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Keeping Homebrew Cool on Hot Summer Days

A lot of us have more time to brew in the summer. Relaxed work schedules, longer days, and vacation time all can add time to your brew schedule. Sometimes the biggest challenge is fermenting the beer in the hottest time of year. There are ways to beat the heat and keep the beer flowing even in hot summer weather. Read on for a few ideas.

Sometimes the thought of being in a hot kitchen with a pot of boiling wort is not a welcome thought when the mercury creeps up past the 90 degree mark. But if you really do not want to run out of organic brew, there are a few things you can do. If you have an outdoor heat source such as a propane burner why not brew outdoors? The process will not cause you to sweat too much (especially if you have an outdoor umbrella or convenient tree to act as a shade source), and you will also not have to worry so much about making a mess. If you use a wort chiller to cool the beer down, you can also hook up a sprinkler to the chiller outflow (after the first few minutes of really hot water has been drawn off) and water the yard while you finish your brew. If you do not have the option to brew outdoors, and early morning or night time session when the temperatures are cooler is the best option. Brewing early or late has the added bonus of leaving you the rest of the day to do other things.

Perhaps keeping your fermenter cool has kept you from brewing. There are a few tricks to cooling the fermentation temperature when the weather really heats up. The most basic cooling method is the swamp cooling method. You will need a large tub that fits the fermenter and will hold enough water to reach about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way up the fermenter when placed in the tub. Once the fermenter is in the tub of water, completely soak a towel in water and wrap it around the fermenter so that the bottom of the towel is also immersed in the water. This creates a giant wick that keeps itself damp and keeps the fermenter cooler. If this is not enough cooling, you can add a fan, as moving air will add up to 10 degrees of cooling. If this is still not enough, you can freeze a few plastic jugs of water and put them in the tub of water. The more ice you add, the cooler it will be. It is actually possible to achieve lager temperatures in this way, even in the hottest summer weather.

If you are lucky enough to have a basement, temperatures usually stay below 70 F naturally. This is ideal for fermentation, especially because temperature fluctuations are usually much more stable. Vintners have been using underground basements and caves to store wine for centuries, after all.

If all this is too much for you to keep track of, the ultimate solution is a temperature controller. For this, you will need a refrigerator or freezer large enough to hold your fermenter and dedicated to brewing. A temperature controller overrides the built in thermostat of the refrigerator or freezer and allows you to set any temperature you like, within the range that the the refrigerator or freezer is capable of (so you will not be able to set it to -50 F for instance). An added benefit of a temperature controller as it can reduce the power consumption of the appliance- it takes much less energy to maintain a temperature of 50 or 55 F than it does to cool things down to 40 F.

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