Beer Blog

Hold the Heat Please

Posted by Neil Bamford, August 25th, 2013 | 0 Comments

Lately I have seen a trend in other local so called home brew stores trying to sell heat belts to brewers. For the most part it is un-needed and mostly unwanted. Heat belts get your wort up to about 80F/26C and while the yeast thrives and will be at its highest metabolic rate at these temps the yeast will create Fusel alcohols (the headachy solventy types) and lots of esters. Yes your beer will ferment much faster this is true but again not what you generally want for a high quality homebrew.
If you are using a good quality liquid/dry ale yeast such as White Labs, Wyeast or Fermentis, you will find that the ideal pitching temperature is generally in the 65f-70f 18C-21C range. Once started the yeast will produce plenty of their own heat that can also raise the temperature of your wort as much as 5 degrees which is why we suggest that you pitch at the low end of the range if you do not have temperature control.
For most, myself included, the trick is to keep the wort at the lower end of the range by converting a freezer with a temperature controller to stop the wort from getting too warm.
If you are lucky enough to have a place that is too cool constantly for ales then you should Alt yeasts or even lager yeasts that do their best work below 60f/15.5.
Heat belts are great for producing big jammy fruity wines but keep them away from your beer unless you absolutely have to use them and if you do attach them to a temperature controller with a probe in the liquid so you do not overheat.

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