Playing with temperature and fermentation

So, I’ve been looking at regulating the temperature of my fermentations beyond wrapping carboys in towels and placing them near radiators.

Earlier this week I took my just about then two-week old porter and placed it near a radiator and saw with my own eyes what a couple of degrees can do for yeasties in a sugary solution. They like it! What that means for the porter, and us, the drinkers of that porter, is that there will be less sugar in the beer and more alcohol.
Are the days of “Matt Hannan makes the weakest beers on the planet” behind us?
I hope so!

On the advice of a fellow brewer and friend, I went hunting for a couple of smallish tubs and some aquarium heaters today. I picked up two heaters and three of the smaller Rubbermaid garbage cans.

The heaters that were available to me were for tropical fish, so they tend to be a bit warmer than I want for the porter. Porter (ales in general) likes 64 to 68F for fermentation, but the lowest I could get on my hunt today was one that goes as low as 70F and another that goes down to 72F. That is fine for mead, which likes about 74F. I still need to find a heater that dips into the low 60s. Ideas? Suggestions?

Well, I filled one of the cans up with about 3.5 gallons of water, changed the airlock on Batch #1 of the mead to an “S” and moved it in to can. I then repeated the same for Batch #2. That was just about an hour ago. Fermentation, while not slow before this process (it was still quite active in the liquid with bits of clementine and yeast visibly being tossed around on the internal currents) has kicked back in and I think that I should probably be cleaning my ugly boil pot/tubing gear to make ready for what is about to happen, rather than sitting here writing a blog update! Whatevs.

In all my years of brewing, I have never paid as much attention to temperature during fermentation as I should have, save for one heroic brew I did way back in the day for a Gingered Ale. That I wrapped in an electric blanket, but I never paid attention to the actual temperature. Some of you might remember that one. 😉 The Holmes St apartment, during winter, was a very cold place. And the apartment I have today, I keep at between 61 and 62F. Obviously, I can’t rely on an ambient temperature to get these brews up to their proper temps.

The white foam is fresh fermentation. The orange mung is left over on the carboy from the last time this stuff was really active. I’m hoping that this warm water tip is going to clean off some of that wasted clementine mung and wash it back down into the solution. But, as you can see, after about an hour at the right temp, this stuff is going strong again!

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One Response to Playing with temperature and fermentation

  1. High_Noonan says:

    Even now, Batch #1 of the mead, which was made so much less to technical perfection than the second batch, is doing the best overall. Batch #2, which should yield the better mead because I adjusted for those things that I messed up on in the first batch, is struggling to keep up. And the Pirate mead, made of nothing but scorn, waste, hatred and bread yeast, seems the happiest of all of them!

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