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Old 10-23-2011, 02:41 PM   #1
Dunkelman
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Default Noob with lager/fridge question

Hi all,

I'm brand new home brewing; I just bought my equipment and materials from a LHBS last week, and am almost ready to transfer the concoction from the bucket fermenter to the carboy fermenter. The mix that came with the kit was a Imperial Stout syrup, so it was pretty basic.

My goal, however, is to graduate to lagers and all grain and to come up with my own dunkel recipe.

Anyway, long story short, I've done a lot of reading and know that with lagers you have to ferment at lower tempuraturs, like 55 degrees or so. Would a normal refridgerator be adequate? I've read of people buying freezers and using a Johnson Controls device to regulate the tempurature, but to me it would seem a proper fridge would be more versatile. Is there a reason why I wouldn't want to use a fridge to regulate the fermentation tempurature?

Thanks all!



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Old 10-23-2011, 02:51 PM   #2
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A refrigerator is perfectly acceptable. What's important is temperature control. You need to maintain 55 and also allow the temp to slowly rise during the ferment. So people typically dedicate a fridge/freezer for fermentation and use a temp controller.



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Old 10-23-2011, 02:56 PM   #3
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Fridge works great, but you still need the external thermostat (Johnson Controls is the best/most common). You may need to talk shelves out or make a modified shelf to fit your fermentors in there. Just remember that when your fridge gets to the temperature that you set the external thermostat shuts everything off. this means that you can't use the freezer as a freezer. I have a fridge that is modified for fermenting beers, and I ferment everything in there ales included b/c I live in an upstairs apartment and have to.

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Old 10-24-2011, 11:37 AM   #4
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Exellent, thanks guys. I guess I'm suprised though that you'd need a tempurature controller even with a fridge. I have no experience with this, but would have thought the thermostat on the fridge would keep the tempurature steady. In any case, a Johnson Controls regulator isn't very expensive.

How exactly do you set one of those tempurature controllers up? Do you simply plug the fridge into the tempurature controller, then the tempurature controller into the wall outlet, enter the desired temp into the controller and you're done?

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Old 10-24-2011, 02:39 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Dunkelman View Post
Exellent, thanks guys. I guess I'm suprised though that you'd need a tempurature controller even with a fridge. I have no experience with this, but would have thought the thermostat on the fridge would keep the tempurature steady. In any case, a Johnson Controls regulator isn't very expensive.

How exactly do you set one of those tempurature controllers up? Do you simply plug the fridge into the tempurature controller, then the tempurature controller into the wall outlet, enter the desired temp into the controller and you're done?
Your right. The thermostat should keep the temperature steady but the key is to know your fridge

You might want to grab a digital aquarium thermometer with a probe from a pet store and run the probe inside the fridge into a mason jar of water. The water roughly simulates the beer temp. Then adjust the fridge thermostat and record your numbers. If that works well then there's no need for a johnson controller.

If you do need one, you do simply plug the fridge into the temperature controller, then the temperature controller into the wall outlet. Next you do set the temperature but you need to be aware that there is a 4 degree variance. So if you set it to 55, it will cool the fridge to 55, then shut off and not turn back on until the temp is 59. That being said, liquid is much slower to change temperature, so the 4 degree air temp variance isn't a big deal.
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Old 10-24-2011, 02:39 PM   #6
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1. The fridge thermostat isn't taking the beer's temp.
2. Most fridge thermostats don't go higher than about 45ºF.

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Old 10-24-2011, 02:47 PM   #7
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Most fridge thermostats don't go higher than about 45ºF.
He's right. I could see installing a light bulb and finding a way to control shutting off the fridge and turning on the light, but why bother. A johnson controller is worth the investment.
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Old 10-24-2011, 10:50 PM   #8
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Thanks guys. Looks like a Johnson Controller is in my future.

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Old 10-24-2011, 11:06 PM   #9
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I use a fridge plugged into a timer switch - simple, cheap and works fine for me. Just set it to come on for 15 mins every 2 hours or whatever it takes to keep the beer in the right range. You do need to manually monitor it and make the occassional tweak more than if you had a 'set and forget' temp controller but I like checking on my fermentor anyway and I find that I rarely have to make any adjustments as ambient temp is fairly consistent form day to day.



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