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Having recently purchased my new home, and quite happy to be done with apartment living, my mind naturally wanders to wanting to start up some home brew now that I have the space. I have what I think might be a great closet in my basement that I think will be a good candidate for a 5 gallon batch of beer.

What considerations should take into account when deciding if this closet is a good home brew environment?

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4 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Well the easy answers are this:

  1. Light exposure - One assumes that since it's in the basement that won't be a problem.

  2. Temperature - Not only ambient temperature, but whether or not the fermentation vessel will be on the concrete, which will leech heat.

  3. Type of beer you brew. Lagers and saisons aren't going to get made in the basement closet. :-)

  4. Out of sight, out of mind. You will need to aware that you have a beer down there fermenting. I know it sounds like a dumb problem, but everybody has busy lives and if you can't see it, you might forget it. Just something to be aware of.

You will need to get a temperature profile over the year, finding out how low the temperature goes and conversely how high it goes in the summer. You can than compare that to the temperature profiles of popular ale yeasts.

For my part, the basement is a good environment to ferment, store, and age beer. Basements are generally dark, cool environments, making them perfect for this purpose.

Congrats on the new house and good luck!

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In regards to, "Type of beer you brew. Lagers and saisons aren't going to get made in the basement closet. :-)" Is there a listing some place of expected temperatures for certain types of beer? –  Chadddada May 26 '11 at 0:04
    
Is there a definitive location, no. But a good guide is Palmer's "How to Brew" and the recommended temperature ranges listed by the yeast manufacturers. Often books with recipes, such as "Clone Brews" will have recommendations as well. Good luck! –  TinCoyote May 26 '11 at 0:35
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The basement is a good place to brew as long as the temp is constant and it is dry. However, if you have the means, I recommend finding an older refrigerator or chest freezer to use as a fermentation chamber. Connect an external thermostat and you can have a humidity controlled, temperature controlled, light-free, clean Fermentation chamber anywhere.

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Great advice. I do have the room down there and it would look great next to our current standup 2nd freezer... and then the other kegarator fridge next to that... This could spin out of control .ha –  Chadddada May 26 '11 at 0:05
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I use a fridge for primary fermentation with carboys, a chest freezer for secondary fermentation with cornies, and a chest freezer for serving. I use CO2 to push the secondary fermentation to the serving keg and then carbonate after it chills. Works pretty slick! –  BoilerBrad May 26 '11 at 0:15
    
I agree, excellent advice. –  TinCoyote May 26 '11 at 0:39
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Since the closet is in the basement I would check the following:

  • Temperature. If your fermentor is too cold then your fermentation may never take off, or it may be sluggish and give out before the beer is fully fermented. If your fermentation is too hot, then the yeast will produce off-tasting chemicals that might make your beer taste a little bit like bananas. A hot fermentation can also cause the yeast to speed up too much, and starve out – also leading to an incomplete fermentation.

  • Mice or any other signs of activity that could potentially be detrimental to you brew.

  • Mold. All molds have the potential to cause health effects. This is true for beer too. If a spore were to somehow get into your wort you could have a spoiled batch.

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Would add cleaning it out to this list and I agree with Nuttzman –  Peter Baker May 25 '11 at 15:43
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Temperature is the most important thing to consider. You want the ambient temperature to be about 5 to 10 degrees cooler than your target fermentation temperature (varies by style)--active fermentation increases the temperature of the fermenting wort by that much so you want to keep it cool.

In addition to the specific temperature, you want to make sure the temperature is relatively consistent throughout the day and night.

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