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Old 12-12-2008, 01:47 PM   #1
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Default Can I heat my beer with fish tank heater?

I know this is a funny question but I am afraid that my as my house is not heated that it will be too cold/variable in temperature to make beer at this time of year. I could buy a heating pad but the ones I've seen are a bit expensive. I do however own loads of fish tank equipment, including several submergible heaters so I'm wondering if they will help to keep a more even temp. Of course I would be careful to sterilize!

Any thoughts, is it too crazy to try?

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Old 12-12-2008, 01:52 PM   #2
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You can afford to brew your own beer but you can't afford to heat your own house? More power to you man. I guess your homebrewed beer keeps you warm at night.

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Old 12-12-2008, 01:57 PM   #3
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yeah it will work, what you can do is put warm water in a cooler then stick a couple of the water heaters on the inside of the cooler via the suction cups. All you need to do then is put your carboy in the cooler and the rest is easy.. just adjust your heaters till you get the heat you need in the carboy.

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Old 12-12-2008, 01:59 PM   #4
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Of course you can do that! I have a couple of suggestions, though, based on my method.

First, you don't want the heater actually inside the fermenter and in the beer. Beer is very sugary (that's what ferments) and I think a heater would be a bad idea. Sanitizing would be tough, temperature control would be tough, etc.

What I do is put my fermenter in an ice cube cooler. Then add water up to the level of the wort. I put my submersible aquarium heater in the water bath, and float an aquarium thermometer in that. The water bath keeps the temperature inside the fermenter as about the same temperature as the water. It works great!!!!!! It keeps the temperature stable, too, with no variations between day and night (when I turn the heat lower).

My house is in the high 50's/low 60s in the winter. I brewed my last batch at 68 degrees using this method. I don't feel like heating my house (which is 100 years old) when no one is home, just to keep my beer comfortable.

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Old 12-12-2008, 02:00 PM   #5
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They also sell brew belts for $20. Supposed to keep your fermentor around 70-80 degrees. Never used one though.

NORTHERN BREWER: Fermentation Temperature Control

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Old 12-12-2008, 02:02 PM   #6
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Here's a picture of the cooler I have (with a carboy in it):



I actually made a different lid, out of foam so that the airlock pokes out. Even I have to admit it's overkill, though!

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Old 12-12-2008, 05:15 PM   #7
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Yeah, what Yoop and mirilis said. Don't try to immerse the heater directly in the wort and it will work just fine.

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Old 12-13-2008, 03:25 PM   #8
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Thanks that's great. The pic was especially helpful. Why cant I stick the heater straight into my fermenting bucket? You say cos of the sugar, will that break the heater? I have a heater that was never used so contamination wouldn't be a big problem.

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Old 12-13-2008, 03:46 PM   #9
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Those heater get hot enough to kill the yeast and caramelize the sugars that come in contact with it.

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Old 12-13-2008, 04:00 PM   #10
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Nevermind that with the right sized cooler you can use one fishtank heater to keep two brews warm...

Though I've gotta admit that yooper's setup actually looks professionalish...

If I was a good HBTer I'd take pics of my redneck version...

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