Author Topic: Fermentation Temp control  (Read 1480 times)

Offline mrbounds

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Fermentation Temp control
« on: July 08, 2010, 09:25:57 AM »
Hi everyone,

I am looking at setting up some equipment in order to better regulate fermentation temperatures and have been looking at the system available from northern brewer which consists of the fermwrap heater, a temp controller and a stopper thermowell. My question is regarding the thermowell as I now usually utilize a blow off tube and regularly need this so if I was to move to the thermowell how do I stop blow offs?
Obviously if anyone has any better or different ideas for controlling temps I am all ears :)

Thanks!


Offline hamiltont

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Re: Fermentation Temp control
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2010, 09:32:47 AM »
I just place the RANCO probe next to the fermenter with some closed cell foam insulation around it to keep it from sensing the room air. Seems to work pretty good.
If Homebrew & BBQ aren't the answer, then you're askin' the wrong questions... Cheers!!!

Offline bonjour

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Re: Fermentation Temp control
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2010, 09:33:13 AM »
you need cooling too!

fermcap or an anti-foaming solution.
Fred Bonjour
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Offline bonjour

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Re: Fermentation Temp control
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2010, 09:33:48 AM »
and a generally cooler fermentation will less prone to blowoff
Fred Bonjour
Co-Chair Mashing in Michigan 2014 AHA Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan
AHA Governing Committee; AHA Conference, Club Support & Web Subcommittees



Everything under 1.100 is a 'session' beer ;)

Offline vista

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Re: Fermentation Temp control
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2010, 09:54:59 AM »
google 'brewing swamp cooler'

and buy a couple of fermometers
Take it easy...

Offline hokerer

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Re: Fermentation Temp control
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2010, 11:14:34 AM »
If you still want to use the Thermowell, use a 2-hole stopper (looks like most Thermowells come with one).  Thermowell goes in one hole, blowoff tube in the other.
Joe

Offline lazydog79

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Re: Fermentation Temp control
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2010, 11:42:27 AM »
I am looking at setting up some equipment in order to better regulate fermentation temperatures and have been looking at the system available from northern brewer which consists of the fermwrap heater, a temp controller and a stopper thermowell. My question is regarding the thermowell as I now usually utilize a blow off tube and regularly need this so if I was to move to the thermowell how do I stop blow offs?

Bounds - I just bought this setup last year and have been very happy with it. I'm not sure what you are using for a primary, but here's what I did: At the time I bought the controller I also bought a 6 gallon Better Bottle for my primary.  This meant that I 1) couldn't use the 6.5 stopper the thermowell came with and 2) would more than likely need a blow off.  I bought a couple of solid #10 stoppers to fit the better bottle.  There is plenty of room on a #10 for two holes.  I drilled one hole just big enough to put the thermowell through and one big enough for a 3/8" line.  I wish I could remember the diameters I drilled, but can't now.  Just remember that you want a snug fit and the rubber will stretch a little, so under size it.  You can always drill larger if needed, but you can't make a drilled hole smaller!  :D

If I ever want to use the thermowell for secondary fermentation (which isn't very often), I take it out of the #10 and put it back in the original for use in a standard glass carboy.  If you primary in a standard carboy, you could just drill out the airlock whole on the 6.5 stopper a tad to accommodate a blow-off hose.

If you do go with this setup, a word of wisdom I learned the hard way.  Running the Johnson Controller's probe down the thermowell is great if you are using the heater - will hold it within a degree and it did a great job holding my ale @ 66 in a 58 degree basement.  You just need to start off at the temperature.  The FermWrap will hold, just not great at heating up.  However, if you are using it for cooling in a fridge or freezer, you probably don't want to do that.  What I ran into was that by the time the freezer got cold enough to affect the core temp of the fermenter, it got really cold and would end up dropping the temp 4-5 degrees before it stopped.  For cooling, I now use the Johnson to control the ambient temp of the freezer and an inexpensive digital probe thermometer to run down the well to accurately measure my fermentation temps.  If the fermenter gets a little warm, I adjust accordingly.

I highly advise picking this kit up.  It's a great buy for the money and probably the best money I spent on my brewery.  Reliably controlling my temperatures has taken away a lot of aggravation and improved the quality of my beer.  It's also nice to brew what you want, when you want.  ;D

Offline richardt

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Re: Fermentation Temp control
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2010, 11:55:15 AM »
It has been said before, and by many who are better and more experienced brewers than I am:  To consistently and reproducibly brew good/great beers, you must use enough yeast (and the right strain of yeast) AND you must control the fermentation temperatures. 
I've made too many unimpressive beers trying to ignore this advice.  Don't be penny-wise and dollar-foolish.  Just invest the money in good temp controllers and yeast starter kits.  If I could do it all over again, I'd forego one or two extract-beer kits (which didn't turn out great because of dry yeast packets/underpitching and poor fermentation temperature control), and just invest the time and $$ in yeast starter kits and fermentation temp control devices.
I put the probe on the outside of the bucket and cover with foam or towel to keep the air from blowing on it.  Works like a charm.
I periodically verify the temps with a $5 infrared thermometer for wine/beverages (keychain style).

Offline dak0415

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Re: Fermentation Temp control
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2010, 12:52:19 PM »
I bought a thermowell from this guy.

http://www.stirplates.com/tWellStraight.htm

Take a standard carboy cap, cut the narrow (long) tip down to 1/2".  Boil to soften and run the T'well down through it.  Attach a 5/8" id blowoff hose to the center tip and you're good to go!

FYI a fan in the fermentation cooler will speed heat transfer and prevent undershooting your temps.  If you are using a 14-15cuft freezer and a 5-6 gallon batch, just put a carboy full of water in the cooler too, that will add enough mass to absorb the undershoot of the air temp.

I have found, however that an insulated probe taped to the side works just as well, but for beer's sakes do one or the other!
Dave Koenig
Anything worth doing - is worth overdoing!

Offline mrbounds

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Re: Fermentation Temp control
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2010, 05:45:09 PM »
Thanks for the tips everyone!

I am definitely going to do something to start controlling temperatures better I am just trying to decide which is the best way :)

I will probaly go the swamp cooler route to begin with and use aquarium heaters to heat if need be.

Thanks again!