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Old 11-29-2006, 04:16 AM   #1
treehouse
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Default Brrrr...Using a "Brew Belt"?

I live in a fairly primative cabin on the coast of Northern California and have had some pretty low temperatures for brewing my favorite ales. Since I heat with a wood stove (naturally), temperatures at night can fall into the lower fifties. My last batch using Wyeast 1098 was scary with some start and stop fermentations. Every thing of course turned out fine and the ale is quite smooth and good.

However, I want to make an ESB using Wyest 1968 and don't want to go through the paranoia of a possible stuck fermentation again. Therefore, I bought a "Brew Belt" to ease my mind. Does anyone have any experiences with these devices? I read on one thread that they should not be used on a glass secondary. Is the temperature control unprecise or what?

Of course I could just make lagers but I want me ales! Go figure.

MOD NOTE:

Treehouse, it is only necessary to create one thread. If you put it in the wrong place or whatever, just ask a mod to move it. I have merged the 2 threads and added your comments from the previous thread:

Quote:
I live in a cabin and heat entirely with wood and thus have problems with keeping my temperatures consistent and up to good ale fermentation temperatures. At night the cabin can drop to 55 degrees or even cooler. I purchased a "Brew Belt", a sort of plastic electrical thing that is supposed to fit around the primary and keep temperatures higher than ambient. According to the directions, the "Brew Belt" (made in Canada by ABC Cork Co.) will warm the fermenting wort to 75-80 degrees. This seems a bit high to me. I would perfer 65-70 degrees. Has anyone got any experience with these devices? Do they work?

Also I read on this forum somewhere that it might not be a good idea to use these on a secondary, glass fermenter.

Please advise.

Thank you,

Tree House
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Old 11-29-2006, 04:17 AM   #2
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I'd just wrap a folded towel around the carboy and go ahead and use the brew belt on top of that. Something to buffer the glass from the direct heat.

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Old 11-29-2006, 06:00 AM   #3
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Just move the carboy to the far corner while the stove is stoked up and then move it next to the stove at night. I don't think you'll have any real trouble.

You could just bring it in bed with you!

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Old 11-29-2006, 10:43 AM   #4
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I have these belts and have given up using them. They keep on heating and I just don't need the heat for brewing as my temps in my basement hover around 64f.
You could try using a belt hooked up to a timer outlet so it isn't going 24/7.

You could buffer you primary using a fermenter in a bucket of water that would keep your temps pretty even.

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Old 11-29-2006, 11:35 AM   #5
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How about getting 2 cardboard boxes, one lager than the other, pack with polystyrene chips and put a lid on it. That should regulate the temperature,. Not to hot in the day. Not too cold in the night. You could b really flash and make it from building supplies insulation sheets.

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Old 11-30-2006, 12:22 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boo boo
I have these belts and have given up using them. They keep on heating and I just don't need the heat for brewing as my temps in my basement hover around 64f.
You could try using a belt hooked up to a timer outlet so it isn't going 24/7.

You could buffer you primary using a fermenter in a bucket of water that would keep your temps pretty even.
When it gets below 65 in my basement I sometimes use a brew belt on my plastic fermenter and I keep it on a timer. 2 hours on, 3-4 hours off seems to be enough to heat it but not overheat it... goes from 62-64 or so to about 70... there is some fluctuation but not much. If you leave it on 24/7, you will more than likely overheat the beer unless its only like 50 in your house at all times. I've kept the belt on for 6+hours straight one time while I slept and woke up to find my brew at 76 or so degrees. Too high for my taste and it may have kept going.

Last time I brewed my basement was about 62-64 or so as well. I wrapped it in 2 blankets (no brew belt) and the fermentation heat coupled with the blankets kept it in the 68 range. Worked perfect... probably wouldn't work for a 50 degree room though.

You have lots of options (just move closer to the stove?) so just find one that works best... or make lagers!
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Old 11-30-2006, 12:27 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boo boo
You could buffer you primary using a fermenter in a bucket of water that would keep your temps pretty even.
I use this method. I keep my primary fermenter bucket in about 6-8 inches of water in a spare bathtub and it keeps the temp usually around 68 degrees regardless of the air temperature.
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Old 11-30-2006, 02:43 AM   #8
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My first time using one is on my current batch of stout. All I can say is that a rheostat didn't work for controlling the temp. I'll have to with the timer option next time I try it.

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Old 11-30-2006, 04:07 AM   #9
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I haven't used one before but I remember somebody saying something about altering the height of the band around the barrel. ( higher up less heating passed through). Could be b*ll*cks though!

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Old 11-30-2006, 04:09 AM   #10
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Thank you all for your thoughtful replies. Unfortunately I posted twice on two different forums so ingnore any repetition...I blame the homebrew.

I like the different buffering ideas (blankets, spare bathtubs, etc.). Taking my primary to bed with me is another interesting thought although I am going to have to rule this one out. I drink my beer, I worry about my beer, but I don't sleep with my beer. One has to draw the line somewhere.

I think some experimentation is in order here. How about filling a fermenter with water and measuring temperatures BEFORE subjecting a real batch to the "Brew Belt"? That way I can get an idea of what temperatures I'm getting before I ruin a batch with over heating. Hmmmmm...

Thanks again,

Treehouse

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