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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > DIY Projects > Fermenters > Fermentation/Lagering/Storage Chamber
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Old 05-21-2008, 07:46 PM   #1
JAKlaassen
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Default Fermentation/Lagering/Storage Chamber

I've been an avid reader and just getting into posting.

I am beginning to think about an air conditioner-run fermentation/lagering/storage chamber and I feel like I'm hitting a brick wall in my ideas. I like a lot of the designs out there (I think I've seen them all), but I would like to build something with multiple temperature zones/chambers. Ideally I would like to be able to ferment lagers and ales (though not necessarily at the same time) as well as lager and cold storage.

I am imagining a design with a large (4' W, 2' D, 6' H) lower chamber with a small chamber above that would be big enough for bucket/cornys (room has 9' ceilings). The air conditioner would blow into the lower chamber on a temp controller and another temp controller would control fans between the lower and upper chambers. I would hope that I could keep the lower chamber at about 40 and the upper anywhere from 50-70.

I'm thinking rather than walk-in, I'll have door(s) on the outside and a ladder. I may set it up so I can force wort up into a bucket in the top chamber from a corny using CO2, but that would be a later add-on to keep from having to lug buckets up the ladder.

Its early doors right now, and I'm wondering if I'm completely off base with anything. Will the upper chamber stay warmer than the lower with the fans off? Will I need some time of air return to get nice upward airflow while the fans are running? Anyone have any experience with what vertical temperature gradients I can expect? Anything I should be thinking about in my design?

Thanks!

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Old 05-21-2008, 08:50 PM   #2
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Personally, I find that having several smaller freezers (capable of holding 5 gallon or 10 gallon batch each) to bring much more flexibility than one big fermentation area. I had thought about buying a big freezer buy found it wasn't worth it...

The reason is that you want to be able to vary the temperatures for several different types of beers at different periods of fermentation and lagering. For example, you might want an ale fermenting at 65F, a lager fermenting at 50F and a lager lagering at 40F which slowly rises up for a diacetyl rest at 55F. You would have trouble managing all those varying temps in one big area. At the very minimum you would have to move the beers around too much, upsetting the settlement. Additionally, lower temps can add weeks to fermenting and lagering and you don't want to tie up your chamber at that temp for so long.

What I have done is buy an upright freezer to house my conical for primary fermentation, then I rack right into a keg and put it in my secondary freezer that holds just 10 gallons. Then when that is done it goes into my "bright" chest freezer for clarification and serving.

All in all I have spent far less time and money because of buying used than it would have otherwise cost me to build something like what you are talking about and I can always turn around and resell it if I want something bigger.

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Old 05-22-2008, 01:03 AM   #3
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I would imagine that if you have one big cool area, you could always use a brew-belt or similar to raise a certain fermenter a few degrees higher as needed.

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Old 05-22-2008, 03:27 AM   #4
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My thought was to have a multiple fermentation chamber cooled with A/C or something else. I was thinking if you had 3 chambers side by side with the middle being the one with the coldest temperature and controlled with a ranco or other digital controller. Then between each compartment on the left and right there would be a hole with a fan hooked up and using a thermostat kind of like how the son of a fermentation chillers work.

I never really got past the thought part of the process, but I don't see why it wouldn't work. Maybe someone that knows more about this stuff would know if it would work well enough.

Another thought was to use a chest freezer as the main chamber and build a collar on top and have holes and fans in it to pipe to other chambers.

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Old 05-22-2008, 05:28 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bokonon View Post
My thought was to have a multiple fermentation chamber cooled with A/C or something else. I was thinking if you had 3 chambers side by side with the middle being the one with the coldest temperature and controlled with a ranco or other digital controller. Then between each compartment on the left and right there would be a hole with a fan hooked up and using a thermostat kind of like how the son of a fermentation chillers work.

I never really got past the thought part of the process, but I don't see why it wouldn't work. Maybe someone that knows more about this stuff would know if it would work well enough.

Another thought was to use a chest freezer as the main chamber and build a collar on top and have holes and fans in it to pipe to other chambers.
Well - it certainly will work... but personally think it's just too little control.
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Old 05-22-2008, 05:32 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by atarlecky View Post
Well - it certainly will work... but personally think it's just too little control.
Well if the main/coldest chamber was for lagering and always just above freezing, that one wouldn't change. Then you would have thermostats for each other area that would kick on a fan to circulate the air. Of course that would just be one stage and if you needed to warm a zone up there would be a problem. So I guess you could have a two stage controller for each zone.

I'd much rather have multiple freezers and controllers. Right now I just have one freezer that I use for fermenting in, and if I need to lager I move the keg over to my normal kegerator.
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Old 05-22-2008, 04:54 PM   #7
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Yeah, what I would like to do is to duplicate your setup, but trade the freezer farm for one contained unit.

I'm thinking now that I should really have 3 chambers. The large cold area would be for storage and lagering and powered by one air conditioner. Then on top of that I would have two chambers side by side, one with a temperature controller running a second AC, the other with a temp controller running a fan/baffle system as described here. That chamber could also have a heater/two stage TC for winter ale fermentation.

I'm kind of going back and forth on this. On the one hand, I keep thinking I just should get a freezer for serving/lagering. But then I'm going to want fermentation control, so I get another freezer? That still leaves me with only a single fermentation chamber, and two giant freezers.

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Old 05-29-2008, 06:06 AM   #8
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Someone once told me, brew your Ale and buy your Lager. That way you do not need to worry about cooling chamber for lagering. I thought it was weird, but the more I thought about it, it does make sense.

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