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Old 08-22-2012, 02:33 AM   #1
MistFM
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Default Something to help newer brewers with swampcoolers

Hi everyone,

I recently upgraded my account to premium due to the awesomeness of this website and the help that I have received from total strangers online. Since I have upgraded my account, I feel like I have an obligation to help brewers newer than myself with things that I have tried that they may not know about. Since I am a new brewer myself (2 kits that came out ok, first all-grain in the primary that I did with awesome technique) the only thing I felt like I could share was my experience with my swamp cooler for the first time.

For those of you who are new and are having trouble with fermentation temperature control, a swamp cooler is a cheap, and in my opinion efficient way to start controlling fermentation temperature for ales. It might be difficult to get temps low enough to lager. However, when I first started brewing I had no idea what a swamp cooler was or how it worked, etc. Below I have a couple of pictures to show what I have been doing and how I like it so far.

The top picture is a picture of my swamp cooler overall. Basically a swamp cooler is a big bucket that I got at wal-mart for $10, I used the bucket to lower my wort temperature after my boil and it worked fast, about 30-40 minutes to cool from 212 F to 70 F. After I pitched my yeast I put my fermentation bucket in the swamp cooler with 2-3 gallons of water and 1/2 oz of starsan and I fluctuate between 3-4 frozen water bottles at any given time. I used an old t-shirt that I get soaked with water two to three times a day to try to insulate my cooler all around.

I usually have to switch out the frozen water bottles in the morning before work, when I get home ~ 8 hours later, and at night before going to bed. As you can see in the bottom picture I am maintaining a constant 60 F for the majority of the day (wort temps in the fermentation bucket can be anywhere from 8 - 10 degrees hotter during hardcore fermentation and 2-3 degrees hotter than the swamp water during the later phases of fermentation).

I hope this helps new brewers or any brewer who is interested in a swamp cooler. Good luck, guys.


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Old 08-22-2012, 02:41 AM   #2
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Nice write up, I use a similar setup with success as well.



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Well, I think that you meant "oz" not "lbs"
Did you brew this from the couch on your porch?
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Old 08-22-2012, 02:58 AM   #3
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Any specific reason for star san in the swamp cooler?
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Old 08-22-2012, 03:02 AM   #4
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Quote:
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Any specific reason for star san in the swamp cooler?
I've read in other threads that the swamp water can get kinda gross and infected(?) with stuff since it's just going to be stagnant water for 2-3 weeks. Starsan will hopefully prevent any growth from occuring in my bucket.

Would it effect my beer? Probably not. Do I want to worry about cleaning up gross smelling crap from my bucket? Hell no.
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Old 08-22-2012, 03:07 AM   #5
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Yeah, I will be using starsan because of your suggestion here. My buckets get small mold spots on the bottom and sides sometimes. Not exactly what you want to see on your fermentation gear, even if it's only on the outside..
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Did you brew this from the couch on your porch?
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Old 08-22-2012, 03:14 AM   #6
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Quote:
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Yeah, I will be using starsan because of your suggestion here. My buckets get small mold spots on the bottom and sides sometimes. Not exactly what you want to see on your fermentation gear, even if it's only on the outside..
Have you tried getting that stuff off or is it permanently stuck on it? Hope that starsan helps. I'm sure if you have a LHBS nearby and they create their own sanitizing solution you can use that and save some money. Starsan isn't the cheapest sanitizing solution out there.
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Old 08-23-2012, 02:24 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MistFM View Post
Have you tried getting that stuff off or is it permanently stuck on it? Hope that starsan helps. I'm sure if you have a LHBS nearby and they create their own sanitizing solution you can use that and save some money. Starsan isn't the cheapest sanitizing solution out there.
It comes off with some elbow greese. I don't think my LHBS has the option for that, so starsan is what I get. I'm going with the biggest one next time to try and save a little $$. It adds up, but not nearly as much as my hop addiction does!
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Old 08-23-2012, 02:32 AM   #8
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Looks good! I've been using swamp coolers for a long time. I have even lagered in one, once. I just put a little bleach in my swamp cooler water. I don't use a shirt, because I bring the level of the water all the way up to the level of the wort/beer..
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Old 08-23-2012, 02:44 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MistFM View Post
I've read in other threads that the swamp water can get kinda gross and infected(?) with stuff since it's just going to be stagnant water for 2-3 weeks. Starsan will hopefully prevent any growth from occuring in my bucket.

Would it effect my beer? Probably not. Do I want to worry about cleaning up gross smelling crap from my bucket? Hell no.
Don't freak out but you can add some bleach to the water after your fermenter is in the cooler. Been doing it for a long time and so far so good. Just have to slow down and be a little more careful. Don't know about you guys, but I'm usually so excited when it comes to homebrewing that slowing down is a good thing here.
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Old 08-23-2012, 10:19 AM   #10
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Great idea for a post. I am still new, too but I have offered this advice to at least 3 people in the last week already. Pics are great! This should be stickied!


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