Buoyed on by our recent nettle beer experiment, I finally took the plunge and purchased the ingredients to brew our own sustainable beer. Preferring lighter, fresher flavours over the summer, my first brew is an authentic Czech-style lager. I will post an update (and share the recipe if it’s a success) in a few weeks’ time. Lagers are quite tricky to make because they need to ferment at cool temperatures, and I overcame this challenge by using our Eve Room and Eve Energy. Let me explain.
Apart from the other ingredients such as hops, an integral component of making a lager is using a suitable yeast. In our case, we opted for M84 Bohemian lager yeast from Mangrove Jack’s. To get the optimal results and flavour it should ferment between 10-15C.
Given the recent rise in temperatures, our annex kitchen (which I am now using as a test kitchen) has been hitting 24C, and from everything I’ve read lager yeasts will deliver some odd (possibly unpleasant) flavours if they don’t ferment at the recommended temperatures. Since the total brew time, till we can drink it, will be in excess of four weeks, I didn’t want to leave anything to chance.
We have an unused fridge in the annex and I thought that this would be the ideal place to put our demijohn. The issue with this fridge is that it doesn’t have a digital display, so I put our Eve Room in the fridge and monitored the temperature. At its lowest/warmest setting, it would regularly drop to 8C and would not go above 10C where we needed the target temperature to be.
So I had an idea.
I plugged the fridge into an Eve Energy smart plug, and then set two rules via the app on our Eve Room, which I put inside the fridge. When the temperature drops to 10C, the Eve Room will register this and trigger the smart plug to turn off, thus turning the fridge off. The fridge will gradually heat up – so my next rule was to set a trigger when the Eve Room registered 13C. This instructs the smart plug to switch on, thus turning the fridge on and cooling it down, until it hits 10C, and it turns off again.
This set up has now allowed me to ferment my lager at the recommended 10-15C range. And because our glass demijohn is inside the fridge, we also don’t have to worry about direct sunlight. It’s turned out to be a handy solution.
Having stated everything above, we did struggle to get the triggers working initially. I contacted Eve’s support team, who are always excellent in replying with useful information and suggestions. They guided us through some niggly points that could prevent the Eve Room from working as described.
For starters, they advised against the use of integers. We initially wanted the fridge to turn on when the temperature hit 13.5C. They suggested that we opt for either 13C or 14C. We changed this to 13C. For the triggers, we then set them up as follows:
1: Temperature <= 10C (trigger), no condition, scene Eve Energy OFF
2: Temperature <= 14C (trigger), no condition, scene Eve Energy ON
This is also very important. A trigger is a change of temperature. So if we consider rule 1, if the temperature falls from 11C to 10C, for example, the Eve Energy will turn off. If you have set everything up and the temperature is already at 8C, nothing will happen because a trigger hasn’t been activated. So once you’ve created the rules and they’re active, you may have to kick things off manually if your temperatures are outside your trigger ranges. Check the temperature in the fridge and either turn the Eve Energy on or off, so that triggers can be activated – from this point, everything will be automated.
The last thing you need to know is that you will need a home hub in range of your devices (if they’re Eve, HomeKit enabled) for them to work in conjunction with one another. We use an Apple TV but you can also use a HomePod Mini.
An alternative method
If you don’t have an Eve Room or smart thermostat a simple smart plug will do the trick too. I’ve monitored our fridge and it takes about two hours for it to drop to 10C and then two hours to get back to around 13C when it’s on its ‘warmest’ setting. So what you could do is set 12 schedules on your smart plug instructing it to turn on and off every two hours. This will allow your fridge to maintain a lower temperature that should be suitable for lagers.