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Old 12-11-2012, 12:36 PM   #1
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Default Home Brewers in Florida (or other hot locals)

I'm wanting to start home brewing and thinking about starting with cider, but I have a question. Since I live in west central Florida now, I have no basement. Most of what I read indicates that brewing is best done (or kept in) a temperature range of 60-70 deg F.
My house is normally about 75-76 deg. How are you guys that live in similiar climates (with no basement) maintaining temps on your brewing? Would you use something like a wort cooler, and if so how would you run that for prolonged periods of time for fermenting (can't run water from the tap through it that long)? The only other option I could see would be freezer with a thermostat to keep the correct temps.
I'm looking for the simplest way to do this, and would love to hear what others are doing to address this.

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Old 12-11-2012, 12:39 PM   #2
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I'm wanting to start home brewing and thinking about starting with cider, but I have a question. Since I live in west central Florida now, I have no basement. Most of what I read indicates that brewing is best done (or kept in) a temperature range of 60-70 deg F.
My house is normally about 75-76 deg. How are you guys that live in similiar climates (with no basement) maintaining temps on your brewing? Would you use something like a wort cooler, and if so how would you run that for prolonged periods of time for fermenting (can't run water from the tap through it that long)? The only other option I could see would be freezer with a thermostat to keep the correct temps.
I'm looking for the simplest way to do this, and would love to hear what others are doing to address this.
Welcome, neighbor! (I'm 1000 ft. south of Palm Harbor)

Chest freezer w/thermostats. I have two of them, on in garage and one on patio.
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Old 12-11-2012, 12:42 PM   #3
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Chest freezer w/thermostats. I have two of them, on in garage and one on patio.
I was thinking about that, but I am kind of limited on space at this time. Maybe I can find a small freezer (that will fit one carboy or maybe two) that I can make room for. Not even sure I can make room for that. I'm looking at getting a freezer just to store my store-bought beer collection!!
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Old 12-11-2012, 12:44 PM   #4
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I was thinking about that, but I am kind of limited on space at this time. Maybe I can find a small freezer (that will fit one carboy or maybe two) that I can make room for. Not even sure I can make room for that. I'm looking at getting a freezer just to store my store-bought beer collection!!
Some people make "swamp coolers" with wet towels and frozen 2L bottles for ice. Search that term and you'll find more. I've never done that so no comments.

Small 5 cu.ft. aren't that big at all but will hold 1 carboy or bucket. You can always find them on craigslist for ~ $50. There are numerous options for temp regulators then, running from a cheap DIY version based on the STC-1000 (search) or the more expensive Ranco and Johnson Controls devices.
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Old 12-11-2012, 12:45 PM   #5
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West Houston, (Katy Texas), Magic Chef chest freezer with a Johnson controls thermostat. I can keep a fermentation environment pretty much whatever temp I want

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Old 12-11-2012, 01:00 PM   #6
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I use a small beverage fridge with an STC-1000.

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Old 12-11-2012, 01:06 PM   #7
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Brewing in Z-hills and when I first started I used mostly US-05 yeast in a dark closet with those same ambient temps. Not ideal but it worked out pretty good with some tasty beers. When I would play with other yeast under those conditions I would get off flavors. Of course Saisons can be fermented pretty high too. The chest freezer with Johnson control is the best method if you can afford the equipment and space. Thats the set up I have now and love it. If you have the space for a freezer that will fit two carboys then I would start out there because you will likely have more than one going at any given time.

If you are just starting out with cider for now try out a gallon jug at ambient with a Champagne Yeast and see how that works out for you. Most of my ciders and meads that I play around with are done this way, room temp in a dark closet and only a gallon at a time (love beer too much to sacrifice my carboys).

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Old 12-11-2012, 01:29 PM   #8
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Since I'm in Texas, this is a concern for me as well. If I had the funds readily available and the space, I'd go for the temp-controlled freezer/fermentation chamber—but I don't, so swamp-cooling works for me.

Cheap electric thermometer with stainless steel probe, $8 plastic tub from Target (the cheaper ones from Walmart will crack easier), an old t-shirt, eight frozen water bottles (swapped out twice a day, four at a time) and a small clip-on fan. And water, of course.

Basically, the carboy sits in the tub with water up to its shoulder. The t-shirt (or towel or whatever) is pulled over the carboy and allowed to 'wick' the water up continually, and the fan blowing on it helps it to constantly soak up water and condensate, keeping the vessel cool. The ice bottles are floated in the water and swapped out twice a day (morning and night) to keep the water temp down.

Some people tape the thermometer probe to the side of the carboy and cover it with an insulating material, but since the probe on mine is stainless, I just dropped it in alongside my blowoff tube and let it hang right in the center of the beer. To better seal the connection between the wire and the probe, I used heat shrink tubing, though the only thing actually in the beer is the stainless probe. This is allowed to sit in Star San for 15 or 20 minutes before coming into contact with the beer, so no problems there. I was able to keep the temps down in the mid-60s throughout fermentation, only allowing it to spike a couple of times when I was busy and didn't swap out the ice bottles.

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Old 12-11-2012, 05:15 PM   #9
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I live near Palm Springs and the weather here can get into the 120's in the middle of summer. My house stays in the mid to upper 70's and I use the same method as Hellosluggo, but I don't use a shirt or a fan and I only use 6 bottles changed out twice a day (once before I leave for work and once in the evening). I can maintain fermentation temps in the upper 60's. If I change it out more often (i.e. 3x a day), then I can go down to the low 60's.

It looks like Hellosluggo is using 2 keg tubs with a towel in between them for insulation. If I did this, I can probably maintain temps without having to change out the ice bottles as often. I would do this, but I only have to keg tubs and I often brew 2 batches at a time.

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Old 12-11-2012, 06:27 PM   #10
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Another mid-western florida here, Land O Lakes. I agree with the tub of water method though I don't bother with the towel or fan. I bought a fairly large trash barrel and filled it up with water to the water line of my fermentation bucket so that it's just slightly shy of neutral buoyancy. Then just cover it. With that much water it takes a lot of heat to shift the temp up and I only have to add water bottles every couple days, if at all on mild (less than 80 degree) weather. I keep the whole setup in the garage.

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