Author Topic: Cheap Fermentation Temp Control?  (Read 4830 times)

Offline darkmorford

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Cheap Fermentation Temp Control?
« on: April 14, 2011, 05:57:19 PM »
I'm in the midst of fermenting my first-ever beer, and I've found that there isn't any place in my apartment that's cool enough to adequately ferment. The best place I've managed to find still hovers around 70F, and when you take the extra heat generated by fermentation into account, it's just barely cool enough to ferment an ale. I don't have air conditioning at my place, so in a month or two it's going to be too hot for me to realistically brew anything at all! Clearly, if I want to continue this hobby, I'm going to need some way to keep my fermenter(s) cool. The catch is that I'm on a very limited budget: ideally I want to do this for $50 or less, but I can go up to around $100 if I need to.

I've got some basic experience with most power tools, and I'd be willing to build something if it can be done better/cheaper than what I could buy. What do you guys recommend for a low-budget chiller?

Offline theDarkSide

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Re: Cheap Fermentation Temp Control?
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2011, 06:06:13 PM »
A tub of water with frozen bottle of water work.  Keep some in the freezer and swap out when the ones in the tub thaw out and rotate.

Other methods include putting the fermenter in a little bit of water and covering it with a t-shirt.  You can also put a fan on it to help keep the temp low.

Also, keep an eye on Craiglist and if you have room for a small fridge, you can get one cheap and spend the money left over on a temperature controller.
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Offline jamminbrew

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Re: Cheap Fermentation Temp Control?
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2011, 06:40:31 PM »
You could try belgian ales, most of them ferment a little higher than your average ale...
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Offline euge

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Re: Cheap Fermentation Temp Control?
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2011, 10:33:59 PM »
These huge 30 gallon totes with lids are $10 at walmart. I insulated mine with some extra Reflectix. Holds two 7.9 gallon fermenters. Swap out icepacks or frozen bottles and it stays easily in the mid 60's.

I've since upgraded to a freezmenter but the totes worked really well. Swapped out the frozen bottles twice a day.




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Offline tonyp

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Re: Cheap Fermentation Temp Control?
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2011, 10:35:45 PM »
fantastic idea euge, where did you get the dolly?
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Offline darkmorford

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Re: Cheap Fermentation Temp Control?
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2011, 12:00:30 AM »
That looks just about perfect. I might see if I can find a smaller one, since I don't see myself having more than one batch going at a time in the near future.

Where do you get the Reflectix? Does Home Depot/Lowe's sell it?

Offline euge

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Re: Cheap Fermentation Temp Control?
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2011, 12:15:38 AM »
fantastic idea euge, where did you get the dolly?

This place:Harbor freight

That looks just about perfect. I might see if I can find a smaller one, since I don't see myself having more than one batch going at a time in the near future.

Where do you get the Reflectix? Does Home Depot/Lowe's sell it?

They both do. You could use some other insulating material if you need to. Be creative. :) What you don't see is the 2" thick piece of Styrofoam that is the base that I scavenged from the job.

Another $11 on the Acurite indoor/outdoor digital thermometer also found at the above hardware supply stores.
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Offline darkmorford

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Re: Cheap Fermentation Temp Control?
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2011, 10:25:55 AM »
I put one of these together yesterday. Unfortunately, the tub I got isn't tall enough to put the lid on with the fermenter inside, but throwing a blanket over the whole thing seems to work well. I stuck two half-gallon milk cartons full of ice in there overnight, and when I checked this morning the air temperature was about 60 degrees and the fermenter itself had cooled to 64! If only I'd had this a week ago...

Offline euge

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Re: Cheap Fermentation Temp Control?
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2011, 10:37:27 AM »
Awesome! You should see an immediate improvement in your beer quality. Is this a new batch you're fermenting?
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline darkmorford

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Re: Cheap Fermentation Temp Control?
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2011, 10:41:11 AM »
No, same batch. I'm just trying to keep it cool for this second week to prevent any further heat-related "damage." I'm going to bottle it this weekend. Next batch I do, it's going in here the whole time.

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Cheap Fermentation Temp Control?
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2011, 12:15:12 PM »
No, same batch. I'm just trying to keep it cool for this second week to prevent any further heat-related "damage." I'm going to bottle it this weekend. Next batch I do, it's going in here the whole time.

you might think about giving it another week. Even though the bulk of the fermentation is over leaving it on the yeast for a while might help clean up some of the yeast byproducts from a high fermentation temp. I generally leave things in primary for 3 or 4 weeks mainly out of time presure but I think it helps.
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Offline darkmorford

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Re: Cheap Fermentation Temp Control?
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2011, 09:02:32 AM »
Holy crap. I just checked it before swapping out the ice for the day, and the fermenter's down to 55 degrees! One of the ice cartons was still only half-melted, so I left that one in and just changed the other one.

This thing works almost too well! :D

Offline euge

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Re: Cheap Fermentation Temp Control?
« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2011, 10:48:27 AM »
Holy crap. I just checked it before swapping out the ice for the day, and the fermenter's down to 55 degrees! One of the ice cartons was still only half-melted, so I left that one in and just changed the other one.

This thing works almost too well! :D

Muahahaha.....

Try experimenting with different size bottles to keep the temps in the range you want. Used this approach for years. Whatever you do- avoid using a water bath with this method. It keeps the temps from fluctuating, but the cool moist enclosed environment encourages growth of mildew on the sides of the fermenter(s). Never got into my beer but the thought of mold being that close gives me the heeby-jeebies.
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline JKL

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Re: Cheap Fermentation Temp Control?
« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2011, 12:24:57 PM »
How's this for cheap?  When I 1st started brewing years ago, I lived in an older house with the air registers in the floor.  I figured out that during the Summer I could sit a carboy next to the register and put a cardboard box over the top of both, I could get fermentation temps in the low 60's pretty consistently.   
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Offline tonyp

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Re: Cheap Fermentation Temp Control?
« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2011, 10:38:48 AM »
These huge 30 gallon totes with lids are $10 at walmart. I insulated mine with some extra Reflectix. Holds two 7.9 gallon fermenters. Swap out icepacks or frozen bottles and it stays easily in the mid 60's.

I've since upgraded to a freezmenter but the totes worked really well. Swapped out the frozen bottles twice a day.




Cheap and easy.

Euge,

Went to lowes and walmart yesterday to pick up the materials to make your fermenter tote. I bought two 30-gal Sterilite Totes for $8 each (the biggest they had) and the Acu-Rite thermometer for $7! woot!

I only have one problem, my 7-gal fermentation buckets don't fit! I knew I should've measured before I left but like an idiot i didn't think about it until i got there. My buckets are 17 3/8" tall x 11 7/8" wide, can you measure your buckets for me if you have the chance?

I'm going to the LHBS this weekend to pickup ingredients, maybe they have shorter/wider buckets.

I also picked up the Reflectix but the dolly was on backorder...

I'm almost there!

Tony
Live from the Jersey Shore!

Bottled:
Grandpa Louie's Cream Ale
Eagle Point Pale Ale


Phrases for Creatives, #22:
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