Open FermenterCan you control those lovely yeasties?

Have a few batches under your belt, but still not liking the flavors you’re getting? Maybe you aren’t keeping your yeast happy. Maybe those odd flavors you’re getting are coming from some simple thing that you could change with a simple solution.
As an example, if you’ve been around homebrew long enough, it’s likely you’ve experienced a few bottles of beer you might’ve mistaken for paint thinner. Well, one reason could be that the beer was fermented at temperatures outside the yeast’s preferred range and fusel alcohols were created. The answer to this problem? Keep the yeast in their happy place. Do all you can to keep that fermentation in a cooler temperature range.
Or maybe you’re really itching to try a lager style. A nice crisp pilsner for warm spring days. Well, you’ll have to keep it under 55F and store it even colder to get the results you expect. Even faux lagering with an ale yeast needs the cold. In fact, if you’re into them, most low ester styles need to be cold during fermentation. Even if you just want a smooth clean flavor in your ale. You’ll need to be sure you stay closer to 60-65F. Not terribly cold, but definitely cooler than the usual ambient temperature of most households. Plus, the fermentation itself creates heat.
These things lead to only one conclusion: fermentation control.
Controlled fermentation leads to better and more accurate flavor profiles and it’s the only way to brew a true lager outside of constant winter. And this is being written in Texas, where one winter day it’s 70F, the next it’s 12F. So, if you can’t count on the weather, you’re still better off with actual control. This means a refrigerator or freezer with a temperature controller to keep temps stable.
Yeah, it’s a big move for some, but really a major contributor to vast improvements in the flavors of your beer. Seriously.
Luckily, there are plenty of cheap fridges and freezers out there, cheap-and-picked-up or new-and-delivered. Hopefully you have the room for one. Or maybe two. You will need a beer fridge after all, for bottles and/or kegs. But that’s another topic…just know that this hobby can lead to a serious case of refrigerator/freezer hoarding.
Just remember, happy yeast make better beer. Recipes and process matter, but if the yeast aren’t happy, the beer won’t make you happy. You want better beer! Make every batch a little better than the last.
Brew Better Beer: Read up on your chosen yeast to find out what temperatures makes it the happiest. Make a batch to ferment at the middle range of those temps, then the low range, then the higher range—without going over the limit. Taste the differences and find out what you like best for that yeast with that recipe. Maybe you want to accentuate the bright citrus flavors of a particular hop or maybe you’d rather have a fruitier background against a hop that has a tropical fruit character. You can only discover what works best by trying the same thing in different ways. Knowing your yeast will help you brew better beer.