Fermentation vessel

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buckeyemike75

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I have found the perfect Fermentation chest.....I have an old refridgerator in the garage and it constantly keeps the temperature at 60 degrees......I am wondering If I add enough ice I can get the temp down to around 35 to 40 and then try a lager. I think I would have to keep constantly adding ice though.
 

dougjones31

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Where do you live and what are the temps there? Is your garage insulated?

I also would check the temp with a reliable thermometer. It does not seem like it could only be keeping the temp @60 degrees this time of the year. it should atleast be 50 degrees. If it still running well but just not getting cold, I would add some freon to it and it should start cooling better. It would be worth trying. I have a 30 year old fridge in my garage that is still working fine. But I do get a buddy to add freon to it every few years.


You will not be able to easily keep enough ice in it to lager in unless you can get it to cool down to 45-50 degrees. Unless it is real cold where the fridge is., but if that was the case it would get colder than 60 degrees.

Oh...the most important thing....make sure the fridge temp is turned down as far as it will go. I saw a guy sell a fridge for nothing because it would not get cold enough. The buyer just turn the setting to max cold and it maintained 38 degrees.
 

Bobby_M

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Or you can bypass the internal thermostadt and wire in a temp controller. They can be found on Ebay for $20-40ish but just make sure they're close on rise with a temperature range for what you want to do. IOW, if you want to lager at 33dF, make sure it will go that low. If you want to use it for ale fermenting in the summer, make sure it will go as high as 70dF.

I have a lager fermenting in mine at 53dF.
 

dougjones31

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Most fridges will not get down to 33 degrees......they are not freezers and there is no need for a fridge to get that cold.

If you want the perfect fermentation chest then get a chest freezer and a thermostate controller do you can set it at any temp from 0-100.
 

Bobby_M

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Doug,
I guess my question would be, what exactly about a frig would stop the temp from getting down to 33? If you do not override the internal temp controller, I would agree that you'll only get down to the lowest setting on the frig. But once you bypass that, the compressor would run forever (in theory) taking more and more heat out. Then you put your own controller on it to reign control.

I realize with a freezer, you don't need to remove the factory controller because it's always trying to reach a colder temp than you need, but I wouldn't discount a frig when it's cheap or free.
 

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buckeyemike75 said:
I have found the perfect Fermentation chest.....I have an old refridgerator in the garage and it constantly keeps the temperature at 60 degrees......I am wondering If I add enough ice I can get the temp down to around 35 to 40 and then try a lager. I think I would have to keep constantly adding ice though.
What I would do is set the fridge at the lowest you can get it at to cool it down, put your stuff in there then add the ice. You will have to change it probably every day or 2 but shold be just fine.

Basicly you'll be using it like it was an old ice box or a giant cooler. I can get my spare fridge down to about 34degrees . . . my sodas will freeze when I open them with the rapid decompression of the can as it opens . . . so I dont think you'll have much of a hard time doing what you're looking at doing
 

Evan!

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I'm not sure about this, but it seems like, once you put the airlock on, the typical 6.5-gal carboy would be too tall to fit into your standard chest freezer. Thoughts?
 

Walker

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Evan! said:
I'm not sure about this, but it seems like, once you put the airlock on, the typical 6.5-gal carboy would be too tall to fit into your standard chest freezer. Thoughts?
they fit fine. the depth is no problem at all.
 

casebrew

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I think that Mikes OP was relating to an un-plugged fridge staying at 60. Mine stayed at 70 for the last 4 weeks while I primaried + secondaried a batch. I figured it was better than the 58 to 84 swings in the weather. Slight additional cooling would easily bring it down, but I don't see why not to try the built in thermo, set at it's warmest? The little apartment sized fridge I use went down to 25, empty, when I tested it. I may use my sawed of Mr Coffee and a water bed thermostat for heat this winter. It takes an upright 6.5 carboy, and I can syhon right out of it into secondary or bottling bucket. But it's up on a step.
 

dougjones31

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Bobby_M said:
Doug,
I guess my question would be, what exactly about a frig would stop the temp from getting down to 33? If you do not override the internal temp controller, I would agree that you'll only get down to the lowest setting on the frig. But once you bypass that, the compressor would run forever (in theory) taking more and more heat out. Then you put your own controller on it to reign control.

I realize with a freezer, you don't need to remove the factory controller because it's always trying to reach a colder temp than you need, but I wouldn't discount a frig when it's cheap or free.
They coil and condenser are under sized to do the cooling job well enough to drop the freezer and fridge below freezing. It will freeze the freezer but not the fridge. The coil is encased and the cold air is only allowed to go to the fridge when the fan forces it.
 
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buckeyemike75

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yes, it is an unplugged fridge, I have been checking with a cooper's thermometer and it fluctuates between 60 and 66 degrees in the fridge......I live in Oakland, California and it gets pretty cold at night. My garage is not enclosed but basically it is like a lean-to so it is open to the outside temps.....I figured the fridge was basically a large cooler with a little insulation around it.
 

Bobby_M

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I guess the question is, is this a working fridge? Why use it as an insulated box when it was designed to keep a relatively stable (and adjustable) temp when plugged in?

I still think the fridge part (if the compressor is still working) can work for both lager ferment (53dF) and lagering (33dF) because most stock thermo temps already keep it in the 35-40dF for food storage. Even if you can't get it all the down to 33, I'm sure the 30's are good enough and you won't have to jockey ice containers in and out for two months.
 

Evan!

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If I were to buy a brand new chest freezer and set it on the lowest (meaning, highest temp) setting, is this still too dangerous for lagering? I have my winter warmer that I've been icing down manually, and I'm thinking of just buying this $145 chest freezer at Sam's Club. I already have one, that I use for food, so I know it works well. But without risking thawing out all my food, there's no way to really know the temp in there at the lowest setting. Anyone have any idea?

Next time I need stuff from an online HBS, I'll include a temp controller in my order---but until then, would you recommend that I lager without it?
 

dougjones31

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No. Putting your beer in a freezer to lager will not work.....it will freeze the beer. Don't try to lager in it until you get a temp controller.


Mike....don't try to lager un an unplugged fridge. Ice will melt to fast to keep up with.
 

Evan!

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dougjones31 said:
No. Putting your beer in a freezer to lager will not work.....it will freeze the beer. Don't try to lager in it until you get a temp controller.
Yeah, I figured.
 
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buckeyemike75

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thanks for the advise dougjones............after reading this thread I wont try a lager just yet.....I will probably buy a temp controller and then plug the fridge in and then try a lager......thanks to everyone for chiming in.
 
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