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I decided last night that fermentation temperature control was not a priority for me (minimizing brew time and moving to kegs are ahead of it). I have a basement that stays pretty cool, and four floors of A/C will be seeping down there, so I don't expect it to get too warm.

Some yeasts go as high as 75 for the recommended range, but get estery and nasty at that range. Are there any yeasts that brew better beer in the mid-70's range? Are there any styles that lend themselves to warmer ambient temperatures?

Edit: I had great results with Wyeast 3711, French Saison. See comment below.

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Does your basement actually get that warm or are you just wondering? –  Room3 Mar 19 '10 at 18:06
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Its not really a matter of better. Saison yeasts like it fine up there, but if you brew at this temperature, you will get esters and occasionally funky flavors. As long as you've given up on brewing to style, go ahead and ferment warm. But this is another area where you really can't cut corners. Or stick with saisons or Belgian whites that are normally estery and spicy. –  TinCoyote Mar 19 '10 at 19:33
    
@Room3: I honestly can't recall what my basement is like in the summer. Only been there half a summer. But I've only been brewing since December, so have not brewed anything north of 70. @TinCoyote: Make that an answer and I'll vote that bad boy up! That's what I was looking for! –  Rich Armstrong Mar 19 '10 at 20:19
    
Update: My basement certainly does go to 73 or 74 during the summer. –  Rich Armstrong Jul 9 '12 at 20:10

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I was kind of curious about this, so I looked up which yeasts have over 75° F in their recommended range:

Otherwise you can always make one of those fermentation chillers with ice packs.

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Ugh. I still have about a case of this horrible banana beer than I fermented hot (75ish) with Belgian Strong Ale yeast. Way too estery, but maybe that's what was supposed to happen. Not my cup of tea (disgusting banana tea...) –  markskar Jun 4 '10 at 20:44
    
Followup: I did do a French farmhouse ale with French Saison (Wyeast 3711) earlier this summer and I was very impressed with its performance at about 75F. Grain bill was only Belgian pale malt. Hops were Strisselspalt. The beer came out light, bright-tasting, complex, but with no clear ester profile (no one would've called it "peppery"). One taster, another brewer, called it "flawless." I think this might be the summer yeast for me. –  Rich Armstrong Jul 30 '10 at 14:09

Saison yeasts can do well up into the high 70s and some say this temperature is needed to coax the yeast into finishing the job. Other belgian strains also do well in the low to mid 70s, but will definitely throw some estery/phenolic belgian-esque flavors. If you want to have a "clean" yeast profile, I don't know of any that will provide it at high temps. You could try experimenting with Super High Gravity yeast, or wine and champagne yeast. I'm not sure what those will do in terms of flavor, but I would expect attenuation to be higher.

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If your basement is normally about 70F, a simple swap cooler will keep most any traditional ale in the right range. I have fermented plenty of Pale ales and the like in a 95F garage using just a swamp cooler and occasionally swapping out ice packs if it gets too warm.

The real key is you need to monitor the temp of the fermenting beer closely, not so much the ambient temp. Fermenting beer will be 5-8degrees higher than ambient at its peak of activity.

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