BrewJacket or Fermentation Chamber

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Hi. I was thinking of building fermentation chamber after reading a few post on this forum. While I was doing research for heating element I saw something about BrewJacket Pro. Now I am thinking does it worth just to go with BrewJacket Pro where it can cool and hit or build a fermentation chamber? TIA.
 

Jtvann

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Brew jacket is good at maintaining set temperatures in an ambient environment that isn’t too far off your set temp. It is not good at all for changing temps very efficiently. Brew jacket also needs the fermentation process of yeast moving to distribute the heating or cooling. As fermentation slows they become less effective.

The list below is just my opinion

Pros- Looks cool. Price may be better than I fermentation change. Is more portable.

Cons- Customer service is horrid. I’ll say that again, customer service cannot possibly get any worse. It is not good at cold crashing. It only has a variance range reliably of about 15 degrees above or below ambient temperature. The seal around the rod into the fermenter can be suspect. One more thing to clean, can’t use starsan with it.

I’m tired tonight but I’m sure when I read this tomorrow I will remember more reasons why their customer service made me hate brew jacket so much.
 

C38368

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I have a Brewjacket, and I like it. My wife gave it to me way back when, so I can't personally speak to customer service, but here's what I can say about it:
  • I live in SoCal, and my municipal water supply is annoyingly warm. I can't cool my wort to pitching temps without filling a cooler with ice and water, and chilling for way too long (we're talking hours), using one immersion coil in the ice bucket, feeding a second coil in the wort itself. I can get it down to about 85-90°F in a reasonable timeframe, and the Brewjacket can get it down to about 70°F within a few hours. Honestly, it probably takes about as long as the two-chiller ice bucket method, but without needing to go to the store for a $6 bag of ice, and without having to leave my wort outside and semi-exposed for the whole time. Temperatures are reported in my system using the thermal probe, just taped to the outside of my carboy, but inside the insulated sleeve, so I assume that the unit it doing its job.
  • As mentioned, you can't use StarSan on the rod, which is annoying because I use StarSan on everything. The acid damages the finish. They recommend Iodophor, which is what I use. It leaves nice brown stains on things if you're not careful.
  • It's a nice, compact, solution. Hard to argue against that, especially if you don't have room for a refrigerator. But, that doesn't sound like an issue for you.
  • Even through it's nice and compact, you can only use it on one batch at a time. In that sense, it is inferior to a chamber.
  • Never had any issues with the seal, at all.
  • I would disagree that the unit relies on convection within the wort due to yeast activity to function. The unit operates based on the temperature report of a single remote probe. If you stuck that probe in a thermowell that sat near the control rod, then yes, the unit would probably not work properly. But if you just stick the probe on the side of your fermenter, it's essentially measuring the air temp inside the insulating jacket, meaning that the outer portion of the wort is pretty close to where it should be. If you're making major changes to temps within the fermenter, there will be a lag period of significant differential. That dissipates rather quickly, however.
  • Efficiency declines as the temperature delta increases. I'm pretty you that you can do quite a bit better than ±15°F from ambient, but I don't think this is a great solution for lagering, unless you like environmental temps somewhere sound of 65°F. In some areas, it's probably cool enough in winter or shoulder seasons to lager with it, but I would consider it an inconsistent solution, at best, and would involve moving the unit to an area without climate control, which may or may not be possible.
With the above having been said, I would recommend it if:
  • You ferment above 60°F;
  • You don't have room for a full-blown fermentation chamber;
  • You brew five gallon batches; or
  • You have a fermentation chamber that can hold multiple fermenters, and want to be able to ferment two different beers, at two different temperatures, simultaneously.
I would not recommend if:
  • You brew batches larger than five gallons (the rod just isn't long enough at that point); or
  • You regularly ferment below 60°F, unless you live somewhere cold and can leave it outside or in the garage, or are willing to live in a 65° home.
 

Jtvann

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I have a Brewjacket, and I like it. My wife gave it to me way back when, so I can't personally speak to customer service, but here's what I can say about it:
  • I live in SoCal, and my municipal water supply is annoyingly warm. I can't cool my wort to pitching temps without filling a cooler with ice and water, and chilling for way too long (we're talking hours), using one immersion coil in the ice bucket, feeding a second coil in the wort itself. I can get it down to about 85-90°F in a reasonable timeframe, and the Brewjacket can get it down to about 70°F within a few hours. Honestly, it probably takes about as long as the two-chiller ice bucket method, but without needing to go to the store for a $6 bag of ice, and without having to leave my wort outside and semi-exposed for the whole time. Temperatures are reported in my system using the thermal probe, just taped to the outside of my carboy, but inside the insulated sleeve, so I assume that the unit it doing its job.
  • As mentioned, you can't use StarSan on the rod, which is annoying because I use StarSan on everything. The acid damages the finish. They recommend Iodophor, which is what I use. It leaves nice brown stains on things if you're not careful.
  • It's a nice, compact, solution. Hard to argue against that, especially if you don't have room for a refrigerator. But, that doesn't sound like an issue for you.
  • Even through it's nice and compact, you can only use it on one batch at a time. In that sense, it is inferior to a chamber.
  • Never had any issues with the seal, at all.
  • I would disagree that the unit relies on convection within the wort due to yeast activity to function. The unit operates based on the temperature report of a single remote probe. If you stuck that probe in a thermowell that sat near the control rod, then yes, the unit would probably not work properly. But if you just stick the probe on the side of your fermenter, it's essentially measuring the air temp inside the insulating jacket, meaning that the outer portion of the wort is pretty close to where it should be. If you're making major changes to temps within the fermenter, there will be a lag period of significant differential. That dissipates rather quickly, however.
  • Efficiency declines as the temperature delta increases. I'm pretty you that you can do quite a bit better than ±15°F from ambient, but I don't think this is a great solution for lagering, unless you like environmental temps somewhere sound of 65°F. In some areas, it's probably cool enough in winter or shoulder seasons to lager with it, but I would consider it an inconsistent solution, at best, and would involve moving the unit to an area without climate control, which may or may not be possible.
With the above having been said, I would recommend it if:
  • You ferment above 60°F;
  • You don't have room for a full-blown fermentation chamber;
  • You brew five gallon batches; or
  • You have a fermentation chamber that can hold multiple fermenters, and want to be able to ferment two different beers, at two different temperatures, simultaneously.
I would not recommend if:
  • You brew batches larger than five gallons (the rod just isn't long enough at that point); or
  • You regularly ferment below 60°F, unless you live somewhere cold and can leave it outside or in the garage, or are willing to live in a 65° home.

I’ll clarify my point on needing fermentation. Try this experiment. Use just plain water at 60 degrees and time how long it takes to change the temp up or down by 5 degrees. Use it again in a beer that’s actively fermenting. The beer will go much faster than plain water. You need the movement of wort to help transfer the temp change.

This factor becomes most obvious when you’re trying to reach your initial pitch temperature and when trying to cold crash. If you ended up chilling a few degrees too cold from the kettle or not enough, it will take a very long time to reach the desired temp. Same with cold crashing. Also when cold crashing taking ambient temps into consideration, if it’s 85 degrees in your room, you’re not going to ever get below 60. Probably closer to 70 from my experience years ago.
 

C38368

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I’ll clarify my point on needing fermentation. Try this experiment. Use just plain water at 60 degrees and time how long it takes to change the temp up or down by 5 degrees. Use it again in a beer that’s actively fermenting. The beer will go much faster than plain water. You need the movement of wort to help transfer the temp change.

This factor becomes most obvious when you’re trying to reach your initial pitch temperature and when trying to cold crash. If you ended up chilling a few degrees too cold from the kettle or not enough, it will take a very long time to reach the desired temp. Same with cold crashing. Also when cold crashing taking ambient temps into consideration, if it’s 85 degrees in your room, you’re not going to ever get below 60. Probably closer to 70 from my experience years ago.
As I said, convection in the wort won't hurt, and I agree that it will speed up chilling of the overall wort mass. But it isn't necessary.

As I also said, I can't effectively chill my wort to less than 80-85°F using an immersion chiller and groundwater. Six gallons of wort without yeast, into a carboy, will cool to 70°F in about three, maybe four, hours. If you have the ability to chill wort to pitching temps, then this is a non-issue at the outset, but makes no difference if you're talking about cold crashing, or raising temperatures for a rest. Either way, it's not fast to change, but I'll wager a new conical that it isn't any slower than a fermentation chamber, or really, any other form of temperature control, where post-pitching temperature changes are required.

I don't know what the specifics were of your experience, but I can tell you I have zero issues maintaining 68°F in an 84°F room, and have been able to get it down into the 50s, at "normal" house temperatures (72-75°F), as part of a cold crash. I've never been patient enough to see how much of a differential I can actually achieve, though I would agree that it's not an optimal solution for lagering in "comfortable" ambient temperatures.
 

yowzers

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Go with a fermentation fridge for almost the same price as a Brewjacket and you can cold crash with it.
 

Brooothru

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I have a Brewjacket, and I like it. My wife gave it to me way back when, so I can't personally speak to customer service, but here's what I can say about it:
  • I live in SoCal, and my municipal water supply is annoyingly warm. I can't cool my wort to pitching temps without filling a cooler with ice and water, and chilling for way too long (we're talking hours), using one immersion coil in the ice bucket, feeding a second coil in the wort itself. I can get it down to about 85-90°F in a reasonable timeframe, and the Brewjacket can get it down to about 70°F within a few hours. Honestly, it probably takes about as long as the two-chiller ice bucket method, but without needing to go to the store for a $6 bag of ice, and without having to leave my wort outside and semi-exposed for the whole time. Temperatures are reported in my system using the thermal probe, just taped to the outside of my carboy, but inside the insulated sleeve, so I assume that the unit it doing its job.
  • As mentioned, you can't use StarSan on the rod, which is annoying because I use StarSan on everything. The acid damages the finish. They recommend Iodophor, which is what I use. It leaves nice brown stains on things if you're not careful.
  • It's a nice, compact, solution. Hard to argue against that, especially if you don't have room for a refrigerator. But, that doesn't sound like an issue for you.
  • Even through it's nice and compact, you can only use it on one batch at a time. In that sense, it is inferior to a chamber.
  • Never had any issues with the seal, at all.
  • I would disagree that the unit relies on convection within the wort due to yeast activity to function. The unit operates based on the temperature report of a single remote probe. If you stuck that probe in a thermowell that sat near the control rod, then yes, the unit would probably not work properly. But if you just stick the probe on the side of your fermenter, it's essentially measuring the air temp inside the insulating jacket, meaning that the outer portion of the wort is pretty close to where it should be. If you're making major changes to temps within the fermenter, there will be a lag period of significant differential. That dissipates rather quickly, however.
  • Efficiency declines as the temperature delta increases. I'm pretty you that you can do quite a bit better than ±15°F from ambient, but I don't think this is a great solution for lagering, unless you like environmental temps somewhere sound of 65°F. In some areas, it's probably cool enough in winter or shoulder seasons to lager with it, but I would consider it an inconsistent solution, at best, and would involve moving the unit to an area without climate control, which may or may not be possible.
With the above having been said, I would recommend it if:
  • You ferment above 60°F;
  • You don't have room for a full-blown fermentation chamber;
  • You brew five gallon batches; or
  • You have a fermentation chamber that can hold multiple fermenters, and want to be able to ferment two different beers, at two different temperatures, simultaneously.
I would not recommend if:
  • You brew batches larger than five gallons (the rod just isn't long enough at that point); or
  • You regularly ferment below 60°F, unless you live somewhere cold and can leave it outside or in the garage, or are willing to live in a 65° home.
Brew Jacket was my initial stepping stone to temperature controlled brewing for which I'm grateful, and I also have to agree fully with everything @C38368 said about the system. I also had a 'positive' experience with customer service when the Peltier unit shot craps a year or more out of warranty, and they replaced it at their cost (half of what I would have paid at market price). I don't believe they ever grew the business above the "part time hobbyists in their garage" stage, and may not be intimately involved in a day to day kind of way.

Truth is, for me it was valuable for a time but I outgrew it after a couple of years. My brother-in-law got interested after seeing my setup and purchased one and still uses it regularly. So I guess it depends on what you want to achieve and how much you're willing to spend. I don't regret being an early adopter of the Brew Jacket, but even happier when I switched it out for a glycol system.

Brooo Brother
 
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what it sound like, BrewJacket works but if I decide to do larger down the road I will need something else since it won't get me down to temperature I need, right? I might as well go with building fermentation chamber.
 

Brooothru

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what it sound like, BrewJacket works but if I decide to do larger down the road I will need something else since it won't get me down to temperature I need, right? I might as well go with building fermentation chamber.
Yes. Brew Jacket works 'well'. Just not up to the level of performance I was satisfied with. Eventually I just moved on to something more robust.
 

C38368

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what it sound like, BrewJacket works but if I decide to do larger down the road I will need something else since it won't get me down to temperature I need, right? I might as well go with building fermentation chamber.
Just for fun, I ran a test on my last batch of beer, which I kegged on Saturday.

On Friday morning, I removed my carboy from the Brewjacket sleeve and placed it on a wooden countertop. I then wrapped the carboy in a large fleece blanket, resulting in about four layers of blanket around the sides and top of the fermenter. Ambient room temp was about 68°F, and the cooler was set to 68°F, as well. I turned it down to 58°F, and left for the day. I checked on it three hours later, and the temperature was about 64°F; call it about 1°F per hour reduction. By the time I got home that evening (about twelve hours after lowering the set point), the temp was stable at 58°F. So I turned it down to 45°F before going to bed and, the next morning, temps had dropped again, to about 53°F, giving a15°F delta over average ambient.

I stopped tracking at that point (instead putting the beer into a keg, because finished beer), but I did observe that I was losing a significant amount of cooling energy through the blanket, which was noticeably cool to the touch. It wouldn't surprise me if I was at the limit of effectiveness with that insulation solution, but it probably would've gone further, if I'd left it in the sleeve. That's in a pretty cool room, however.

Two final thoughts: a higher-wattage Peltier and better cooling solution would make the concept even more effective, but then you start giving up things like simplicity and packaging; and I totally forgot the second. Oh well!
 

Pointyskull

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I have been using the Brewjacket Pro for a couple of years, and like it overall. It does take a long time to go from mid-upper-70s after chilling to mid-60s ferm temps - but once there it holds perfectly.

I set up my most recent batch - a wee heavy - with the Brewjacket in my unheated garage. I am in the Chicago area, and recent temps have been steady in the 30s, especially overnight. The Brewjacket held ferm temps at 67 degrees the entire time.
 

mbg

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I've had a BrewJacket for a FastFerment for several years. By wrapping it well in the jacket, covering any open space, and diverting the heat generated by the chiller away from the fermenter I was able to get 27F below ambient. Agree, the issue is the lack of horsepower - very slow to react to a change in temp.

Need some feedback on something I want to try. I recently bought a Fermzilla All-Rounder so I could do pressurized fermentation. I also purchased the immersion chiller coil for it. I was thinking of using a water bath with the immersion chiller rod in it and a pond pump to chill the fermenter. Think this will work?
 

lablover

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Need some feedback on something I want to try. I recently bought a Fermzilla All-Rounder so I could do pressurized fermentation. I also purchased the immersion chiller coil for it. I was thinking of using a water bath with the immersion chiller rod in it and a pond pump to chill the fermenter. Think this will work?
I can't specifically comment on their cooling coil, but I use this cooling coil in my 7.5 gallon Fermonster and it works perfectly for Ales and Lagers. Ball and Keg: Home Brew Keg Level Indicator I pretty much run mine just the way they show in their video, except I use an old styrofoam cheap cooler and I ran the hoses through a couple holes in the side. For lagers in the summer, to keep them in mid-50's F, I swap out a 2 liter water jug in the morning and one at night, which is no problem for me. I do wrap my fermenter with a blanket to help out. I've cold crashed to mid-40's with this system. Hope this helps.
 

mbg

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I messed around with my All-Rounder and Temp Twister cooling coil.

1) I used a 5-gal round Igloo beverage cooler with pond pump and Brewjacket immersion chiller. My fermenter was in an insulated jacket with 5.5gal of water. I started up with 60F water in the fermenter and cooler. I can the pump all the time and found, as stated above, the temperature actually went up! Guess this is like chilling twice the volume???

2) Ice bath method. I was able to put five 1/2 gallon juice bottles around the pond pump in my 10-gallon Igloo beverage cooler. My fermenter was at about 60F to start. I set my InkBird to 45F and it only took an hour reduce the temperature by 15F. Probably because no heat from fermentation but the pump only kicked in about ever 12-15 hours. The ice was gone in 2-1/2 days. Thinking need a better cooler since lot of the ice probably melted just sitting there.

I mentioned this in another thread but I see there are a few sub $200 compressor cooled coolers that can go to -4F. You could multi-purpose this as a cooler around the house and for on the go (they run 120VAC & 12VDC).
 

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