How to Control the Temperature in Beer Brewing

Written by michael black
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How to Control the Temperature in Beer Brewing
Brewing your own beer is a complicated process that requires strict temperature control. (J Shepherd/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Keeping a consistent temperature when brewing beer is extremely important to the final quality and taste of the beer. Before you worry about specific methods to control the temperature of your brew, make sure you know exactly what temperature to use. The exact temperature will depend on the type of beer you are brewing (such as ales or lagers), and the methods used to control the temperature will depend upon whether you need to raise the temperature of the beer or lower it.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Brewing thermometer
  • Refrigerator or freezer (for cooling beer)
  • Fermenting vessel
  • Ice
  • Blankets

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    Cooling Beer with Refrigerator or Freezer

  1. 1

    Place the fermenter with the beer inside in a temperature-controlled refrigerator or freezer. It is best to use a refrigerator or freezer specifically for brewing as opposed to using one that also keeps food cold.

  2. 2

    Set the temperature of the refrigerator or freezer. Use your particular beer recipe to find the correct temperature, but lagers generally should be kept between 7.22 to 12.7 degrees C and ales--which probably shouldn't be kept in a refrigerator to begin with--should be kept 20.0 to 22.2 degrees C.

  3. 3

    Check the temperature of the beer twice a day (or more if possible) using a brewing thermometer. Make any adjustments that are needed to the temperature of the refrigerator or freezer.

    Cooling Beer with Ice

  1. 1

    Place the fermenter inside a fermentation vessel in the coolest area of your house. This vessel can be anything from a washtub to a plastic bucket.

  2. 2

    Add water and ice to the fermentation vessel, continually measuring the temperature of your brew. Once you reach an optimal temperature, stop adding ice.

  3. 3

    Check the fermenting beer as often as possible, adding ice to keep the brew cool as often as needed.

    Warming Beer

  1. 1

    Check the temperature of the area in which you are going to store your brew in order to be certain that you need to warm the beer. In certain climates, ales do routinely need to be warmed.

  2. 2

    Wrap the fermenter in insulating blankets and wait until the temperature rises. Check the temperature often to make sure that the brew doesn't overheat. The actual fermentation process does produce heat, so you mayvnot need to add any extra warmth.

  3. 3

    Check the temperature often and adjust the blankets as needed to keep the beer the proper temperature.

Tips and warnings

  • It may take a little experimentation to figure out exactly how to control the temperature of your brew using ice to cool the beer or blankets to warm the beer. This will all depend on the type of beer you are brewing, the type of climate you are brewing in and the temperature of the room in which you are brewing your beer.
  • Expensive (and exact) options do exist for the serious brewer to keep track of the temperature of a batch of beer, but it is a good idea to start out with simpler and cheaper methods.

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