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A Brew For All Seasons

February 25, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 160

Commercial breweries have all sorts of equipment at their disposal designed to control the climate at which their beer ferments. It could be one hundred degrees outside and they can still produce a clean, crisp lager. The home brewer is much more at the mercy of mother nature, and needs to work around her seasons if any measure of success is to be attained. In this article I will endeavor to share when to brew a particular beer to get the best from it.

Before we go in to when to brew what, let us have a quick look at how beer ferments. In a nutshell, malted barley or wheat is mixed with water (and hops but they don't ferment) and yeast in introduced. The moment the yeast comes in to contact with the sugar in the malt extract it begins to convert it to alcohol. Yeast does us a great service with the work it does and without it we wouldn't have our precious beer, but it can not be said that yeast is tough. Yeast is actually quite fragile. The two biggest factors to affect the quality of the alcohol produced are the hygiene applied to the process and the temperature at which we ferment. Every strain of yeast has a narrow temperature range it works in. Below that range the yeast will hibernate, which is no major problem as it can be woken up again with a bit of warmth and a gentle stir with a sterile paddle. In the lower half of this range the yeast will work well and produce it's best alcohol, and ideally this is temperature you will ferment your beer at. In the higher half of this range the yeasts will produce esters in the alcohol and these create a sweet fruity after taste which is a flaw in a flavor profile. Above this ideal temperature and the yeast will cook and perish, which is a problem.

So what are these ideal temperature ranges. Quite easily, yeast can be divided in to two families, Safale and Saflager. Safale yeasts are used to produce those sweeter beers like bitters, ales, stouts and pale ales. Saflagers are used to create pilsners and lagers and those beers from cold European countries like Germany and Holland.. They work as follows:

Safales work between 17 degrees Celsius and 30 degrees Celsius and ideally ferment at 19-20 degrees Celsius.

Saflagers work between 8 degrees Celsius and 22 degrees Celsius and ideally ferment at 12-13 degrees Celsius.

So what affects the temperature? The seasons do. To get the best out of your beer, you need to work with the ambient temperature instead of against it and this is just a matter of brewing in the right season. Consider this; it's the middle of winter and it's almost freezing outside, you have the heater on inside the house and it is doing a good job keeping your living room warm. The rest of the house is cold. Why not set up your fermenter in the laundry and use that cold temperature to brew some pilsners and lagers. By the end of winter you could have 100 to 200 bottles brewed. Put them somewhere cool to condition and by the time the wamer months arrive they will be ripe and ready to drink. What could be better than a nice refreshing lager after mowing lawn on a hot day?

The reverse scenario works just as well. It's summer time and it's hot outside, and warm inside. Now is the time to brew some red English Ales, some Stouts and some Pale Ales and store them away for those cold wintery nights. I enjoy nothing more than stout after a hot beef stew in the winter. I'm sure I'm not alone..

As was stated earlier, commercial breweries spend a lot of money on equipment to control the climate they brew in and they do this so they can produce the same product all year round. They can create the ideal temperature for the yeast. I don't know any home brewers with the same luxury.We have to match the yeast to the temperature.By doing so and allowing a suitable two to three month period in the bottle we ensure we always have a supply of our favorite brew, and we have it at it's best.

For more information on brewing your own beer visit my blog at

Source: EzineArticles
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