps is going to be one of the biggest improvements in your beer. 

I've done the t-shirt and water bath with aquarium heater, but nothing beats the chest freezer with 2 stage temp controller, especially with lagers.

Either way, it sounds like you're hooked.
Yep. I went three years without a chest freezer. Love it now, but I did fine without it.

Offline Downtown Joe Brown

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Re: temp control for beginners
« Reply #8 on: December 24, 2014, 05:06:19 PM »
Its a matter of space (I have an apartment) and money, somewhat (on the off-chance that this hobby doesnt pick up steam, I'd feel awful at having spent significant $$ on it).

I figure I'd anchor all new equipment purchases to birthday and Christmas presents where I can; in 20 years I should be set.

Offline theDarkSide

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Re: temp control for beginners
« Reply #9 on: December 24, 2014, 05:51:23 PM »
I figure I'd anchor all new equipment purchases to birthday and Christmas presents where I can; in 20 years I should be set.

Ha..unless you're Denny, that will never happen :)
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Online tommymorris

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Re: temp control for beginners
« Reply #10 on: December 25, 2014, 02:33:59 PM »

Awesome, thanks everyone. I assumed this was the way to go.

Regarding how I can let it creep up to ambient temperature after a few days...why, exactly? Thats likely a naive question. I had assumed I needed to maintain the same temperature for however long I had it in the carboy.
Just adding a bit to the answer to this question...
Yeast need optimum temperature for the first few days of fermentation because that is when they are making esters and other compounds which affect the taste of beer.  In the latter stages warmer is better because it speeds fermentation and can encourages uptake of some compounds that lead to off flavors.

It's a good idea to ask on the forum for good temp profiles for each yeast and beer type.

You'll never hit the targets exactly with a water bath but you can get close enough to make good beer.

Offline mbalbritton

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Re: temp control for beginners
« Reply #11 on: December 26, 2014, 02:23:11 AM »
I don't know about the rest of you, but I keep my house at a cozy 69* right there in the middle if the ale ferment temp range. I just toss the bucket in the corner and let 'er rip!

Now if your doing a lager, you can place the fermenter on a hard floor like tile or concrete and that'll suck the warmth right out of the fermenter.

Granted that's not all that scientific or controlled, but you're in the beginning stages, you'll still make damn good beer using that loose method.

Offline JT

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Re: temp control for beginners
« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2014, 03:04:00 AM »
I don't know about the rest of you, but I keep my house at a cozy 69* right there in the middle if the ale ferment temp range. I just toss the bucket in the corner and let 'er rip!

Now if your doing a lager, you can place the fermenter on a hard floor like tile or concrete and that'll suck the warmth right out of the fermenter.

Granted that's not all that scientific or controlled, but you're in the beginning stages, you'll still make damn good beer using that loose method.
The problem is that yeast create heat while fermenting, especially during more active fermentation.  Your room temp may be 69, but your beer temp could from 75-80 degrees. 

Offline mbalbritton

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Re: temp control for beginners
« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2014, 05:17:24 AM »

I don't know about the rest of you, but I keep my house at a cozy 69* right there in the middle if the ale ferment temp range. I just toss the bucket in the corner and let 'er rip!

Now if your doing a lager, you can place the fermenter on a hard floor like tile or concrete and that'll suck the warmth right out of the fermenter.

Granted that's not all that scientific or controlled, but you're in the beginning stages, you'll still make damn good beer using that loose method.
The problem is that yeast create heat while fermenting, especially during more active fermentation.  Your room temp may be 69, but your beer temp could from 75-80 degrees.
Huh, showed my newbie side there I guess. I understood it as the temp it was sitting in, not the temp inside the fermenter. Thanks for the pointer.

(Sheepishly sits back to be schooled some more.) :beer:

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: temp control for beginners
« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2014, 05:34:17 AM »

I don't know about the rest of you, but I keep my house at a cozy 69* right there in the middle if the ale ferment temp range. I just toss the bucket in the corner and let 'er rip!

Now if your doing a lager, you can place the fermenter on a hard floor like tile or concrete and that'll suck the warmth right out of the fermenter.

Granted that's not all that scientific or controlled, but you're in the beginning stages, you'll still make damn good beer using that loose method.
The problem is that yeast create heat while fermenting, especially during more active fermentation.  Your room temp may be 69, but your beer temp could from 75-80 degrees.
Huh, showed my newbie side there I guess. I understood it as the temp it was sitting in, not the temp inside the fermenter. Thanks for the pointer.

(Sheepishly sits back to be schooled some more.)
Its all good. We have all gone through the same stages on this. My first was temp controlled by being indoors, better than outdoors. Then I did some studdying and considered the intermediate stages, but made the leap to chest freezer with dual temp control. But even then, at first, I was just measuring ambient temp in the freezer. It took me a few meh beers before I beleived the advice to at least attach the probe to the fermentor, protected by some foam insulation. Which is tye method I still use.