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Old 07-06-2010, 04:10 AM   #1
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Default how do you handle lagers at different stages of temperature control?

I'm a few clicks and e-mails away from purchasing my freezer/temp control and ready to start brewing lagers (and ales in the hot months), but I'm worried that the slow down in my pipeline is going to bum me out. Right now I can brew about once a month - ferment for 3 weeks, then brew again.

But with beers that have to lager, and only having one freezer, I'm not sure how I can do this. Even if I have an empty carboy, if the beer has to ferment at 50 but one is lagering at 35 or 40, then I would need a 2nd freezer... right? Or more extreme, if I want to do an ale, it could be 62 versus 32.

What have you done to get around this... aside from having 2 fermentation chambers?

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Old 07-06-2010, 04:34 AM   #2
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I suggest a 10 gallon round cooler or one of those "ice cube" jobbies. You will have to change out a few frozen water bottles during active ferment, but it's not oppressive. The cooler can serve many functions, including serving:


fermenting:


mashing:

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Old 07-06-2010, 10:54 AM   #3
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There is no pat answer. Its all a question of logistics. In the fall and spring I can do a lager ferment outside my fridge and another lagering in it as well as storing beer. I the summer, I can only have one lager going and my other beers will be ales fermenting in the house.

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Old 07-06-2010, 12:01 PM   #4
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Get a larger freezer, used, cheap or free and do two or 3 brews at a time.
That's my plan. I have the freezer and the controller, now, I just need to make room for it all. I sure hope there is room in there for 2 fermentors.

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Old 07-06-2010, 03:06 PM   #5
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Interesting stuff. Part of the reason I'm doing this whole thing is because I consistently get "watch your temp!" notes from judges in competitions, and I want to see how much a difference a controlled fridge actually makes. The other reason I'm doing this is because I need to move my fermenting storage into the garage, and since the garage isn't temp controlled at all, I'm not sure I can go the route of just leaving the fermenter out, or putting it in a bucket. I guess I'll stick a thermometer in the garage for awhile and see what the ranges are...

I was also thinking I could try to brew 2 weeks in a row, so at least I would have two beers in the fridge, just need to make sure I get a fridge that is big enough (or that the shelves are strong enough to hold a carboy). Doesn't help the fact that after I'm done brewing it might be 6-8 weeks before I can brew again.

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Old 07-06-2010, 03:47 PM   #6
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If your fridge or freezer is big enough for two fermenters you can control them both at separate temperatures with a brew belt and an extra temperature controller.

For example:
Beer 1: Lager - set temp of fridge/freezer to 50 degrees and put the fermenter inside
Beer 2: Ale - inside the same fridge/freezer, but wrapped in a brew belt set to 64)

This setup will cause your fridge to cycle on more often since there's a heat source inside, but it will get the job done.

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Old 07-06-2010, 05:15 PM   #7
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I had a $20 craiglist upright freezer for a while that could hold 4 carboys. For most of the time, it ran at 67F for ale ferments and aging, then cold crashing. If I wanted to lager, it would do the 48F thing, then diacytel rest, then lager at 33F. I often did back to back lagers using the previous yeast. What I would do then is let the first beer ride at the 48F ferment temp. While it's not ideal lagering temp, it's better than leaving it at ambient temps.

You just have to face the fact that there's never enough refrigeration and enough discrete temps. I already have a kitchen fridge, a garage fridge, a kegerator and a fermentation freezer. I have to decide between college for the kids in the future or more fridges and electricity.

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