I want to lager in my garage this winter .. need blanket advice

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BrewinInPA

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I want to lager in my garage this winter using an electric blanket and an inkbird controller. The problem is that a lot of the electric blankets that are available have an automatic cut-off feature, and I want to make sure that this is not going to interfere. Can anyone here recommend a make / model of electric blanket that will work successfully for this purpose without switching itself off unexpectedly? I would love to use an old-school one but I don't know where I could find that and all the new ones seem to have electronic controllers. In a pinch I guess I could just cut the controller completely , wire a plug directly and go into the inkbird but I would rather find a compatible controller.
 

phbern

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I was thinking of doing the same thing. I have an Inkbird heat mat and controller. It doesn't cover the entire carboy like a blanket, but I also have an insulation bag (which I use in the summer with ice packs). I was going to do a "dry run" with plain water in the next couple of days. I'll report back with the results.

Amazon.com : Inkbirdplus Heat Mat for Plants Reptile Heating Pad Seedling Heat Mat for Seed Starting Greenhouse and Germination, 20W, 10" x 20" : Patio, Lawn & Garden

 

hotbeer

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Go to the big box building supply stores and get a 4' x 8' sheet of 2" thick foam board and build a box to put it in. You can just use shipping tape or duct tape to hold it together.

Then if you keep the cover on, a heating pad or other heat source coupled with a temperature controller will give you even ambient temperatures inside.

If you just cover with a electric blanket and no protection from the ambient temp swings in the garage, then I'd worry about hot spots and such.

I got two of these for my use.



Pretty much the same thing as the Inkbirds. Though I like the fact it displays the current temp as well as high and low limits all at the same time. They have models that will handle both cooling and heating too. But I'm not in need of those yet.
 
OP
BrewinInPA

BrewinInPA

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Target(if you have one nearby) sells a fancy heating pad that can always stay on. Or you can get their private branded basic pad for like $20 and modify it(which is easier than it sounds). Also, the thick 4x8' reflective foam board works great as a poor man's fermentation chamber; I use it with my Catalyst in the garage practically year round. With a heating pad, the ferm chamber and an inkbird or equivalent, you'll be good to go.
 

DuncB

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I use a sleeping bag and heat with a brewbelt. Make sure the fermenter is not sitting directly on the floor but on some insulation whether thats foam or cardboard etc. You should be fine.
 

Jonakr

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I'm using a freezer in my garage with a reptile pad for heat connected to an Inkbird. Works great year round.
 
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Ok, maybe I'm missing something here, or maybe everyone else is missing something (less likely). The purpose of lagering is to cold condition, so why would one possibly need a heating source- blanket, heat wrap or anything else? I do my lagers in December just for this reason. After fermenting at around 50*, and raising temp to 65* for a D-rest, I put my lagers in a water bath out in my garage for lagering for 2-3 months. Temps out there are mostly in the low 40's to 30's , but have been known to go below freezing. So I get a skin of ice on the bucket, and even occasionally freeze a bucket solidly to the bottom, so that, rarely, the beer freezes. You know what? Those frozen-then-thawed Bocks tend to be my tastiest.
 

SanPancho

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Ok, maybe I'm missing something here, or maybe everyone else is missing something (less likely). The purpose of lagering is to cold condition, so why would one possibly need a heating source- blanket, heat wrap or anything else?
What he said.
 

Immocles

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Ok, maybe I'm missing something here, or maybe everyone else is missing something (less likely). The purpose of lagering is to cold condition, so why would one possibly need a heating source- blanket, heat wrap or anything else? I do my lagers in December just for this reason. After fermenting at around 50*, and raising temp to 65* for a D-rest, I put my lagers in a water bath out in my garage for lagering for 2-3 months. Temps out there are mostly in the low 40's to 30's , but have been known to go below freezing. So I get a skin of ice on the bucket, and even occasionally freeze a bucket solidly to the bottom, so that, rarely, the beer freezes. You know what? Those frozen-then-thawed Bocks tend to be my tastiest.
I did the same, in my basement of the former house where the temps hung around 40F. It depends on your climate, though. If I stored a fermenter for 2-3 months in the garage without any heat source, I would have a giant beer ice cube.
 
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I agree with the others on letting nature take its course in lagering phase. Depending on where you live and how likely it is that the beer will freeze solid, you might get away with just a seedling mat to keep it just a couple of degrees warmer.

For lager fermentation in a cold garage, I've been using a pair of seedling mats wrapped around the fermenter and plugged into an inkbird controller. The whole thing is then wrapped in 3 layers of that metalized bubble wrap stuff, and it sits on a thick piece of closed cell foam. Even through the harsh Chicago winters, I have no problem maintaining proper temperatures.
20211127_194023.jpg
 

hotbeer

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What he said.
Because in some areas the un-heated garage might be well below the temps desired for lagering one day and well above another day.

Essentially they are just trying to make for more stable fermentation temperature.

Though if it gets too warm in the garage, then OP's will have to do something for cooling too. Which can be done with a temp controller that provides for both heating and cooling devices attached to it.
 
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Because in some areas the un-heated garage might be well below the temps desired for lagering one day and well above another day.
That's where the water bath bucket works well. Unless that freezes to the bottome, the lowest temp you'll get is 32*F. And it'll stay very stable within a degree or two.
 
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Denny talks about doing things simply. I do things cheaply. Still working with my original bucket fermenter from 2011 ((I do have others), carboys given to me (them babies are expensive), my original Denny-style cooler mashtun, and 4 muck buckets that are used as swamp coolers in all seasons of the year. My splurges have been a pH meter, a grainmill, and with quality ingredients. And I have the medals that prove that you don't have to spend thousands on fancy equipment to make good beer!
 
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