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Old 11-24-2012, 07:11 AM   #1
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Default Water coolers to control fermentation temps

Does anyone have a tried and true estimation (is that an oxymoron?) Of internal fermentation temps vs water temp with the typical "ale pail" placed in a cooler filled to about 3/4 the way up the fermenter with water and ice packs.

I've always shot for 60 degrees water and assumed 10 degrees warmer (fermenter at 70) but some recent web browsing has me thinking 3 degrees difference. This sounds more like a glass carboy which is more thermally conductive vs a plastic ale pail.

Im clueless to my internal temperature. But I'd imagine with water cooled to 55-60 degrees I'm fermenting between 63-68 internally. But without measuring I'm basically basing this on assumtions

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Old 11-24-2012, 07:44 AM   #2
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Two things would be your best partners, a fermometer. it would be hard to tell regarding itself in the cooler itself. but if you lift it out, it'll let you know.

another option would be a small undrilled stopper and make a small hole to shove a thermometer down into the wort itself (if you can find one long enough)

but a fermometer has been great for me so far!

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Old 11-24-2012, 03:03 PM   #3
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I brew 7 gallon batches. My fermenters are much taller and a little slimmer than a standard pail. I brew in a swamp cooler and fill the water to about 3/4 of the way up the fermenter and have a fermometer attached to the fermenter near the top of the wort.

My Fermometer never gets more than 1 or 2 degrees above the water temperature.

Heat rises, so when fermenting the top should be the warmest, so I should be measuring at the warmest location.

There is so much churning going on in the fermenter that there are no 'hot' spots. The center does not get warmer than the rest since the active fermentation stirs it all up.

The water acts as a great heat sink, preventing high fermentation generated temperatures.

Personally, I believe you can produce a better beer in a swamp cooler 5 degrees higher than the same fermentation in air (that is; fermenting in a swamp cooler with water at 65F, will result in a better beer than fermenting the same beer in ambient air of 60 F).

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Old 11-24-2012, 07:23 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Calder View Post
I brew 7 gallon batches. My fermenters are much taller and a little slimmer than a standard pail. I brew in a swamp cooler and fill the water to about 3/4 of the way up the fermenter and have a fermometer attached to the fermenter near the top of the wort.

My Fermometer never gets more than 1 or 2 degrees above the water temperature.

Heat rises, so when fermenting the top should be the warmest, so I should be measuring at the warmest location.

There is so much churning going on in the fermenter that there are no 'hot' spots. The center does not get warmer than the rest since the active fermentation stirs it all up.

The water acts as a great heat sink, preventing high fermentation generated temperatures.

Personally, I believe you can produce a better beer in a swamp cooler 5 degrees higher than the same fermentation in air (that is; fermenting in a swamp cooler with water at 65F, will result in a better beer than fermenting the same beer in ambient air of 60 F).
From my experience you are exactly right!! Water does a much better job of regulating temperature swings than air does. I think most people do the temp controlled fridge because it is easier if it really hot or really humid. Where I live though the water bath works great because depending on the weather I might have to heat and/or cool the fermentation.
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Old 11-24-2012, 07:31 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phunhog View Post
From my experience you are exactly right!! Water does a much better job of regulating temperature swings than air does. I think most people do the temp controlled fridge because it is easier if it really hot or really humid. Where I live though the water bath works great because depending on the weather I might have to heat and/or cool the fermentation.
Yes, I've noticed the same thing. In my ale pail, in a cooler filled to the beer level with water, there is about a 1-2 degree difference between the beer in the center of the fermenter and the water bath.

I use an aquarium heater in the water bath in the winter, and frozen bottles of water in the summer, and float a thermometer in the water bath. The one difference with heating is that I don't circulate my water, so I keep the floating thermometer away from the heater so I can get an accurate reading and it works just fine.
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Old 11-25-2012, 04:58 AM   #6
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Good info in this. Just made me raise my water temp about 5 degrees. I've always wondered why my yeast tastes tend to be low. I've seemed to ferment on the low low side of the spectrum. Hopefully my wyeast American Ale II will still have enough ferment ables left to give me a nice flavor instead of just clean

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Old 11-26-2012, 07:01 PM   #7
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My setup sounds like the same as Yoopers. I collected data on a recent fermentation and the water temp just outside the ale pail and thermal probe right in the middle of the ale pail were never more than one degree apart. (before and after fermentation the thermometers were checked in a glass of water to make sure they read the same value.)

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