Author Topic: Warming Fermenters a Few Degrees  (Read 1886 times)

Offline a10t2

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Warming Fermenters a Few Degrees
« on: January 23, 2013, 12:52:01 PM »
I foolishly set up for a lager batch this weekend without thinking about the fact that I already have a couple ales in the fermentation chamber. My garage is holding about 2°C, so I don't need to warm it too much above ambient, and I only need to worry about it for maybe 4-7 days before it can go in the chamber with the ales.

Once fermentation kicks in it should help with keeping the temps up, but I'm wondering if anyone has a proven solution for warming a fermenter without temperature control. Warm water bath? Chemical hot packs? Move it in and out of the fermentation chamber a hundred times a day?
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Re: Warming Fermenters a Few Degrees
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2013, 12:53:05 PM »
I foolishly set up for a lager batch this weekend without thinking about the fact that I already have a couple ales in the fermentation chamber. My garage is holding about 2°C, so I don't need to warm it too much above ambient, and I only need to worry about it for maybe 4-7 days before it can go in the chamber with the ales.

Once fermentation kicks in it should help with keeping the temps up, but I'm wondering if anyone has a proven solution for warming a fermenter without temperature control. Warm water bath? Chemical hot packs? Move it in and out of the fermentation chamber a hundred times a day?

water bath with fish tank heater? haven't tried it but it might work.
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Re: Warming Fermenters a Few Degrees
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2013, 12:53:17 PM »
I use a large tub of water that has an aquarium heater on a timer in the water.
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Re: Warming Fermenters a Few Degrees
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2013, 01:33:07 PM »
Standard $ 25-35 aquarium heaters have temperature ranges that do not go much below 70 F.  The one I have theoretically goes down to 65 F but in fact goes down only as far as 67 F.  Maybe you could use a water bath for your ales and put your lager into your fermenter? 

I've never used the timer Denny refers to, but I can imagine that it would work.
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Offline a10t2

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Re: Warming Fermenters a Few Degrees
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2013, 01:33:35 PM »
Brilliant! I hadn't even thought of an outlet timer. I should have plenty of time to get it dialed in too.
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Re: Warming Fermenters a Few Degrees
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2013, 02:52:44 PM »
Brilliant! I hadn't even thought of an outlet timer. I should have plenty of time to get it dialed in too.

I set mine to come on about 4-7 PM and go off 6-9 AM, depending on how cold it is.  Between that and the thermostat on the aquarium heater it works really well.
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Offline anje

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Re: Warming Fermenters a Few Degrees
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2013, 02:56:07 PM »
Standard $ 25-35 aquarium heaters have temperature ranges that do not go much below 70 F.  The one I have theoretically goes down to 65 F but in fact goes down only as far as 67 F.  Maybe you could use a water bath for your ales and put your lager into your fermenter? 
I'm going to guess that if you get a smaller heater for the waterbath you use, it won't be capable of heating the whole volume to a full 70F.  Not sure if you'd risk burning it out doing that, though.

Edited to add: Aquarium heaters also usually are meant to be raising the tank temp above normal room temperature. If you've got this out in a 2C garage, you're sure to not be able to get the water bath as warm with a heater as you would in a 21C house.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2013, 02:09:16 PM by anje »
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Offline a10t2

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Re: Warming Fermenters a Few Degrees
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2013, 03:10:41 PM »
I set mine to come on about 4-7 PM and go off 6-9 AM, depending on how cold it is.  Between that and the thermostat on the aquarium heater it works really well.

My timer has enough little plastic bits for 3-4 on/off cycles a day, so with a few days to play I should be able to get it to fluctuate within a pretty narrow band.

I wonder if I should pick up an aquarium heater, or just use my 1500 W heat stick.  ;)
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Re: Warming Fermenters a Few Degrees
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2013, 03:11:57 PM »
I set mine to come on about 4-7 PM and go off 6-9 AM, depending on how cold it is.  Between that and the thermostat on the aquarium heater it works really well.

My timer has enough little plastic bits for 3-4 on/off cycles a day, so with a few days to play I should be able to get it to fluctuate within a pretty narrow band.

I wonder if I should pick up an aquarium heater, or just use my 1500 W heat stick.  ;)

Do you think the heat stick might be too much?  I guess it's a lot colder there than it is here, so between that and a timer it might be just the thing.
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Re: Warming Fermenters a Few Degrees
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2013, 03:30:39 PM »
Running it for 15 min should heat 15 gal of water/beer by about 5°C, which is a pretty wide range, but not awful. If I can set it to run for 5-10 min instead, then that's perfect. I'll just have to take another look at my timer when I get home.
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Offline troybinso

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Re: Warming Fermenters a Few Degrees
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2013, 03:59:42 PM »
I put a heating pad near the fermentor and cover the whole thing with a blanket. I tape a meat thermometer with a long wired probe to the other side of the fermentor and insulate it so I can occasionally monitor the temperature.

Something like this:

http://www.amazon.com/Sunbeam-756-500-Heating-Pad-UltraHeatTechnology/dp/B00006IV4N/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1358981761&sr=8-3&keywords=heating+pad

and this:

 http://www.amazon.com/CDN-Digital-Programmable-Probe-Thermometer/dp/B00046YFHE/ref=sr_1_5?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1358981898&sr=1-5&keywords=meat+thermometer


Cheap and easy solution.

Offline dcdwort

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Re: Warming Fermenters a Few Degrees
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2013, 04:46:25 PM »
Love these ideas!  I needed to heat my stout up a few degrees to push the final gravity down a couple of more points.  It was in my basement and fermenting slowly at 60 F and wanted it up around 65.  I keep my carboys in plastic oil catchpans in case of spills or other disasters and just added some warm water. (Better Bottle, not glass) In about an hour I was up to 65 and changed the water every 6 hrs or so for two days.  That brought my SG down a couple of points to where I wanted it.
But I like the fish heater idea and will play with that.
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Offline tom

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Re: Warming Fermenters a Few Degrees
« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2013, 02:41:29 PM »
I use a warm water bath with a heatstick and RANCO.
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Warming Fermenters a Few Degrees
« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2013, 08:59:14 PM »
I've started using a Brew Belt on my last few brews, and I've been pretty happy with it so far. I've gotten 3-gallons of beer in both a 6-gallon carboy and a 6.5 gallon bucket pretty much dead-on 8 degrees F above ambient every time.
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Offline Jeff M

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Re: Warming Fermenters a Few Degrees
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2013, 06:33:29 PM »
MY LHBS has been promoting the Thermovest.  They have been using it in their shop(which is based out of a warehouse) in MA, where it has been fridgidly cold before today.  might be worth looking in to, altho they seem expensive.
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