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Old 04-16-2012, 04:35 AM   #1
domdom
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Default DIY Lager Tun, or, other cheap lagering suggetions

Hello!
Just started home brewing a couple months ago after moving into a bigger house that has a basement with plenty of space to store fermenters and bottles.

I've brewed a handful of ales so far without any problems (other than a can of expired LME, rookie mistake). Since I'm fermenting in the basement, I have the advantage of semi-steady temperature. I've thought about making a DIY lagering tun so that I can brew lager once it starts getting cooler and also to help control the temperature once it starts getting unbearably hot this summer.

So here's my plan: get a 10 gallon trash can (like this: http://www.amazon.com/Rubbermaid-Com...4549239&sr=8-1). Wrap the whole thing with fiberglass insulation. Then, place a 5 gallon bucket inside, and put ice/ice packs and water in the space between the bucket and the trash can. Check the temp every couple days and re-ice as needed.

Does this seem like it would work? I've thought about getting a mini-fridge, but from what i've seen, none would fit a 5 gallon bucket. Also thought about getting a 10 gallon water cooler so that I could also convert it for all grain brewing as needed. Any other ideas of cheap ways to maintain cooler temps for fermenting?

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Old 04-17-2012, 12:28 AM   #2
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I use a cheap mini-fridge that i got off of craigslist for $30. It has plenty of room for my 7.9 gallon fermenter bucket.

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Old 04-17-2012, 12:31 AM   #3
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Yep, I found a free full size fridge. Holds my 15.5 gallon lagering keg just fine. Spent $45 on a temperature controller and it hold whatever temps I want it to for beer related settings. Also, it doubles as a refridgerator when I need it to, lol. If you could fit one down the basement opening... might be looking into as the stuff is all there to do what you want.

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Old 04-17-2012, 02:04 AM   #4
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Your trash can idea will work, it would just be a pain to refill with ice every day for 4-12 weeks while you lager your beer.

My mini-fridge has a bump in the back of the cooled compartment for the compressor. This prevented me from fitting carboys into it, until I removed the shelves on the door. Now a 6.5 gal carboy fits fine, I haven't tried a bucket though.

+1 to finding a used minifridge/fridge/freezer on craigslist

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Old 04-17-2012, 02:37 AM   #5
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if you want to go with plastic tote i would recommend this one:
lowes cat no 2921-002
it fits 2 6.5gal carboys+ ~9gal of water, i use it with aquarium heater, DIY cooling system and temp controller, without lid on i can hold stable 54F (haven't tried lower) but im sure you can use it with frozen bottles ect, just more maintenance

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Old 04-17-2012, 04:12 AM   #6
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I'm doing the ole swamp cooler thing in my basement now. What a PITA!!! I think the only thing saving me is the use of a fountain pump (I usually use to circulate ice water through my IC). Steady 52 degrees with 5 iced bottles that have to be changed out every 12 hours (hence the Pain In The Arse).

Temp without constantly changing bottles...56 deg. Yeah I'm trolling CL to find a chest freezer someone is dumping for cheap and making me a ferm chamber with an aquarium temp controller.

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Old 04-17-2012, 10:08 PM   #7
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thanks for all the info. taking the shelves out of the door is a really good idea and would probably work. i'm just using 5 gallon buckets, so it doesn't need to be too big. does anyone know what cubic foot size would work for this?

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Old 04-18-2012, 02:15 AM   #8
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I think mine is a 4.4 cu ft or something like that. It's 33.5" high x 20" wide...

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Old 04-18-2012, 10:04 AM   #9
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I never did the swamp cooler thing. In hindsight, I really should've when I was in my last apartment (horrible, horrible temp swings).

I pretty much just waited to jump into lagers until I had a ferm chamber. After tasting my first one that I brewed in December and has been lagering in my keezer ever since, I got another chest freezer specifically for lagering. Fits 7 kegs.

It's more upfront cost than a swamp cooler, but if you really want to do lagers on a regular basis, get a freezer off craigslist and throw a temp controller on it.

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Old 04-18-2012, 06:16 PM   #10
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cheapest/easiest is clear out space in your fridge. using a blowoff tube will only take a few inches over the top of a bucket.

mine goes from 36-45 so good for the low end of most lager fermentation depending on yeast strain. I let a batch sit at 68 until I see bubbling, then put it in there. a thermometer sitting next to it in the fridge stayed at 47-49 during primary fermentation, I think because the fridge's temp sensor isn't near the bottom where I had the bucket. so the beer probably stayed at 50+ from generating heat.

for secondary gradually lower it to the fridge's lower temp setting.

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