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Old 05-18-2013, 12:31 AM   #11
SouthernGorilla
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Got my yeast and nutrients yesterday. Still need to get the honey. And I haven't dug the cooler out of its hiding spot to examine it.

Speaking of the cooler, I'm thinking about setting it up like that "son of a fermentation chiller" I see so many people building. I like that it offers better temperature control and keeps the ice longer. And it doesn't look like an expensive build. Feel free to talk me into/out of it. I'm definitely going to get a cheap indoor/outdoor thermometer so I can keep an eye on the temperature of the lager chamber without opening the cooler.

Funny thing is that even though I have no idea how this is going to turn out I'm already designing a real lager system in my head.

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Old 05-18-2013, 05:45 PM   #12
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Took the time to dig the cooler out of the patio closet. There's plenty of room for two gallon jugs and a pile of gel packs. I can fit foam baffles for an SOF if I choose. But I'm still undecided as to whether the expense of the SOF is justified at this point. I know it isn't a lot of money for a thermostat, fan, and power supply. But it is still money.

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Old 05-30-2013, 10:18 AM   #13
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I've started phase one of the experiment. I'm testing the cooler to see how it holds temperature. So far, 24 hours into it, the best it seems able to manage is a mere ten degree difference from ambient. That's with four one-pound gel packs frozen to zero. I have three gallon jugs of water in the cooler. Two to simulate the fermenters and the third for thermal mass.

I'll check it again when I get home this evening. I have enough gel packs to add several more to the cooler if the temperature is still too high. And I can always put the third jug in the fridge to chill it as well. The goal is to get the cooler into the mid forties. If I can do that then I can be confident that it will maintain a 50-55 degree temperature in an active fermenter.

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Old 05-31-2013, 02:04 AM   #14
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Another 36 hours or so have passed. The temperature inside the cooler is hovering at 61 in a 74 degree room. So I threw a couple extra gel packs in to see if I could get it down a bit more. But I left the four from this morning instead of swapping them out. I have six new packs in the freezer that I'll swap in the morning. Four packs just aren't getting the job done. I doubt six will either. But it only makes sense to step up incrementally. I may also put the gallon jug in the fridge and use it to drop the temperature further.

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Old 06-01-2013, 02:28 PM   #15
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Just another update on phase one. I've still only managed to get the cooler down to 54. That's a 17 degree drop from ambient. That's with six one-pound gel packs and a one-gallon jug of chilled water. I need another eight to ten degrees before I have confidence in using it as a lager chamber. I have enough gel packs to keep eight in the cooler while eight more recharge in the freezer. I'm hoping eight gel packs and a gallon of chilled water will get the temperature low enough.

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Old 06-01-2013, 04:23 PM   #16
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Is diacetyl an ordinary byproduct of fermentation? Or is that something specific to beer? I'm curious whether I should plan a diacetyl rest for this experiment. But maybe that should be a different experiment later on. I have no idea what diacetyl tastes like. It might actually be a good thing in a mead.

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Old 06-03-2013, 09:16 PM   #17
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Hi there-
I started this experiment back in January. Here is my “brew log” on the Gotmead site:

http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=20835


One observation, and I could be wrong here, but I don’t think I really don’t think that you are going to be able to keep a stable enough temp with the cooler and icepack routine. Having the temp fluctuation up and down, especially if the temp gets too warm will cause lager yeast to start throwing off strong estery flavors. This, in my mind would negate the purpose of using lager yeast in the first place. If you can find a way to make this work, you will be handsomely rewarded- my came out so good! It is absolutely delicious! I will be entering it into next year’s Mazer’s Cup… I guess we’ll see if the judges like it.

One thing that was really great is that the more delicate honey flavors were really preserved and can be both smelled and tasted, so definitely make sure that you use a really outstanding honey- because you are going to taste and smell it!

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Old 06-04-2013, 01:38 AM   #18
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Plenty of folks have successfully used coolers and gel packs to lager beer. It isn't anything new I came up with. It's definitely more work than a dedicated refrigerator would be. But I can't afford a refrigerator just for this experiment. If it turns out the way I hope then I'll invest in better equipment.

I am a bit concerned about temperature stability once I have an active fermentation in the cooler. But I'm not very worried. First, there's a good bit of cushion in the temperature. Right now the cooler is down to 46 in a 74 degree room. It could climb nearly ten degrees without getting out of lager range. Second, and more importantly, I'm not using an actual lager yeast. Both EC-1118 and K1V-1116 ferment relatively cleanly into the sixties, even seventies. So if the cooler hits the upper fifties before I get it back under control it won't be the end of the world.

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Old 06-04-2013, 02:29 PM   #19
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Quote:
I'm not using an actual lager yeast. Both EC-1118 and K1V-1116 ferment relatively cleanly into the sixties, even seventies. So if the cooler hits the upper fifties before I get it back under control it won't be the end of the world.
Oh… My bad. Sorry, I missed that part.
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Old 06-04-2013, 02:41 PM   #20
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SG, I was thinking you should make sure you cool your must (perhaps in the regular freezer or such) to the bottom end of your yeast's range before pitching, then put it into your chamber...it may take longer to get started that way, but this should hopefully prevent any drastic upward swings in temp once things get started...

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