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keelanfish 01-05-2009 08:29 PM

Northern Brewer Gift Certificates - What to Buy
For Christmas several people got me Northern Brewer gift certificates which total $140. I've narrowed the purchase down to two items, but need some help deciding between them.

Thermowell Fermentation Kit - $129.99


Barley Crusher w/ 7 lb hopper - $125.99

All things being equal, I'm currently leaning towads the Thermowell because I've got a small refrigerator that fits a 6 gallon carboy & airlock perfectly and would like to attempt some lagers or cervezas. I also love saisons, so the thermowrap would come in handy for warmer fermentations.

However, I'm skeptical because I've never seen either of the products in action. Anyone knowledgable about either of these items? Feedback would be much appreciated so I can make the best choice.

Thanks in advance.

MoRoToRiUm 01-05-2009 08:50 PM

Sorry, I don't have personal experience with these items; as far as brewing though, fermentation temperature is key in the beer making process. My two cents, I'd probably go with the fermentation kit. You'd be surprised what kind of grinders you can find at yard sales...

rcrabb22 01-06-2009 02:00 PM

As an alternative, you might be able to build either cheaper. If you search the internet for reptile warmers, you can find suppliers of the heat wrap and electrical connectors (brand name Flexwatt) and several sources of DIY instructions to construct custom sizes. You would still need to add temperature measurement and control.

Same with the barley crusher. It really depends how handy you are.

For myself I build some stuff and buy other items ready made. I'm not much of a wood worker and don't have the proper tools to do so. I am really struggling right now building a base and hopper for a grain mill I bought.

MoRoToRiUm 01-06-2009 07:39 PM

Take the DIY method, you have more $$ for ingredients :)

Also, looking on their site, that ferment kit is out of stock, as well as that heat wrap thing - but, check out the others on fermentation temp control page

Johnson controller - $52.99

States for fridge, but would also work on a heating element; range is 30-80 F. Could use it for fermentation control for brew belt, fridge fermenter, or keezer.

Digital Temp Control - $79.99

Same as the one in the kit, a wider range of -30 to 220 F.

Brew belt - $22.50

Either way, cheaper then buying the kit (add a 'thermowell' stopper, or drill out a stopper to feed temp probe through). Either of the controllers are temp based, and just turn the plugged in appliance on or off; use the brew belt or make a chamber with heat lamp/rock etc!

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