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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Fermentation & Yeast > Easy home temp control
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Old 04-17-2013, 02:06 AM   #1
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Default Easy home temp control

Ok. So I'm pretty new. I started my brewing experience with a ton of research and reading. And the last 3 or 4 beers I've done I have been really happy with. But they still have that "homebrewy" flavor. I always ferment at room temp, we try to meep the house around 68. And I have decided based one Chris whites book Yeast and the Brew Strong podcast I listen to that in order to really refine my beer to taste how I should I must have temperature control. So here is the question:
What is an easy/cheap way to get my fermentation temperature to hold steady for atleast 72 hours. Being able to raise it and lower it when I wanted to would also be nice, but I'll take one thing at a time.

Thanks guys and gals,

Michael


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Old 04-17-2013, 02:18 AM   #2
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Craig's List for a fridge or chest freezer, then an STC1000 off eBay to control it, and you're in the game for real...

Cheers!


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Old 04-17-2013, 02:31 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by day_trippr View Post
Craig's List for a fridge or chest freezer, then an STC1000 off eBay to control it, and you're in the game for real...

Cheers!

This ^^^

I get my STC-1000's from Amazon ($19-20 shipped) just in case there's ever a problem with one. I currently use three of them, no issues at all. For $100 or less (depending on the fridge/freezer price), you can dial in whatever temp you wish with the touch of a few buttons.

With the house at 68*F, the temp inside the bucket/carboy can reach as high as 78*F, causing off-flavors and even a bit of fusel alcohol.
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Old 04-17-2013, 02:35 AM   #4
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A swamp cooler is the most primitive and least expensive method. A tub large enough to hold your primary and a few inches of water. Cover the primary with an old t-shirt or towel so that it wicks (touches) the water. Direct a fan towards it or add ice to the water to control fermentation temps. The next level would be a Son Of A Fermentation Chamber. Google it and you can find plans. It may cost about $50.00 to build and you will need slight building and wiring skills. This will hold 1 primary. A Mother Of A Fermentation Chamber will hold 2 primaries for about the same cost but you will also have to cut some wood to build this one. The next level would be to get a refrigerator or freezer.
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Old 04-17-2013, 02:55 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by day_trippr
Craig's List for a fridge or chest freezer, then an STC1000 off eBay to control it, and you're in the game for real...

Cheers!
+1. $50 for a nice little freezer off Craigslist is very well spent.
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Old 04-17-2013, 09:24 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by day_trippr View Post
Craig's List for a fridge or chest freezer, then an STC1000 off eBay to control it, and you're in the game for real...

Cheers!
Listen to this man. It will be the best investment you make in brewing next to a bottle of starsan.
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Old 04-17-2013, 05:49 PM   #7
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My climate is dry, so I can get away with a big thick wet towel wrapped around the fermentor and pointing a fan at it. Just keep the towel wet.
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Old 04-17-2013, 07:53 PM   #8
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I highly suggest skipping the swap cooler / son of a fermentation chiller if you can afford to. They are labor intensive and not very exact. You will want to upgrade down the road if you continue brewing. Chest + STC1000 is the way to go. http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/ebay...-build-163849/
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Old 04-17-2013, 11:15 PM   #9
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The title states easy and the OP referred to easy and cheap. I fully understand that there is a perspective to each of these requests. What may be easy or cheap to one may be different to another. I don't subscribe to the "go big or go home" mentality. The least expensive method would be a swamp cooler and is better control than none at all. Sure it will require some maintenance but how hard is it to check a temperature or change some ice? A Son Of A Fermentation chamber would be the next costly and require slight building skills. I have had one in use for over a year and can maintain temperatures at 65f (+ or - 2 degrees) in my un-air conditioned garage in the heat of a Georgia summer. As for labor intensive, I open the door and swap ice once a day in the summer and once every 2 days in the cooler months. I'm going to look at the carboy that much anyway so I don't see it as labor. Lastly the more expensive of the options is a freezer. 1st you must find one that you would consider cheep and hope that it's not a piece of junk. Then you must find a way to relocate it from the sellers address to your address. If you don't have a truck or some help i would consider this labor intensive. Now you must find a place to set it up, if you live in an apartment I guess it would look ok in the living room next to the entertainment center (or not). Now you will need some basic wiring skills to set up the controller and then you are good to go. Oh, and when it's not in use you can't tuck it away in a closet so it's out of sight. Bottom line, I'm fine with my Son Of A Fermenter and I have the room and abilities to set up a freezer but I wanted the OP to have options and let him make a choice. After all he was asking for options beyond just one choice of "go big or go home".
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Old 04-17-2013, 11:59 PM   #10
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I now use a freezer with a two stage controller with a heater and the freezer to maintain temperatures...

But for cheap and easy, my previous method was similar to the swamp cooler method described. I didn't use the tshirt, rather, a rope handle tub and filled it to the level of the beer in the carboy. I swapped out several frozen water bottles daily to keep the water temp in the high 50s to low 60s. My thought was that with the tshirt method I wouldn't have any idea what the temp was, at least this way I know what the "heat sink" temp is. I could reasonably assume that if the water temp is 58, the beer will be 68 at the absolute highest during the peak of fermentation. Over the first few days I'd keep the water temp pretty low, but let it creep up each day. My thought was the amount of heat generated would be lower each day. After 4 out 5 days I simply quit worrying about the temp, and I kegged when I got around to it.

Now that I have a more precise method, it's certainly more convenient, but it didn't really improve my beer. I'm convinced that my previous method was just fine, and it cost only a few dollars.


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