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Old 11-30-2007, 09:29 PM   #1
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Default Low-Tech Lagering

The Basic Brewing Radio/Video guys put out a low-tech lagering DVD in which they claim that they have a cheap, simple, and effective device that allows one to lager "even in the arkansas summer." I was curious to see if anyone has any knowledge of what this device might be and whether it really is novel. I'm betting it's a son of fermentation chiller type of thing. Or maybe a put-your-carboy-in-a-cooler-and-fill-it-with-ice-water sort of device.

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Old 11-30-2007, 11:47 PM   #2
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Default Is there another way?

Now I know that the best way would be to have a fridge/freezer with a temp control on it to use as a chiller but I am looking for another solution. I have a small fridge that I will be using as a kegerator sometime soon and i do not have room for another freezer, mostly because the second I get one SWMBO will want another one of her own to store food in (she already stores food in the beer fridge) so that is out. I really can't have several 2 liter bottles freezing in the full size fridge because, well swmbo has that occupied.

I have a plan to buy/build a cabinet and place it next to the beer fridge to store the equipment in and put a countertop and bookshelf on top of it to take advantage of the 9 ft high celings and give a place to my wife to put her cookbooks after I took the space for the beer fridge.

Is there an in between way to cool a chiller between ice and full on fridge?

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Old 12-01-2007, 12:01 AM   #3
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I have my "Yooper Lagerator" in my gallery if you want to check out the pictures. In my basement, I can add water to to the cooler and keep it at 50 degrees. If I want it warmer, I move it closer to the furnace. When I'm ready to lager, I move it to the coldest corner (48 degrees-ish) and then add frozen water bottles, one at a time until I'm lagering. Adding one at a time gradually drops the temperatures. Usually two frozen water bottles changed every three days keep my carboy at 34 degrees. I have a floating thermometer in the water bath, so I can keep an eye on the temperature.

Now, this only works in the winter. In the summer, my basement is in the 60s and I've never tried it. It would probably work but be a little more labor intensive with changing out the frozen bottles.

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Old 12-01-2007, 12:03 AM   #4
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Here's what I do: I put the carboy in a 60qt ice cube cooler, fill it with ice and water and let the beer ferment. I ferment my lagers at 50F anywhere from 3 to 4 weeks. After primary fermentation I rack to the lagering carboy, fill the cooler with ice, water and rock salt, let it lager for at least 4 weeks and finally keg the beer. The hardest part, for me, is getting the wort down to 48F. Since I live in AZ and the tap water is warm, I use a pond pump to recirculate ice water through the chiller. Other than that the process works like a charm, you just have to be very patient, but it's easy because I make an ale or two while I wait.
You could use lager yeast and ferment at ale temperatures to create a lager-like beer.

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Old 12-01-2007, 12:03 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisS
Is there an in between way to cool a chiller between ice and full on fridge?
Yes, you could conect an insulated air duct to the freezer and pull cold air into a lagering chamber. This can be controlled with a small fan and a thermostat, You would have to make a collar around the top of the freezer chest if you don't want to cut a hole in the top.

I saw something like this on-line once, but can't find it anymore.

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Old 12-01-2007, 05:19 AM   #6
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I think I'm going to build a son of fermentation chiller, but I'll hook up a two-way thermostat instead of the usual one-way so I can heat for ales in the winter months. I seriously doubt the basic-brewing guys have something better than anything that people have mentioned in this thread. Thanks for the replies!

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Old 12-03-2007, 02:03 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisS
I really can't have several 2 liter bottles freezing in the full size fridge because, well swmbo has that occupied.
First remove swmbo from the freezer, then there should be plenty of room.

Discussing the disposition of the now thawing corpse would be
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Old 12-08-2007, 06:58 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camiller
First remove swmbo from the freezer, then there should be plenty of room.

Discussing the disposition of the now thawing corpse would be
In my experience, most corpses are of a pretty morbid disposition.
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Old 12-08-2007, 02:47 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mew
The Basic Brewing Radio/Video guys put out a low-tech lagering DVD in which they claim that they have a cheap, simple, and effective device that allows one to lager "even in the arkansas summer." I was curious to see if anyone has any knowledge of what this device might be and whether it really is novel. I'm betting it's a son of fermentation chiller type of thing.
Back to the OP's question, does anyone know what DIY plans they are promoting in this DVD? It's gotta be a a SOFC knock-off. I am curious. It would suck to buy that DVD and find the same plans that have been floating around the internet for years.

I guess the DVD also has some decoction tips, but watching a decoction must be boring.
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Old 02-04-2009, 05:41 PM   #10
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For anyone who's interested, they spilled the beans on one of their podcasts. The "low-tech lagering" system consists of two coolers (one with the carboy and one with ice-water) and a pumping system to pump cold water from one cooler to the other when temps get too hot. It's essentially a SOFC but with water instead of air. Water would be able to get temps lower than air, but it's messy and takes a lot of energy because it's difficult to insulate.

My SOFC encased in wood can get temps 40 degrees or more below ambient without fermenting beer in it. For a long, cold lagering phase, I could put the carboy in a bucket of ice and use the SOFC as insulation to make the ice last longer. That's pretty low-tech, too.

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