Why Fermentation Tank Temperature Is So Critical
Posted on January 26, 2022 by Cedarstone Industry Team
When we build fermentation tanks for clients, we pay a lot of attention to things like maximizing heat transfer and optimizing insulation. The reason is simple: tank temperature is critical to producing a high-quality finished product. Some of our clients even insist that tank temperature is the most crucial factor when it comes to producing a good beer.
It goes without saying that the optimal temperature varies from one recipe to the next. Some recipes require temperatures slightly higher or lower than others. We also get that there is room for different temperature preferences among breweries. But the one thing they all have in common is the need to be able to tightly control fermentation tank temperature throughout the entire brewing process.
When It is Too Warm
Brewing in warm weather environments can be tricky. You have to be careful not to let your fermentation tank get too warm or you could end up with a batch that does not taste quite right. The biggest concern when a fermentation tank gets too warm is that the beer’s flavors will seem a little bit off. A beer can easily end up tasting a little skanky.
Too high a temperature can also result in:
- Yeast Blasting – Excessively warm temperatures can cause the yeast to go into overdrive at the very start of the fermentation process. The result is that fermentation is never fully completed.
- Alcohol Toxicity – If the fermentation tank temperature is too warm, yeast can suffer from alcohol toxicity. When that happens, the yeast begins to die off too quickly.
- Loss of Control – The metabolic process of fermentation generates heat all by itself. So if tank temperature is too warm to begin with, things can get out of control very quickly. Yeast can begin to die prematurely due to heat stress.
Being one or two degrees too warm may not be enough to make a beer entirely undrinkable, but the overall taste could be altered dramatically. To commercial brewing operations, this is unacceptable. A product’s optimal flavor needs to be consistent across every batch.
When It is Too Cold
Fermentation tanks can be a few degrees too cold, thus leading to yeast stress. Fortunately, being too cold is an easier problem to solve. So what happens if a tank is too cold? For starters, fermentation may never get started simply because the yeast is too cold.
Other possible issues include:
- Sluggish Fermentation – When fermentation tanks are too cold, fermentation tends to be sluggish. If the problem is not rectified, fermentation can stop entirely.
- Bland Flavors – Fermentation requires a certain level of heat to maximize flavor profiles. A tank that is too cold can easily produce a bland tasting beer.
- Odd Flavors and Aromas – Certain unwanted flavors and aromas are gassed off when fermentation is at the right temperature. If it is too cold, those aromas and flavors may linger.
Believe it or not, cold fermentation tanks are also susceptible to problems related to bacterial contamination. Certain kinds of bacteria can run rampant in a fermentation tank if the temperature is not warm enough. And if that happens, the entire batch becomes unusable.
We take great care in constructing fermentation tanks with characteristics designed to help maintain tight temperature control. If that is important to you, and it should be, do not settle for just any tanks. Make sure your new tanks are properly insulated, allowing for optimal heat transfer, and can be fitted with the right equipment to help you maintain consistent temperatures. Otherwise, you may end up producing beer that doesn’t meet your own standards of quality.