7

I would like to start this hobby however I don't know how hard is to do it in a semi desert climate. Should I have a place with cool temperature to avoid spoiling the brew?

9

Generally - yes.

A large part of the flavour of the beer comes from esters produced by the yeast during fermentation. There are many different varieties of yeast, and each has a differing set of esters it produces.

The problem arises in that as temperatures increase the yeast ferments and grows much more rapidly, and can produce different and/or too many esters, in addition to fusel alcohols.

Most packs of brewer's ale yeasts will have a temperature range on the back, say something like 18-25°C{1}. However, unless one is brewing a beer style that warrants it (like a "Saison") the general rule is to keep the beer fermenting below 20°C. Ideally, 18-19°C is best. (You don't want to go too low either, at < 15°C, ale yeast may go dormant - but that's another answer.)

So, what can you do?

  • Brew only in winter.
  • Find a spot in your house, a cave, whatever that maintains this temperature.
  • Immerse your fermenter in a larger vessel of water:

    • Find a vessel significantly larger than your fermenter. Bathtub, laundry sink, plastic barrel, etc.
    • Put your fermenter inside this, fill the space with water. Drape a cloth, towel, t-shirt, over the fermenter such that it wicks-up the water. This cools by evaporation.
    • Add blocks of ice a few times a day, as necessary.
  • Modify an old freezer (or 'fridge) with a temperature controller:

    • A device like an STC-1000 allows one to simply set the temperature wanted inside the 'fridge and it monitors and adjusts the temperature by turning the electricity on and off.
    • Some variants of these have the controller mounted in a box with a pair of domestic sockets, so the 'fridge doesn't need to be modified, just plugged in. (the temperature probe still has to go inside though).

I personally brew in a hot climate (some Autumn & Spring, and most Summer days are > 30°C), and have used all these methods with varying levels of success. They are ordered from least-successful to most-successful.

{1} Just because the yeast pack says it's OK at 25°C, doesn't mean it produces good beer at this temperature. I expect some people will disagree with me on this. Ultimately it's a matter of preference, and I think keeping fermentation temperatures < 20°C is good advice for a beginner.

3

Some beer styles are less sensitive to temp than others, strong ales or hefeweizens would do better than lagers for example. In my opinion, if you are serious about brewing you want consistency. To achieve consistency you need a temp controlled storage. Get an old freezer or fridge and a kit from ebay/amazon and you can maintain 70F on the cheap...

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