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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Fermentation & Yeast > Controlling fermentation temperature when the wife won't let you in the house?
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Old 12-13-2009, 07:54 PM   #1
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Default Controlling fermentation temperature when the wife won't let you in the house?

A few months ago I finally pushed my wife past her beer tolerance when I got a pinhole leak in a Party Pig seal and it sprayed her half of the closet where I kept my beer stuff. This wasn't the first time I'd had a mishap so I can't really get too upset that I've been banished outdoors. I've done 3 batches since then and all have a distinct, unpleasant funk about them. I've ensured everything is properly sanitized and rinsed so I do not think I have a systemic infection. Also, I made a mead during this time which turned out fine so that's further evidence it is not the equipment.

I think the issue is the temperature fluctuations in the Florida weather. I stored the mead inside the house during its primary fermentation because there was no risk of explosion or leakage. And, as noted, it is fine. All three beer batches were stored either on my porch or in my garage during primary fermentation. If you don't know NE Florida weather, one day it can be 40 degrees outside and the next it can be 80. Or it can be 50 in the morning and 85 in the afternoon. I'm sure that is not conducive to fermentation!

Assuming that temperature variations are the root cause, how do you banished brewers maintain a constant, desirable temperature during fermentation? Moving back inside will probably never be an option again so maintaining a constant temperature outdoors (or in the garage) is really my only option).

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Old 12-13-2009, 07:58 PM   #2
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Do you have access to electrical power in the garage? Fermentation chamber sounds like the answer to me, and failing that (due to funds or whatever) you could always go with a swamp cooler or similar.

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Old 12-13-2009, 08:00 PM   #3
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+1 on a chest freezer and temp controller in the garage. Your beers will be better controlled than they were in the house.

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Old 12-13-2009, 08:19 PM   #4
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or at least put them in a rubbermaid tub of water.... it will eliminate most of the fluctuation and give you an average temp... and can be cooled with frozen water bottles if necessary.

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Old 12-13-2009, 08:44 PM   #5
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I used to use a rubbermaid with water in my enclosed porch. Even with 20 degree changes in temp, it stayed fairly constant within a few degrees. Particularly if you add frozen water bottles or warm water (depending on temp outside). I cut a hole in the lid of the tub that was the exact size of the fermenter so I could add blankets or towels to insulate it more on top without getting them wet. Since its in garage already its already partially insulated the temp changes shouldn't be that drastic.

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Old 12-14-2009, 01:11 PM   #6
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Excellent suggestions! I do have power in the garage so electronic control can be a down the road goal but the water bath isn't something I thought of.

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Old 12-14-2009, 01:35 PM   #7
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Build a fermentation chamber. You can find tons of cheap mini fridges on craigslist. Then just a few 2x4's and some rigid foam insulation, and a PID would be perfect.

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Old 12-14-2009, 01:58 PM   #8
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Man, I thought this was going to be a better story than just not being able to brew inside...

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Old 12-14-2009, 03:14 PM   #9
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Water bath with an aquarium heater is nice when it's cold out but for cooling, it's a pain in the ass. You'll have to manually regulate the temp with small ice addition. Watch craigslist for nearly free fridges.

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Old 12-14-2009, 03:38 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edcculus View Post
Man, I thought this was going to be a better story than just not being able to brew inside...
I admit the title was intended to be a teaser.

My brewing adventures have been comical for quite a while. I'm always careful but disaster seems naturally attracted to me. And it always seems to target my wife to make matters even worse. Some of my escapades:

Early in my career I had a carboy on the top shelf of our shared closet. I didn't know about using a blow-off tube during initial fermentation so in the middle of the night we heard "Boom!" and went into the closet to find a sticky green mess all over the ceiling. She was not amused since all the shelves below the carboy were full of her crap.

I should also mention she despises the smell of beer. She'll drink it occasionally but her family and alcohol don't mix well together so the smell of large quantities of it makes her quite unhappy.

After being banished from the closet I moved to the laundry room. I'd switched to a conical by then and fermentation was so frisky the first time I used it that the rubber top lifted straight off the top and the floor became a sticky, smelly mess. She was not amused and claimed all the clothes in the laundry room were forever tainted with beer smell.

After being banished from the laundry room I secretly switched to the small closet under the stairs. That worked for a while until I made a fruit beer and it managed to lift the bung out of the carboy (even with a blow-off tube) and leave a sweet, sticky, berry mess on the floor. Fortunately it smelled more like raspberries than beer at that point so I got away with it (I cleaned it up before she got home). But she still wonders what the funk is in the closet and why the coats smell like berry bread.

As I initially stated, I was completely banished from the house when a Party Pig with a small crimp in the rubber seal developed a pinhole leak and sprayed the exact same set of shelves in our closet (which still contained all her crap). I'm not allowed to keep anything but dry equipment in the house. I now use the upstairs closet where we keep all our holiday decorations (no attic or basement in the house) for filled bottles (in sealed Rubbermaid bins) and extended secondary fermentation. Note that over the weekend she complained that the Christmas decorations "smelled like beer" even though there hasn't been any leakage yet.

I should probably give up brewing, but I like it too much!
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