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View Poll Results: What you do use to control your fermentation temperature?
Nothing, I rely on the ambient air or my house's AC 41 18.81%
Swamp cooler or other water bath type setup 57 26.15%
Converted fridge or freezer 88 40.37%
Separate climate controlled room or fermentation chamber 22 10.09%
Other 10 4.59%
Voters: 218. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 08-20-2010, 12:21 PM   #1
neovox
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Controlling fermentation temperature is often cited in this forum as being one of the most important factors in the brewing process as it relates to producing a high quality product. Living in the midwest, I find that I can achieve temps ranging from 62F-68F six or seven months out of the year simply relying on the ambient air in my basement. In the summer months however, temperature control and consistency is significantly more challenging even running AC throughout the house. That said, I'm curious how many people on the board are using structured methods to control their temps and how many just wing it using the ambient air.
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Old 08-20-2010, 01:11 PM   #2
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I was of the same mindset (65 degree basement) until my dehumidifier proceeded to raise the temp in the basement to 90 one week. I wasn't fermenting at the time but noticed it when I brought a beer down there to ferment. I quickly set up my chest freezer and attached the temp control probe to the outside of the carboy with a rag over the outside and set it at 65. I thought something was wrong with the controller then next morning when my thermometer read 58 degrees in the freezer. I put my hand on the carboy and it was definitely warmer than the ambient in the freezer.

Yeast can create a bit of heat on their own. Having a mechanism to maintain the beer at correct temperature, not just the ambient air, is really bringing my brewing to the next level. That was the best IPA I had ever brewed...

 
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Old 08-20-2010, 01:18 PM   #3
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I do a couple of different things. I live in a cool climate, so most often a water bath is sufficient. I use water and frozen water bottles in the summer, and an aquarium heater in the winter in the water bath. Occasionally, I have to use a fridge when it's hot here, and of course for lagers I always need a fridge for lagering.

I answered "water bath" since that's usually all I need for ales, but I do use other methods too.

I'm definitely one of the people who say that the one thing that I've done made better beer is to control fermentation temperatures. Not going all grain, fixing water issues, etc, but simply fermentation temperature control.
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Old 08-20-2010, 01:20 PM   #4
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I have a bathroom in my basement that has an air vent in it. If I keep the bathroom door closed, and vary the amount the vent is open, I can usually keep the ambient temp anywhere from 64 to 68 degrees. This has worked fine so far, but I would eventually like to get a freezer to convert to a fermentation chamber.

 
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Old 08-20-2010, 01:44 PM   #5
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Swamp cooler method here...actually got 2 batches goin' using rubbermaid tub & ice bottles...gotta love that guest bathroom bath tub during the summer months in OK.
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Old 08-20-2010, 03:35 PM   #6
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I went with "other", because how I control temperature depends on the beer, yeast and time of year. I have a fridge that used to be my kegger and is now used for fermentation, but much of the year I can ferment in the kitchen or utility room without any mechanical assistance.

 
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Old 08-20-2010, 03:49 PM   #7
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I use a 5.5 cu ft chest freezer. It works perfectly for a single 6.5 gal carboy and any blow-off accessories that may be desired or necessary. Of course, after the first use I wished I had gotten the larger size to accommodate more than a single carboy.

Oh well...it is still the single most significant piece of equipment in my "brewhaus." Fermentation temperature control is, in my mind, a "critical to quality" technique.


 
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Old 08-20-2010, 04:00 PM   #8
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I picked water bath, but usually the coolant is temp-controlled.
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Old 08-20-2010, 04:09 PM   #9
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I use a fermentation chamber built at home using a sanyo small refirgerator and cabinet attached. It maintaines 50F. but I am uncertain whether it will handle lagering temp requirements. I may have to employ ice or use my refrigerator used for kegs to maintain lager temp.

My ales do well in the non-summer months in the basement. I can even ferment lagers and pilsners on the floor of the basement in the winter.

Someday I would like to build a small walk in with two compartments (1 for fermenting and 1 for lagering) however that day is not anytime soon.

Salute!
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Old 08-20-2010, 04:19 PM   #10
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I use a fermentation chiller. It's recycled cardboard glued together and lined with a roll of fiberglass insulation. I cool it using frozen water in a 2 liter soda bottle. It works pretty good for the $13 it cost me.

 
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