BEGINNERS’ GEMS #3: The Finer Points of Fermentation Temperature

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IN OUR THIRD article for home distilling beginners, we answer more questions regarding the fermentation process.

Our first article in this series is HERE, followed by our second article HERE.

This third article should now cover all the remaining basics about getting your fermentation done and dusted… and get you ready to distill your wash!

Is fermentation temperature Air temperature or Liquid Temperature?

The fermentation temperature range recommended on the turbo packet or instructions always refers to air temperature.

The liquid temperature is almost always warmer than air temp especially in the first couple of days of fermentation because the activity of the yeast breaking down the sugar creates a lot of heat.

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If you stick to within the air temperature range then you will never have a problem with your fermentation overheating.

Why do you need to ferment at a certain temperature?

Yeast is a living organism. Most yeasts used in distilling are active and produce fermentation in a temperature range of between 18°C and 26°C.

This is the temperature range where we have the best chance of achieving good results. Above this temperature very rapid fermentation may produce unwanted byproducts.

If the temperature is too high the yeast will die.

At lower temperatures fermentation will be slower and may cease completely (stuck ferment) meaning the yeast has become dormant.

How do I warm my wash during fermentation in cold climates?

The only sure way is to use a heating pad or heating belt which will maintain a constant temperature. These devices are almost essential in the winter months.

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How can I stop my brew from overheating when my room temperature is too high?

There are two methods that you can use.

  1. Fill some PET soft drink bottles with ice and freeze them. You can add them throughout fermentation to control the temperature.
  2. Another method is to use the evaporation technique. Sit the fermenter in a tray with about 25mm of water. Drape some fabric over the fermenter so it dangles in the water (toweling or an old sweatshirt is ideal). If it is still too hot, turn a fan onto the fermenter.

Until next time… Happy Distilling!


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Posted in Distilling, Fermentation.