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Old 10-24-2012, 10:31 PM   #1
bacchusmj
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Default easy solution for stable fermentation temps???

Im looking for help. Im desperate to start brewing. However, Im having trouble finding a good place to get stable temps in my house. Im in Virginia and temps are anywhere from 65 to 80 day to day. In the winter I usually ferment in the garage where the temps are in the mid 60s. However, thats might not be an option as the temps are fluctuating between 67 and 72 in a given day. My trusty closets are still in the mid 70s which might be too high for the yeast Im gonna use.

SO... are there any good and cheep solutions for stable temp spots. I have a 6 week old and a 3 year old so the thought and expense of building a chamber or finding a fridge/temp control are a couple months away. Are there any easy tricks to creating a stable temp around 68ish to post up my carboys???

Early thought was carboy submerged in water (keg bucket) to use the specific heat of the water to get me there. Anyone had any luck with that?


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Old 10-24-2012, 10:39 PM   #2
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Swamp cooler method works fine. That is carboy in a bucket lol. just wrap i a t-shirt and fill the keg bucket half way with water. put some frozen water or soda bottles to put the temp where you want it. Hell i use a ice chest instead of the bucket i can even hold lager temps pretty easy.


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Old 10-24-2012, 10:47 PM   #3
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I second the swamp cooler idea... Use a large plastic bin and fill it with cold water until the fermenter is almost floating (or as much as you can). Then add ice packs, frozen bottles of water, etc. to regulate the fermenting temperature. Don't use the water temp to indicate fermentation temperature though. Have either a thermowell in the fermenter or use a fermometer (thermowell is a better option/idea IMO).

I've had better results using an old towel, than a t-shirt. Just make sure the towel (or shirt) is but into the water, and is soaking wet.
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Old 10-24-2012, 10:48 PM   #4
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Like Bratrules said...a swamp cooler is a tried and true method. It works much better with a carboy, but can be used with a bucket too. Just throw the t-shirt over the top and make sure the tshirt is semi-submerged into the water. The water should come up to right under your beer level or until it wants to float. The t-shirt will soak up water and keep your carboy a bit cooler. Putting a fan on it will work even better. Just make sure to watch your liquid levels. If it get's hot, throw a couple 20oz. frozen water bottles into the water.
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Old 10-25-2012, 03:33 PM   #5
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follow-up question. Once fermentation is done and I rack to my secondary should I still be worried about keeping the temp down, or can it secondary in a more varied temperature range?

Ill probably set up the swamp cooler in the garage where the temps vary from about 63 to 77.
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Old 10-25-2012, 03:46 PM   #6
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What are you making and why are you racking to secondary? More often than not, secondary isn't really necessary. If you do need to secondary, then temp swings aren't really all that critical but a 15-degree swing is still pretty significant.
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Old 10-25-2012, 03:54 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bacchusmj View Post
follow-up question. Once fermentation is done and I rack to my secondary should I still be worried about keeping the temp down, or can it secondary in a more varied temperature range?

Ill probably set up the swamp cooler in the garage where the temps vary from about 63 to 77.
Another vote for a water bath. Just get a huge plastic tub (or in my case, a 20 gallon pot) that's big enough for your fermenter and a bunch of water. In the current season, based on the temp range you describe, the water itself will most likely provide all the thermal mass you need to stabilize the ferment temp, so you might not even need any ice bottles. If you do, get a few 2-liter soda bottles, fill them with water, and keep them in the freezer ready to drop into the water bath if the ferment temp creeps out of the ideal range. After a few days, I prefer to remove the fermenter from the water bath, bring it inside at room temperature, and let it rise to where it wants, then let it be for a couple/few weeks or so. THEN, once fermentation is completely done (NOT just when visible activity is done), I'll put it back in the water bath, drop as many ice bottles in as I can fit, and try to get the temperature down as far as i can get it to help clarify the beer prior to bottling. It's my cheap a$$ way to cool it without a dedicated ferment chamber. Usually this is after 3-4 weeks of being in the fermenter.

As far as using a secondary, I only do that if I'm going to be conditioning the batch for an extended period of time, and want to get the beer off the trub. Other than that, there's not many times when you need to use one. Homebrew experts agree that leaving the beer in the primary for up to 3-4 weeks will cause no ill effects and will help rid your beer of diacetyl and other crap you most likely won't want in your final product. Just be sure to limit your fiddling with it and exposing the beer to oxygen.
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Old 10-25-2012, 03:58 PM   #8
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i've always wondered if some sort of steel radiator construction would help. with a lot of its surface touching concrete. or make a hole and bury your fermenter. isn't the soil under us usually a constant low 60F? Obviously not if the sun is on it
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Old 10-25-2012, 03:59 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bacchusmj View Post
follow-up question. Once fermentation is done and I rack to my secondary should I still be worried about keeping the temp down, or can it secondary in a more varied temperature range?

Ill probably set up the swamp cooler in the garage where the temps vary from about 63 to 77.
I also wonder what the reason is for racking to another vessel. ~98% of the time, doing so provides zero benefit to the brew. Simply add any 'secondary' vessel time to time in primary.

I also keep my beer in the same environment from when the yeast is pitched until it's ready to go into the brew fridge for carbonation/serving. For bottling, I'd keep it at the same temperature range until you need to bottle carbonate (then go as close to 70F as possible, for the bottles).

I'd also keep the beer fermenting in a tighter temperature range than 63-77F. Dpeending on the yeast you use, you could get extremely different results from that range (from the low end to the high end). Also, many ale yeasts don't like going above around 70 or 72F. I tend to keep my beer fermenting (talking temp inside the primary) 66F or below. Again, depending on the yeast is how far above that I'll let it go before bringing it back down.

Also, I need a damned great reason to move a beer to another vessel. Such as extended aging on wood (several months). Otherwise, it just stays in primary until it's ready to drink (except for needing to be carbonated).
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Old 10-25-2012, 04:02 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThePonchoKid View Post
i've always wondered if some sort of steel radiator construction would help. with a lot of its surface touching concrete. or make a hole and bury your fermenter. isn't the soil under us usually a constant low 60F? Obviously not if the sun is on it
Fermenting in a sanke keg, in the basement (which is 57F right now) does wonders. My latest batch got up to 66F at the highest point. As of last night it was already going down to about 60F. I'll check on it later to see where it's at. Basements, in the northern parts of the US (and other points more north) are a home brewers friend. Especially if you have an unfinished section (but not dirt).


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Fermenting
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K2: Epic mead
K3: TripSix
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