Brewing with the seasons…

After brewing up my Dark Star Festival ale in the last hot, golden, days of late summer and ending up with the fruitiest most estery-tasting ale ever; I’ve decided to change my approach and try to brew more in line with the seasons and the prevailing temperatures.

I’m quite lucky – living slap-bang in the middle of England, as the temperature variance for the whole year is never much outside of -5C and +25C so it’s not like I ever have to contend with real extremes of temperature like our US cousins.

Now, we all know that yeast (ale yeast in particular) can be a funny old beast – once you take it out of it’s temperature comfort zone it’s liable to do all manner of crazy things: too high and it’ll rip through a wort and produce all manner of off-tastes, fusel alcohols and other weirdness in the finished beer; too cold and it’ll produce unrelenting blandness and maybe even give up the ghost completely – leaving you with a half-fermented and way-too-sweet finished product.

Fortunately, there’s a wide variety of beer styles that I can try to pair up with the prevailing weather and make the most of it…

So, let’s take a look at the various maximum temperatures for my neck of the woods, the temperature it’s likely to be inside my house as a result and which yeast types are likely to be happiest:


A tiny table!  You can click on it to view the detail…

Well that’s interesting, isn’t it?  It looks like I’m pretty much good to brew ales and stouts all year round – apart from the very hottest three months of the year.  But that’s no problem as I can easily get on with some Saison and Belgian ale brewing when the temperature is above 20C.

From what I’ve read the Belgians ferment their ales up to 30C – Belgian yeasts seeming to be selected to be pushed hard at high temperatures – that’s where they love to produce their characteristic phenols and flavour profiles.

Some Saison yeasts seem happiest at temperature in excess of 30C!  I’ve also read that fermenting Saisons at under 18C is not worth it as it just doesn’t deliver a good enough flavour profile.

Notice that any form of bottom-fermenting Lager yeasts are right out – they’re only happy at temperatures below 10C for the most part.  That’s where I may need to invest in a brew fridge.

At last, I now feel that I have some sort of order in my brewing calendar…that is until I’ve sorted out the aforementioned brew fridge – then the world will be my oyster!  Lagers in July, anyone?

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