Control Fermentation Temperatures
Most homebrewers will tell you that the one thing that gave them the biggest improvement in the flavor of their beer is — drumroll — controlling fermentation temperatures!
The yeast that ferments your beer is alive. And when they’re humming away, fermenting your beer and creating alcohol, they’re also heating up your beer. If you don’t counteract this heat, the high temperatures will produce off-flavor in your beer.
Besides the yeast, maybe you’re fermenting in a freezing cold basement. Or you’re brewing in Florida in July and it’s a sauna in your brew cave.
There are many reasons why you need to control your fermentation temperatures. Now let’s talk about how you actually go about it.
First, let me just say that there are hundreds of different ways to do this. We can’t possibly list them all here. But we’ll list the most common methods and equipment. You need to find what works best for you, your brewing style, and your brewing location.
The Gear You Need to Control Fermentation Temperatures
There is only one piece of gear below that does not require any electronics, so we’ll mention that first. It’s the Cool Brewing Bag. We love this bag as an affordable way to get into temperature control. See a full video review of the cool brewing bag here.
But if you want more control and a more hands-off method, you’ll need to invest in two pieces of gear:
- A Heating or Cooling Source. You need a way to heat up or cool down your beer. Most brewers don’t use a heating source because their home is warm enough. Cooling is far more common. For that, there are many options. Our two favorites are 1) A chest freezer and 2) The FTSs system from SS BrewTech.
- A Temperature Controller. This is sometimes called a thermostat. It’s basically a device that plug your heating or cooling source into. For example, you could plug your chest freezer’s power cord into the controller, and then plug the controller into your wall outlet.The controller overrides the thermostat inside the chest freezer and gives you a (necessary) finer degree of control over the chest freezer’s temperature. For example, you tell the controller, “Keep the freezer at 68 degrees”, and the freezer will turn on and off to maintain that temperature.
Pretty cool, huh?
Here are the three “levels” of fermentation control, by budget and performance.
- Cool Brewing Bag
- Chest Freezer + Inkbird Temperature Controller
- Ss BrewTech FTS system + BrewBucket fermenter
Note that with #3, the cooling source and the controller come with the same product (the FTS system). This system only works with their BrewBucket fermenter, which is why we included it.
This might be confusing, so make sure to watch out video review of the FTSs fermentation system.
When you want a stainless steel fermenter but don't want to shell out the money for a conical. This is a high-end fermenter that doesn't break the bank. Make sure to see our video review of this fermenter and its temperature control system right here.
We love this bag this bag because it allows homebrewers to control fermentation temperatures without spending too much money. Sure, it requires more effort because you need to exchange ice packs. But if it were more automated, it wouldn't be this cheap. We think fermentation temperature control is so important that we ...
The Inkbird 308 makes it easy to control fermentation temperatures. A key feature is that it's dual stage, meaning it can both raise and lower the temperature of your beer. This is an important function for homebrewers.
A chest freezer makes for a great fermentation chamber. This one will hold multiple fermenters, but make sure to compare the chest freezer dimensions to those of your fermenters before purchasing.
It doesn't get much better than this when it comes to controlling your fermentation temperatures. That is, unless you want to shell out $1,000+ for a glycol system. With the FTSs, the cooling source is provided by an ice-filled cooler (purchased separately) which sits next to the fermenter. The FTSs pumps the ...