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Old 08-31-2009, 05:51 PM   #1
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Default Swamp cooler, WOW!

This weekends marks my fourth brew, the All Amarillo IPA (credits to TheJadedDog!) and my first experience with temperature control. Prior to this, I was having a hard time keeping my fermentation below 72F, especially on one of my very active, high-gravity beers where I couldn't keep it below 76F (YIKES!). I've had pretty bad problems with banana and clove off-flavors because of these temps, so I really wanted to try a cooler fermentation.

So this weekend, I took a Thermos Cooler that fits my bucket perfectly. Filled the thing up with water, put my bucket in, draped a tshirt over it, pointed a fan at it, and dropped in about a gallon and a half of ice. I thought there was no chance in hell of this cooling it down below 65F. I checked my temp this morning, 52F! 7 degrees less than the fermentation temps of Safale US-05. On top of that, my brew room is significantly cooler than the rest of my apartment.

Is adding the ice too much? Should the tshirt + fan be enough to cool the bucket?

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Old 08-31-2009, 05:55 PM   #2
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Sounds like you really don't need the ice at this point. I'd keep an eye on the temp and shoot for the low to mid 60s, only adding the ice if you need it to keep the temps where you want them.

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Old 08-31-2009, 05:55 PM   #3
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The t-shirt and fan method will work for awhile. As long as your water is cold.

I don't like having to constantly change the tshirts. When I was using a swamp cooler, all I did was put my fermenter in a big 40 gallon container and add water with frozen water bottles. Four at a time kept my temp at around 65F in 80 degree weather.

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Old 08-31-2009, 06:07 PM   #4
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My experience is that too much ice will cool it down more than I want. I go w/ the frozen water bottle technique as noted above. It will cool your water / wort, but not by too much.

I typically do 2 -3 water bottles and change them out, once in the morning and once in the evening. So I have 6 frozen water bottles in my freezer so I can put three in, in the morning and switch them in the evening.

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Old 08-31-2009, 06:13 PM   #5
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Can you see any issue with the fact that my bucket is so chilly right now? I have not seen any airlock activity, and I pitched the yeast about 36 hours ago (no big deal I suppose). Will the chilly temps just slow down the fermentation? Or do I risk actually creating off-flavors? I'm using 1 packet of Safale US-05 dry yeast, OG 1.067.

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Old 08-31-2009, 06:15 PM   #6
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I typically do 2 -3 water bottles and change them out, once in the morning and once in the evening. So I have 6 frozen water bottles in my freezer so I can put three in, in the morning and switch them in the evening.
I do the same. I just use water, no fan. When it's really hot in the basement, I have to change them more frequently. But it seems to work.
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Old 08-31-2009, 06:45 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DRoyLenz View Post
Can you see any issue with the fact that my bucket is so chilly right now? I have not seen any airlock activity, and I pitched the yeast about 36 hours ago (no big deal I suppose). Will the chilly temps just slow down the fermentation? Or do I risk actually creating off-flavors? I'm using 1 packet of Safale US-05 dry yeast, OG 1.067.
I don't think you'll see any off flavors, but to the yeast, this is like sitting in the fridge - Let it warm up a bit, keep it in the recommended temp range for the yeast and you'll be fine.
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Old 08-31-2009, 07:01 PM   #8
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It really depends on the ambient temperature. In my house the ambient has been climbing up around 85-90F the past couple of weeks, so I swap frozen water bottles in there a couple of times a day to bring down the temps to the low-mid 60's.

By the way, if you are interested in crash cooling, the way to do it is drain all the water from around the fermenter, load up the space around the fermenter with ice, and then add back the water so that it just covers the ice. I can quickly get my fermenter down to mid 30's using this approach, and then easily maintain it by swapping out ice bottles once it's there.

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Old 08-31-2009, 09:40 PM   #9
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It really depends on the ambient temperature. In my house the ambient has been climbing up around 85-90F the past couple of weeks, so I swap frozen water bottles in there a couple of times a day to bring down the temps to the low-mid 60's.

By the way, if you are interested in crash cooling, the way to do it is drain all the water from around the fermenter, load up the space around the fermenter with ice, and then add back the water so that it just covers the ice. I can quickly get my fermenter down to mid 30's using this approach, and then easily maintain it by swapping out ice bottles once it's there.
Must be nice having warm temps still. Last year, it was 70 degrees into early November (N.Illinois). This past weekend it was highs of 65 degrees. Last night, it got down to 43 degrees. I heard Madison (1.5 hours away) got down to 37. In August!
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Old 08-31-2009, 09:45 PM   #10
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It's not so nice having temps in the mid 90's (like we did this past week) when none of the houses have air conditioning, and you work at home. However, I'll trade a couple weeks of discomfort for the rest of the year.

I grew up in Chicago, and won't ever, ever, ever move back. I remember I went to visit my sister in Chicago a few years ago and we went to Taste of Chicago for the 4th of July. It actually snowed while we were there.

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