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The struggles of tempurature control

So I pitched my yeast (WLP013 London Ale) around 64 degrees in my basement (ambient is low 60’s) put in my swamp cooler with a wet towel covering it. About 8 hours later I saw the start of krausen forming but the temp had decreased to 60 and appeared to be dropping. So I decided to bring the beer upstairs where we keep the thermostat at 69. Before I went to bed it was still sitting at a steady 60 degrees so I didn’t put the fan on it when I went to bed.

I woke up this morning, the krausen is maybe only an inch thick and the temp is down to 58! So I immediately pulled it out of the water but i don’t really have any source of heat for it other than ambient temps. I left for work with it out of the swamp cooler in hopes that temps would rise to mid 60’s.

My first beer, i struggled with keeping the temps down, now, on my fifth, I’m fighting the battle of keeping them up. I won’t be home for another 12 hours so I hope fermentation doesn’t kick into high gear and the temps fly up to the mid 70’s. The yeast will surely be mad at me if that happens.

I used to live in an old house where almost any time of the year, I could find a spot with a perfect ale fermentation temperature. The fact that you are seeing such a seasonal difference suggests you’re house is not well insulated, and you likely have a similar situation. Put the beer near a radiator if need be.

You can also reverse the swamp cooler concept: put the fermenter in a tub with warm water, and try to prevent evaporative cooling. Change the water as needed when it cools too much. A pain, but it should get you past the first few critical days if you can’t find a spot with a good ambient.

It looks like you have the same type house I have. 67 on the main floor when the heat is in use and 60-63 in the basement…perfect ambient for IPA’s to me. I never use a swamp cooler in the winter and I just leave it in the basement and it comes out great. Take it out of the swamp cooler and just put in back in the basement and call it a day.

I normally have my thermostat set to drop the temp to the mid 50’s while I’m gone during the day and have it back up to 69 by the time I’m home. Looks like I’ll have to heat my house while I’m gone all day :? Nobody said brewing is cheap.

I normally have my thermostat set to drop the temp to the mid 50’s while I’m gone during the day and have it back up to 69 by the time I’m home. Looks like I’ll have to heat my house while I’m gone all day :? Nobody said brewing is cheap.[/quote]

At night my thermostat drops to 60 and and also during the day it’s set to 60 as well. At 4 pm it goes up to 67 until 10pm. Other than that’s it’s 60ish on the main level. My basement is well insulated and holds pretty much the same year round no matter what temp the main floor is and I keep all the vents closed.

[quote=“GarretD”]
At night my thermostat drops to 60 and and also during the day it’s set to 60 as well. At 4 pm it goes up to 67 until 10pm. Other than that’s it’s 60ish on the main level. My basement is well insulated and holds pretty much the same year round no matter what temp the main floor is and I keep all the vents closed.[/quote]

Yeah my basement will get in the high 50’s during the day with the thermostat turned down. Did I mention my house is terribly insulated :frowning:

[quote=“mattnaik”][quote=“GarretD”]
At night my thermostat drops to 60 and and also during the day it’s set to 60 as well. At 4 pm it goes up to 67 until 10pm. Other than that’s it’s 60ish on the main level. My basement is well insulated and holds pretty much the same year round no matter what temp the main floor is and I keep all the vents closed.[/quote]

Yeah my basement will get in the high 50’s during the day with the thermostat turned down. Did I mention my house is terribly insulated :frowning: [/quote]

Then I would use the swamp cool and put a fish tank heater in it. That will keep the water temp the same I read.

[quote=“GarretD”]
Then I would use the swamp cool and put a fish tank heater in it. That will keep the water temp the same I read.[/quote]

That is a stellar idea! Thanks!

Well got home last night and the yeast was chugging away. Fermometer still read around 60 degrees (been in 70 degree ambient for over 24 hours at this point) so it really had my scratching my head. It did feel slightly cool to the touch but not sure it was 10 degrees cooler. I decided I didn’t trust the fermometer and took it to the basement where it is much cooler. I woke up this morning and the fermometer read a nice steamy 70 degrees! I immediately put it in a water bath with a wet towel over it. I didn’t put the fan on it cause I didn’t want to shock the yeast. Hoping to gracefully coax it back down to mid 60’s.

I really need to build a fermentation chamber!

One thing I believe is that wild temp swings are more detrimental to the beer than a steady, but suboptimal, temp.
eg I would rather have it at a steady 60 then swinging between 64 and 72.

[quote=“Wahoo”]One thing I believe is that wild temp swings are more detrimental to the beer than a steady, but suboptimal, temp.
eg I would rather have it at a steady 60 then swinging between 64 and 72.[/quote]

Yeah, this has me a little bothered. I felt like 58 degrees would have provided too low an attenuation and I’m really trying for a drier beer with this brew. There’s almost 2lbs of table sugar in this one so I knew it was going to take off I just didn’t think it would be almost 48 hours later. Just sucks being away from the house 10-12 hours out of the day and sleeping for 6-7. If I were there to see it trending in one direction, i could do something about it to mitigate the swing.

Looks like a chest freezer with a temp control will be on my list of next purchases.

I had a somewhat similar problem with my last batch and am thinking these two items may be the answer for my winter ale blues:

and

This should allow me to keep everything in the basement and heat just the fermenting beer without heating the whole house.

With a little sweat equity you can save $30-50 on the temp controller.

Have you ever tried building SON OF THE FERMENTATION CHILLER BOX. to control temps. Its cheap and easy to make. When I first started brewing I built one for both heat and cooling. Worked very well
Also seen that youtube have video’s of how to make them too. I found it better than a swamp cooler lots better control temps steadily

Here is site I found plans on
Home.roadrunner.com.

I ran with a “Son of Fermentor” fermentation system for 2 years. It really worked well but make sure it is on a surface that can handle getting wet as they tend to have a wet bottom from condensation. I just stepped up to a J-control on a chest freezer. Found out you really need two controllers for winter time fermenting in a garage. One to control the freezer, and one to control your heating device (a reptile heat pad in my case), otherwise your freezer is in constant compitition with your heater. I think once you start down the road to figuring this out you never stop tinkering with the system to make it better.

Barry

[quote=“Wahoo”]One thing I believe is that wild temp swings are more detrimental to the beer than a steady, but suboptimal, temp.
eg I would rather have it at a steady 60 then swinging between 64 and 72.[/quote]

The extra thermal mass of having the fermenter in a container with water in it can really even out temp swings in a fluctuating basement. Something to consider before you struggle too much with solving this.

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