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Old 08-04-2009, 04:15 AM   #1
becksbolero2
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Default ambient temps for fermentation.... Air vs Water

So I have been making pretty decent beer for the past 8 months now. My big problem has been keeping my fermentation temps consistent. when I have the space i will purchase a fridge for fermenting, but as for now( for the last three beers) I have been doing the swamp cooler with frozen ice bottles.

Now I understand that ambient temps in an open room is going to be different then the temps of the wort because of the exothermic reactions going on, but do you all think that the temp difference is as drastic when the carboy is submerged in water?
example....
If I have a carboy sitting on the floor in a 67 degree room
or
if I have a carboy submerged in 67 degree water

should the temp of the wort be the same in both cases ?

with my flawed thinking, it would seem to me that since water is a much better conducter of temps, that the carboy in the water would have less drastic of a difference in temps.....any thoughts ?

I have a bells two hearted ale clone sitting in the swamp cooler and the water is at 67 degrees, and my fermometer is way out of whack. I used nottingham ale yeast. i'm just hoping it comes out decent



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Old 08-04-2009, 04:51 AM   #2
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Yep. I'm pretty sure you are correct that the fermentor sitting in the container of water is going to stay closer to the temp o the water than the one in the open air is for the reason you mentioned.

I wouldn't be surprised if somebody on here maybe has done some actual measurements of the wort in a tub of liquid to see how close it tracks .

What do you mean when you say your fermentor is way out of whack?



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Old 08-04-2009, 04:58 AM   #3
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Yep. I'm pretty sure you are correct that the fermentor sitting in the container of water is going to stay closer to the temp o the water than the one in the open air is for the reason you mentioned.

I wouldn't be surprised if somebody on here maybe has done some actual measurements of the wort in a tub of liquid to see how close it tracks .

What do you mean when you say your fermentor is way out of whack?

No, my fermometer. that sticky thermometer that goes on the fermenter. it constanly reads 57 degrees, even when it is completly empty.
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Old 08-04-2009, 06:46 AM   #4
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Oh OK. My bad on the read. Yeah the stick on fermometers are pretty moody. Pretty much once you get it wet it is toast. I put heavy clear shipping tape over mine and it still went south after a couple months.

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Old 08-04-2009, 11:29 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by becksbolero2 View Post
... but do you all think that the temp difference is as drastic when the carboy is submerged in water?
example....
If I have a carboy sitting on the floor in a 67 degree room
or
if I have a carboy submerged in 67 degree water

should the temp of the wort be the same in both cases ?

with my flawed thinking, it would seem to me that since water is a much better conducter of temps, that the carboy in the water would have less drastic of a difference in temps.....any thoughts ?
I'm really hoping you are right. I had the same thoughts when I set-up my swamp coolers. I couldn't see the temp strips because of the T-Shirts but seems like they will be hosed anyway with the water. I have two Biermuncher brews going, the Tits up IPA and OctoberFast. The Oct uses S-04 which is finicky at higher temps and throws off a apricot like ester.

My water hovers between 64 & 66 which I hope will hold the wort to under 75 but it will be close I think.
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Old 08-04-2009, 02:37 PM   #6
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I'm fermenting a porter right now that I wanted to keep between 65-70 and my basement temp is generally 70-72. I put the (3 gallon) carboy inside a 6 gallon bucket full of water and put it in a "cold corner" of the basement where the concrete is about 67 because of underground temps, partitioned off with some 2" foam. I use an infrared thermometer, and every time I've checked, the temperature of the water and the wort is about the same - 67° (and, yes, it is fermenting).

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Old 08-04-2009, 03:13 PM   #7
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HUGE difference... open air is 7*F warmer than ambient, and in a water bath the difference is about 1*F between the water bath and wort temp. I always use a water bath even if I want to ferment at room temp -- just don't add the ice in that case.... Unless I'm making a saison, in which case I let it warm up....

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Old 08-04-2009, 10:40 PM   #8
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The water will conduct heat much the same as the wort in the fermentor. Whereas air can be more of an insulator. The thermal coefficient of air is much lower than water.

On the other hand, if your fermentor is a glass carboy, glass can be a insulator, but not so much when there is water on both sides of the glass.

I have come to the conclusion that if you have the fermentor sitting in water you can assume the temperature of the bath is the same as the temperature in the fermentation.

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Old 08-05-2009, 12:43 PM   #9
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I did a more careful test last night, and there is a slight difference in temperature - somewhere about .5-.7° between the water and wort. It may be greater at the height of fermentation, but I can't imagine more than about two degrees, and that would be in the center - the closer you get to the wall of the carboy the less the differential.

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Old 08-05-2009, 11:36 PM   #10
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When my fermentor is in water I just set my temperature controller 1 degree less than my desired fermentation temperature.

This can be an important point for passive fermentation control. If I had to keep the water temperature in my fermentation bucket 10 degrees below my desired fermentation temperature then I would have to go buy a fridge, which defeats the whole point of my cheapo setup. But if I only need to keep it 1-2 degrees below, then I can realistically use passive cooling.



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