Fermentation Temperature Control Brewing TV

Fermentation Temperature Control Brewing TV

Hi, I’m Bjorn and this is Brewing TV. Today we’re going to talk about fermentation
temperature control. Probably the most important thing you can
do to improve the final quality of your beer, next to basic sanitation, is controlling your
fermentation temperature. Now, there’s a few reasons why you may want
to do this. Maybe you live in a climate where during the
winter time it’s too cold to ferment, or during the summer time it’s too warm to ferment. Keeping a stable temperature of your fermentation
during those first few days of fermentation is key to producing a good beer. Or the other reason is that you’re an ale
brewer and you’ve decided you want to brew lagers. Lagers require much more precise temperature
control to produce a good beer. Ale yeast typically ferments at room temperature. Lager strains much cooler than that; typically
in the low 50s. Now special strains like Belgian yeast won’t
produce their signature flavor unless you keep it in a very narrow temperature range. But there’s more to it than maintaining the
ambient temperature of your room. You could place your beer in a room that’s
perfectly stable in temperature, and it might be the ideal temperature, but what a lot of
folks don’t realize is that the process of fermentation can actually heat up the wort. You may have a room that’s stable at 67F,
but the wort itself is fermenting in the low 70s. To keep temperatures down, simple methods
like an ice bath or wrapping your fermenter in wet towels can help. The problem is you really don’t have control
over that, and unless you’re constantly checking your fermenter, you can’t be sure that you’re
fermenting at the right temperature. That’s why it’s best to have equipment that
actually monitors the temperature of your fermentation, and can turn on either a heating
element or a fridge. I would recommend a digital temperature controller
such as this that allows you to dial in a precise temperature, and when the temperature
fluctuates, it’ll either begin heating or cooling depending on how you have the unit
set up. Placement of the temperature probe is key. You want to make sure you’re actually measuring
the temperature of the vessel, and not just the temperature of the ambient air. There’s a few different products that allow
you to do that, such as a Stopper Thermowell that actually goes down into the liquid and
allows the probe to measure the temperature of the liquid. While other products exist, such as longer
probes that will actually go down into the liquid. A low tech alternative is to simply tape the
probe to the outside of the vessel. This is something that I do myself, and you
can simply insulate it with a few folded paper towels. The nice thing is if you have a fermentation
that might be vigorous, and may produce a blowoff, the temperature probe won’t get in
the way. Cooling your fermenter requires a fridge or
a chest freezer. Mini fridges work great for single carboys,
but if you have a larger bat size, or a conical fermenter, you may need an upright fridge
or a chest freezer. The digital temperature controller must be
set to cooling mode. Plug the fridge into the controller, and plug
the controller into your power source. Set the digital temperature controller to
the temperature you desire, and when the temperature fluctuates beyond that, the unit will kick
on, and turn on the fridge, bringing your wort back down to temp. Heating requires a special device of some
sort. Some people will use a space heater or even
an incandescent lightbulb, but there are products that are designed to be used with fermenters. Some units wrap around the fermenter itself,
and can actually be held in place with electrical tape, where other units like this mat will
sit under your fermenter. The important thing is pick one that works
with the type of fermenter you have. Some are recommended for plastic, some are
recommended for glass. As with the fridge, you need to make sure
your controller is set to the correct setting. In this case, heating mode. Plug the heater into the controller, the controller
into the power source, and make sure your probe is attached to the carboy. When the temperature of your wort fluctuates
from the set temperature, the unit will kick on and turn on the heat for your fermenter. A quick note on power: in either case, whether
you’re heating or cooling, you’re using electrical equipment around large vats of liquid. I highly recommend using a GFCI adapter to
supply power to your controller. This is similar to the outlets you might find
in your bathroom or your kitchen, but should liquid ever come in contact with any of the
electricity, the adapter will trip and prevent you from being electrocuted. Most digital controllers will have a setting
called the differential or the hysteresis. It may called something different on your
particular unit. What that is, is essentially the range of
temperature that has to change before the unit turns on. Most units have a differential setting of
2F. For example, if you’re heating your fermenter
and you have a set point of 67, a 2-degree differential will cause the unit to not turn
on until the temperature drops to 65. At that point it will turn on and bring your
fermenter back up to 67 before turning off. I typically use a 2-degree setting myself. Now that you have the ability to control fermentation
temperature, you have complete mastery of your fermentation. There are many advanced techniques that are
now open to you. You can ferment lager beers and even perform
a diacetyl rest. Some folks even like to gradually ramp up
the temperature over the first week of fermentation. Like anything in home brewing, there’s a lot
of opinions on that, but part of the fun is trying it out for yourself and getting to
know your equipment. Thanks for watching Brewing TV. Cheers!

23 thoughts on “Fermentation Temperature Control Brewing TV”

  1. This is my biggest problem with homebrewing. I've heard the heating mat actually heats up the trub sitting at the bottom of the vessel producing off flavors.

  2. Great video, thanks for sharing! Even though I live in an area that is pretty moderate temperature wise, there's been many times where I've avoided brewing because of fluctuations or the temp was just all wrong for the type of beer I wanted to make. These are very useful tips! If you enjoy other kinds of fermented foods, you may enjoy our channel as well. Cheers!

  3. I've been fermenting a strong ale for three days and had a sniff of the airlock "banana smell" so just be careful with too much heat 🔥

  4. fermented a few at hot temperatures and had to much of an ester taste "bananas". dumped the whole batch. invested in a temp control unit and now ferment at 64 for 3 days then at 66 the remaining fermentation time. Trust me, this brings out awesome flavors. Good investment and awesome flavors. Great video. thanks for sharing.

  5. All that extra cost from buying a fridge, heating element, temp controller, then the energy bills of powering all of those…I want my beer to taste semi-pro, but is this really worth it?? Egh.

  6. Is there a wrap-around external cooler that will refrigerate a large 5 gallon bucket? Maybe an insulated blanket and chilled water circulator?

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