View Full Version : Fermentation Temp--Room Temp or Lower?

02-26-2009, 11:19 PM
I use temperature controllers on refrigerators to control fermentation temperatures on ales and lagers. Ales generally need to ferment at 68 degrees or lower--any higher and beer suffers greatly. They come out passable if you ferment at room temperature in the house, but going to temp. controlled fermentation GREATLY improved the quality of my ales.

Meads are the same? Looks like these wine/mead yeasts all have pretty wide temperature ranges. Would the mead come out alot better if it were fermented at a constant 65 degrees, or is that way overkill for a mead? Could I make award winning meads fermenting at 70-75 degrees--room temperature in the house?

02-27-2009, 12:05 AM
Ok, I'm practically a complete newbie, so take anything I say with quite a few grains of salt.

I think this may be one of those questions that hasn't been answered definitively due to the relative newness of modern meadmaking. My gut feeling is to aim for around the middle of the temperature range for the yeast to avoid stressing it, and in general temperature control will produce more reliable results.

02-27-2009, 12:46 AM
In some sense, yeast are yeast. Temp control works in beer and it will work in mead too. In fact you probably should worry about it more in mead because of the higher sugar content and the easily fermentable sugars (glucose/fructose instead of sucrose/maltose etc). The most vigorous fermentations I've ever had have been mead, not beer (though beer is the most foamy ;D ), and temperature increase is a byproduct of alcohol production. The more alcohol is produced, and the faster it's made, the more the temperature rises.

What temperature you shoot for will depend on the yeast strain (which you know already). Aim for the low end of the range. I've got 4 going right now at 59-60ºF--which is room temp here--and so far they are doing fine even though that is below the bottom end of one or two of them.

Dan McFeeley
02-27-2009, 02:17 AM
From the Lallemand site:


How does the fermentation temperature change the “dry” or “fruity” character of my wine ?
At warm fermentation temperatures, more esters and higher alcohols are produced than at colder temperatures, resulting in more fruity, floral flavors.

02-27-2009, 03:31 AM
Thanks for the link Dan. For some reason that particular section wouldn't open for me, but your synopsis is interesting because it goes contrary to what I had previously understood about mead making. It looks as though both of my RC 212 batches (oskaars You Bleu My Berriez and a Pinot Nior Pyment) would have been better off in the 70+ temperatures of summer time, even in the 80's temps of the upstairs.

I still have a 71B blueberry mel and a Gewürztraminer pyment with BA11 slated for this march, because I was under the impression that I would get better results from cooler temperatures, so this is odd information to me. Am I wrong? Should I hold these off til summer?

02-27-2009, 10:34 AM
Ok. I am planning to make my first mead out of either Orange Blossom or Tupelo honey. 15 Lbs. honey and 3.5-4 gallons of water to make a 5 gallon batch. I plan to use the Lalvin 71b-1122 yeast because that's what Schramm proposes in the first recipe of his book. That yeast has a 59-86 degree Fahrenheit temperature range.

From my experience with ale yeasts, there's no way I'm gonna ferment at 80 degrees fahrenheit--even though that falls within the specified temperature range. If I ferment that particular yeast in that particular must at room temperature (70-75 degrees), is that ideal? Is that too hot? Will I produce fusel alcohols and off flavors in the mead at 70-75 degrees? What is "ideal" temperature. And can that particular yeast easily ferment a must with that high a starting gravity--I'm guessing that's like a 1.100-1.140 starting gravity?

Medsen Fey
02-27-2009, 02:05 PM
At warm fermentation temperatures, more esters and higher alcohols are produced than at colder temperatures, resulting in more fruity, floral flavors.

Yes, higher alcohols, otherwise known as fusel alcohols or or fusel oils. These are likely to be produced by higher temperatures, and other factors that promote rapid cell division and growth. The problem is these fusel alcohols are very harsh. They create a burning sensation like rot-gut whiskey in the back of the throat. They sometimes smell bad (nail polish anyone?), and the increased concentration of alcohols may actually mute the aroma detection of wines/meads when sniffed.

Higher fermentation temperatures may also lead to various phenolic compounds and vinyl phenols that can smell like Band-Aids and to more sulfur odors. Also worth noting, the rapid fermentation at higher temps may blow off more aromatics that get scrubbed out with the CO2, so even though producing more, more get lost. If that wasn't bad enough, though higher temp fermentations go faster, then tend not to go as far, and may leave you with unwanted residual sugar if not a stuck fermentation.

There is a belief by some wine/mead makers that a slower fermentation may be better. Certainly a debatable topic.

Can you make an award winning mead at 75F? Sure, but it will depend on your recipe, yeast, and other management.

If you are making a traditional mead using 71-B, it it known for producing large amounts of esters and will give you a nicely fruity and floral result. I would ferment as close to the bottom of the temperature range of the yeast as possible, as I think you'll get plenty of fruitiness with a smooth tasting result.

It is perhaps worth remembering that higher temperature fermentation are typically used with red wines to help maximize color extraction and tannins. They tend to wind up with less fruity aromas as a result. It would not surprise me if dark berry melomels would behave similarly with good results even at temperatures in the high 70s or low 80s and perhaps this summer a group brew can be organized to test it out.

Good luck with your batch!

Medsen, fuselier extraordinaire

02-27-2009, 02:40 PM
Thanks for that clarification Mesden! (that reminds me, I have a LOT of brewing to do tonight ;D)

R_C- If you treat this mead well you will not be dissapointed! OB trad with 71B is one of my biggest crowd pleasers.


02-27-2009, 03:20 PM
I'm with Medsen on this one. You will generate more esters, phenols, etc at higher temps, and these can be fruity/floral/spicy, but you run the risk of blowing them all away with the vigorous fermentation. I've done two very fruit-centered beers at very different temperatures (one hot & blackberry/cherry, the other cold & blueberry) and the one that fermented colder (and slower) is by far more fruity. I believe that is so because the retained fruit character--the secondary with the berries was very very slow and very very cold for ale yeast, 56-58--winds up being "fruitier" even without the added fusel/phenol/ester compounds that are generated by higher temps (the blackberry one was fast, vigorous, and explosive). For me, this is the most direct comparison between summer and winter brews with fruit. I tend to make most of my stuff in the winter.

This does get discussed a lot, and I think I'm repeating myself here, but I think colder is the way to go unless you really need the yeast ester-phenol contribution to drive the flavor. Even then I'd shy away from the top end of the temp range and stay in the low-mid 70s. If your ingredient list contains stuff that is very aromatic & flavorful on its own, I'd say keep it cold to preserve all that for the final product.

02-27-2009, 03:24 PM
It sounds like you guys are all fermenting in the mid 60's, then? Is that correct? Do any of you have refrigerators with temperature controllers to maintain the carboy at that temperature? You don't all live in cold climates with perfect temperature basements, right?

02-27-2009, 03:49 PM
It sounds like you guys are all fermenting in the mid 60's, then? Is that correct? Do any of you have refrigerators with temperature controllers to maintain the carboy at that temperature?

Mid to high-60's. Refrigerator with digital controller to keep things cool and a Fermwrap and digital controller to keep things warm. Here in South Texas at this time of year, it can swing from 35 degrees in the morning to 85 degrees in the afternoon. My garage where the brew 'fridge sits is about 10 degrees warmer. -- Olen

02-27-2009, 10:16 PM
A real nifty technique is to set them in large tubs of water--I have a big rubbermaid for this purpose. You can either throw in frozen milk jugs (or something of the sort) or run a fan and towel over them and this will drop your temp significantly. I believe Sandman (AZ?) uses this technique a lot, and if I've got it right Mesden lives in Florida!

Dont sweat it too much. My first mead was an OB traditional with 71B and I didn't know about nutrients or temp control, it still tasted wonderful. If you can keep it down a bit, great, and if you get a hot day and it gets over 80, you haven't ruined it. Mead making is a process you refine more and more as you gain real experience.

Take the honey and run, dude

Dan McFeeley
02-28-2009, 10:36 AM
Just coming back to this thread -- a good general rule of thumb is to ferment at the low 60's. You can't go wrong with that one.

It is possible to make a good mead at higher temperatures -- I made a few meads that placed well in competition, living in an apartment where fermentation temperatures were pretty much room temperature. Still, given a choice, I'd go with the lower temperatures.

Later, with more experience with different yeasts and different varietal honeys, you can experiment a bit, working with the particular yeast strain and how it responds at different ends of temperature range for fermentation.

But low 60's for meads in general, you can't go wrong with that one.

03-01-2009, 01:04 PM
Yeah, I've got two temp controlled fridges in the garage, each with room for 2 5-6 Gal Carboys. One is set at 48 Deg for lagers, the other is set at 64 for ales. We drink alot of beer here, and I'm trying to plan. If I need to dedicate a spot in the ale fridge for 4 weeks for a mead ferment. 4 weeks just for primary fermentation, right? Then it needs to stay in there for another 6-8 weeks at 64 degrees to "condition" or "secondary" ferment? After that, I plan to just keg it and tap in a big temp controlled chest freezer full of corney kegs. It'll continue to age at 8 PSI CO2 at 34 Degrees? Could I just keg it instead of secondary ferment?

Medsen Fey
03-01-2009, 02:30 PM
Could I just keg it instead of secondary ferment?

You can secondary ferment in a keg, then store and bulk age in kegs (as well as serving). It's not hard to put an airlock on. I like the fact that the smaller footprint of the kegs lets me put up to 4 in the fridge so I can store more.

Good Mazing!

03-09-2009, 11:00 PM
If I primary in a fridge at 62-64 degrees, that'd be best. What if I put it at room temperature after primary fermentation is done--like at 0-1 Beats/minute on the airlock. No off flavors would be produced at room temp. after the primary is done or is that incorrect? Does the aging in teh secondary need to occur at lower temperatures as well?

And if I'm using the d-47 yeast, I would need to leave it on the lees in the primary for 4-6 weeks after primary fermentation is done? Or would I rack off of the lees and do the lees aging in the secondary?

03-10-2009, 01:17 AM
Aging goes faster at higher temps. So you shouldn't generate any funky flavors from room temp exposure after fermentation is over, but it will age faster and possibly differently than if you left it cold. That's not bad, but it's something to consider.

03-10-2009, 09:05 AM
Looks like I'll be fermenting in Corney kegs this summer to maximize fridge space, then :) My wife would shit if I bought a 3rd fridge into the garage :)