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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Does anyone lager with a swamp cooler?
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Old 06-10-2010, 09:05 AM   #1
deathtractor
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Default Does anyone lager with a swamp cooler?

Just wondering if any of y'all have ever made a lager using a swamp cooler? Is it possible to achieve temperatures of like 50 degrees with said swamp cooler? My basement temperatures are usually between 62 and 66 degrees year round.

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Old 06-10-2010, 11:46 AM   #2
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It's probably possible, but I wouldn't suggest it. With a swamp cooler, I've found them to be very unreliable as far as temp swings go. There's no real way to keep it at the same temp. Lagers really need to stay the same for a few months. Look into building a Son of Fermentation Chamber. They involve a thermostat, so they're a little bit more reliable. It only costs about $50 to build, and it'll improve the quality of your beer.

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Old 06-10-2010, 01:30 PM   #3
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In the winter it would probably be possible for me. The floor in my fermenting room (aka laundry room) gets pretty cold, so I was having a hard time keeping my beer temps above 60. I was actually having to heat the fermenter. With a swamp cooler and some ice packs I'm sure I could keep it in the low 50s at least.

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Old 06-10-2010, 01:34 PM   #4
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http://billybrew.com/swamp-cooler-homebrew

This guy did it for an ale trying to keep it about about 65 degrees. He got down to 52 without much problem on accident. He says that it will require close attention for the 50-60 range but he also says that he would certainly do it again. I plan on trying it for my next brew.
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Old 06-10-2010, 02:51 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shrewd_Alchemist View Post
http://billybrew.com/swamp-cooler-homebrew

This guy did it for an ale trying to keep it about about 65 degrees. He got down to 52 without much problem on accident. He says that it will require close attention for the 50-60 range but he also says that he would certainly do it again. I plan on trying it for my next brew.
Saw a couple visits from here and thought I'd check it out. Thanks for sharing the post Alchemist. You summed it up nicely.

@deathtractor If your basement temps are between 62-66 you'll have no problem getting down to 50. I hit 52 with 4 frozen water bottles when my room temp was at 72! Granted that was after I was already in the mid 60's from a couple other bottles.

The hardest part is maintaining the temp. In your situation, I would guess that if you could rotate in water bottles every 4-6 hours you can keep it within 2 degrees of your target. That's also assuming you use an open tub like I did, which has no insulation. My next swamp cooler will be made out of a cooler which will make it much easier to maintain temps.

Good luck!
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Old 06-10-2010, 03:16 PM   #6
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You really want to get the lagering temperatures down to the low 40's. I picked up a small chest freezer off craigslist for about $50 and then added a Johnson Controls thermostat. It works great.

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Old 06-10-2010, 03:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain_Bigelow View Post
You really want to get the lagering temperatures down to the low 40's. I picked up a small chest freezer off craigslist for about $50 and then added a Johnson Controls thermostat. It works great.
If you're talking about fermenting a lager, low 40's is too low. 50-55 is ideal, as you can see on White Labs.

But I was in a rush earlier and really only did give half an answer. I should have pointed out that making a lager is really split into 2 parts:

1. Fermentation (1-2 weeks at 50-55F)
2. Lagering (a few months at around 32F)

So to answer your original question, yes, you could ferment your lager at 50F no problem. And if you had a well made swamp cooler you could probably even lager it for a couple months, but it would be a pain. A chest freezer would be ideal.

The swamp cooler is really better for fermenting ales at cooler temperatures.
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Old 06-11-2010, 12:08 AM   #8
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By swapping out two frozen half gallon bottles for 2 more frozen half gallon bottles I can keep the temps in the upper 30s, but it's freaking ridiculous the amount of work involved. Wake up at 5:30am, change the bottles. Get home from work at 3pm change the bottles. Get home from school at 9pm change the bottles.

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Old 06-11-2010, 12:14 AM   #9
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I think you are looking at more trouble than you want. Making beer is supposed to be fun. You are about to make it into work.

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Old 06-11-2010, 12:23 AM   #10
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I have cold crashed in my swamp cooler many times, and can get it down to near freezing with just lots of ice bottles. If I were to use some salt, I think I could get it even lower.


However, it is extremely high maintenance. I have to swap bottles 3-4 times per day in order to maintain those low temps reliably. I could not imagine doing that every day for several weeks at a time.

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