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Old 01-11-2013, 08:13 PM   #1
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Default Odd incident with the space heater in my fermentation chamber

As I mentioned in the title of the thread, I have a space heater with a fan inside of my chest freezer ferm chamber. This time of year the freezer never actually kicks on, becuase my garage never gets above 60F. The heater itself is elevated. It sits on the hump that houses the compressor. probably 12-18 inches off the ground.

Anyways, I put a pale ale in there almost two weeks ago. Fairly close to the heater...maybe a foot away. Set the Ranco to 64 and let it go. 4 or 5 days ago I ramped it up to 66 to help the yeast finish out. I went into the garage last night to dry hop and I saw that the krausen ring (which is all the way up the carboy, since it blew off pretty hard) on one side of the carboy was significantly darker than the other. The heater had essentially cooked it. Ramping it up those two degrees made the heater run long enough to get a maillard reaction, which means the beer had to at least get pretty warm on that side of the carboy. I didn't pull a sample so I don't know if it affected the taste of the beer, but it smelled normal. I dry hopped and let it be. We'll see how it tastes in a few days when it's time to bottle.

I'm not too worried about it. It was a quick and dirty extract batch that I did for a friend, as a basic brewing lesson. I just wanted to know if anyone has had something similar happen, and how the beer turned out. In 10 years of brewing I've never done anything even remotely like this.

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Old 01-12-2013, 02:01 AM   #2
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I saw this earlier and dismissed it but came back after thinking about it a little more. I find this interesting. I wonder how hot the carboy that is closest to my heater (aluminum paint can heater) gets where it is closest to the heating element. Usually I have 1 carboy in there so it is far enough away from the heater to get too hot fast, but if I double up, the closest carboy is only about 6 inches from the can heater. I wonder if some of my beer is darkening without me knowing.

How much heat does your set up put out?

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Old 01-13-2013, 12:37 AM   #3
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It's similar to this one:

http://www.homedepot.com/Heating-Ven...&storeId=10051

Probably about 1500 watts...it's very effective. I usually set the carboys a safe distance away from it, but with 8 currently occupying my fermenter, space is at a minimum.

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Old 01-13-2013, 12:40 AM   #4
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I have a squirrel cage blower fan that I point at my reptile heater to prevent this. It disipates the heat coming off of the ceremic heater element. That may be an option for you.

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Old 01-13-2013, 12:42 AM   #5
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That's WAY too much power for a heater in a chest freezer. I have a Lasco heater that is only 200W and it works great. Many brewers use light bulbs, i.e, 60W.

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Old 01-13-2013, 12:49 AM   #6
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Yeah if you are using a space heater, you ought to have some kind of heat shield or other deflector so it doesn't directly hit the fermenters.

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Old 01-13-2013, 12:49 AM   #7
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Wow, that is a lot of heat. I only use a 7 cubic foot freezer for mine, so only go with a 60 watt lightbulb.

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Old 01-13-2013, 01:40 AM   #8
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Light bulb works just fine for me in a standard size fridge out in the garage which gets down into the 20s and 30s this time of year. The seal on your freezer should make it pretty easy to maintain a temp with a low output heat source.

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Old 01-13-2013, 01:48 AM   #9
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I just pulled a Saison out of my chamber which is a normal upright fridge with a temp controller - I used an old table lamp with a normal bulb and was able to cook that thing at 80 degrees for a week, outside in the garage with night temps in the 20's and day temps in the 30's. It didnt have a problem keeping that temp.

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Old 01-13-2013, 02:09 AM   #10
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I'd like to chime in that the darkening of the krausen ring is not abnormal in my experience, seems to happen to some of my beers when the stuck-on yeast dries out completely. This would make sense if the heater was focused on that portion of the carboy, but I think its unlikely it got hot enough to brown them through maillard. I'm guessing the beer probably won't be too affected by the warm up, even if it did get a little hot on the glass, there is a lot of thermal mass in 5 gallons of beer to slow the temperature swings.

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