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General Category => Going Pro => Topic started by: micsager on May 10, 2013, 03:33:23 PM

Title: Fermentation Temperature Control
Post by: micsager on May 10, 2013, 03:33:23 PM
As many of you know, we are a very small brewery.  Basically homebrewers that can sell our beer.  We brew 10 gallon batches on a Top Tier stand with keggles.  (upgrading soon to 1bbl)  Fermenting in buckets in temp controled chest freezers. 

well, over the past week, two of the freezers finally gave up the ghost.  So, rather than try to get more, we've decided to build a little fermentation room inside the brewery.  Planning about a 10X8 room, framed and insulated.  We plan on using an airconditioner and space heater.  As we generally have 8-10 buckets fermenting at one time, it's not really feasible to tape a temp probe to the side of a bucket. 

So, we will keep the room at 67 for all fermentation for all beers (no lagers of course)

Does anyone have first hand experience going this route? 

 
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature Control
Post by: tschmidlin on May 10, 2013, 03:37:25 PM
Stop by Bluebird and I can show your our setup.  Our air conditioner keeps the space at 40F (it struggles when it's hot) so 67F shouldn't be a problem.  Although I would aim lower, like 64F to offset the heat generated by the fermentation, and pitch at 62F.

I highly recommend a coolbot to keep the air conditioner working well
http://www.amazon.com/CoolBot-Walk-In-Cooler-Controller-conditioner/dp/B003VSLTAI
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature Control
Post by: hamiltont on May 10, 2013, 03:51:11 PM
Here's how I have my Fermentation Box set up. It's 4Wx6Lx6H. The Temp Controller Probe rests next to the conical. The AC is 5000 btu rated. All I did is reposition the copper override sensor from the front (behind the filter) to the back so it never thought it was below 60F. You can sorta see it in one of the pics. Cheers!!!

The small fan above the AC moves the warm air out of the room.
(http://i1116.photobucket.com/albums/k566/tjhamilton/Fermentation%20Box/DSCN1272.jpg) (http://s1116.photobucket.com/user/tjhamilton/media/Fermentation%20Box/DSCN1272.jpg.html)

(http://i1116.photobucket.com/albums/k566/tjhamilton/Fermentation%20Box/DSCN1274.jpg) (http://s1116.photobucket.com/user/tjhamilton/media/Fermentation%20Box/DSCN1274.jpg.html)

(http://i1116.photobucket.com/albums/k566/tjhamilton/Fermentation%20Box/DSCN1281.jpg) (http://s1116.photobucket.com/user/tjhamilton/media/Fermentation%20Box/DSCN1281.jpg.html)

Title: Fermentation Temperature Control
Post by: majorvices on May 10, 2013, 04:12:08 PM
I have used fermwrap around carboys in a cold room with great success, if you have a cold room you could just go that route.
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature Control
Post by: micsager on May 13, 2013, 03:14:26 PM
Stop by Bluebird and I can show your our setup.  Our air conditioner keeps the space at 40F (it struggles when it's hot) so 67F shouldn't be a problem.  Although I would aim lower, like 64F to offset the heat generated by the fermentation, and pitch at 62F.

I highly recommend a coolbot to keep the air conditioner working well
http://www.amazon.com/CoolBot-Walk-In-Cooler-Controller-conditioner/dp/B003VSLTAI

I checked out the coolbots.  Do you think they are necessary for fermenting temperatures?  It's not gonna take too much Control. 
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature Control
Post by: tschmidlin on May 13, 2013, 04:38:57 PM
How hot and humid does it get in the brewery?  You can probably start without one but know it is there if you have problems.  Doug at Malt and Vine went with a beefed up AC unit for his walk in after he blew out a smaller one, he might be using a coolbot too.  Shoot him an email and ask, tell him I mentioned it.  He has a bigger temp drop, but I think you want a bigger space he has.
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature Control
Post by: micsager on May 13, 2013, 05:36:17 PM
How hot and humid does it get in the brewery?  You can probably start without one but know it is there if you have problems.  Doug at Malt and Vine went with a beefed up AC unit for his walk in after he blew out a smaller one, he might be using a coolbot too.  Shoot him an email and ask, tell him I mentioned it.  He has a bigger temp drop, but I think you want a bigger space he has.

I've never measured humidity, but even in the day or two that hits 80 over here, the brewery stays a cool 70-75.  And our space will be 8X12, and 8 feet tall.  Not all that big, we oprdered a 5,000 BTU air conditioner.  The heater will be used more often than the cooler to keep it at the 64 you recommended.
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature Control
Post by: tschmidlin on May 13, 2013, 08:50:52 PM
I think you're right you'll be using the heater more :)
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature Control
Post by: jjflash on May 14, 2013, 02:33:53 AM
I highly recommend a coolbot to keep the air conditioner working well
http://www.amazon.com/CoolBot-Walk-In-Cooler-Controller-conditioner/dp/B003VSLTAI

Tom, that is a way cool device, pun intended. Never seen this gadget before.
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature Control
Post by: Pawtucket Patriot on May 14, 2013, 03:00:14 AM
I highly recommend a coolbot to keep the air conditioner working well
http://www.amazon.com/CoolBot-Walk-In-Cooler-Controller-conditioner/dp/B003VSLTAI

Tom, that is a way cool device, pun intended. Never seen this gadget before.

Very cool, indeed.  I've considered getting a coolbot to make a lagering room in my basement.  Right now, I've got a nice little mini fridge "lagerator," but I'd like to have the freedom to ferment multiple lagers at the same time.
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature Control
Post by: Thirsty_Monk on May 14, 2013, 11:34:33 PM
People talk about the product but I have never heard any feed back from users (it there are any).
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature Control
Post by: tschmidlin on May 15, 2013, 05:26:38 AM
We have one at the brewery for the walk in.  It works, but I don't have anything to compare it to, I haven't tried it without it.
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature Control
Post by: davidgzach on May 16, 2013, 01:05:32 PM
I highly recommend a coolbot to keep the air conditioner working well
http://www.amazon.com/CoolBot-Walk-In-Cooler-Controller-conditioner/dp/B003VSLTAI

Tom, that is a way cool device, pun intended. Never seen this gadget before.

That is very cool.  I've been thinking about converting a part of my basement in to a walk-in for storage.  I can even use one at my mortuary!   ::)

Dave
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature Control
Post by: micsager on May 21, 2013, 05:04:26 PM
We finished the fermenting room Saturday, and already have eight buckets in their fermenting away.  And still have room for 16 more. 

We can brew much more often, and it's nice because we can see what's in each bucket without having to lift it up. 

The airconditioner is barely used, and this little heater we got keeps it very nice.  We have the heater set to turn off at 65 degress, and the air conditioner to come on at 70.

And all for just over $1,000.  We are very happy.  There's pictures at our facebook page, just search Dungeness Brewing.

Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature Control
Post by: tschmidlin on May 21, 2013, 06:57:07 PM
Are you monitoring the actual temperature in each bucket?
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature Control
Post by: micsager on May 21, 2013, 07:13:11 PM
No way to do that.  Or at least I don't know.  Buckets are at different stages of fermentation. 

Do you have any ideas?  I know that owuld be better. 
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature Control
Post by: morticaixavier on May 21, 2013, 07:18:25 PM
It's probably way over complicated but I have considered a zoned temp controlled area accomplished by putting 'gates' or dividers in at various points each with it's own temp controller which would actually trigger a little servo to open or close a vent and/or turn on a ventilator fan.

So your zones would go from;

coldest=closest to cooling or farthest from heating
to
warmest=closest to heating or farthest from cooling.

just a thought I had.
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature Control
Post by: tschmidlin on May 21, 2013, 07:20:15 PM
Slap a fermometer on each bucket?  That way you'll know the temp of each one.

My concern is that 70 is high to turn the AC on, the beer could be much hotter.  The heat of fermentation will take a long time to warm up a room that size, so the beer could be at 75 while the room is at 65.  I would probably set the heater to click on at 62 and the AC at 65.  Play with it though, and you'll figure out a sweet spot.

Allow space between the new buckets to let heat dissipate, and you can cluster the older ones together since they won't be as active.
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature Control
Post by: micsager on May 21, 2013, 07:24:31 PM
Thanks for the advice guys. 

Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature Control
Post by: jeffy on May 21, 2013, 08:12:37 PM
It's probably way over complicated but I have considered a zoned temp controlled area accomplished by putting 'gates' or dividers in at various points each with it's own temp controller which would actually trigger a little servo to open or close a vent and/or turn on a ventilator fan.

So your zones would go from;

coldest=closest to cooling or farthest from heating
to
warmest=closest to heating or farthest from cooling.

just a thought I had.

There's a small brewery in St. Pete that does just this.  The cool room has two areas, one for lagers close to the A/C unit and another room closer to the "out" door for ales.  They are separated by one of those clear, thick plastic curtains.
Title: Fermentation Temperature Control
Post by: majorvices on May 24, 2013, 02:09:05 PM
So, back to my earlier advice. The easiest way to have exact temp control is to make the room cold and use a digital johnson or ranco temp controller set to heat and wrap each fermentor with heat wrap and use a thermowell. In my cold room, set at ambient 34 degrees, I can ferment a lager at 50 or a saison at 80. Works like a charm. I used to ferment 3 bbl plastic conicals this way.
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature Control
Post by: micsager on May 24, 2013, 04:40:34 PM
So, back to my earlier advice. The easiest way to have exact temp control is to make the room cold and use a digital johnson or ranco temp controller set to heat and wrap each fermentor with heat wrap and use a thermowell. In my cold room, set at ambient 34 degrees, I can ferment a lager at 50 or a saison at 80. Works like a charm. I used to ferment 3 bbl plastic conicals this way.

That sounds like a good plan, but a bit more complicated than I want to do.  We now have 16 buckets fermenting in there, and a wrap around each one would be hard to manage.  I did get a bunch of those stick on thermometers that Tom mentioned, and before I left for work this morning, all 16 were in the 64-68 degree range.  I'm happy with that.  The 64 degree ones were all on the lower shelves.  I think I'll get a small wall mount fan, just to move the air around a bit. 

So far, this little room is working out nicely. 

 
Title: Fermentation Temperature Control
Post by: majorvices on May 24, 2013, 05:30:21 PM
I actually did a wrap around 2 at a time. In fact, I put them in a rubber made with some insulation and controlled two at a time that way. I guess, for me, proper temp control is paramount.
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature Control
Post by: micsager on May 30, 2013, 03:22:15 PM
Slap a fermometer on each bucket?  That way you'll know the temp of each one.

My concern is that 70 is high to turn the AC on, the beer could be much hotter.  The heat of fermentation will take a long time to warm up a room that size, so the beer could be at 75 while the room is at 65.  I would probably set the heater to click on at 62 and the AC at 65.  Play with it though, and you'll figure out a sweet spot.

Allow space between the new buckets to let heat dissipate, and you can cluster the older ones together since they won't be as active.

How accurate are those things.  I bought a bunch and put them on the buckets.  All are between 66-68, so that seems OK, but my heater is set 70, and the AC is set at 75.  (not that it will get that hot, LOL)

I put a little fan in there just to keep the air moving.  If those sticker thermometers are any good, I think I've figured the sweet spot.  At least until the weather changes signficantly. 
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature Control
Post by: a10t2 on May 30, 2013, 03:43:49 PM
As long as they're below the beer level in the bucket they'll be within a degree or so.
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature Control
Post by: newrocset on June 02, 2013, 04:03:27 AM
Help me clear the mystery on the stickies.
Which temp do I go with, since the color change on the sticker seems to indicate 3 temps.  I typically go with the highest reading assuming that this is the temp in the center of my fermenter where the most activity is presumably occuring.
Title: Re: Fermentation Temperature Control
Post by: micsager on June 04, 2013, 02:49:57 PM
Help me clear the mystery on the stickies.
Which temp do I go with, since the color change on the sticker seems to indicate 3 temps.  I typically go with the highest reading assuming that this is the temp in the center of my fermenter where the most activity is presumably occuring.

From the manufacturer:

Reading the temperature is straight forward.  If one crystal is highlighted in green, it is that temperature.  If two adjoining crystals are highlighted in blue and tan, it is the temperature in between.

http://tkachenterprises.com/Products.html