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Old 01-09-2013, 01:47 PM   #1
cobalt60
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Default Lager fermentation in water bath

Hey all,

I kicked off a Dunkel with WLP838 S. German Lager yeast. I'm fermenting in my basement (which is usually around 55), but we got a warm streak this week and temperatures are now hovering in the 60-65 range.

I set up a water bath, which seems to knock off ~3 degrees. I'm also rotating icepacks, two of them drop it down another 3-5 degrees, but they melt within a couple hours. So, my beer is sitting between 55 and 59.

Any suggestions? Should I add more ice, or more icepacks? Should I just pray for a cold snap (supposedly there is one coming this weekend)?



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Old 01-09-2013, 01:52 PM   #2
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Get yourself a twelve pack of bottled water, freeze those and then add three or four at a time. That should do it for you and I've fermented lagers like that before. It's a pain, but it can work. Until then though dump some ice in there. Get a ten pound bag.



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Old 01-09-2013, 01:53 PM   #3
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Add more ice!

The beer in this shot is at about 35F.

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Old 01-09-2013, 01:58 PM   #4
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Holy crap, that's a lot of ice! I'm not even close with my two little icepacks.

How often do you have to rotate those?

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Old 01-09-2013, 02:02 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cobalt60 View Post
Holy crap, that's a lot of ice! I'm not even close with my two little icepacks.

How often do you have to rotate those?
Every 12 hours, but I live in the hot, desert southwest. Temps in the house were probably around 70+... You may not need as much ice. The important thing is to keep the entire fermenter cold all the way to the tip-top. I don't fuss with lagers anymore, because this process was a bit of a pain. Some day I'll build a lager chamber.
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Old 01-09-2013, 02:07 PM   #6
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Use gallon bottles of ice. I wouldn't do more than one or two. The temperature swings will be large unless you can tend to it every few hours.

For some charts and analysis see here:
http://woodlandbrew.blogspot.com/2012/09/swamp-cooler.html

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Old 01-09-2013, 04:12 PM   #7
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i've always been surprised at the number of folks doing lagers without a ferm chamber. the ice bath/swamp cooler always seemed like a PITA to me. honestly, how accurate can ice packs be? seems like they are in a constant state of melting if not in the freezer, so how is it supposed to maintain any kind of set temperature? oh you put a wet t-shirt on it and it magically solves this problem...still not buying it. your cellar temps are good for ales, do ales and enjoy the convenience of your natural temps. once you get a ferm chamber with temp control, rock the lagers. otherwise you are dealing with variables that are outside of your control (the outside weather). good luck with finishing that baby up, hope it turns out well.

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Old 01-09-2013, 04:36 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GarageDweller View Post
i've always been surprised at the number of folks doing lagers without a ferm chamber. the ice bath/swamp cooler always seemed like a PITA to me. honestly, how accurate can ice packs be? seems like they are in a constant state of melting if not in the freezer, so how is it supposed to maintain any kind of set temperature? oh you put a wet t-shirt on it and it magically solves this problem...still not buying it. your cellar temps are good for ales, do ales and enjoy the convenience of your natural temps. once you get a ferm chamber with temp control, rock the lagers. otherwise you are dealing with variables that are outside of your control (the outside weather). good luck with finishing that baby up, hope it turns out well.
It can be done. Not saying it will be perfect. Or easy for that matter. And I should clarify that I only tried twice and it was a PITA but they worked out well enough. Here in MN our basement drops to 50-55* in the winter consistently so we have it a bit easier than most around the country.
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Old 01-09-2013, 04:49 PM   #9
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My basement usually hovers around 55 in the winter (with garage temps around 35), so I wanted to give it a shot. Unfortunately we are having a warm snap with highs around the 50 over the last few days.

Yeah, it's a bit of a pain, but I don't mind

Woodland--great write up, thanks!

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Old 01-10-2013, 01:49 AM   #10
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I just watch the forecast before I brew. I rely completely on the weather to get the right temps for my lager fermentation, and then the lagering itself. If they aren't predicting cold weather (<40, preferably 35, daytime) over a 5 day period I won't start.

I'm able to maintain 52-54 in my cold room as long as the outside temp is below 40.

For lagering I have a cooler built out of garbage cans that I use with ice bottles to keep the temperature more constant, and I keep this outside in the cold. We've had a few days in the past where I had to bring it inside because it got too cold.



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