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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > DIY Projects > Fermenters > Lager Tube
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Old 09-22-2007, 12:55 AM   #1
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Default Lager Tube

This is a Lager Tube:



It's a fermenter built from a corny, a belt heater, thermostat, and insulation. In a cold climate, you can use it to lager outside.

To make it, you will need: a corny, a 12" builder's tube, a brew-belt heater, a digital thermostat that will do heating, some pieces of foam board, some cans of expanding foam, a plastic bucket that will fit snug over the corny, and a few tools and stuff.



Wrap the belt around the corny near the bottom.



Cover in with aluminum foil and duct tape -- you want to make sure that the expanding foam won't seep in between the belt and the metal side of the corny.



continued...

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Old 09-22-2007, 12:57 AM   #2
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Default Lager Tube part 2

I detached the probe from my temp controller, and got a piece of styrofoam and a piece of aluminum plating.



Put the temp controller on the side of the corny, cover with the aluminum and styro.



Then tape it up good to prevent the expanding foam from getting in.



Now put the bucket snug on top and seal with plastic wrap, to prevent foam from getting in and so you can get it off later.

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Old 09-22-2007, 12:59 AM   #3
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Default Lager Tube part 3

Cut the Foam board to fit snug inside the builder's tube. I used three layers of 1", and have a round piece of plywood on the very bottom.



Drill some holes in the builder's tube for the temperature probe and power cords. IMPORTANT: mark the outside of the builder's tube at the level of the rim of the bucket. You'll see why later.

Put the tube over the corny and thread the cords through. Make sure the tube is centered around the corny. Use shims.



This is what it looks like from the top.



Drill some more holes and inject the foam. I used triple-expanding, and found that it shrinks after it cures. Next time I'll use minimally expanding. BE CAREFUL-- that expanding foam is nasty stuff to get on your skin, hair, eyes, dog, or offspring.

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Old 09-22-2007, 01:01 AM   #4
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Default Lager Tube part 4

This is what it looks like from the top while the foam is expanding.



I used several cans of foam. Squirt in a can, let it expand a few hours, drill more holes higher up, squirt in a can, repeat until you get a nice head. Don't say it.



After you let the foam completely cure, saw off the top at the mark you made earlier.



If you did it right, you can now pop the top off.



Now just hook up your digital temperature control to the temperature probe, glue it to the side of the tube, and plug/wire the brew-belt power cord into the temperature control.

I rigged an airlock in the lid of the corny by removing the pressure relief valve and gluing a three-part airlock in the hole, but I don't think it worked. I had trouble getting the corny to seal (it was a little bent, and they are designed to seal with pressure) and my fermentation gas just seeped out around the seal. Good thing I didn't get an infection. This year I'll try some sealing jelly stuff.

Because the expanding foam shrunk, I had to top off the tube with minimally expanding foam. I also insulated the joint with a skirt of flexible foam and rigged some rope handles (see the first picture). I put a plastic bag over the whole thing to act as a windbreaker.

I made a real simple lager recipe, and it was really good tasting. The heater had no trouble keeping the wort at temperature even when it got to 10F below for several nights in a row.

If you make one, send me pictures! and let me know of any improvements you came up with.

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Old 09-24-2007, 08:37 AM   #5
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This is a really SWEET idea... I wonder if this would work well with Yuri_Rage's peltier device wort cooler idea...

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Old 09-24-2007, 01:56 PM   #6
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I saw the pictures in the gallery and was going to ask.
Now I know.

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Old 09-24-2007, 04:04 PM   #7
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I like the concept a lot but I'll throw out one idea for improvement. You need a way to have the corny removable. It seems like a pain to clean and sanitize being effectively glued into that tube. Maybe not. I'd imagine you could pull off the same concept using a carboy inside a rubbermaid bin filled with foam. Other ideas would be making a dual batch version.. I mean, at the length of time you need to lager, using a controller for a single 5 gallons is wasteful.

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Old 09-24-2007, 05:36 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by orfy
I saw the pictures in the gallery and was going to ask.
Now I know.
Same here.

I thought "I'd have noticed these pictures before...".

Great work. Now you just need to design the reverse application for hot weather climates.
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Old 09-24-2007, 07:13 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobby_M
I like the concept a lot but I'll throw out one idea for improvement. You need a way to have the corny removable. It seems like a pain to clean and sanitize being effectively glued into that tube. Maybe not. I'd imagine you could pull off the same concept using a carboy inside a rubbermaid bin filled with foam. Other ideas would be making a dual batch version.. I mean, at the length of time you need to lager, using a controller for a single 5 gallons is wasteful.

It's really not hard to clean, a little bulkier than a straight corny, but not much heavier.

Yes, the rather pricey digital controller for a single batch lager is not really efficient. I detach the controller in the summer and use it on a lager fridge. PintOfBitter has a home grown controller on this forum that would be cheaper. An alternative design would be some sort of a Lager Hut-- like an insulated rubbermaid you suggest, or something built from foamboard-- that could hold a couple of fermenters. The advantage of the tube is that it's well sealed and very efficiently insulated.
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Old 09-24-2007, 07:18 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BierMuncher
Great work. Now you just need to design the reverse application for hot weather climates.
I think Grimsawyer's idea of a peltier device might work. Anyone know how efficient those things are? The tube idea is quite efficient in conserving heat, so that would be an efficiency gain over a fridge. But if the peltier device is wasteful, then it may not be a net benefit.
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