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Old 03-14-2008, 02:03 PM   #1
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Default Simple lager temp control

hi, i'm looking to make an oktoberfest but don't have the fancy temp control options for the fermentation (lagering itself is not a problem) so i'm probably going to go the "fermentor in a big bucket full of water and ice" route. but i had a quick question - what temp should i be looking for for that water? our tap water is pretty cold, probably less than 50, so should i be looking to get it colder with ice to make the actual fermentation temp around 50?



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Old 03-14-2008, 02:09 PM   #2
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Well, it depends on ambient temperature, too. My basement is right around 50 now, so I fermented it in primary just fine down there. Then, I brought it upstairs (63 degrees) for the diacetyl rest and then racked it. Then, for the lagering, I put the cold water in the cooler and let it come up to 50 degrees and added the carboy. Then, each day, I added a frozen water bottle (changing out the thawed ones) until I was at 34 degrees. Then all I had to do was change the frozen water bottles every three days or so. If you attempt this in a warmer room, of course you may have to do things a bit differently.

If you look in my gallery, there are pictures of my "Yooper Lagerator". It's a simple wheeled igloo cooler with a new lid I made out of styrofoam so the airlock can poke out. If you're not using a cooler, you'll have to insulate it a different way.



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Old 03-14-2008, 02:12 PM   #3
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Gosh, I just have to guess a bit it at this, but I would imagine 50F water would be just fine. Water is a better heat conductor than water, and it has a much higher specific heat. A fermentation temperature from 50-55 should work fine for whatever lager yeast you choose.

The real trick with lagers is holding a stable temperature. You need to figure out how to maintain that temperature. Are you going to insulate everything, switch out the water so often, add ice, etc? I'm afraid I cannot help you with that, but I hope someone will chime in who can.

Edit: Hooray! Yoop to the rescue!


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Old 03-14-2008, 02:14 PM   #4
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the first lager i made was fermented in jan in the basement and it was 50-55F the whole time - perfect. i didn't know what a diacetyl rest was at the time, i just racked to secondary and stuffed it straight in the spare fridge (about 35-40F). very scientific. it worked out ok and but tastes like an american amber lager, although it was supposed to be a recipe for a munich helles! (provided by the LHBS)

the next cooler i buy is for use as an AG MLT so I'll just use the big bucket full of cold water w/ a wet towel draped over it approach. i'm thinking if i can keep the water at 45F the wort inside will be a bit warmer? or should i look to keep the water itself at 50F?

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Old 03-14-2008, 02:16 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TexLaw
The real trick with lagers is holding a stable temperature. You need to figure out how to maintain that temperature. Are you going to insulate everything, switch out the water so often, add ice, etc? I'm afraid I cannot help you with that, but I hope someone will chime in who can.
i could swap stuff out every couple of days - i've got some business travel coming up so can't monitor on a daily basis. i should have done this when the basement was cold enough - maybe i should just bail on it until either i get better temp control options or it gets nice and cold again!
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Old 03-14-2008, 02:17 PM   #6
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As Tex said, water is a good insulator, and the water in the cooler/tub will be the same as the water inside the carboy. I keep a floating thermometer in that water, and check the temperature that way from day to day. Remember, what you want is a constant temperature and not fluctuations. So, you really should have something insulated, like a big tub with blankets or sleeping bags over it. Still, if you have a tub full of water, it does take a long time to change the temperature of that much volume. So, once you get it to say, 50, then it should stay there fairly easily.

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Old 03-14-2008, 02:29 PM   #7
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thanks guys. this really has to be the best forum on the whole wide internet.

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Old 03-14-2008, 03:46 PM   #8
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cd:

It's good to see that you're still plugging away. Seems like you've come along ways since we met in Nov.

It took me over a decade to do my first lager!

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Old 03-14-2008, 06:08 PM   #9
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You can tape some sheets of foam insulation together and make a quick stable enviroment for the lager. I would still put it in a bath so you can add ice or heated water if it fluctuates too much. 1 inch foam makes a huge difference in temperature stability though.

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Old 03-14-2008, 06:19 PM   #10
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I made Yooper's Lagerator (with some minor modifications) 'cause I didn't want a 5th fridge & I've been spending way too much $$$ on brewing stuff lately. I think I spent a total of $30 and it's been working really well in my 63° basement. I add 2qts of ice every other day and it stays right around 53°.



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