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Old 08-15-2010, 11:27 PM   #1
jkreuze
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Default Swamp cooling - noticeable difference?

I grabbed a $4.57 storage tote for my latest batch (double IPA) and filled it half-full of water, then put the fermenting bucket in that and I have a couple of liter bottles of water freezing to drop in there.

I am wondering, though, for anyone who has taken steps like these to keep fermenting temps down--was it a noticeable difference in your beer flavor? I've read that keeping fermentation temps down and pitching enough yeast are two things that can have a big impact on beer flavor, but is it worth the marginal effort?

I'm just trying to get my processes down on the fermentation right now, still extract brewing but thinking about jumping to all-grain. But I figure, take one thing at a time.

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Old 08-15-2010, 11:38 PM   #2
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Controlling fermentation temps so you can ferment on the lower end of the temperature range does have a positive impact, less chance of off flavors that higher temps cause.

Also allows you to be able to use different yeasts that you couldn't use before.

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Old 08-15-2010, 11:48 PM   #3
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If you can keep ambient temps reasonable you may be able to pull of a nice beer without one. For a big beer it's even more important. They will get noticeably hotter from fermentation.

I've brewed beer without, with and in my chest freezer. There is no going back after the chest freezer. Temp is one of the few controls we have over yeast. Only yeast can make beer.

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Old 08-15-2010, 11:59 PM   #4
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This one is a double IPA so it's a little bit up there on the OG but nothing past 70 or so.

I'll post up in a month or so when it's kegged if there's anything noticeably different.

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Old 08-16-2010, 12:04 AM   #5
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Don't forget to put a t-shirt on the carboy or bucket and to blow a fan on it. Even without ice, that is usually enough to drop the temp of the fermenter to 8-10 degrees below ambient.

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Old 08-16-2010, 12:15 AM   #6
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I'm going to respectfully disagree with a previous post --

As a matter of thermodynamics, you're never going to cool your wort below room temperature with a swamp cooler, sans ice or some other cooling solution.

Putting the fermentation vessel in water aids thermal transfer, i.e., it helps your fermenter transfer internal temperature to the external environment (because water is a better conductor of heat than air). Blowing air on your fermentation vessel also aids thermal transfer. If your fermentation is vigorous and it's heating up the wort, these steps will help you keep it down to room temp.

But you will never, ever get your fermenting wort below room temperature without ice or some cooling solution. Water bath or increased airflow just increases the rate at which your wort reaches equilibrium with the environment. To cool below room temp you need to "sink" some of that heat off.

Thank you for replying though! I am glad for helpful comments.

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Old 08-16-2010, 12:17 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jkreuze View Post

As a matter of thermodynamics, you're never going to cool your wort below room temperature with a swamp cooler, sans ice or some other cooling solution.

Putting the fermentation vessel in water aids thermal transfer, i.e., it helps your fermenter transfer internal temperature to the external environment (because water is a better conductor of heat than air). Blowing air on your fermentation vessel also aids thermal transfer. If your fermentation is vigorous and it's heating up the wort, these steps will help you keep it down to room temp.

But you will never, ever get your fermenting wort below room temperature without ice or some cooling solution. Water bath or increased airflow just increases the rate at which your wort reaches equilibrium with the environment. To cool below room temp you need to "sink" some of that heat off.
Interesting............because laws of thermal transfer aside, it does work.

The idea is "evaporative cooling". Of course, it works much better in a desert than in Florida's humid environment. But it DOES work.
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Old 08-16-2010, 12:22 AM   #8
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Never ever say "never ever", my friend.

Swamp coolers work because of the evaporation of the water in the t-shirt clinging to the carboy. Put a fan on it to speed up the cooling and you absolutely will drop below ambient air temps. How much varies on things like humidity, fermentation generating heat, etc.

People have been using swamp cooler "air conditioners" for many many years without ice.

The misconception is people thinking they have a samp cooler just by putting their fermenter in a bucket of water. The t-shirt is critical as it introduces the evaporation.

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Old 08-16-2010, 12:59 AM   #9
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Living in a desert i can tell you swamp coolers work like a charm or there wouldnt be one of these on top of every house in the neighborhood.

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Old 08-16-2010, 01:04 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JetSmooth View Post

The t-shirt is critical as it introduces the evaporation.
So is the fan. It's the air movement that increases the evaporation, which increases the cooling.

The t-shirt wicks up the water, and the fan blows across it causing evaporation. Then, the t-shirt continues to wick up water, etc.

In humid climates, it doesn't work nearly as well because of the lower evaporation rate. But it works brilliantly in drier climates.
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