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Old 03-15-2011, 07:01 AM   #1
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Default Brewhemoth Fermentation Chiller/Heater

I just finished testing my new Brewhemoth with the stainless steel chiller option. I couldn't be happier with it! I'm currently warming about six gallons of beer to 15ºF above ambient with a 100w fish tank heater set to about 40%.

The "Extreme" cooler keeps my water nice and warm, and when the the fermenter needs heat, my BCS 460 cycles the pump and my beer warms up. Originally, I was worried about temperature stratification, but the temps are pretty uniform - probably from natural convection cycles. Or the stratification effect will be more noticeable with larger batches.

I'm really happy with the energy efficiency of this system. I had concerns that it would be much less efficient than keeping my fermenter in a fridge, but now I feel pretty good about it. I may even insulate the fermenter at some point.

I'm hoping in the summer to just replace the fishtank heater with 2L bottles of ice.

Also, I've decided to try my first batch sans the airlock. I simply loosened the tri-clamp fitting that holds the temperature probe in place and moved it around until the gas vented. We'll see how this works; I'm assuming that the positive pressure will help keep bacteria out, and a few squirts of alcohol will help as well. When positive pressure starts to fade, I'll seal the fermenter.

Sorry about the lousy photos (they were taken with my iPhone which doesn't know what to make of the cool fluorescent light, the shiny fermenter, and the warm yellow walls of the lab).

photo-1-2-.jpg   photo-2-2-.jpg   photo-4-2-.jpg  
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Old 03-15-2011, 11:04 AM   #2
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That is one good looking setup!

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Old 03-15-2011, 11:14 AM   #3
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That's hot. Can't wait to see how well it cold crashes.

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Old 03-15-2011, 12:34 PM   #4
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Cool. I use a foam box for my ferm chamber right now - light bulb to heat, cooler (like your setup) with 2L bottles of ice for cooling. It's easy to forget to swap the bottles out (I use three at a time), and if that happens, the pump will keep running and warm the water up quite hot.... Just be careful. Still haven't planned how to do my hemoth box yet.

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Old 03-16-2011, 04:27 AM   #5
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St. Marcos, I'm confused, do you also have the internal chiller?

I'm hoping that I won't have to switch bottles every day. During the summer, that cooler has kept beer cold for five days.

If you do have the chiller, I would recommend switching to the hot water bath for heating instead of the light bulb. I believe it's more energy efficient, and you don't have to hide your fermenter away in styrofoam

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Old 03-16-2011, 04:30 AM   #6
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Quote:
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That's hot. Can't wait to see how well it cold crashes.
Thanks, Sanke! If I remember correctly, don't you ferment under pressure? I was considering it, but I haven't researched it enough.
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Old 03-16-2011, 06:09 AM   #7
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How long is your thermowell in there? My fermenters just showed up on monday and I'm trying to figure out what to do. With the angle of the fitting I was afraid the thermowell would touch or be too close to the chiller.

My recent thought is to get about a 10" thermowell to install on a Tee on the racking port, but I'm not completely thrilled by that idea.

I have a pair of them and I'm not sure if I'm going to want to crash one fermenter while keeping the other warm so my chiller will only be for chilling and I'll apply external heat with a fermwrap and some kind of insulation around it. Sadly I'll be hiding most of the attractive stainless, but they are going to be in my garage and it can get cold out there

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Old 03-16-2011, 07:09 AM   #8
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My lab is part of the garage, and it gets pretty cold in there as well. Just checked my BCS, it's 49.5ºF ambient, and 64.3ºF in the tank.

You'll want a 24" temp probe if you want to do 5 gallon batches. It does sit pretty close to the coil, but it hasn't caused any problems for me. During the testing phase, I shut down the pumps and shook the fermenter to mix up the water - almost no difference. Certainly not enough to affect my fermentation. I did not test more than 10 gallons, though.

Derrin from Brewer's Hardware made my temp probe and it's awesome! If you're going to install a tee, I would get a longer probe in the event you want to do 5 gallon batches.

I really hope my no-airlock technique works, though I think it probably will. I don't think there are a ton of bacteria trying to sneak into my beer, so I'm not too worried. Also, no need for a blow off tube in the brewhemoth with a five gallon batch.

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Old 03-16-2011, 07:33 AM   #9
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I have a lab grade temperature recirculator that would work perfect for this but I am wondering how you plan on sterilizing the cooling coil?

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"Fermentation: a sensible internal motion of the particles of a mixture: by the continuance of this motion, the particles are gradually removed from their former situation, and, after some visible separation, joined together again in a different order and arrangement, so as to constitute a new compound."

"Theory and Practice of Brewing" Michael Combrune 1761

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Old 03-16-2011, 07:34 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefkeith View Post
My lab is part of the garage, and it gets pretty cold in there as well. Just checked my BCS, it's 49.5ºF ambient, and 64.3ºF in the tank.

You'll want a 24" temp probe if you want to do 5 gallon batches. It does sit pretty close to the coil, but it hasn't caused any problems for me. During the testing phase, I shut down the pumps and shook the fermenter to mix up the water - almost no difference. Certainly not enough to affect my fermentation. I did not test more than 10 gallons, though.

Derrin from Brewer's Hardware made my temp probe and it's awesome! If you're going to install a tee, I would get a longer probe in the event you want to do 5 gallon batches.

I really hope my no-airlock technique works, though I think it probably will. I don't think there are a ton of bacteria trying to sneak into my beer, so I'm not too worried. Also, no need for a blow off tube in the brewhemoth with a five gallon batch.
Thanks for the input. It's been a while since I've done a 5 gal batch, but I'm sure I will again for some experiments. Probably do 6-7 gallons though so I can fill a keg and some bottles.

When I get a chance I'll do some water tests to see where the level will be.

If being close to the coil isn't a huge issue I'm tempted to get a thermowell welded to the cap the chiller is on.

I think your no airlock method will work well, I usually just cover my carboys with foil while fermentation is rockin.

I'm waiting on some fittings to come in but when they do I'll document my setup. Going to put a spunding valve off the Tee

Edit: What are you going to put in your water to keep it clean? Even though it won't come in contact with your beer, I'd worry about your water funking up
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