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Sulfuriois 11-01-2012 06:06 PM

Controlling temperatures with Winter coming
New homebrewer here with a question about temperature regulation now that it's getting cold outside. I got into home-brewing this summer and have since been hooked. One of my first purchases after I got my beginning setup was a Johnson A419 temperature controller to regulate temperatures in an existing chest freezer that I have in my garage. That was all fine and dandy during the summer but this morning, I noticed that the temperature was reading 62 instead of the 68 that it's set for. Obviously it got cold enough last night to drop the temperature down a few degrees inside the freezer. I'm wishing now that I had the foresight to get a dual-stage controller but that's another day.

The main reason I'm concerned is that I have a brew day scheduled for this Saturday and I want to make sure that my temperatures stay warm enough. Looking at the weather forecast down here in the Alabama (Shhh) I don't expect it will drop down below 62 in the ferm chamber since my garage is getting a bit of heat from the house. Do you guys think the heat from an active fermentation will be enough to bring the temperatures up to an acceptable range? Or should I just bring the vessel into the house until I can get my dual-stage controller setup? FYI, I'll be brewing an IPA and using WLP001.

h22lude 11-01-2012 06:10 PM

I may be a little confused. You have a chest freezer and the temp doesn't go below low 60s?

I like to keep my beer temp at the lower end of the yeast temp range. If you can keep your beer temp in the low to mid 60s you will be fine.

White Labs says 68 to 73 for this yeast so anywhere in there is good. I would still probably go the low end maybe even a degree or two lower.

beergolf 11-01-2012 06:12 PM

I love brewing in the winter. My basement stay at 58-60 degrees. Perfect for fermenting most ales. If I do want to do something that requires heat I just use a cooler full of water and heat it with an aquarium heater.

You are fine.

Sulfuriois 11-01-2012 06:15 PM

Sorry, I wasn't all that clear about that. It has no problem getting cold enough if I set the controller to a lower temp. It's the cold weather that's making it colder than I want. Unfortunately I don't have the option of moving my chest freezer into the house.

estricklin 11-01-2012 06:30 PM

I live in Arkansas and I love brewing in the winter, I have an extra room in my house I call the "gun room" that I use for reloading ammo and gun collecting, I throw my fermenters in there and crack the window, keep the heat shut off and it stays in the low 60s usually. I can always shut the window if it gets too cold, but hey we're in the southeast so how often does that happen?

CaptnCully 11-01-2012 06:35 PM

If you Have the a419 that is a dual controller. It just wont do both at the same time. Check out the instructions and move the pins to set it to heat and then plug in a small space heater with a built in fan thats how i do it up north

rlynne 11-01-2012 06:36 PM

Turn your controller to heating mode then add a heat source. For about $40 you can by a heating pad (for sore backs and muscles) at any drugstore which you can plug directly into your controller. When you have an active fermentation you might have to switch back to cooling mode for the first few days as it will be the heat source. Works really well!

khaos 11-01-2012 06:40 PM

Op: being tour neighbor in Kansas I am running into the same issues with my ferment fridge. I have the johnson a419 as well. Also wishing I had bought the stc-1000 but have came with an ideal for temp control put a light with a low wattage bulb in your freezer cover with say a coffee can or aluminum foil so to block the light. Presto no more temp drop.

khaos 11-01-2012 06:42 PM

Oh i might add I just use this ideal at night being the days have been fairly warm

billl 11-01-2012 06:42 PM

I here ya. My freezer is in my unfinished, walkout basement.

Obviously, a 2 stage controller makes things a ton easier.

Until you get on, you have to monitor the fermenter and adjust accordingly. When warming in the freezer, I generally set the temp around 60 during active fermentation. The heat from the yeast raise it another 5 degrees or so. Once the yeast start to slow down, I'll set the temp up to 65. That is really going to depend on the temp in your garage though.

You also might need to manually switch from heating to cooling during the day. eg if it is 65 during the day, the freezer will trap the heat from the yeast and easily raise them temp to 70+.

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