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Old 08-06-2011, 03:54 PM   #1
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Default Swamp cooler ?

Hey all. Hope everything is going well on the brewing front for everybody. I made my all centennial IPA last night and pitched at around 75F. My wort chiller wasn't getting it any lower so I said what the hell and pitched. I threw my fermentor into a swamp cooler with a few bottles of ice, wet t shirt around the fermentor and a fan blowing on it on its highest setting. The room that its in fluctuates from 74 - 77 during the day. Eventually, 2 hours after I had pitched I was able to get it down to 64 - 66 on my stick on fermentor thermometer. 7 hours later after I woke up, I found it had shot back up to 70 - 72. I knew that this would eventually happen without adding any new ice but didn't know it would that quickly. I guess my question is: Does anybody have any suggestions on how to keep it at a steady 64 - 66 for longer (I'm gone for 8 hours at a time most days)? I know this is a noob question but having just messed up my previous batch due to high temps really bothers me.



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Old 08-06-2011, 03:59 PM   #2
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You got the right idea. Just try playing around with your swamp cooler a bit. It's hard to hold an exact temp for too long during active fermentation , but it can be done. I do the same thing as you with a rotation of frozen bottles. During active fermentation, it may climb a degree or two overnight, or during the day when I'm gone, but I can keep it relatively steady.

BTW, love those all centennial IPA's!!!

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Old 08-06-2011, 04:07 PM   #3
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What are you using as a swamp cooler? I found a 70 qt cube type cooler works great as a swamp cooler. For now I throw a towel over the top of the carboy but for a project I am going to remove the lid and cut a hole big enough for the neck and airlock. The smaller cubes also work great for 1 gal batches.

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Old 08-06-2011, 04:07 PM   #4
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Make sure the water level in the swamp cooler is equal to the wort level in the primary (without causing floating). Rotate your bottles just before you leave. I would also suggest drapping some type of cover that will help keep n the cool air. Using a fan may not help if the outside temperature is higher than that of the wort/water. Even though the air being fanned onto the wort feels cool, it isn't, you are simply feeling the movement of the air and that feels cool. It is kinda of like the wind chill factor, it only effects the surface. I nice insulated comforter may do the trick.

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Old 08-06-2011, 04:15 PM   #5
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I dont know exactly my dimensions of my SC but I've got water up to the level of the wort. Its not really floating but its definately being lifted slightly. The fermentor is right in the middle of my SC bin with about 5 or so inches of room on each side.

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Old 08-06-2011, 04:23 PM   #6
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The fan is being used too help facilitate evaporation. I could be wrong but I thought by having a wet shirt on the fermentor with moving air could bring about evaporation and make it cooler.

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Old 08-06-2011, 06:56 PM   #7
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The fan is being used too help facilitate evaporation. I could be wrong but I thought by having a wet shirt on the fermentor with moving air could bring about evaporation and make it cooler.
You're right. The t shirt will wick water up around the fermenter, cooling it slightly as it evaporates.
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Old 08-06-2011, 09:37 PM   #8
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Buy one of those square Igloo coolers called a "Cube". Fermenter and Gatorade bottle of ice will fit in there just fine with some water. This worked well for me before I got my fridge (beer spa).

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Old 08-06-2011, 09:46 PM   #9
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Reply to OP: The idea of a "swamp cooler" is to keep your brew cooler than the surrounding air, nothing less, nothing more. To keep your brew in a specific range of temperature, such as 62-64, requires much more, times 8, plus more, stuff. When outdoor temps are 90s and indoor temps are high 70s, using a swamp cooler to keep it anywhere in the 60's is awesome. Don't expect specific temp control within a narrow range like 62-64.

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Old 08-06-2011, 09:48 PM   #10
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Igloo Ice Cube. You should be able to find one for $20 or less.


Put fermenter in cooler, fill up cooler with water, put in ice bottles to get to target temp. Once you are at your target temp you can swap out 1 or 2 bottles every 8 hours or so and it will hold temps very well.


This has not failed me yet for many, many batches and the temperature is much more stable because of the added thermal mass.

I have also cold crashed in this cooler just by using the same method only bringing the temp down to more like 35-40F range. You need more like 4-6 ice bottles at a time to maintain that low of a temp (at least when it's in the 80's-90's around here as we have no AC) but I have maintained those temps for 5 days that way.

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