Spike Brewing 12.5 Conical Fermenter Giveaway - Enter Now!

Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Swamp Cooler

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
Old 10-10-2010, 07:38 PM   #1
mdstrobe
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Indianapolis
Posts: 92
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts
Likes Given: 2

Default Swamp Cooler

Quite simply, how do I build one to keep my fermentation temperature consistent?

Does anyone have an answer or a link to where this answer is?

Thanks in advance!

__________________
mdstrobe is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 10-10-2010, 07:41 PM   #2
Naked_Eskimo
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 346
Likes Given: 1

Default

My swamp cooler is a 36"x24"x24" rubbermaid (Walmart ~$7) filled one third-way up with water. Replace an a large ice pack 1-2 a day and temps are stable around 64F.

__________________
Naked_Eskimo is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 10-10-2010, 07:44 PM   #3
mdstrobe
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Indianapolis
Posts: 92
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts
Likes Given: 2

Default

Here's what I got from BillyBrew.com

Fermenting your homebrew at the right temperature is one of the critical factors in making a good brew. Let the temperature get out of whack, and the yeast will punish you.

Since 95% of homebrewed beers are ales, temperature control is usually not an issue. Ales are perfectly fine fermenting at room temperature between 70-75 degrees F. It’s when you use lager yeast that things get tricky. These Eskimos like to work between 50-55F. That’s tough for a homebrewer without specialized equipment.

My latest homebrew is a Kolsch, which uses an unusual blend of ale and lager yeast (White Labs WLP080). It still requires lower temperatures, 65-70F, but that is much more manageable than 50-55F. I aimed for 63-65F because reviews said that the strain works best in that range.
Enter the Swamp Cooler

A swamp cooler is a crude fermentation chamber used to keep lower temperatures. It is usually made out of a cooler, bin, or other large container. The idea is that you put your fermenter into the container with cool water and use ice packs to maintain low temperatures.

As you can see in the picture below, my swamp cooler consisted of:

* Water filled to the beer level
* A plastic tub typically used for holding beer cans or a keg
* A t-shirt (towel can also be used)
* A combination of frozen water bottles, small ice packs (the kind used for ankle sprains), and ice filled Ziploc bags

I kept the shirt wet for the evaporative cooling effect. The picture below shows the inside of my set up:

Swamp Cooler Top View
The Results



The goal was to rotate the frozen objects in and out to try to maintain my temperature range between 63-65F. There were 2 main challenges with this:

1. Getting the temperature low enough
2. Consistency and preventing large fluctuations

#2 was my biggest concern. It’s often said that preventing wild temperature fluctuations is more important than the temperature itself. Making it more difficult was the fact that I was out of the house 8-9 hours per day with no Keebler Elves to manage my swamp cooler.

Here are the readings for the first 2 1/2 days. WARNING: DO NOT LET YOUR KIDS LEARN CHARTING FROM THIS P.O.S.! The time axis is not to scale and I mainly took readings on the high side. Still, it is telling…

Swamp Cooler Temperature Chart

At first I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get the temperature low enough. 2 water bottles brought it down to 66F from room temperature (72F), but it went no lower. Frustrated, I replaced the 2 water bottles with 2 new ones and 2 Ziploc bags.

Oops! 52 degrees! At least I knew it could go low enough…

Once I got the routine down it wasn’t hard to keep the temperature between 60-65F. The beer is 1 1/2 weeks in and I’ve maintained that range the entire time. Not the ideal consistency, but acceptable.

Some notes:

* Once the temperature reached 62F it could be maintained by adding 1 frozen water bottle every 3-4 hours when it hit 65F.
* It was much easier to maintain the temperature in the evenings because I was around the house and could use the small ice packs for minor adjustments. It was overnight and during the day that were trickier, and when I got more fluctuation.
* Many homebrewers recommend aiming a fan directly at the carboy to help with cooling. I tried this and didn’t see any difference. I think it was because my carboy was mostly covered by the tub and only a small bit of air hit the top of it.

Final Notes

If you (or someone else) can be around enough to rotate ice packs, then this is a great way to do cooler fermentations. Just be forewarned that anything in the 50-60F range will require very close attention. I actually think this tub type arrangement is a better strategy for fermenting ales between 65-70F. This is much easier to maintain and will yield cleaner tasting beer (less esters) than one fermented at room temperature or above.

Will I do it again? Damn right.

But I have big plans for upgrading the next one. (Hint: it involves a cooler)

Stay tuned for Swamp Cooler – Part Duex.

Have you tried anything like a swamp cooler to lower your fermentation temperature?

__________________
mdstrobe is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 10-10-2010, 07:53 PM   #4
arturo7
HBT_SUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
arturo7's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Huntington Beach
Posts: 9,029
Liked 142 Times on 112 Posts
Likes Given: 1

Default

tub + water + t-shirt or towel over the fermenter = your basic swamp cooler

if you need more cooling add a fan

still more cooling add ice

__________________

Hey, knock that shvt off. We're drinkin' here.

arturo7 is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 10-10-2010, 08:23 PM   #5
Beer_Guy
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Lubbock, TX
Posts: 622
Liked 3 Times on 3 Posts

Default

I too use a cold water bath technique to maintain early temps.

However, I use a large insulated cooler and it holds the temps very well. I found I only needed to add ice every 6-8 hours during high Krausen to maintain 62-64*. By adding in about 12 or so ice cubes, the water temp drops by 2.5*s in my case. When the water level gets too high I just drain off a little bit.

For large buckets or Carboys I would suggest you could get the largest storage container you can. Insulate it with spray foam or something. It will then better resist the temp rise caused from high Krausen longer. Plus the larger volume of cooling water will help too.

Oh and getting a remote digital thermometer to monitor water temp without opening the cooler helps.

__________________

“Anyone can drink beer, but it takes intelligence to enjoy beer.” — Stephen Beaumont

No more recipies for me. My beer MUST be mine.

Beer_Guy is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 10-10-2010, 08:38 PM   #6
Revvy
Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc
HBT_LIFETIMESUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Revvy's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: "Detroitish" Michigan
Posts: 40,804
Liked 2728 Times on 1636 Posts
Likes Given: 3485

Default

Mine is ever so complex...do you think you still need a link, or schematics?





The most dificult part is jamming enough different soda bottles in my freezer to freeze them.

__________________

Like my snazzy new avatar? Get Sons of Zymurgy swag, here, and brew with the best.

Revvy's one of the cool reverends. He has a Harley and a t-shirt that says on the back "If you can read this, the bitch was Raptured. - Madman

I gotta tell ya, just between us girls, that Revvy is HOT. Very tall, gorgeous grey hair and a terrific smile. He's very good looking in person, with a charismatic personality... he drives like a ****ing maniac! - YooperBrew

Revvy is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 10-10-2010, 09:19 PM   #7
Beer_Guy
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Lubbock, TX
Posts: 622
Liked 3 Times on 3 Posts

Default

WHAT????

Revvy uses a MrBeer Fermenter?

Oh the humanity!!!!

(Just kidding. I use MrBeer HME and UME in some of my brews. Way quicker on those short brew days.)

__________________

“Anyone can drink beer, but it takes intelligence to enjoy beer.” — Stephen Beaumont

No more recipies for me. My beer MUST be mine.

Beer_Guy is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 10-10-2010, 09:22 PM   #8
Revvy
Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc
HBT_LIFETIMESUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Revvy's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: "Detroitish" Michigan
Posts: 40,804
Liked 2728 Times on 1636 Posts
Likes Given: 3485

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beer_Guy View Post
WHAT????

Revvy uses a MrBeer Fermenter?

Oh the humanity!!!!

(Just kidding. I use MrBeer HME and UME in some of my brews. Way quicker on those short brew days.)
If you've read any of my experimental 2.5 gallon batch answers you will see that I recommend the little brown jug as a great fermenter for small batch brewing. It is a great way to even lager in a fridge without haveing to take out shelves.
__________________

Like my snazzy new avatar? Get Sons of Zymurgy swag, here, and brew with the best.

Revvy's one of the cool reverends. He has a Harley and a t-shirt that says on the back "If you can read this, the bitch was Raptured. - Madman

I gotta tell ya, just between us girls, that Revvy is HOT. Very tall, gorgeous grey hair and a terrific smile. He's very good looking in person, with a charismatic personality... he drives like a ****ing maniac! - YooperBrew

Revvy is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 10-11-2010, 05:42 PM   #9
Beer_Guy
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Lubbock, TX
Posts: 622
Liked 3 Times on 3 Posts

Default

I agree, and if I had one, I WOULD use it. For now I use 1 gallon Jugs for my test batches, but the MB keg would fit in the fridge better.

Plus, like I said, "Just kidding" with you.

__________________

“Anyone can drink beer, but it takes intelligence to enjoy beer.” — Stephen Beaumont

No more recipies for me. My beer MUST be mine.

Beer_Guy is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 10-11-2010, 05:47 PM   #10
Revvy
Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc
HBT_LIFETIMESUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Revvy's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: "Detroitish" Michigan
Posts: 40,804
Liked 2728 Times on 1636 Posts
Likes Given: 3485

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beer_Guy View Post

Plus, like I said, "Just kidding" with you.
I know.
__________________

Like my snazzy new avatar? Get Sons of Zymurgy swag, here, and brew with the best.

Revvy's one of the cool reverends. He has a Harley and a t-shirt that says on the back "If you can read this, the bitch was Raptured. - Madman

I gotta tell ya, just between us girls, that Revvy is HOT. Very tall, gorgeous grey hair and a terrific smile. He's very good looking in person, with a charismatic personality... he drives like a ****ing maniac! - YooperBrew

Revvy is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Reply


Quick Reply
Message:
Options
Thread Tools


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Swamp cooler srkaeppler Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 1 09-15-2010 04:46 PM
Swamp Cooler Help Please Wildrebel Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 5 12-15-2009 09:50 PM
My first Swamp Cooler Netflyer Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 8 11-10-2009 03:01 PM
Swamp cooler, WOW! DRoyLenz Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 14 09-01-2009 03:47 AM
using the swamp cooler Suddy Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 6 06-02-2009 11:13 PM