Author Topic: Wine Chiller  (Read 372 times)

Offline redrocker652002

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Wine Chiller
« on: July 13, 2022, 02:10:09 am »
So, my accountant (wife) has given me the go ahead to look for a fermentation chamber. Me being frugal (cheap), I am looking for possible ways to do this in a less costly fashion.  I have thought about a used wine chiller.   I have been searching Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace and found some 100 bucks or less.  My question to the experts, do any of you use one for your beer and if so, make and model that will fit a 5 gallon bucket fermenter.  Thanks in advance.  RR

Offline KellerBrauer

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Re: Wine Chiller
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2022, 06:43:17 am »
I use a typical dormitory refrigerator.  It’s 32” high and easily fits a 6.5 gallon fermenter.

I disconnected and jumped out the temperature control and use an Inkbird for cooling and heating control.  I installed a reptile heater to add heat if I need it.  You can get this setup for about $200 - $250
Joliet, IL

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Offline erockrph

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Re: Wine Chiller
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2022, 08:30:25 am »
I use a typical dormitory refrigerator.  It’s 32” high and easily fits a 6.5 gallon fermenter.

I disconnected and jumped out the temperature control and use an Inkbird for cooling and heating control.  I installed a reptile heater to add heat if I need it.  You can get this setup for about $200 - $250
Most dorm fridges I've seen have a hump inside over the compressor making them too small to fit most fermenters. You'd need to take some measurements to be sure what you get fits your fermenter.

As far as wine coolers go, I don't know if the temp will get low enough to do everything you want it to do. Most models I've seen get down to around 50F at the lowest. They will probably have a hard time getting 5 gallons of wort down to lager pitch temps. You almost definitely won't be able to cold crash and lager in bulk.

If you only brew ales, a wine cooler will probably be fine. For lager brewing I'd recommend a freezer paired with an external thermostat.
Eric B.

Finally got around to starting a homebrewing blog: The Hop Whisperer

Offline pv

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Re: Wine Chiller
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2022, 08:43:54 am »
I appreciate cheap.  I made a box out of foam board, caulk, and silver tape from Home Depot.  Big enough to house 2 fermenters and a case of beer.  I just rotated ice blocks (frozen 2L soda bottles work great) to maintain the temperature where I wanted it.  With that amount of mass, the temp stayed pretty stable.  I would rotate typically 2 bottles twice a day in the beginning of fermentation, then it would taper off when fermentation slowed.  By the end of 2 weeks, maybe one 2L a day.  This would all depend on the target temperature and the ambient temperature.  My garage has an HVAC unit, so the ambient stays between 68 and 74F.  Had no trouble keeping the fermenter in the 40's for brewing a lager.  Just not effective for cold crashing, but I never worried too much about that.  All in, less than $100 for the box.
Upstate South Carolina

Offline rburrelli

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Re: Wine Chiller
« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2022, 09:58:05 am »
I vote for a chest freezer. Can hold multiple kegs and can easily be controlled. All you need to do is figure out how to do the heating side of things.
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Offline denny

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Re: Wine Chiller
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2022, 10:41:16 am »
I vote for a chest freezer. Can hold multiple kegs and can easily be controlled. All you need to do is figure out how to do the heating side of things.

Reptile heater bulb works great for heating. 
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Offline KellerBrauer

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Re: Wine Chiller
« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2022, 10:56:42 am »
I use a typical dormitory refrigerator.  It’s 32” high and easily fits a 6.5 gallon fermenter.

I disconnected and jumped out the temperature control and use an Inkbird for cooling and heating control.  I installed a reptile heater to add heat if I need it.  You can get this setup for about $200 - $250
Most dorm fridges I've seen have a hump inside over the compressor making them too small to fit most fermenters. You'd need to take some measurements to be sure what you get fits your fermenter.

As far as wine coolers go, I don't know if the temp will get low enough to do everything you want it to do. Most models I've seen get down to around 50F at the lowest. They will probably have a hard time getting 5 gallons of wort down to lager pitch temps. You almost definitely won't be able to cold crash and lager in bulk.

If you only brew ales, a wine cooler will probably be fine. For lager brewing I'd recommend a freezer paired with an external thermostat.

All very good points.  Take measurements and verify.   Mine is about 35 years old and may be built differently.
Joliet, IL

All good things come to those who show patients and perseverance while maintaining a positive and progressive attitude. 😉

Offline redrocker652002

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Re: Wine Chiller
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2022, 10:59:27 am »
Great ideas guys.  I appreciate all the input.  I have been priming my wife for a chest freezer as that seems to be the best to go warm or cold.  I can run two kegs in it and have it as my fermenter and server.  Dual purpose may be a better selling point, LOL.  Anyway, I am thinking ahead when I get OK at doing this to have a couple of styles and brews on tap for friends and family who may come on over. 

Thanks for the input.  I appreciate it.  RR

Offline erockrph

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Re: Wine Chiller
« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2022, 10:44:33 am »
Great ideas guys.  I appreciate all the input.  I have been priming my wife for a chest freezer as that seems to be the best to go warm or cold.  I can run two kegs in it and have it as my fermenter and server.  Dual purpose may be a better selling point, LOL.  Anyway, I am thinking ahead when I get OK at doing this to have a couple of styles and brews on tap for friends and family who may come on over. 

Thanks for the input.  I appreciate it.  RR
This is what I did for many years before I finally got a kegerator. My freezer was a fermentation chamber when needed and a keg fridge the rest of the time.
Eric B.

Finally got around to starting a homebrewing blog: The Hop Whisperer