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How many of you use a fermentation fridge?

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Brett3rThanU

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I think I'm going to cave in and buy a Sanyo 4912 with an external thermostat to ferment in, the temperature just varies too much here in Texas and it's too hot 90% of the year. I've been looking on craigslist and such trying to find a used fridge and even debated about making a fermentation chamber I see so many people using on the net, but I'm looking for a set it and forget it solution. I don't want to have to change ice bottles, replace water, or any of that, just something simple. Plus I can always revert to using the fridge as an actual fridge for my beer when I'm not fermenting. I figure if I'm going to be serious about brewing, I need something to maintain good fermentation temperatures. So my question is... do most of you all use a fridge, freezer, home made contraption, leave it at room temp., or what?
 

Evan!

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No, the 4912 will only fit one carboy at a time and will run you about $200. For $200 you can get a chest freezer that will fit 3, maybe even 4 carboys. I was cheap and got a small chest freezer for $140. It can only fit one carboy, and I wish I'd dropped a little more on a slightly larger one, but what can you do?

The only reason to get a 4912 is if you anticipate converting it to a kegerator some time in the future. And in that case...you'll want to buy another freezer/fridge to ferment in anyway.

I use an analog Johnson temp controller from MoreBeer for the freezer, runs about $50. With that contraption, you can also use the freeser as a fridge when there's no beer in it...
 

enderwig

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I live just south of you in Dickinson, and I think a fermentation fridge or freezer is a must in our area. Otherwise our brewing window of opportunity is only really the second half of december and all of January. It was about 80 the other day, and I am so happy that I have a fermentation chest freezer.
 

the_bird

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Yeah, there's no need to go small with the fermentation chamber. You may or may not need to build a collar for the chest freezer, but that's definately the better way to go for this than the 4912.
 

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Brett3rThanU

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I don't anticipate ever having more than 1 batch fermenting at a time. I don't have a lot of friends that like anything other than light beer so it's going to be mostly me drinking it.
 

mrkristofo

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I have the 4912, it only fits one 5gal carboy. The only reason I bought it is because it was $100 at costco, and I don't have the space for a chest freezer.
 

the_bird

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Brett3rThanU said:
I don't anticipate ever having more than 1 batch fermenting at a time. I don't have a lot of friends that like anything other than light beer so it's going to be mostly me drinking it.
Famous last words.... ;)
 

Beerthoven

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You can always convert the Sanyo into a 2-tap kegerator if you decide you want to ferment more than one batch at a time.

Still, I'd consider getting a larger chest freezer for fermentation if you have the room for it. I have a 10 cubic foot chest freezer and it comfortably fits two carboys with plenty of room left over for other stuff (grain, etc.).
 

TexLaw

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the_bird said:
Famous last words.... ;)
Exactly what I thought, too. Most likely, that 7.2 cu. ft. one will hold up to two carboys (but no more than one 6-6.5 one) or three corny kegs. That'll get you fairly far, actually. Bigger is nice, too. :)

Chest freezers are great in this area because they are so efficient and need to cycle less often. Look around Home Dept, Lowes, Conn's, Best Buy, and wherever else for returned and scratch & dent items. You do need to look inside the thing, though, to see how it is laid out. That compressor will make a hump somewhere that will limit your floor space.

The bad part about chest freezers in this area is that they will hold moisture, so you either need to keep them cold or clean them often. When fermenting at ale temperatures, you may have mold start in a week or less. That is less of a problem at lager fermenting temperatures, and it barely is an issue at below 40F. I empty mine out, dry it with a towel, and wipe it down with StarSan or iodophor from time to time, and that helps when fermenting. Spraying it down would be even easier and better, but I keep forgetting to pick up another spray bottle. :eek:


TL
 

enderwig

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TexLaw said:
The bad part about chest freezers in this area is that they will hold moisture, so you either need to keep them cold or clean them often.
+1

I have the same problem
 

enderwig

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the_bird said:
What about using some Damp-Rid? I had a huge moisture problem in the old dorm fridge I use as a lagerator, but I put in a container of that and it's bone-dry.
Never thought of that, I'll have to give it shot! Thanks for the idea.
 

Pugilist

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I use a 4912 with a 6gal carboy, fits well in there on the left side. Plan to convert to kegerator at some point. Dont tell my wife though, had to fight hard enough to get the fridge, the kegerator is the next battle!
 

raceskier

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I purchased the 4912 as temporary solution. I have a Ranco controlling it and use it exclusively for my ale primary fermentations in the winter and the hottest parts of the summer. Ambient temps in my garage are good for most of the year. I bought it with the intention of converting it to a kegerator at a later date. I just got my Lowes 10% discount card and am going to get a 14 cu ft freezer. I want to start doing lagers and so I will have multiple lagerings going at one time. The Sanyo should still work well for the shorter lager primary. The Sanyo, if you can get a good deal on it and realize the limitations is certainly not a waste of money IMHO.
 

J.B.W

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I was in the same delima last year. I picked up an old freezer last year to use for fermenting beer. I had to make a new top from Styrofoam to give me enough internal height for an airlock.





The setup worked really well last summer with garage temps in the mid 90's. My beer stayed at a nice 65F while fermenting. Moisture can bee an issue, but mopping up the condensation from the walls regularly helps a lot. I let it sit for a few days with the lid off after bottling day so that it has a chance to dry out and I clean the inside with bleach and water on brew day. This usually keeps anything nasty from growing.

I use a mechanical controller to keep the temp in range, and a small fan to circulate the air inside the freezer. A small 5 dollar digital outdoor thermometer is used to check on the Temp.

I should be able make a nice Lager with this setup, but I have yet to try it.
 
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Brett3rThanU

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After you guys bottle, do you leave the bottles in your fridge/freezer at fermentation temps for the 3 week duration to carbonate?
 

TexLaw

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the_bird said:
What about using some Damp-Rid? I had a huge moisture problem in the old dorm fridge I use as a lagerator, but I put in a container of that and it's bone-dry.
I've meant to do that for some time. By the way, DampRid is just calcium chloride. You should be able to pick up the same pellets for much cheaper at any pool supply store. You don't get the handy-dandy container, but I don't know how much I care about the handy-dandy container.


TL
 
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