View Full Version : Ideal Temperature

11-05-2008, 10:37 AM
I'm sure this one is going to get me slammed, but I am so confused :icon_scratch:

I have a room that I use to ferment and store both my beer and now my meads...I can maintain a consistent temperature of 70F (usually within +/- 1F).

Is that temperature too high for making meads?...worried about fusel production and off flavors.

The more I search the forums (I have been reading posts on temperature for 3 days) the less I feel I understand. I have seen posts that discuss the Pros/Cons of High and Low temperature...but make no reference to what a Low or High temperature would be?

I have been using Red Star Cote des Blancs and Premier Cuvee exclusively, and according to their site 70F is well within their range...then I read posts that state that Meads should be fermented in the low 60's.

Since most meads require a good deal of time to finish, a year from now I would prefer not to suffer from avoidable mistakes.

Thanks for the help, and again I apologize for what I am afraid must be a simple answer!


ps I read wrathwilde's post for noobs on mead making which says 65-70F...that's why I originally felt comfortable with my temperature.

Medsen Fey
11-05-2008, 11:46 AM
Hi Vino,

I don't think you have to worry about being slammed, especially not with a question regarding temperature management where there is plenty of room for questions. Heck, if you look at the temperature ranges for some of these yeast they go up to 35C so you can rightly ask, why not ferment at such temperatures?

A key point to remember is that the temperature ranges listed are for the survival of the yeast, not for quality meadmaking. For example Montrachet yeast has a range from 59-86F. If you try to make a mead at 80F with this yeast you will wind up with a sulfurous, phenolic batch of swill that will not be fit to pour on your flower beds. ICV-D47 has a range of 50-86F, but if you try fermenting with it above about 72F, it will produce large quantities of fusel alcohols and your mead will taste like rocket-fuel and/or paint-thinner. The first mead I ever attempted was a traditional made with orange blossom honey fermented with ICV-D47 at 75F. Two years later, and I am still waiting for the fusels to die down enough for it to be pleasant.

As a general rule, you will get better tasting and smelling results if you keep your fermentation temperature on the low side of the yeast's tolerance range. The lower temperatures favor a slower fermentation (so you may retain more volatile aromas) and a more complete fermentation. Higher temperatures will produce faster fermentation, but will ferment less total sugar and may leave you stuck (or at least sweeter than you planned). For most yeast, if you can keep it below 70F, you will be okay, but again other factors in the recipe such as gravity of the must, pH, nutrient availability, etc., will have a bearing on the results of fermentation at any given temperature.

Some recipes may do better than others at higher temps. The warm weather brewers (those of us in the sunbelt) have been searching and trying to find alternatives and recipes that will allow good meads to be made even if our ambient temperatures are running in the 70s and 80s. I can't say we definitely found the answers, but we continue to explore the options. This coming spring, we are contemplating a group-brew of a dark berry melomel to test temperature effect - these meads, similar to red wines, might tolerate fermentation at higher temperatures without loss of quality. Certainly the color extraction should be better. We'll find out.

I have yet to find a yeast that I thought made something really good at high temperature, but some tolerate temps in the mid to upper 70s better than others. According to Oskaar, RC212 works okay in this range. I have used DV10 with decent results, and K1V may work okay. Tokay yeast (which are not easy to find) may work at higher temps but I have not tested this adequately to have an opinion yet.

After a lot of time and effort (and wasted honey), I feel comfortable saying your best bet may be to-

Keep it Cool! :glasses9:


11-05-2008, 05:52 PM
That's a lot of good information...I guess for someone new it is confusing when picking a yeast strain and the manufacturer gives a range like Red Star Premier Cuvee of 45F-95F...I chose the Cote des Blancs after considerable research on the web because it was suppose to work well especially with apples (my first 2 batches were cysers), and because the description states best fermentation temperature between 64F-86F...thinking that this would work with the 70F temp in my brew room.

It would be nice if there was a chart to reference...I guess years from now when I have more experience I'll put something together...In the meantime I'll try to devise a way to get the temp down to the mid 60's...maybe somebody has a recipe that works well fermenting at 70-72F ???


11-05-2008, 06:05 PM
What type of Cyser are you shooting for ~ dry, semi sweet, sweet? Spiced? Also, what type of Quantity are you planning ~ 1, 3, 5, 6 or 6.5 gallon? Answer these questions and we'll be able to help you with your recipe.

Also, Lalvin (Lallemand) has a Yeast Reference Chart Here. (http://www.lallemandwine.us/products/yeast_chart.php) All temps are in Celsius though. Lalvin yeasts are favored by most brewers here on GotMead. Off the top of my head I'd say 95% of us use Lalvin Yeasts as our first choice. If your local HBS doesn't carry Lalvin ~ More Beer carries the largest selection of Lalvin Yeasts (http://morewinemaking.com/search/103218/beerwinecoffee/coffeewinebeer/Lallemand_Lalvin_Yeasts) in (8 gram) packs of any Brew Supply house (they have their own sterile packaging facility that allows them to offer Yeasts you would only be able to get in bulk otherwise).

If you could drop that room down to 65F I'd be more comfortable, the act of fermentation can/will raise the temperature of your must. So although your room sits at 70F your must may actually be several degrees warmer at its most active. I personally like to keep my fermentation rooms around 65F for most yeasts. 70F is what I consider to be the upper range of acceptable, regardless of yeast type or listed temperature ranges. With one or two exceptions for cold hardy yeasts that have a high end of 66F. Although I personally have never sought out those yeasts, so it hasn't been an issue.

Also if you can find a cooler area for bulk aging and storage that would be Ideal.


11-05-2008, 07:02 PM
The reference chart is exactly what I was looking for...I used the Red Star because the recipe I had for the cysers called for it...since I had no experience with making mead I felt I should stick to the recipe for my first couple of batches...I guess I'll upgrade to Patron, so I will have access to the recipes on this site.

As for what I want to make...the skies the limit...I have a varied palate, and friends that will try almost anything (which helps with testing)...the cysers I made just seemed to be a way to get started...unfortunately my wife says I suffer from OCPD, and since the cysers I have made a 1 gallon batch of Pyment and 1 gallon batch of Cherry Melomel and have the ingredients for a simple mead (dry) and a metheglin (pumpkin pie spices).

I went with 1 gallon batches to see how the first few progress, with the intentions to move to 5-6 gallon sizes once I feel a little more comfortable with the process....I guess if a batch doesn't turn out well I can chalk it up to experience, but I feel like the collective experience of the members of this site could save me from repeating the mistakes of others.

BTW, the recipe for the cyser is on my first post and I received a lot of help on it...my question was more to see if my current conditions were adequate for brewing mead in general, and if not what could I do to improve it (ie lower temperature).

11-05-2008, 07:14 PM
A good article on "How Temperature Affects the Aging of Wine" ~ by Alexander J Pandell, Ph.D.

There are three storage conditions of concern to collectors and consumers of fine wine: light, humidity and temperature. The storage area for wine must be dark because ultraviolet (UV) light will damage wine by causing the degradation of otherwise stable organic compounds found in wine. Since these organic compounds contribute to the aroma, flavor and structure of the wine, the changes caused by UV light result in the deterioration of the essence of wine. (Note: Fluorescent lights emit a significant amount of UV light.)

The only reason humidity is an issue in wine storage is because of the use of the traditional cork seal. The relative humidity of the storage area (i.e., the amount of gaseous water in the air) can exacerbate the rate of evaporation of wine from the bottle if the cork is defective. Since corks are far from perfect in their ability to seal a bottle of wine, ullage (the space between the bottom of the cork and the wine level in the bottle) develops in almost all bottles stored for extended periods due to evaporation. If the cork (seal) is defective, low humidity in the storage area will result in wine moving out of the bottle faster over time and significant ullage will develop in less time under these conditions. Thus, the more important issue is the quality of the cork seal and not the relative humidity in the storage area. Of course, very low humidity can dry out the cork leading to sealing problems.

Assuming one has good cork seals, and a non-drying (i.e., moderately humid) and dark storage area, the most important factor in the storage and aging of wine is temperature. If you ask most anyone associated with wine, from collector to so-called expert, they will most likely tell you that the ideal storage temperature is 55 to 60F. According to conventional wisdom, wine develops most harmoniously if stored in this temperature range with little or no fluctuation. So, for example, an excellent storage temperature would be 55F with a fluctuation of plus or minus one degree. A well-known wine personality and executive from Burgundy told me recently that the ideal temperature for wine storage is 13C which is equivalent to about 55F. Degrees () C refers to the Celsius temperature scale on which water freezes at 0C and boils at 100C. This scale is used throughout Europe and most of the world. The 13C temperature makes historical sense since wine storage in France is typically in caves and the natural underground temperature is around 13C. Thus, the "ideal" seems to have been the result of regional custom and practice rather than scientific study.

What will happen to a wine stored at room temperature (73F) in a dark closet rather than in a temperature-controlled environment of 55F, the commonly accepted "ideal" temperature? This is the question I will attempt to answer in the following discussion. To do this, we must consider some chemical principles to help us understand why high temperature is detrimental to wine.

Bottle aging of fine wine is a result of many chemical changes (reactions) taking place over time. Each of these reactions occurs at a certain speed or rate, and each reaction is affected differently by temperature changes because each has a unique energy factor or natural energy barrier, the "hurdle" that must be overcome ("jumped over") for the reaction to occur. Using well founded and accepted chemical principles that will not be discussed here, one can estimate the effects of temperature increases above the (assumed) ideal 55F on the increase in rate or speed of aging. These calculations are made assuming two different energy barriers, or hurdles for reaction to occur, (low and high) and three different temperature changes, 55 to 59F, 55 to 73F, and 55 to 91F. By choosing the low and high extremes for the energy barrier, one can be fairly certain that the true reaction barrier lies between these extremes. After examining reactions similar to those that occur in wine during aging (e.g., oxidation, reduction, esterification, etc.), I am persuaded that the true reaction barrier lies closer to the high energy barrier than the low energy barrier. The results are summarized in the TABLE.

<img src="http://i35.photobucket.com/albums/d179/wrathwilde/TempAgingWine.jpg">

The first two columns in the TABLE show the temperature change, and the third and fourth columns show the increase in the rate of aging associated with each temperature change based on LOW and HIGH energy barriers. For example, the first row shows a temperature change of 55F to 59F with a calculated increase in the rate of aging of 1.2 times assuming a LOW energy barrier and an increase of 1.5 times assuming a HIGH energy barrier. One can conclude from these calculations that the increase in the rate of aging for a temperature change of 55F to 59F is between 1.2 and 1.5 times. This means that if your cellar is at 59F instead of 55F, your wine ages 1.2 to 1.5 times faster than if it were at 55F.

As the data in the TABLE show, going from 55F to 73F, an increase in temperature of 18F(10C), doubles the rate of a reaction if it has a LOW energy barrier. If the reaction has a HIGH energy barrier, the rate of the reaction increases by a factor of eight for this temperature difference.Translated, this means if your cellar is at 73F instead of 55F, your wine ages 2.1 to 8.0 times faster than if it were at 55F. Thus, 3 years at 73F is equivalent to between 6.3 and 24 years of aging at 55F. These differences are very significant.

It gets worse as the temperature difference increases. As seen in the TABLE, a change from55F to 91F increases the rate 56 times for reactions with HIGH energy barriers and 4.1 times for reactions with LOW energy barriers. So if your storage is at 91F instead of 55F, your wine ages 4.1 to 56 times faster than if it were stored at 55F. One month of aging at 91F is equivalent to between 4 months and 18 years of aging at 55F. As stated earlier, the "true" situation probably closer to the 18 year end of the range. These calculations show that higher temperatures markedly speed up the aging process and result in maturation of a wine over a very short time.

But it doesnt end there. Another concern is that higher temperatures will result in undesirable chemical reactions taking place that were either too slow or nonexistent at the lower temperatures. I think this is as important an issue as speeding up changes that have a desirable effect on the bouquet of a wine as it ages. If these undesirable reactions have HIGH barriers to reaction, which is very likely, then over a moderate aging period for a quality red wine, say 15 years at 55F, little reaction has occurred and the wine is relatively unaffected. But, if the storage temperature is 73F,the undesirable reactions will have occurred 8 times faster which means the same reactions have occurred in less than 2 years. Another way to put is that 15 years at 73F is equivalent to 120 years (8 x 15 years) at 55F. Of course, very high temperatures for even relatively short periods can lead to nasty reactions producing compounds with foul odors and off tastes. This situation undoubtedly prevails at temperatures above 90F where the rates of high energy barrier reactions increase by a factor of 56 times or more.

In summary, doubling, tripling or quadrupling the rate of the desirable reactions is not the only issue in the aging process. Increasing the rates of UNDESIRABLE reactions that are very slow at lower temperatures may be an equally or more important issue. Higher storage temperatures make available many new pathways for desirable AND UNDESIRABLE reactions. Chaos reins in the bottle! Excessively high temperatures for several hours will surely have a detrimental effect on a wines chemistry with the production of off-flavors resulting from oxidation and other undesirable reactions whose rates have been dramatically increased by the higher temperature. It is not going to matter what temperature YOUR cellar is if somewhere along the distribution line the wine is COOKED on the dock or in a hot warehouse.

What does one see and taste in a heat damaged wine? One important indicator of heat damage is color. Pre-mature browning can be an indicator of oxidation due to heating. A brick edge in a young red wine is a telltale sign of oxidation due to excessive heat. Since Sherry is an oxidized wine,another indicator of heat damage in table wines is a sherry-like taste.

If 55F is better than 73F for wine storage, why isnt 49F better than 55F? It may very well be! Clearly, the rates of all reactions will be slowed even more at the lower temperature. However, 49F may be too low a temperature to allow some desirable aging changes to occur at a rate that is comparable to the human life cycle. Remember from our earlier discussion that different reactions are affected differently by temperature changes because each has a different barrier to reaction. Reactions with high barriers are more sensitive to temperature changes and with decreasing temperature will slow down more than reactions with low barriers. Since the harmonious aging of wine is due to many different chemical reactions occurring in a naturally orchestrated manner, the lower temperature may slow down some reactions to the point where they become non-contributors to desirable flavors, and, therefore, the wines evolution is thrown out of sync. It would be interesting to carry out research on this, but the time line required is beyond that of most humans.

As a final thought, and in keeping with the discussion above, be sure to store your opened bottle of wine in the refrigerator. If you must keep an opened bottle of wine for a few days, the best place to store it is in your refrigerator which is typically at a temperature of about 41F (5C). The chemical reactions leading to spoilage (primarily oxidation-reduction) will be slowed down by a factor of 6 to 16 times compared with storage at room temperature (about 73F). Therefore, a wine should last 6 to 16 times longer in the refrigerator than at room temperature. Red wine can be poured in a glass and allowed to slowly warm before consumption or put in a microwave oven for 15-20 seconds.

Re-published from The Alchemists Wine Perspective, Issue One, November 1996. 1996, 1998 by Alexander J. Pandell. All rights reserved.

11-06-2008, 07:59 AM
I was starting to give some thought to the Temp thing as well. I just got back into brewig again after taking some time off. Aside from the small batch of JAO I did this past weekend I made a larger batch tonight. I also have a beer kit I want to do but I remembered what a pain it was to keep it cool while it was fermenting last time. We put the carboy in a keg bucket and filled it up with ice and water. put a T shirt over the carboy then used a Evap cooler pump and spray bar to keep the shirt wet. along with a couple of fans this didn't do too bad of a job. I was thinking of trying something like this for my next batch of what ever I do since the I have to keep the house above 80 for my Dad. He's very old and dosn't like it cold.

It's been so long since I tried the water pump trick I don't remember how cold we could keep things.

Medsen Fey
11-06-2008, 10:03 AM
It's been so long since I tried the water pump trick I don't remember how cold we could keep things.

It depends on the humidity you are in. If you are in the arid mountains, the evaporative cooling may drop your temp by 10 degrees or more. If you are in the steamy tropics (welcome to my world) you may only get 2-3 degrees.


11-06-2008, 10:44 AM
I have a small walk-in wine cooler with storage on one side for 200 bottles, the other side has shelves which I use to store high gravity beer, and had planned to store much of my mead.

The controller is set to 55F w/ 70%RH, I have a chest freezer w/ a setpoint of 48F that I use in combo for dispensing my kegged beer, lagering, and to keep other drinks ready to consume (Sima, Root Beer, etc) since the wife doesn't like fighting for real estate in her fridge.

The room that I use for fermenting ale's and other food storage is conditioned and normally hovers around 70F (72F max), which is also the room I am using to ferment my Meads.

What I'm trying to determine is should I be aiming for a lower temperature (the beer can certainly handle it) or is 70F ok? ...If not I can certainly aim lower.

Thanks again for all the great information.

BTW, I went by my local HBS and they do carry Lalvin as well as Red Star, so I will definitely use them for my next few batches.


11-06-2008, 12:12 PM
Depending on the volume being fermented and the robustness of your fermentation, you can expect a rise in temperature of the must over ambient of around 2 to 6 degrees F during primary fermentation unless you're fermenting large volumes in a big tank. Based on my experience with 6 to 9 gallon batches fermented in typical plastic bucket primary fermenters that are placed on a concrete floor, fermentations that consume .010 gravity points of sugar per 24 hour period will raise the must temperature by two degrees. It isn't a linear thing, but I usually see about a 3 degree rise over ambient for .015 gravity points per day, etc.

That suggests for a typical robust fermentation that you'd like to occur at 70F, you should set the room ambient down around 67-68F, and perhaps even a degree cooler if you are not on a cold concrete floor. My fermentation room is an old insulated dry sauna (a pretty wood paneled closet!) in the basement and it stays pretty much between 66 and 70 F year-round naturally with the sauna heater switched off.

Medsen Fey
11-06-2008, 12:38 PM
I have a small walk-in wine cooler with storage on one side for 200 bottles, the other side has shelves which I use to store high gravity beer, and had planned to store much of my mead.

The controller is set to 55F w/ 70%RH, I have a chest freezer w/ a setpoint of 48F that I use in combo for dispensing my kegged beer, lagering, and to keep other drinks ready to consume (Sima, Root Beer, etc) since the wife doesn't like fighting for real estate in her fridge.

The room that I use for fermenting ale's and other food storage is conditioned and normally hovers around 70F (72F max), which is also the room I am using to ferment my Meads.

You're giving me a serious case of cellar envy! :sad2:

If you keep your fermentations temps in the lower 60s (or lower if the yeast can tolerate) you may get better results.

11-06-2008, 02:11 PM
You're giving me a serious case of cellar envy! :sad2:

I am extremely blessed to have a wife who really supports my...ummm...obsessions.

We have been married 28 years...no children...and are BEST FRIENDS...she hated beer until I brewed my first hefeweizen...now she loves it (just don't tell her Wine drinking friends)...she actually talks to the lady at our local HBS for recipe ideas that she wants to try.

Also, whenever I want to buy a big ticket item I tell her I want to start raising chickens it works every time...I made the mistake of asking once for a puppy...we wound up with two...the chickens are definitely a better choice.

As for my fermenting room, our AC guy at work pulled a small chiller unit out of an area that was built pre-Y2K for long term food storage...he gave me the evaporator and condenser which I believe should work nicely for getting the room to 60ish (gotta keep them beer yeasties in mind)...all I need to do is make sure I don't have a condensation issue with any of the walls.

Without sounding like a broken record THANKS!

11-09-2008, 01:15 AM
It depends on the humidity you are in. If you are in the arid mountains, the evaporative cooling may drop your temp by 10 degrees or more. If you are in the steamy tropics (welcome to my world) you may only get 2-3 degrees.


I live in Phoenix Ax. It's normally not humid here at all most of the year. Mostly hot and dry. Things are starting to cool down here a bit though. Was in the 90s during the day time last week.

We have an enclosed proch out back. i desided to d a little tesst. I filled a brew bucket up with water to see how much of a differance it would be between the water temp in the bucket and the air temp in the room. After 24 hours the water temp and the room temp are now the same at 78 F. I'll check again in the morning and see how cold it got.

I talked to one of the guys at the LHBS What Ale's ya ( <- Shameless plug here) about what the locals do to kepe the temp down when they bew. He told me to put the carboy or brew bucket in a large bucket of water and jsut wrap it up in a large dark towl. The water will soak up into the towl and act like an evap cooler.

I think I'm going to try that next. I have an old galvanized wash tup and another brew bucket I can fill up and see what the temp gets down to.

what what he said I should be able to get it to around 70 or so in the summer.

if I can get it down to 65 and hover there I could do a couple of the Wrathwilde's Recipes that I found here that sounded good. His fermentation temps were right around 65 from what he posted. Otherwise I'm looking at temps in the house around 78-82 most of the time. A little warmer in summer time.

My next trick will be to figure out what to do when it startes getting cold here and then later when things get how. that room can get to 120 in the summer. the only closet I have that I could us to age in stays at about the same temp as the house year round. right around 80 or so. It's dark but not too cool.

Digging a wine celler here is not really an option. I'd have to dig almost to China before it'd get cool enough to do anything. If it's summer when I get there I could always stop off and cool down in hell. Maybe bring back a snowball or two. OK. maybe summer in Phoenix isn't really that hot but it sure feels like it sometimes.

11-10-2008, 10:25 AM

What about using a large chest freezer around 25cuft with a temperature controller to set the temperature say @ 65F...the controller would cost around $50.00, the power @ that temperature with your conditions should probably run just south of $40.00/year (if you don't peak too often)...maybe you could pick up a used freezer locally on eBay or Craigslist.

You could also use it for other things like lagering, bulk aging, etc...I believe if you get one large enough you should be able to fit 4 or 5 carboys...just a thought.


11-10-2008, 11:37 AM
thats an idea I'll have to look into.

Rigth now I've been doing a little experament.

I have a brew bucket filled with water sitting on a shelf in the back room with the window open. it got a bit chilly last night. room temp right now at 8:15 am is about 67 f

the bucket has been sitting in the room for at least 48 hours with the lid on so should be balanced as good as it'd going to get.

The thermo strip on the side of the bucket reads 70
the thermometer stuck down in the bucket reads 72

I also have a 1 gal glass carboy wrapped in a damp towel sitting in a bucket of water.
the water temp in the carboy is at 67.

I'll check again tonight and see what numbers are.

the thermo strip on the carboy of JAO in the kitchen has held farely steady at 80 or just over. (Strip only goes up to 80 though. I wish they went highter than that.)

Update 3:00 am

I checked again and the water in the water in the brew bucked is holding at 74 and the temp on the outside is 72. room temp is 70
I moved the 5 gal batch of JOA out there and sat it on the shelf next to the test bucket. I put it in a tub with about 3 gal of water and wrapped it in a towel to see how gool I can get it. after 5 hours the temp on the outside of the carboy is at 66 and has been holding there for at least 3 hours. still bubbling strong about every 5 or 6 seconds.