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How critical is fermentation temp for a saison?

I’ve been brewing ales in my ranch-style house (no basement) with no temperature control other than the thermostat for the heating/AC system and I’ve been letting that vary by about 5 F. Now with the colder weather I keep it set at 69 or 70 F when I’m home and let it drop to 65 at bedtime or when I’m gone. My ales taste okay. Would they taste better yet, if I kept one constant temp for three weeks?

I read the Hopfenstark Saison 16 clone recipe in the new issue of BYO where the fermenting instructions are to chill the wort to 73F, aerate well, pitch yeast and then let the temp rise to 79 F over the course of one week and hold at that temp until fermentation is complete.

If I waited until May to brew that, I could probably get to 79 F in my garage, but that might occur over the course of 2 or 3 days. Currently I have no method of assessing the temp inside the fermenter except to remove the airlock temporarily and stick a thermometer into the wort.

Should I attempt that recipe knowing my temp control won’t be that close to optimal?

I would also be interested in how many of you control your fermentation temps closely.

Thanks in advance for your advice?

I’d say give it a go. I’ve brewed several saisons and have done different ferm temp variations. The latest one, I started it warm (upper 60’s), and let it get warmer after 3 days (upper 70’s). It’s good and has a noticeable estery funk. To be honest, I think I like a “cleaner” saison better. I won’t do the warm up again. But that’s just me. Try it yourself and see what you like. Cheers.

Forgot to answer your other question… Yes, I think fermentation temperature control for almost all beer styles is very important. Might be time to see if you can get a fermentation fridge and temp controller.

Temp control was the biggest upgrade I made to my beers. With that said, increasing temps is much much easier than dropping temps since fermentation itself creates heat. So if you start your fermentation at 73° you could easily reach 79° or higher by simply placing the fermenter in a space that won’t let the heat escape.

As for your fluctuating temps. The beer has high thermal mass properties. So if the wort is at 65° and you increase the ambient to 70° it will take a very long time for the entire mass to reach 70° (also works with dropping the temps).

As for watching temps. I set my thermostat to the temp I want to ferment and measure the BEER temp. If you measure ambient temps you must set it a little cooler as the yeast produces heat. For the differential I usually use 2° as this provides a fair buffer for most ale yeast. So say my target temp is 65°, I’m alright with it hitting 67° before kicking on the compressor. I think I would rather do that than to keep buying equipment.

Now I have a 7gal heated/cooled fermenter and a 14 gal heated/cooled fermenter. It makes temp control a breeze!

I use a regular old heating pad to get my temps up for the saisons and Belgians I brew. It works good. My fermenter runs about 5 deg higher than room temp so keep that in mind. If your house is 70deg your plenty warm for a saison probably at least 74deg. You could go higher. After a week let it drop in temp. Cover if with a blanket and you won’t lose any temp at night.

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I taped my temperature probe from my controller to my carboy. It’s pretty accurate at getting the temp. The temp is currently set to 61 on my controller and the sticker on the fermenter reads spot on (between 60 and 62 is colored). Not too shabby IMO. Temp control is definitely key for making better beer. My first batch I let it go wild and do it’s thing and it was OK, but my second batch was controlled and tasted MUCH better.

As for your question about the saison, I have looked up some research and the ramping up seems to be common practice. Some saisons are ramped up to very high temps too. I haven’t made one yet, but am curious to see how yours turns out! Good luck!

I ferment my excellent saison in the upper 60s then raise to low 70s in the second half of fermentation. It seems to start fermentation quickly but then slows way down, even in the 70s, so that it takes almost a full month to quit fermentation. Be patient with your saison yeasts. You could try 60s the entire time, it should taste great, but it might take even longer, maybe ~6 weeks to quit fermenting. They’re just kind of finicky yeasts.

What yeast does the kit use? I would say if its one of the newer saison yeasts, you should be fine. Dupont, however, is a bit more finicky, but check out this thread.

Foil over the airlock, and potentially add some DAP(Drew supposedly just does the former and makes hugely attenuated saisons with that method).

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=123311&hilit=dupont

I agree that temp control is one of the most important parts of brewing, however…a saison, to me, is all about those wonderfull funky esters from the yeast. I usually do couple of them during the summer. I’ll start them out in the high60’s, and not worry at all about how hot they get after that. I’ve had some go as high as 85+, and they were delicious.

Namaste!!!

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