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I do not have much opportunity in the way of temperature control when it comes to fermentation but I do have a hallway where if I close the door I get around 13°C ambient (measured about 40cm above the floor). I'm wondering if there are any yeast and beer styles I can make that would be okay at this temperature?

I'm worried about both diacetyl and sulphur but guess I could bring the fermentor into a room that is closer to 20-22°C for a diacetyl rest after primary fermentation?

  • Is this an extract or an "all grain" brew? – barking.pete Mar 15 '17 at 13:14
  • I do all grain brew in bag, with coil to cool the worth. – ElvishPriestley Mar 15 '17 at 13:37
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Simply put you have a perfect situation for lager brewing and lager yeast strains. Its easy to warm up a fermentor to reduce sulfur or diacetyl should the ferment not get strong enough to either off gas or clean up those compounds during the ferment.

I'd suggest staying away from some of the more characterful ale strains (Saison, Hefe, Wit, English and Belgian) as they won't really properly express themselves at the cooler temp. You will get beer but not the right yeast character for the those styles. American Ale yeasts or German Ale (specifically Kolsch) would probably work well at 13C as long as you start with a pretty big pitch. The same as you would if you were going to brew a lager at that temp.

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Most beers/yeasts will ferment at 13C - it is just that they will do it much more slowly and the more aromatic compounds like "fruity esters" may not be produced in such concentrations at lower temps. However 13 is not a very low temperature. Lager yeast can ferment at temperature as low a 5C. But it tends to take a few months at that temperature to make a dry and crisp beer. The reason most brewers brew at a temp range between (say) 18 - 22C is because it is efficient and produces beer in a week or so.

If the cool/cold temperature was a particular concern then an electrically heated Brew Belt or Brew Mat can be used to keep the fermentation vessel warm. Either by itself or using some form of insulation (blanket/duvet?). I have even seen an old electric blanket being used to wrap and heat a 50L fermentation bin. Some have even incorporated a form of thermostat to try to keep a more even temperature.

IMHO there is no real need to worry too much about producing diacetyl or sulphur containing compounds during fermentation. They exist but usually not in the way we imagine (or are told). For example diacetyl is supposed to be an "off flavour" but plenty of it is used in food flavouring and "butterscotch" is consumed world wide. In fact The Tadcaster brewery makes a point of saying their beer is brewed to have a faint diacetyl nose and flavour. As for DMS and other sulphurous compounds I have yet to smell (or taste) any outside of lactobacillius fermentations - even though DMS has been credited for giving lager its unique taste.

The one important thing I have discovered about beer is that it usually improves with a reasonably long conditioning period. A week in the bottle is IMHO much to short. A more useful conditioning period would be 2 months in a bottle. After that time many "off flavours" initially reported are found to have disappeared

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  • I think I will try to make a beer with Nottingham in my hallway :) I searched a bit online and that ale yeast is suposed to work even at around 12C. Guess tho that I need to also pitch at low temp to. Somebody once told me that diacetyl is more likely to develop if temperature decrees during fermentation. – ElvishPriestley Mar 15 '17 at 13:45
  • While most yeasts will ferment at these cooler temps 13C is not optimal for many of them. Optimal has nothing to do with fermentation, it has to do with each yeasts character. If you ferment an English Ale strain at 13C it will make beer, but you won't get the proper English character out of it. You could make a Saison at 13C, but most of those strains won't give you much Saison character. – brewchez Mar 15 '17 at 19:54

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