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Old 12-12-2011, 11:24 PM   #1
Bullka
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Nov 2009
Springfield, Missouri
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We need some advise on how to lager large batches of beer. We typically make 35-45 gal batches using the plastic fermenter shown in the attached picture. We typically use this fermenter for ales and when we make lagers we put the beer into the 7 gallon buckets and put it in the freezer's shown in the back of the picture, which is becoming a pain in the butt. We are wanting to use our fermenter for lagers as well. We are trying to figure a way to keep the beer around 45-55 degrees. We do not have a refrigerator to wheel our fermenter into and to cool the beer in open space.

The only idea that we have come up with so far is to have a reservoir of cold water in our current lagering freezer and use a pump to run water through a stainless steel coil suspended in the fermenter. The temperature would be regulated by having a probe suspended into the fermenter that would turn the freezer and pump on and off depending on temperature. Has anyone tried a set up like this before or do you think this would work? If anyone has any other ideas we would appreciate the input. Thanks in advance.
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Old 12-12-2011, 11:40 PM   #2
weirdboy
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May 2009
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Not cold water. Use glycol. I would also use some kind of insulating wrap around the fermenter.


Do you have more than one fermenter? If it were me, I'd find another vessel to lager in. Otherwise, you are stuck with no fermenter until your beer finishes fermenting and then lagering for presumably a long time, meaning you cannot brew for months at a time, as well as there being a longer lag time between having beers ready once you finally package one.

 
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Old 12-12-2011, 11:43 PM   #3
david_42
 
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You could do it like that, but most large fermenters are controlled by using exterior coils. Since the plastic is thin, it will transfer the heat without much lag. Wrap a water heater blanket around the outside to help hold the coils in place.
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Old 12-13-2011, 05:51 PM   #4
doughj1466
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Jul 2010
Philadelphia
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I can't tell how large the freezer is but we lager large batches in multiple sanke kegs in a large chest freezer.

 
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Old 12-14-2011, 11:44 PM   #5
Boodlemania
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Dang, that size batch is just hardcore. Hat's off, man. Hat's off.
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Old 12-15-2011, 10:03 PM   #6
DrewBrewTheGreat
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May 2011
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Quote:
The only idea that we have come up with so far is to have a reservoir of cold water in our current lagering freezer and use a pump to run water through a stainless steel coil suspended in the fermenter.
Pumping water will work in my experience.... I don't see any reason to use glycol. Read somewhere water transfers cold better than glycol.

Pumping water at 40F cools 15 gallon batches to 49-50F in minutes for me. lagring one now. NY York Brew Supply or the something like that has the 50' stainless coil I use for like $60-70. Just guessing, but I bet that is plenty of coil for your needs.

Small fish pump and cooler of ice water will do it. insulate a bit to reduce ice usage.

 
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Old 12-16-2011, 12:50 AM   #7
Shockerengr
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The brewery I help with uses plastic conicals for fermenting in. We've got a glycol chiller with that pumps through nybrewsupply.com stainless coils to maintain temps.

It works out pretty well.

 
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Old 12-16-2011, 02:40 PM   #8
Bullka
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Nov 2009
Springfield, Missouri
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Thanks for all the input!
With DrewBrew's recommendation I think we are going to give it a shot using a 50' 3/8" SS coil.
The price from NY Brew Supply was very reasonable for under $60.
I am going to use one of my half barrel kegs to store the chilled water inside my freezer/fermentor and just run insulated vinyl lines to the SS coil inside the plastic fermentor.
I thought all along this idea should work because it is very similar in concept to how a wort chiller works during the brewing process.
Its just running water that is cooler than the beer it is chilling to bring it down to a desired temperature.
I will be sure to post an update when the project is complete.
We plan on constructing this in the next few months.

 
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Old 12-16-2011, 03:43 PM   #9
audger
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Apr 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by david_42 View Post
You could do it like that, but most large fermenters are controlled by using exterior coils. Since the plastic is thin, it will transfer the heat without much lag. Wrap a water heater blanket around the outside to help hold the coils in place.
unfortunately the plastic is going to be more of an insulator than the air surrounding it, so most of your cooling power will be lost to ambient air this way.

large fermentors are steel, and jacketed so the liquid is in complete contact with the tank. then another layer of steel and a layer of insulation on top of it. that is how large tank cooling work.

the coil inside the fermentor is going to be your best bet at keeping lagering temps without heavily insulating your fermentor.

Quote:
Pumping water will work in my experience.... I don't see any reason to use glycol. Read somewhere water transfers cold better than glycol.
depends on the temperature you want, and how well (or not) your fermentor is insulated. glycol is normally kept around 26-28 degrees. you cant do that with water obviously. if you have enough flow rate for 34+ degree water to keep your fermentor where you want it, then you can use water. if you are not able to reach 45-55 degrees that way, you will need to use colder glycol to increase the temp delta, which allows more efficient heat transfer.

 
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Old 12-16-2011, 09:04 PM   #10
DrewBrewTheGreat
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May 2011
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While the fermentation is going (and the pump going on and off)--I don't there is much of a chance of the water in the freezer--freezing.

However, once the fermentation slows that water will want to freeze (unless freezer is overridden by an external thermostat)

The alternative, would be to pump ice water from a cooler, and use the freezer to make the ice needed to refresh the cooler everyday or so.

Just trying to think of a cheap and easy way for you to keep it cold.... glycol ain't cheap and I don't think necessary.

 
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