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Fermentation chambers - let's have a good discussion on what you all are using!

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Rev2010

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Up till now I've always used my KegCo kegerator as a fermentation chamber during the warmer months when, at my old residence, I would use an unheated hallway that did great for keeping cellar temps and managing to keep fermentation temps in the 60's naturally. Since my divorce and move to an apartment I have been using my KegCo kegerator to keep temps cool during the main primary fermentation time (say the first week or so) at which point I can relocated the fermenter to my music room where it can stay at 69-70 degrees for the rest of it's time and I can put another SS Brew Bucket in the kegerator.

The problem is once the first beer is on tap I can't brew until both beers in my 2-tap system are fully done drinking. So, I want to go with fermentation chambers. I had placed an order for a Magic Chef 28-bottle thermoelectric wine cooler yesterday and just cancelled the order today as I realized the width/depth might be 1" too narrow for the brew bucket lid dimensions.

1. I thought about a keezer with temp controller but I really need to be able to control temps independently.
2. I don't really care for the idea of the temp coils in the fermenter as if a leak were to start and I'm not home it's going to be a disaster. I also don't want to run several pumps pulling from a cooler with all the tubing.... just seems to be much more a hassle (plus the coil cleaning) than I want to deal with.
3. I much prefer individual fermentation dedicated wine cooler/fridges. The wine coolers seem the best option as they are meant for temps more suited to fermentation where fridges need a controller to turn them off as they are more designed to refrigerate close to freezing temps.

Now, what are you all using? What were your solutions? I'm interested in hearing all responses, even cooling with the immersion coil/pump system if that's what you decided on. Please share the make/model of the units you went with!


Rev.
 

TechFanMD

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Up till now I've always used my KegCo kegerator as a fermentation chamber during the warmer months when, at my old residence, I would use an unheated hallway that did great for keeping cellar temps and managing to keep fermentation temps in the 60's naturally. Since my divorce and move to an apartment I have been using my KegCo kegerator to keep temps cool during the main primary fermentation time (say the first week or so) at which point I can relocated the fermenter to my music room where it can stay at 69-70 degrees for the rest of it's time and I can put another SS Brew Bucket in the kegerator.

The problem is once the first beer is on tap I can't brew until both beers in my 2-tap system are fully done drinking. So, I want to go with fermentation chambers. I had placed an order for a Magic Chef 28-bottle thermoelectric wine cooler yesterday and just cancelled the order today as I realized the width/depth might be 1" too narrow for the brew bucket lid dimensions.

1. I thought about a keezer with temp controller but I really need to be able to control temps independently.
2. I don't really care for the idea of the temp coils in the fermenter as if a leak were to start and I'm not home it's going to be a disaster. I also don't want to run several pumps pulling from a cooler with all the tubing.... just seems to be much more a hassle (plus the coil cleaning) than I want to deal with.
3. I much prefer individual fermentation dedicated wine cooler/fridges. The wine coolers seem the best option as they are meant for temps more suited to fermentation where fridges need a controller to turn them off as they are more designed to refrigerate close to freezing temps.

Now, what are you all using? What were your solutions? I'm interested in hearing all responses, even cooling with the immersion coil/pump system if that's what you decided on. Please share the make/model of the units you went with!


Rev.
Have you considered a swamp cooler setup? I put 2" of water in my brew sink, wrap a towel around the fermenter such that the bottom touches the water, and it will keep the wort at 65F. I plan to move this operation to using a plastic tote so that my sink isn't tied up for three days every time I brew (after 3 days or so, I just let the ambient 68F of my brew area take over). If I blow a fan on it, it regularly holds at 58-60F. I'm not going to be lagering, but it does pretty well. I've heard bath tubs work well for this as well. As long as you aren't looking for really low temps, I wouldn't be surprised if you could put an inkbird on a fan and a band heater and keep the temps really tight anywhere you want between 60-75F.

I've thought about buying a Brewjacket peltier cooler or a ferm chamber....and I can afford either option.... but I am having justifying the cash for these, as well as the space needed for the ferm chamber considering what I am doing works well. I can just as easily spend that money on shiny stainless steel things :)

That said.....I'll probably break down and do a dedicated fermentation chamber using my small fridge (bigger than a dorm fridge and no freezer) at some point when I get a new fridge for serving....
 
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Rev2010

Rev2010

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Have you considered a swamp cooler setup? I put 2" of water in my brew sink, wrap a towel around the fermenter such that the bottom touches the water
The problems are I'm in an apartment so I don't want tubs of water sitting on the floor with wet towels over the fermenters and also my SS Brew Bucket fermenters have legs. I definitely want something more elegant with more control over temps.My KegCo kegerator has a very wide temperate range and allow the temp to be set above 70 degrees if desired so it's great as a fermentation chamber and I've worked out what temps I need to set it to to counter the primary fermentation heat generation and keep fermentation as my desired temp. So the only ways I know of to do that are direct cooling of the fermenter such as the immersion chilling coils or via a fermentation chamber.


Rev.
 

BobBailey

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I use a Frigidaire 14cf fridge, a Ranco 2 stage digital controller and a thermowell. Got the fridge new at Lowes for about $235. It was freight damaged, but nothing affecting performance and, unless you know what to look for you'd never find it. It came with the factory warranty. I can comfortably fit 2 seven gallon Fermonsters and have plenty of storage space on the door and in the freezer compartment.
 

TechFanMD

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The problems are I'm in an apartment so I don't want tubs of water sitting on the floor with wet towels over the fermenters and also my SS Brew Bucket fermenters have legs. I definitely want something more elegant with more control over temps.My KegCo kegerator has a very wide temperate range and allow the temp to be set above 70 degrees if desired so it's great as a fermentation chamber and I've worked out what temps I need to set it to to counter the primary fermentation heat generation and keep fermentation as my desired temp. So the only ways I know of to do that are direct cooling of the fermenter such as the immersion chilling coils or via a fermentation chamber.


Rev.
I can understand. I love seeing posts like this because I can learn a lot about how I want to expand as well. I love the look and some of the utility of fermenters like that - but then they can be harder to fit in fermentation chambers or use alternative cooling methods. I'm not sure how much more control you have over temps with a fridge vs a swamp cooler+heater with temp control when talking average ale ferm temps - but elegant it is definitely not, and it definitely adds humidity to your space......and of course wouldn't work on your fermenter type anyway.

You're definitely not cold crashing with a swamp cooler - but I don't think you can with a wine chiller type beverage cooler either.
 

drgonzo2k2

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Here's my setup (from my brewery build thread):



It's this Danby model from Amazon. I picked them up for 1/2 that price from Amazon Warehouse scratch + dent. One had a decent dent on a side you can't see, and the other had a small scratch on top that a Sharpie took care of no problem.

It looks like they've got 4 of them at the Amazon Warehouse now for $150.

They'll hold Cornies no problem, and a 30L Speidel fermenter fits, but only just so. I'll need to put the plastic spigot on the top and use a blow off hose as an airlock would be too big.

The controllers I wired up myself, and I'm using reptile heat tape as the heat source and a small computer fan for circulation.
 

mongoose33

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I'm not a fan--personally--of chest freezers as ferm chambers. That's because lifting a fermenter into those is difficult for me. Hard enough to lift 5-gallon kegs. I've had two back surgeries, so for those of you for whom it's not an issue, don't think I'm dissing you.

I have a small dorm-style refrigerator as a ferm chamber and a larger one. Both bought used. The larger one can fit two Bigmouth Bubblers in it, and if I stagger the fermentations, I can have two separate beers going at once.

I now have a Spike conical and most of my fermentation is done in that, and I control temp using chilled glycol and a heat mat inside the neoprene cover/sleeve. But I still occasionally have a beer I'm fermenting in the BmB's, so the fridges get used.

I also use the larger one for keeping spare kegs cold, and I've run CO2 into it through a bulkhead shank so I can carbonate kegs in there as well. I use the freezer compartment to chill bottles for bottling, using a fast-rack to hold them.

Here are some pics; they may give you some ideas.

fermchambers.jpg fermchamber2a.jpg minifermchamber.jpg minifridge2.jpg minigrommets.jpg newsetup2.jpg newsetup7.jpg
 

AkTom

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A friend was upgrading fridge. Giving away the old. I scooped it up. STC 1000 or whatever it is. Love it. I can fit 2 6gallon carboys in. I did have to cut part of the door trays out. Nothing new here. ( but wait there’s more )
I added a full extention shelf in it. That is really helpful come bottling time. What makes this work so well (pay attention @mongoose33 ) is my allinonewinepump, so no more lifting full carboys. It tranfers from bucket to carboy, then switch ends and it bottles also.
Cheers
 

indymedic

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I use a wine fridge with an inkbird temp controller. For heat I use a heat mat which I just roll up and place in the fridge.

Cold crashing is not its strong suit so I place a couple frozen 1/2 gallon water jugs in the chamber and it has no problem reaching and maintaining cold crash temps.
 

Smellyglove

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I just use fridges, pretty simple. I have six fridges atm and four of them are for fermentation purposes equipped with STC1000+ and heating belts, one is with a straight ITC-308 where I shove in lagers for lagering (since the 308 is pretty useless for ramping) and my GF can also ferment her ciders in it, last one is my kegerator with an out of the box STC1000 built into the the top of the fridge.
 

SoCal-Doug

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Wifey wanted a new kitchen fridge, so I got the old one. Picked up a Johnson controller (A419 i think) and a couple fermentasaurus's, to which I installed thermowells for the probes. Works 110% perfectly and exceeded my expectations over many brews thus far. I'm kind of a lager guy so im fermenting low, then up for a d-rest, then back down to crash. Pure happiness so far.
 

jmarkkaufman

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I have a fridge I got free on Craigslist, which holds my two kegs for serving and a carboy for fermentation. Kinda inconvenient but it’s what I have. I have an STC 1000 mounted “temporarily” (it’s been three years) in a drywall mud bucket. In the winter I use a reptile heater or the warm air generator from my home made food dehydrator and retain the ability to keep the kegs cold.
 

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The problems are I'm in an apartment so I don't want tubs of water sitting on the floor with wet towels over the fermenters and also my SS Brew Bucket fermenters have legs. I definitely want something more elegant with more control over temps.My KegCo kegerator has a very wide temperate range and allow the temp to be set above 70 degrees if desired so it's great as a fermentation chamber and I've worked out what temps I need to set it to to counter the primary fermentation heat generation and keep fermentation as my desired temp. So the only ways I know of to do that are direct cooling of the fermenter such as the immersion chilling coils or via a fermentation chamber.


Rev.
Or wrapping the outside in discharge hose and then wrapping it all in foil faced bubble wrap insulation. Not as pretty as the immersion coils but works better and much easier to use with no cleaning between use. Also much more cost effective as everything is available at home depot. I use a silicone heat strip for heating.
 
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I use a large chest freezer with a temp controller. I liked it until I injured my shoulder. It's getting harder to schlep the carboys in and out of the chest freezer.

I'm in the process of constructing a pole barn on my property. My plan is to build a walk-in fermentation chamber there.
 

PianoMan

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Bought an upgraded chest freezer. So heres the inaugural attempt with the old one. Fermentasaurous is a bit tall and barely fits width wise...we'll see.
20181207_162104.jpeg
 

kevink

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Here is mine. It's just a Craigslist beverage cooler with BrewPi. Commercial beverage coolers are super heavy duty because they are designed to keep things cool despite a constantly opening and closing door. They can also freeze, so crashing is a piece of cake for them. The footprint is actually pretty small, so having two for different temps would not be so bad. Whatever you do, think about BrewPi for temp control. It is pretty amazing (it logs data, does temp ramps, spits out graphs, etc). If I ever decide that I want the ability to do split batches and ferment at different temps, I'll just get another fridge/freezer and BrewPi it.

 

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I use a 14 cubic foot chest freezer with an inkbird 310t. I have a piece of rope tied around my plastic carboys with a chunk of styrofoam to insulate the probe. I'm using an old heating pad to heat it which works ok. Other than that it works great, I can fit 3 5 gallon carboys and hold them within a degree for however long I want

Currently using it to kettle sour a gose at 83°f
 

SmokeyRydr

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Up till now I've always used my KegCo kegerator as a fermentation chamber during the warmer months when, at my old residence, I would use an unheated hallway that did great for keeping cellar temps and managing to keep fermentation temps in the 60's naturally. Since my divorce and move to an apartment I have been using my KegCo kegerator to keep temps cool during the main primary fermentation time (say the first week or so) at which point I can relocated the fermenter to my music room where it can stay at 69-70 degrees for the rest of it's time and I can put another SS Brew Bucket in the kegerator.

The problem is once the first beer is on tap I can't brew until both beers in my 2-tap system are fully done drinking. So, I want to go with fermentation chambers. I had placed an order for a Magic Chef 28-bottle thermoelectric wine cooler yesterday and just cancelled the order today as I realized the width/depth might be 1" too narrow for the brew bucket lid dimensions.

1. I thought about a keezer with temp controller but I really need to be able to control temps independently.
2. I don't really care for the idea of the temp coils in the fermenter as if a leak were to start and I'm not home it's going to be a disaster. I also don't want to run several pumps pulling from a cooler with all the tubing.... just seems to be much more a hassle (plus the coil cleaning) than I want to deal with.
3. I much prefer individual fermentation dedicated wine cooler/fridges. The wine coolers seem the best option as they are meant for temps more suited to fermentation where fridges need a controller to turn them off as they are more designed to refrigerate close to freezing temps.

Now, what are you all using? What were your solutions? I'm interested in hearing all responses, even cooling with the immersion coil/pump system if that's what you decided on. Please share the make/model of the units you went with!


Rev.
I did a can cooler that easily fits my 6.5 gal carboys. Besides an Inkbird, I only needed to cutout a styrofoam lid, and put some scrap 4×4 blocks to hold the weight.
I paid $25 for the can.
20190118_201246~2.jpeg
 
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Rev2010

Rev2010

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Whats the temp range on those-- I need to pick some of those up
40F - 61F. When testing chilling water in a pitcher at 40F it only read 43.8F the next morning so it probably wouldn't bring a fermenter lower than 44F, but we'll see. I have a pilsner in the one on the left and next week with drop it as low as I can with the fridge and report back. Shouldn't be much an issue though cause I'm just gonna lager it in the keg at 36F in my kegerator for an additional 2 weeks or so.


Rev.
 

sicktght311

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I don't have a picture on me at the moment, but i use SS Brewtech 7gal Brewbuckets, so i have 2 Haier BC112G wine refrigerators running on Inkbird ITC-308 Temp controllers with the compressor jump modification on both to ensure the compressor runs 24/7 whenever its powered up. During the winter i throw in a BrewBelt heater tucked under the little wood stand inside to heat the chamber up if needed, but summertime the fridge works perfect. Can get down to Lager or cold crashing temps easily, and the brew buckets fit perfectly. Plus they look good side by side
 

tellyho

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Couple feet of insulated pipe wrap, reptile tank heater, old school temp controller I built before you could buy them off the shelf for cheap. If I have multiple brews fermenting, it goes in the chest freezer with the space heater. I like that I'm only heating the beer, not an entire box.
MmsCamera_2019-01-23-15-22-14.jpeg
 
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Rev2010

Rev2010

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I like that I'm only heating the beer, not an entire box.View attachment 608894
My issue was that there's nowhere I have to store the fermenters that is cold enough to then simply use a heating belt. I need to cool down rather than heat up. Fermentation chambers are insultated as well and keep the cold air in so the compressor doesn't actually kick on very often at all unless you're lagering and the winter temps have the house heating kicking on all the time.


Rev.
 
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