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Old 01-27-2013, 04:59 PM   #1
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Default Swamp Cooler Lager

So I'm interested in making Lagers some time soon and given my apartment living situation I don't think setting up a fridge or freezer for electronic monitoring is a viable option. But I know a swamp cooler is a solid option. I found some lagering yeast that ferments best at 50-54. Obviously the temperatures in my apartment aren't that low. So I can easily pick up a cheap keg cooler fill it with water and add ice to get it down in temp. But my concern is temp monitoring. What's the best way to do it? Some ideas I've come up with but I'm not sure if they're good.

First is running a probe for an electronic thermometer in there, I think I could fit it in the airlock or just around it so no real oxygen threat exists. Other idea was a flaoting thermometer in the fermenter to monitor but obviously that would require opening the beer.

I know in theory the temperature of the water should be around the same temp as the beer but I know there's bound to be some variance and I'd like to try to limit that.

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Old 01-27-2013, 07:03 PM   #2
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If you have room for a swamp cooler why wouldn't you have room for a small chest freezer that will fit one or maybe two fermentation vessels?

But yeah you should be able to get it down to the low 50's but it will most likely require changing out frozen water bottles a lot. And as far as monitoring, a probe is your best bet.

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Old 01-27-2013, 09:28 PM   #3
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I've been considering this also. More so as it relates to brewing ales in the summer.

In order to maintain a stable temperature, you will need two coolers. One has the fermenter with water at the desired fermentation temperature. The other cooler has an ice bath. A temp controller of your choice would operate a water pump to transfer the heat from one container to the other.

From here, there are two methods:
1) Water swap - pump the ice water into the fermentation swamp cooler. The fermenation swamp cooler will need a raised drain. When the water level exceeds the drain height (ex. 14" from bottom), the water is drained back to the ice bath (the ice bath would have to be lower than the fermentation bath). The trick here will be to make sure you're pump isn't faster than the drain. otherwise you'll flood the fermentation cooler. I've seen photos of this method. Can't remember where or who.

2) Indirect cooling of fermentation water - pump water from the fermentation water, through an immersion chiller in the ice bath, and then return to the fermentation bath cold. Here there is no concerns with water heights, drains, leaks...etc

Never tried either of these ideas. No clue how they'll really work. Amount of maintenance will be dependent on how well the swamp coolers are insulated and the room temperature.

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Old 01-28-2013, 12:50 AM   #4
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You know of you get it to work and make a decent lager you are going to have to call it swamp cooler lager

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Old 01-28-2013, 05:24 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reno_eNVy View Post
If you have room for a swamp cooler why wouldn't you have room for a small chest freezer that will fit one or maybe two fermentation vessels?

But yeah you should be able to get it down to the low 50's but it will most likely require changing out frozen water bottles a lot. And as far as monitoring, a probe is your best bet.
Difference is that I can move a swamp cooler around as I need it (like say guests are coming and I have to move it to my main bedroom instead of my spare)

I'm kicking around the option of getting the freezer, but the starting price is much higher. Talkign about probably around a 100 bucks to get a used chest freezer not sure what a new one would cost. Plus then hauling the thing to my apartment, moving around with it, and the aforementioned moving aroudn for company. Menawhile for under 30 bucks I can get a huge keg tub, water at my apartment is included in the rent, and my dad last time i was there was giving away ice packs.
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Old 01-28-2013, 05:26 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Thegreatestgray View Post
You know of you get it to work and make a decent lager you are going to have to call it swamp cooler lager
Yeah I was thinking of going with the Swamp Cooler Thing Lager. Though I'm probably gonna brew a Maibock like a Dead Guy type.
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Old 01-29-2013, 01:55 AM   #7
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found the thread I was thinking of

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/wate...chiller-81501/

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Old 01-29-2013, 04:23 AM   #8
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As another cheap solution, maybe one of these would work? Haven't tried one, but looking to get one soon and give it a shot for budget lagering.

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Old 01-29-2013, 01:19 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ianskate
As another cheap solution, maybe one of these would work? Haven't tried one, but looking to get one soon and give it a shot for budget lagering.
I successfully made a bock using one! Easy!
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Old 01-29-2013, 03:50 PM   #10
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Nice! What did you use for cooling, and how often did you have to change to maintain the right temps?

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