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Old 03-21-2012, 02:45 PM   #1
KavDaven
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Default Need Advice for the Apartment Brewer

I'm on the third floor in a very nice apartment. I have a walk-in utility closet, roughly 8'x8', adjoining a sun room. This utility closet has two electrical outlets, no windows, no AC or heat and two walls form the corner exterior of the apartment. This is the warmest room in the winter and the summer. And I'm in Georgia. So, its a hot summer and cool winter.

I'm still cutting my teeth on my first batch, haven't even bottled. I've had some difficulty keeping my primary temp stable. Finally, with a cooler, half full of cold tap water and a re-usable blue ice block on either side of the 5 gallon bucket I can keep my temp at 64/66/68.

Once I bottle, this room will not keep 54 bottles at 70 or below.

I'm looking for a low budget and low maintenance solution to maintaining a stable fermentation temp and bottle ageing.

My first thought was to get a chest freezer and a controller. Then again I've seen some DIY ferm chambers that were pretty impressive. Not ready for kegging yet. But, I'm open to some 'out of the box' solutions. Maybe a compact fridge with an attached insulated box. Maybe somehow cool the entire 8'x8' room to 64/66/68.

Any suggestions?

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Old 03-21-2012, 03:08 PM   #2
Jsmith82
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Well the room has outlets so a small A/C unit is a possibility (this can get expensive) though I've lived the apartment life and had the deck closet before myself, I'd question the seal on the door and in going that route would recommend you buy some weather stripping to help seal it off a little better.

But, the question here - why not just let these sit in your air conditioned apartment at room temp? I condition all of my beer at room temp and it hasn't hurt a thing, find a corner of a room or maybe even your bedroom closet corner and let them be. Save the money and make it easier on yourself.

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Old 03-21-2012, 03:11 PM   #3
Raenon
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If you could cut out a place to permanently install an AC unit (either large boxy style that hangs out like you'd install in a window, or just a duct to output warm air as some new ones do), that'd be the best option for controlling the temp over the entire room and giving you lots and lots of space... but in most apartment settings, that's just not an option.

A stock refrigerator will give you plenty of control between the low-mid 30's and perhaps into the upper 40's, but anything outside of that will need an outside temp controller.
A freezer with a controller will typically give you more space for your buck, leaving you more money for a better controller, which will then let you fine control.
Definitely start haunting craigslist and other classifieds for fridges and freezers that will fit your space- anything of the right size for you and a working compressor will do, it doesn't have to look pretty.

I've seen several threads around here where people have used compressors from AC units or fridges to build their own ferm chambers as well, out of plywood and thick insulation... but that sounds like it might be a bit outside of your scope (it certainly would be out of mine)

The swamp cooler you've described is a popular method for controlling ferm temps, and you could always just use a regular fridge to store your beer, but that could mean keeping it a bit warmer than preferred for the carbonation period... definitely a risk in many styles.

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Old 03-21-2012, 04:00 PM   #4
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The DIY freezers out of insulation, is that what you are referring to? I tried one, and it kinda worked, but was a pain to build and didn't work as well as a mini-fridge with a home built temperature controller. And the second option cost me as much as the first when using CraigsList.

That being said, it is a bigger investment than a wet t-shirt and a fan. Get a temperature strip to go on the bucket (cheap, every homebrew shop should have them) so you can monitor the temperature.

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