Controlling fermentation temps

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by Conservidave, Dec 31, 2012.

  1. Conservidave

    Conservidave New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2012
    Messages:
    79
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    New Mexico
    How do you control your fermentation temps? In the winter time i will see as much as a 10 degree shift in my
    temps from day to night. I was hoping to find a cheap but effective way to maintain 70 degrees for my Ales.
     
  2. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,728
    Likes Received:
    9
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    Google for a fermentation chamber. I have one now, and a blog post will come out soon at the site.

    Basically it is a freezer chest (the chamber), with a 60W light bulb inside a paint can for heat. Both are hooked up to a 2 stage temperature controller. That way it automatically heats the inside when too cold, or cools using the freezer when it is too hot.

    This allows lagering, pretty much anything I want to do. There may be simpler solutions to stabilize temps for ales.
     
  3. chessking

    chessking New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2012
    Messages:
    255
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Aurora, Colorado
    It depends on your situation. If you ferment in a unheated garage, then you will have temp fluctuation throughout the day, as well as seasonal. this would require heat in the winter and cooling in the summer. For this application a chamber with heat and cooling works best. Your desire is to ferment at a stable temperature at the cool end of the yeast tolerance, and have the ability to raise the temperature a few degrees at the end of active fermentation. If you ferment in an more stable environment (in a basement or heated room/garage) you may only need the cooling. A simpler solution is possible from a swamp cooler (water bath with a cloth that covers the fermenter and wicks and evaporates) or a simple chamber made from insulated panels.

    http://www.wortomatic.com/articles/38DD-Mother-of-a-Fermentation-Chiller

    http://www.brewgeeks.com/build-a-ferm-chamber.html

    I prefer an old refrigerator with a STC 1000 aquarium temperature controller hard wired into the thermostat. This is a dual stage controller, that you can set both heating and cooling set points. Its also fairly cheap, about $22 shipped from ebay.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/30-Off-110V...963?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3cc6101acb

    Chest freezers work but remember you have to lift the full fermenter in and out. Also freezing temperatures are never needed, so a refrigerator will work fine. I liked the idea of installing the thermostat inline, but you could rig up a control box that you would just plug the refrigerator/freezer into:

    http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/ebay-aquarium-temp-controller-build-163849/

    However when the compressor is off the interior light would be off. I liked the idea of having the light functional every time I open the door.
    One thing to watch out for is moisture. you got to wipe them out and clean them to prevent mildew and mold. at these moderate temps and moisture levels mold will eventually take hold
     

    Attached Files:

  4. Conservidave

    Conservidave New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2012
    Messages:
    79
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    New Mexico
    I have solved my summer time fermenting with a large plastic tub that i put in a bath tub, the large water mass helps keep temps stays fairly cool and stable. I was thinking i may be able to do the same basic process with an aquarium heater and some type of temp controller and thermostst.

    I hope to be able to acquire the fridge set up for fermenting and lagering at some point. Thanks for the ideas!
     
  5. Praetor

    Praetor New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2012
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Lubbock, Tx
    Since I don't have a setup in our apartment all I do is put it in the bathroom. Though the air heats up when we shower it is quickly brought to room temp (70-72F) when the door is opened. If SWMBO has a problem within going potty and looking at a bubbling airlock then you may run into trouble but it is out of the way for the most part.
     
  6. Conservidave

    Conservidave New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2012
    Messages:
    79
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    New Mexico
    LMAO! yeah a bubbling airlock can be mezmorizing causing one to lose focus, hehe!
    One of my issues is the Mrs. who doesn't appreciate any of my brew stuff in HER house, i can usually get away
    with it but it can cause some unwanted tensions. Maybe i can camoflauge my fermenting bucket as a potted plant.... : ) I have been looking at a gadget called a Fermwrap that wraps around a bucket or bottle and with a temp control keeps everything comfy. I was hoping my next purchase would be kegging equipment but i will probably go ahead and try the ferm wrap. Anyone tried the Fermwrap?
     
  7. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,728
    Likes Received:
    9
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    A fermwrap is a $30 heater that tapes to just one side of the fermentor, and it doesn't offer temperature control. I have used mine for wine fermentation, but with beer it would probably get the fermentor too hot.
    http://morebeer.com/view_product/16674/ ... rap_Heater

    A fermwrap still needs a temperature controller unit to dial in the temperature. The product description says a +5-20F temperature increase. That is too wide to get consistent results. Some yeasts produce strange off flavors at high temps. For ales, I recommend keeping the temp within 1-2 degrees F of the target.

    I recall seeing a product that looked like a zip up jacket for a carboy. It offered temperature control, but I don't remember the name of it. It was pretty spendy, over $100 I think.
     
  8. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,728
    Likes Received:
    9
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    Time to build a brew shed :cool:
     
  9. Kaiser

    Kaiser Member

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2012
    Messages:
    111
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    A cheaper alternative to the Fermwrap is a $15 heating pad. Make sure you get one w/o automatic shut-off. That's what I'm using when I need to heat a carboy or bucket. I simply put the heating pad under the fermenter and use a temp controller with a probe that is pressed against the carboy with some insulation. The latter makes sure it reads the carboy temp. That should also work for buckets, but I'm using a long glass tube as thermowell.

    The heating pad I have has 3 settings. conceivably one may be able to use it w/o a temp controller by finding a setting that works. But this requires at least a constant ambient temperature to work well. Just like using the settings on the heating pad should placing the carboy/bucket partially on the heating pad. Just a few low budget temp control ideas.

    But if you have money to spend, spend it on a temp controller and a heating pad or Fermwrap.

    Kai
     
  10. Conservidave

    Conservidave New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2012
    Messages:
    79
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    New Mexico
    Uh, does your "shed" have it's own address? i bet thats where the inlaws stay when they visit....Right? :p

    Seriously though thats a pretty sweet rig you got there, is it heated/cooled etc?
     
  11. Conservidave

    Conservidave New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2012
    Messages:
    79
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    New Mexico
    I have actually been giving this idea some thought. I will need to experiment with a pail of water to fine tune
    but it just might work. The ambient temps are no doubt a big part of the problem but i have a couple of other ideas that might help too.
    Lagering would be a heck of a lot easier for me to do in the winter, but i need to perfect the Ales first. :geek:

    Thanks,
     
  12. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,728
    Likes Received:
    9
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Portland, Oregon

    Thanks for the compliment on the shed. The shed is for me, not my in-laws! Unfortunately, no heating/cooling, besides the fermentation chamber for the yeasties, and the keezer for the beer.
     
  13. Kaiser

    Kaiser Member

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2012
    Messages:
    111
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    I just got one from Amazon. I used to be able to buy them at the local CVS, but they only carry the ones with auto-shutoff now.

    When buying something to heat a carboy or bucket it's important to buy something that spreads out the heat. Otherwise the class may crack. I just want to put this out there.

    Kai
     
  14. shizzy

    shizzy New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2012
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    minneapolis
    I have a room in the basement that is on it's own zone. I just set the thermostat to 3-5 degrees below the "preferred fermentation temp" of the yeast i'm using.
     
  15. Conservidave

    Conservidave New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2012
    Messages:
    79
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    New Mexico
    I basically bit the bullet and set the thermostat for the house at 70 degrees for the last brew. Our nite time temps have beenn in the single digits which meant the stove and furnace would be working over time to keep the temp stable. Fortunately we've had a heat wave with early morning temps now in the twenties. I have held a consistent 70-72 degrees on my fermenter with great activity.
     

Share This Page

arrow_white