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Old 02-09-2007, 03:24 AM   #1
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Default Fridge temperatures and control?

Can I just set the temp in a fridge to 45-50 F or will fridges not go that high?
Will I need a temp controller?

The reason being is that I purchased a cream ale kit from my LHBS.
Still a noob and for my second batch I want to try steeping.
I thought that since it's an ale I could just ferment at room temp.
When I read the recipe it says primary ferment for 7-9 days
at 55-75 F and then to ferment for 2 weeks at 45-50 F.
A couple of calls to some buddies and I can probably get a fridge for
cheap or free. (might buy one, too.)

And then can I use the fridge to lager ferment later?

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Old 02-09-2007, 05:38 AM   #2
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A temp controller will help your fridge to stay precisely within a narrow range of temperature. You should be able to set your fridge to APPROXIMATELY 45-50 F though. If not, Johnson controllers are cheap and easy to install.

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Old 02-09-2007, 05:50 AM   #3
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a timer and some experimenting or $70 for a temp controller.
If you take the door off of a small fridge abnd build a box so that the inside denensions with foam insulation will fit four carboys -the air locks almost touching the lid you may be able to brew lager in winter anf ale in summer with the thermostat that comes with the fridge.
did that in a basement for years

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Old 02-09-2007, 05:52 AM   #4
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Yeesh - don't pay $70 for a temperature controller. Watch eBay -- you can get them for $15 - $20 plus minimal shipping.

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Old 02-09-2007, 02:45 PM   #5
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Very few refrigerators can be set above 45F, so a controller is necessary.

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Old 02-09-2007, 02:55 PM   #6
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Thanks guys. A couple more questions though.

Would I be better off using a freezer or a fridge to achieve proper temperatures for lager, etc.?
Will a freezer maintain a temp of 45-50F with a controller?

I'm going to stop by some thrift stores to see if I can find a cheap fridge or freezer
to use.

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Old 02-09-2007, 03:36 PM   #7
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For fermentation I would recommend a fridge since your temps will mainly be above the 45 - 50 mark. For serving and maybe even lagering I would recommend a freezer. A freezer will work for temps above 45ish but unless you get a frost free one, you may have defrosting issues.

Having said that...if you find a freezer that works and is cheaper than fridge...by all means...go with the cheaper option. Both will WORK...one just may work better.

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Old 02-09-2007, 03:52 PM   #8
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Either will work fine, but as vtfan99 says, freezers don't deal with moisture as well. If you use a freezer on a temp controller, you will have absolutely no problem lagering or fermenting at higher temps. But you will need something in the freezer to help absorb moisture build-up. Damp Rid is a product that a lot of people recommend. Cheers!

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Old 02-09-2007, 04:10 PM   #9
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Maybe I've got a diamond in the rough or something, but I've been using a pair of old college-type 4something cu/ft fridges (same model) for lagering for a year or so now. They both sit perfectly at 52.5F set to 2 of 10, and perfectly at 37F when set at 8 or 10. They work so well I've put off purchasing a chest freezer/temperature control for months now. The only benefit to my making that purchase is capacity.....which is why I will eventually make the purchase.

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Old 02-09-2007, 07:22 PM   #10
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Check craigslist for a fridge. I see nice full-size ones in my area for $100, frequently. A free one might be a little rough, but hey... it's not meant to be artwork.

The internal thermostats in most older fridges are pretty easy to tweak if you are careful when you take them apart. Tiny little parts tend to disappear quickly if you don't watch them. I've got mine set so it has a working range of the low 40s to mid 50s. But if you want precise control, get one of the aforementioned controllers.

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