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Old 01-23-2011, 09:47 PM   #1
supermoth
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Default aquarium heater fail

Hi everyone! The aquarium heater I just got to keep my fermenter warm in my garage is inadequate. The beer in the fermenter is an ale with Windsor yeast, and although it's fermenting, it's going slowly since it's only at 60F. So here's the question: is it better to keep it in the water bath to avoid temperature fluctuations, or is that 60 degree water sucking the heat out of the fermentation and making things worse?



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Old 01-23-2011, 09:53 PM   #2
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Be careful I was fermenting a duval clone in an water bath with an aquarium heater so i could ramp the temp as i went. First night set it to 70 and it was 80 when i came back.... MMmmm smells and taste like banana smoothie



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Old 01-23-2011, 09:58 PM   #3
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What do you mean by, "it's going slowly?" Have you taken gravity readings? And what really is wrong with slowly? A slow and steady temp controlled fermentation is actully what you want as opposed to a hot a fast one.

I never understand 1) what people really mean by "my fermentation is slow," does that really mean "I'm counting my airlock bubbles?" which really means nothing. Or "I'm impatient for my beer to be done." Which....since I plan about 8 weeks from grain to glass, I don't think I don't think about how long something appears to take.

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Old 01-23-2011, 10:08 PM   #4
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"Going slowly" means that I wanted drama! No, seriously, my main concern was that the relatively cold water surrounding the carboy was going to pull even more warmth out of the ferment. It's 60 in there at it's warmest, and from what I'd read, ales like to ferment a bit warmer than that. Don't worry Revvy, I'm not trying to rush my beer!

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Old 01-23-2011, 10:21 PM   #5
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Dump some hot tap water in there. The good thing about a water bath is it is resistant to change. Guys in Florida put ice in every couple of days to keep it cooler

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Old 01-23-2011, 10:34 PM   #6
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Personally, you should use a sleeping bag if you want to prevent fluctuations in temperature. I don't know what yeast you are using, but if it is not kolsch, California or some other hybrid, 60 degrees is a little cold. You could end up stopping fermentation early. A good sleeping bag should insulate the bucket or carboy well enough so that heat generated during fermentation will knock the temperature up to something desired, like 68. And depending how far along in the fermentation you are you can probably go much higher to aid in better attenuation and proper flocculation. Though if you are several days into fermentation you can probably crank that heater up so that you reach around 70.

Edit: but be sure to raise the temperature slowly, over the course of days.

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Old 01-24-2011, 01:27 AM   #7
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Good ideas, thanks. The yeast is Danstar Windsor, btw. I also tried turning up the thermostat on the heater a little, think it might be badly calibrated.

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Old 01-24-2011, 07:28 AM   #8
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How big is your water bath? What is the temperature inside your garage? Also what is the aquarium heater rated for?

If your trying to use a 5 gallon rated heater in 15 gallons of water when the air temperature is cold your little heater may be doing the best it can.

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Old 01-24-2011, 03:14 PM   #9
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Aquarium Heater, especially cheap ones, are not calibrated the best. I would definately use a thermometer to read the temp versus setting the heater at 70 and thinking it is at 70.

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Old 01-24-2011, 04:02 PM   #10
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Water bath is 10 gallons, carboy is 2.5 gallons full. Aquarium heater is 100W and should have had no problem with this volume. As of this morning, temperature inside the garage was 9C and in the water bath was 12C. I've been measuring all this with a lab thermometer (thus the celsius only, sorry!), and I did try upping the thermostat. I just can't get the temp spread I need, so junky heater will be getting sent back and carboy will get a sleeping bag.



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