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Old 06-23-2010, 12:58 AM   #1
ianhey
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Default Fermentation Chamber

I'm looking to take the next step in upgrading my equipment. I've been using a large cooler filled with water and using ice to regulate the temperature while fermenting 5G batches in 6.5G glass carboys. I can definitely see the advantages to using a fridge or freezer and not having to mess around with water baths / ice etc. - pretty much set it and forget it kind of thing. I have already purchased a 120V thermostat ... so I just need a fridge or freezer.

So here is my thinking. I want a 15 CU FT chest type freezer. I figure that way I should be able to have two carboys in there at once if need be along with a couple of corneys. The downside is having to lift full carboys into the freezer ... and I think that's not a big problem for me. I've been looking on Craigs List for a few weeks now, I see upright fridges galore, quite a few upright freezers and a lot of the smaller 5 to 7 CU FT chest freezers - but no 15CU FT chest freezers.

I can buy a new one for about $400, but I'd prefer to pick up one cheap if I can. So my questions are: Is my logic sound - is a chest freezer the way to go or are there reasons that a fridge would work out better? Are there any problems with either option as far as running them at 60F to 70F?

Tx.

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Old 06-23-2010, 01:14 AM   #2
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I personally wouldnt go with a chest freezer just b/c of the point you have already brought up. Putting carboys in to the chest freezer wouldnt be so bad, but i would think pulling them out would be much more difficult. I plan on doing this:

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/new-...-build-102846/

Those type of fridges are all over craigslist in my area

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Old 06-23-2010, 01:15 AM   #3
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I have not taken this step yet mainly because of space ( I realy need to clean out my garage). But from what I have read on here go for the largest freezer you can fit and a temp control that way if you want to lager in the future you do not need to buy another freezer just reset the temp controller. Just my 2 cents fro
what I have decided to do as a first step in temp control.

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Old 06-23-2010, 02:04 AM   #4
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I built a ferm chamber in my garage out of 2x4's and plywood, insulated it with pink foam house insulation sheets, and cool it with a craigs list window ac unit and a johnson controller. Entire rig for less than $200, and it will hold 3 carboys, 4 if I squeeze em in tight, and it can keep lagers at 50 degrees even in the oklahoma summer in my garage.

The doors are on the front and they swing open so no lifting carboys into a chest. I had basically no woodworking skills when I started the project, but it was pretty easy.

It's actually strikingly similar to the link posted above, only I used an ac unit instead of a mini fridge for cooling.

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Old 06-23-2010, 03:04 AM   #5
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I live in El Paso TX, and to tell you the truth every beer i made in the summer tasted of ester's and banana, with a weird twang i cannot define. I got the biggest chest freezer i could get on craigslist and bought a johnson temp control. What a difference! I do not know how i lived with out it! My life ins now BTC (before temp control) and ATC (after temp control). It is just so easy now. Even when i used ice baths it would get so hot inside that my fermenters would hit the 80's to 87's towards the end of the day. I do not find it to difficult to lift the carboys out of it, I am sure one day i will try though. It made a huge difference in the quality of my beer though.

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Old 06-23-2010, 03:07 AM   #6
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i have a simple refrigerator (circa 1993) that has one refrigerated compartment and the freezer above. i removed all the shelves from the inside and the door and i can easily fit 2 carboys on the floor without any modifications. i just set the fridge on it's coldest setting and plug it into a temperature controller. set it to where i want it and it takes care of the rest. i wouldn't want to be lifting carboys into a chest freezer without one of those carboy straps or a carrier of some kind.

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Old 06-23-2010, 03:16 AM   #7
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Ingenuity abounds in homebrewing. More a matter of budget/exisiting spaces/existing equipment.

Fridges work. Freezers work. A/C units work. Ice baths work.

The long and the short is- where do you/SWMBO need it to be, what do you have to work with, what budget are you working with, and what skills do you have- or do buddies have (IE that will work for free beer)?

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Old 06-23-2010, 04:51 AM   #8
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You could always buy those carboy haulers made from nylon straps or (my personal favorite) get some milk crates for hauling them in.

I've been using milk crates since 1994. I have over 20 carboys and have yet cracked or broken even one. I will handle them empty, but prior to pouring liquid into them they go into crates.

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Old 06-23-2010, 07:38 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GodsStepBrother View Post
I live in El Paso TX, and to tell you the truth every beer i made in the summer tasted of ester's and banana, with a weird twang i cannot define. I got the biggest chest freezer i could get on craigslist and bought a johnson temp control. What a difference! I do not know how i lived with out it! My life ins now BTC (before temp control) and ATC (after temp control). It is just so easy now. Even when i used ice baths it would get so hot inside that my fermenters would hit the 80's to 87's towards the end of the day. I do not find it to difficult to lift the carboys out of it, I am sure one day i will try though. It made a huge difference in the quality of my beer though.
I think that's the problem I'm seeing with the ice baths .... swings throughout the day between adding ice. I have a blonde that I have brewed three prior batches and all came out good. The current batch, (the fourth), has a pretty distinctive apple flavour - not cidery but apple? I figure it has something to do with the temp swings / chills etc. ... I'm hoping the freezer / fridge will help.
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Old 06-23-2010, 07:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by homebrewer_99 View Post
You could always buy those carboy haulers made from nylon straps or (my personal favorite) get some milk crates for hauling them in.

I've been using milk crates since 1994. I have over 20 carboys and have yet cracked or broken even one. I will handle them empty, but prior to pouring liquid into them they go into crates.
I use one of those haulers - need to get another. The milk crate is a great idea!
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