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Old 02-05-2012, 02:41 AM   #1
Hoppopotomus
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Default Hoppo's Rustic Fermentation Chambers (Ale & Lager)

I'm slowly building the individual components to my brewery. This thread is to chronicle my fermentation chamber builds. Like my other builds, I'm going with a rustic design quality using knotty pine, cedar logs, etc. I'm building a lager fermentation chamber using an old Absocold dorm fridge as the cooling device. I have had this fridge for almost 20 years, since I lived in the dorms in undergraduate school. It was only used for two years and then was stored at my parents house. I plugged it in and it got cold right away, so she still works. For my Ale chamber, I'm going to use a reptile cage mat heater to as my heating device. Of course, both chambers will have temperature controllers installed. Here are a few pics of the old dorm fridge.


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Old 02-05-2012, 02:53 AM   #2
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Today I started on my lager fermentation chamber. I recently tore apart an old entertainment center that I build years ago out of ash plywood. I used 1/2 of the wood for my ventilation hood for my e-brewery build. I had just enough to knock out the box for my lagering fermentation chamber today. The first pic. is of my rustic bar and keezer. This is the look that I am going for in my brewing room, which is adjacent to the bar room, in the unfinished side of my basement. I basically just framed a plywood box (48" wide, 32" high, and 25" deep)and put it on casters. The back of the Absocold Fridge contains the cooling coils and compressor, so it was left exposed out of the end of the box. I had to book and laminate pieces of plywood together to get the height that I needed. I removed the door from the fridge, took the feet off, so that it sits flush to the bottom and framed around the box of the fridge. I then used 100% silicone caulk to seal all of the edges.


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Old 02-05-2012, 03:02 AM   #3
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The next set of pictures are of the completed box with the casters installed. I contemplated about making the door on the side, but decided to just use a hinged top, sort of like a chest freezer. I plan on using rigid closed cell foam insulation panels and going 3" thick everywhere. There is enough room on either side of the fridge inside the box for insulating. I used some old laminate flooring for the subfloor. Under the subfloor is 3" of rigid foam insulation as well. Next onto knotty pine and then cedar logs for the corners. I plan on knocking this chamber out first, then moving onto the Ale fermentation chamber next, which will only be 36" wide. I had to make the Lager chamber bigger to accommodate for the fridge inside.
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Old 02-05-2012, 03:19 AM   #4
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Here are some pics. with the t&g knotty pine installed. I'm trying to decide if I want to take the time to knife/mill logs for the vertical corners or just trim out the corners with simple pine corner molding instead to save time. I may go the quicker/easier route and incorporate some log trim across the front of the lid instead. I have 3 more boxes to build, so it would be a lot of log knifing and milling to do all of the corners. I'm also building a 48" grain storage bin that will look basically identical to this one and then a 36" grain weighing and milling station, and of course the 36" ale chamber. Alot of work ahead of me, but it keeps me out of trouble!

Next....onto the top, installing a circulating fan to move the cold air inside of the chamber, and shopping for temperature controllers....again.
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Old 02-05-2012, 03:30 AM   #5
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I dig it
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Old 02-05-2012, 03:39 AM   #6
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That looks great! Are you intending to use this for lagering temps (35-32f)? I'm a little concerned that small fridge won't get you to this temps in such a large space.
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Old 02-05-2012, 04:57 AM   #7
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No. I'm just trying to hit lager fermentation temps. for the primary fermentation. Secondary lagering at lower temps. will have to be completed in my keezer or I may get another small chest freezer and a temp. controller for this purpose. There's no way that this little fridge will keep temps in the 30's. I'm new to the whole lager scene, as I brew primarily ales at this point. I'm just trying to get a decent set up, so that I have the capability to handle all styles. This little fridge gets very cold at it's lowest setting. In college, I put it on it's lowest setting to try to rapidly cool down a case of beer. I forgot to turn the stat back up and it froze them solid. I'm going to lower the head space in the chamber when I insulate it to decrease the cubic volume of the chamber. Hopefully with a smaller volume and a 6" Inductor fan blowing air directly out of the the feezer compartment, I can keep temps. needed for the primary fermentation. I wanted the box and top to end up close to countertop height, because these boxed components will also serve as countertops for my brewery.
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Old 02-05-2012, 07:03 AM   #8
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Nice build. I wish I had your skills.
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Old 02-06-2012, 11:11 PM   #9
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Thanks, but it's not complicated stuff. Just framing boxes and trimming with knotty pine....really hard to screw up. I'll hopefully be able to start on the Ale chamber tomorrow, which will essentially look the same, but only 3 ft. wide since it doesn't need the extra width for a fridge inside. Once I get that box done, I'll insulate both at the same time and then work on the hinged tops. Although it will add some weight to the tops, I'm going to incorporate tumbled travertine tile to make them consistent with my keezer build.

These two pieces, the lager and ale fermentation chambers, will form an "L" shape in the right hand corner of my brewery. It will make more sense once I finish the second box and take pics of the layout.
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Old 02-07-2012, 09:56 PM   #10
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I built the box for the Ale Chamber today. I used OSB for this box, as it's 1/2 the price of plywood. This box is a little smaller than the lager chamber. It's 36" wide x 32 tall x 24 deep. I used the same casters to make it mobile and the same laminate wood flooring for the floor of the box, which again has 3" of rigid foam insulation below it.


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