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Old 08-19-2010, 04:15 PM   #1
cmvmarra
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Default lager fermentation

I'm going to be brewing my first lager in a couple days. I don't have a lager fridge and am trying to figure out the best way to keep it at a cold temp. I was going to use an ice bath, but it seems like a lot of hassle. Anyone have any suggestions for me?

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Old 08-19-2010, 04:19 PM   #2
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My suggestion would be to brew an ale

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Old 08-19-2010, 04:30 PM   #3
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^insightful post....

Im doing my first lager right now and Im using a swamp cooler. It has really not been that bad at all and Im keeping my temps between 50-55. I can't comment on the taste yet, but I imagine that all will be well. Try the swamp cooler, you might be surprised.

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Old 08-19-2010, 04:32 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by King of Cascade View Post
My suggestion would be to brew an ale
+1

I tried making lagers too but they never tasted right without the proper temperatures. The method I tried was a cooler full of water with a wet shirt on the fermenter and a fan blowing on them. I was too busy to change out ice enough. Could'nt even get it down to 50 anyway. Its too hot in Texas!

You can lager fairly cheap getting a used freezer. Even new was less than $200 for me with the digital johnson controller. You can buy 10% off coupons to Lowes on eBay for like $3, when I went to Lowes, the 5cu chest freezer was in the $140s and the 7cu was in the $180s. The 5 will fit one bucket, the 7 two. Then I got the Johnson controller on eBay for $50 shipped but you have to wire it yourself. That was an extra $8.
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Old 08-19-2010, 05:25 PM   #5
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If you really want to make lagers you are going to need a dedicated refrigerator. I use a minifridge from craigslist which works alright. I think I got it for like $30. The temperature controller is still going to run you ~$50 though. I've been thinking that you could probably get away without the temperature controller if you knew what the arbitrarily numbered settings on the built in thermostat correspond to. I feel like if you can find 48-55 F, and 35-40 F, you really don't need precise control. Plus, the temperature controller I have is usually about 3-5 F off off the temperature inside my fridgge anyway.

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Old 08-19-2010, 05:29 PM   #6
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If you really want to make lagers you are going to need a dedicated refrigerator. I use a minifridge from craigslist which works alright. I think I got it for like $30. The temperature controller is still going to run you ~$50 though. I've been thinking that you could probably get away without the temperature controller if you knew what the arbitrarily numbered settings on the built in thermostat correspond to. I feel like if you can find 48-55 F, and 35-40 F, you really don't need precise control. Plus, the temperature controller I have is usually about 3-5 F off off the temperature inside my fridgge anyway.
Thanks for the insight. What size mini fridge do you have? I think I'm going to take your suggestion.
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Old 08-19-2010, 05:44 PM   #7
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It's pretty large for a minifridge, I think that its about 4 cu. ft. inside. I can post with the measurements when I get home. I also had to do a fair amount of modification to make mine work. First of all, I cut out the plastic liner from the inside of the door. Secondly, I had to pull out all of the freezer type stuff from the inside. The worst thing was that the actual cooling tray (literally a metal tray with refrigerant running through it) was right in the middle of the fridge, so I had to SLOWLY bend that thing up to the top of the chamber and its held in with a small screw. Also the bottom's not flat so I have to hold up the front of the bucket/carboy.

If I had it to do over again, I would look for a fridge that (1) has a flat bottom and (2) doesn't have that cooling tray right in the middle of the chamber. Probably won't be able to get away without cutting out the plasic on the inside of the door out. But really, anything you can fit your fermenter into should work.

I'll post the measurements of the fridge when I get home.

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Old 08-19-2010, 06:26 PM   #8
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Its very difficult to find a flat bottom fridge that will fit a fermenter, especially used. And new, a flat bottom mini fridge big enough costs over twice what a much larger chest freezer costs. Plus a chest freezer wont let cold air out when you open it. You will need a digital controller if you go the freezer route as even the lowest setting was still in the negatives on mine. Also, theres room to add a corny keg or two and a co2 tank in the chest freezer and install a tap on top

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Old 08-19-2010, 06:39 PM   #9
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I am about to attempt a mini-fridge chamber. Taking the door off and building an insulated box extending the fridge. I'd like to avoid a temp controller, so I am going to put a thermometer in there and try to find the right setting. We'll see how all that goes...

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Old 08-19-2010, 07:04 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shrewd_Alchemist View Post
^insightful post....

Im doing my first lager right now and Im using a swamp cooler. It has really not been that bad at all and Im keeping my temps between 50-55. I can't comment on the taste yet, but I imagine that all will be well. Try the swamp cooler, you might be surprised.
Dude, I wasn’t trying to be a jerk, just realistic.

No cooler and doesn’t want to do an ice bath = brew ales

My theory on life has always been do it right or don’t do it at all and it would be very hard to make a lager right in the middle of the summer with a swamp cooler.

Now an ale could be done right in the summer with a swamp cooler.
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