Summer Homebrewing Tips.
Ok, so it's summer time and you want to brew some beer, but it's pushing 90 degrees outside and your basement is feeling the heat. What can you do to keep the temperatures regulated so that you don't get off flavors in your beer because you are fermenting over 80 degrees? Here are some pointers for all of you out there that I have used with success.
1. Chill your wort down as fast as you can. In the summer it can be a little more difficult if you use immersion wort chillers because the water being pumped through your lines is probably 60 + degrees, whereas in the winter time it's cooler than that. If you have the space I recommend filling some plastic gallon jugs of water and freezing them and submerging them for a water bath. This not only conserves water usage but it helps cool down your wort, especially if you are using an immersion chiller with this process.
2. Once you get your wort chilled you can submerge it into a water bath in your basement. How? Use one of those 12 gallon rubbermaid bins and fill it half way with water and submerge your fermenter in there. You can also add one of those frozen gallon jugs, too in order to keep the temps down.
3. In addition to the basement water bath in #2 you can wrap a towel or put a shirt over your carboy and direct a fan to the carboy to keep temps down. Just be sure to check the water levels because some water evaporation will ensue.
4. Brew a beer that wants hot temperatures for fermentations. Belgian Saisons come immediately to mind. You want to start fermenting those at 75 degrees and just let the yeast ramp up to where it wants to go. Some people have fermented this style of beer up to 90 degrees with no ill effect on flavor or taste. Some people actually have reported even better results at higher temps with this style of beer.
5. Buy a chest freezer and convert it into a kegerator. Now this isn't the most frugal of endeavors but having a chest freezer with a Johnson controller to regulate the temperature inside of the freezer is the simply the best way to deal with the heat in the summer time.
And remember, if you are fermenting any kind of ale-style beer over 80 degrees you are going to pick up off flavors from the yeast. Examples: Diacetyl (buttery flavor), Esters (fruity flavors) and fusel alcohols (this kind of alcohol can give you headaches but not all the time.).
Now that you know what to do for your Summer Time Brews, get out there and start brewing. I hope these tips help you beat the summer heat.