Biere de Garde-knows-what...?

I will apologize up front for being a complete noob. My question is about finding the right temperature for fermenting the BdGKW with the Saflager S-23 dry yeast we used with the kit, but some background will provide valuable info, and perhaps amusement to those more experienced.

My wife, who is into this whole homebrewing thing, ordered us the NB kit for Biere de Garde. Sounded good to me, and I wanted to get a jump on that long ferment, so I started it up this weekend.

Oddity numero uno was that NB sent me 6 lbs of pilsner malt extract liquid plus 4 lbs of DME for the boil (not the 3 pounds DME plus 4 pounds DME that the recipe called for). Being on auto pilot, I used that whole 6 pounds before realizing it was probably a wee bit more than the 3 pounds of DME called for.

So, we had 75 minute boil with 6 lbs pilsner malt extrace liquid, plus 15 more minutes into which I used only 3 pounds more of the DME.

OG turned out to be 1.065, which I think is in the zone.

Anyway, the basement fermentation area is a bit warmer than I expected these days, running about 76 degrees. That seems fine to me for the ales we’ve got down there, but I’m having trouble nailing down the right temp for this BdG.

The instructions give temperature ranges which appear (to me) to be more related to the typical, cooler, temps for using the lager yeasts. But as I understand it, the BdG is to be fermented at warmer temps using lager yeast. I’ve seen posts online with guys going 80 degrees (granted, using different lager yeast) and liking what they got.

What does the more experienced crowd here think is the appropriate temp for me to try and hit with this batch? I can probably find a spot in the house or garage that’s mid 60s or so, but the temps there might be more variable, and the swings would worry me. It’s happily bubbling away right now at about 74 degrees, but I am worried that too warm, with possibly too much malt, might yield something undrinkably fruity. (I am less concerned with utter fidelity to the style at this point. Again, noob…)

For the future (and so you don’t think we’re completely idiotic noobs) we are going to log the temps in various zone of the house, so we know better what to expect during various seasons.

Thanks for any insight.

I have never fermented that warm with lager yeast, but I think 60s is considered warm fermentation for lager yeast. I would worry more about phenolic flavors (plastic, band aid, bubble gum) that would develop at that high of a temperature. Many ales develop these flavors when they are fermented that warm. How does it smell? If it smells funny, you might put it back into the lower temps and hope it has not gone too far to the bad side. Please post the results when you are done, because sometimes these things turn out okay.

I use S-23 in lagers at 50F or below, but the information about the yeast on NB’s website says it can be fermented warm (60’sF). A lot of people don’t like this yeast, but I use it regularly and it doesn’t throw off the esters complained about at low temperatures; maybe the warm temperatures would be fine for a Biere de Garde style. I just haven’t tried that, so I can’t say.


S-23 generally makes better beer at warmer temps than cooler ones. But 76 is too warm for just about any yeast. If it’s been at warm temps since the 21st, it’s pretty much too late to worry about it now.

Thanks for the input, everyone. Turns out I had a pretty good spot in the house for this batch. The laundry room, with doors shut and heating unit closed, stays about 60 degrees. I had the BdG in there from a day after brew and it gradually hit a 60-64 degree range, according to the fermometer, and it’s still bubbling happily away, though the bubbles are less frequent now. There’s a very thick layer of yeast in the bottom of the carboy, so I think I’m good.

Better yet, turns out my basement location is not the 76 degrees I estimated, but a much more doable 70 degrees, consistently.

How did I have that so wrong? My head is up near the heating ducts, which gives me the feeling it’s a lot warmer down there than it is at floor level. I’ve got thermometers all over the house now, (and fermometers on all my fermentation vessels too) and this location stays between 69 and 71 pretty well right now. Also, being a noob, I was not familiar with how long it actually takes a 5 gallon carboy to respond, tempwise, to changes in the surrounding ambient temp. The 76 to 74 degrees I was seeing on the fermometer with the day of pitching was my pitching temp slowly ratcheting down, and it did finally get within a couple degrees of that laundry room. Seems to have moved about 6 degrees per day once in the cold room.

I was worried about the estery potential with the higher temperature fermentation, but I seem to be in the range recommended by the recipe now. I’ll keep an eye on it and update this post when I’ve got a taste. That won’t be for a few months, alas.

I also invested in a wort chiller and a more accurate thermometer so I can get the temperatures where they need to be for tossing in the yeast.