Individually controlled carboy temperatures

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Redfutz

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My end goal is to be able to have 5 automatic and Individually temperature controlled 5 gallon carboys. I want to be able to brew 5 different types of beer at the same time with minimal effort as far as cooling is concerned. I have an idea of a way to do this, but it seems bulky and expensive. If you can think of a more efficient way to do this I would gladly welcome your advice.

My ideas is that I will have 5 carboys each set up with an anvil cooling system. They seems like a good set up, and relatively cheap per unit. I currently have one on order, so I have no experience with them yet. I intend on testing one, and if I like it, then I will buy 4 more. The plan is to have a shared ice chest for the cooling liquid, and to insulate each carboy separately. I am currently researching different options as to how I will cool the water or glycol. But I think this is the best method at this time for under $1000.
 

VikeMan

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Yes, I would say that, in general, the cheapest way to cool multiple fermentations at different temps would be indvidually controlled jackets/coils/whatever all using a common resevoir of coolant. That's if you are just cooling.

But another way (and potentially cheaper) would be a single large chest freezer with a controller, where the inside of the freezer provides the "ambient" temperature. Each fermenter would have an individually controlled heating device (such as a ferm wrap) to control that's fermenter's temp. Note that this approach is really only practical if the desired fermentation temps are not too far apart. e.g., I wouldn't do this with a lager and an ale simultaneously.
 
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Redfutz

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Yes, I would say that, in general, the cheapest way to cool multiple fermentations at different temps would be indvidually controlled jackets/coils/whatever all using a common resevoir of coolant. That's if you are just cooling.

But another way (and potentially cheaper) would be a single large chest freezer with a controller, where the inside of the freezer provides the "ambient" temperature. Each fermenter would have an individually controlled heating device (such as a ferm wrap) to control that's fermenter's temp. Note that this approach is really only practical if the desired fermentation temps are not too far apart. e.g., I wouldn't do this with a lager and an ale simultaneously.
That sounds like an awesome idea, I will definitely take it into consideration. Thank you for the reply. I am only just starting my beer brewing adventure, so everything I can learn is very helpful. That method sounds like it would actually be cheaper more budget friendly if I could find the right freezer at a decent price.
 

CascadesBrewer

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I am only just starting my beer brewing adventure, so everything I can learn is very helpful.

And jumping right in with the desire to ferment 25 gallons at a time!

What types of beers do you make? Do you have a cool location to ferment? When I moved to temp controlled fermentation (a small chest freezer) I was surprised how often I use heat to bring the beer temp above ambient. This is for some styles that ferment warm (like Saisons, Trappists, and Kveik) but I also often raise the temp on ales once fermentation starts to slow.

It is usually cheaper to add a heating solution (like a seedling mat with a controller) than it is to add a cooling solution.

As far as your DIY Glycol system...a search would turn up other people's systems. I have seen systems build around an air conditioner. A buddy, who has a pretty elaborate setup, has a small chest freezer for chilling the glycol.

Commercial Glycol Chillers have been getting a little cheaper in recent years. There are some units for 2 fermenters in the $700 US range and for 4 fermenters in the $900 US range.
 

bwible

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I bought an Anvil Cooling system and tried it out. I modified an old cooler with fittings so I could run the hoses and it would stay closed.

The thing with this system is that its only going to be as good as the cold water and ice source you can supply it. In a test, a bag of ice from the grocery store (what are they, 4lbs?) lasted about 6 hours. This was setting it at 50 degrees because I wanted it to be able to do lagers.

That is just silly to be replacing 4 lb bags of ice 4 times a day. And what do you do when you are at work and you’re not home to do it?

It seems like this would need at minimum to be connected to a cold water source contained inside of a fridge or to a glycol chiller. Glycol chillers are not cheap and it doesn’t make sense to buy one if you’re trying to use this system as the cheap way to go. A $900 glycol chiller to operate a $100 cooling system? And if I’m going to need a dedicated fridge for chill water then I might as well just have a dedicated fridge I can put the carboy in.

So in the end, thats what I did. I bought a tapless kegerator and am using that with an inkbird controller to ferment in. I went with that because the door opens front and I don’t have anything to lift high in/out.

No, its not going to hold 5 carboys at different temps. But why do I need 5 carboys fermenting at the same time? I don’t ever have 5 days in a row to brew.

In the fridge I am using a Fermonster, which uses a #10 2 hole stopper for the airlock and thermowell. If you want to use a standard glass carboy, it looks like they don’t make a 2 hole #7 stopper so you would need to use a carboy cap to be able to use the thermowell. I forgot about those, I never really used them.


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Redfutz

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And jumping right in with the desire to ferment 25 gallons at a time!

What types of beers do you make? Do you have a cool location to ferment? When I moved to temp controlled fermentation (a small chest freezer) I was surprised how often I use heat to bring the beer temp above ambient. This is for some styles that ferment warm (like Saisons, Trappists, and Kveik) but I also often raise the temp on ales once fermentation starts to slow.

It is usually cheaper to add a heating solution (like a seedling mat with a controller) than it is to add a cooling solution.

As far as your DIY Glycol system...a search would turn up other people's systems. I have seen systems build around an air conditioner. A buddy, who has a pretty elaborate setup, has a small chest freezer for chilling the glycol.

Commercial Glycol Chillers have been getting a little cheaper in recent years. There are some units for 2 fermenters in the $700 US range and for 4 fermenters in the $900 US range.
I currently make wine with as much fruit as I can get my hands on, I have 14x 5 gallon carboys and 10x 1 gallon carboys which are mostly all in use. I plan on trying a 5 gallon batch of a lager of some kind with the Anvil while mostly making ales and just keeping the house at a decent ambient temperature. I plan on ramping up to 25-30 gallons a month if possible as that is about what my household consumes give or take. I'll definitely do some research on those glycol systems.
 
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Redfutz

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I bought an Anvil Cooling system and tried it out. I modified an old cooler with fittings so I could run the hoses and it would stay closed.

The thing with this system is that its only going to be as good as the cold water and ice source you can supply it. In a test, a bag of ice from the grocery store (what are they, 4lbs?) lasted about 6 hours. This was setting it at 50 degrees because I wanted it to be able to do lagers.

That is just silly to be replacing 4 lb bags of ice 4 times a day. And what do you do when you are at work and you’re not home to do it?

It seems like this would need at minimum to be connected to a cold water source contained inside of a fridge or to a glycol chiller. Glycol chillers are not cheap and it doesn’t make sense to buy one if you’re trying to use this system as the cheap way to go. And if I’m going to need a dedicated fridge for chill water then I might as well just have a dedicated fridge I can put the carboy in.

So in the end, thats what I did. I bought a tapless kegerator and am using that with an inkbird controller to ferment in. I went with that because the door opens front and I don’t have anything to lift high in/out.

No, its not going to hold 5 carboys at different temps. But why do I need 5 carboys fermenting at the same time? I don’t ever have 5 days in a row to brew.

In the fridge I am using a Fermonster, which uses a #10 2 hole stopper for the airlock and thermowell. If you want to use a standard glass carboy, it looks like they don’t make a 2 hole #7 stopper so you would need to use a carboy cap to be able to use the thermowell. I forgot about those, I never really used them.


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I like the ingenuity you put into both of those set ups, I am not a big fan of the caps myself. If anything i could do some drilling to make some custom stoppers. I really like my glass and I got good deals on them over time. From what I'm hearing putting my carboys in an encasement and heating or simply using a thermostat on the ice chest is the way to go. Thanks for the reply! I think I might reserve my Anvil for experimental batches of wine.
 

bwible

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14 x 5 gallon carboys is 28 cases of wine
25-30 gallons is 10-12 cases of beer

Thats way more than I go through in a month on the beer and 28 cases of wine would last me almost the rest of my life
 

wsmith1625

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So in the end, thats what I did. I bought a tapless kegerator and am using that with an inkbird controller to ferment in. I went with that because the door opens front and I don’t have anything to lift high in/out.
Since you purchased the kegerator already, why not use it to cool the water feeding the Anvil cooling coil? The fridge should be able to keep the water at around 34 degrees without an external temperature controller. Then use the external controller to run a pump feeding your cooling coil. I imaging this setup could host 5 Anvil coils if you were to invest in the necessary equipment. Also, if your temperature controllers are dual stage, you can add a FermWrap heater to raise the temperature if ambient temperature drops too low or you want to do a diacetyl rest.
 

bwible

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Since you purchased the kegerator already, why not use it to cool the water feeding the Anvil cooling coil? The fridge should be able to keep the water at around 34 degrees without an external temperature controller. Then use the external controller to run a pump feeding your cooling coil. I imaging this setup could host 5 Anvil coils if you were to invest in the necessary equipment. Also, if your temperature controllers are dual stage, you can add a FermWrap heater to raise the temperature if ambient temperature drops too low or you want to do a diacetyl rest.
Because I pretty much do one batch at a time. I’m the only one in my house who drinks the beer I make. I do 3 gallon batches because I don’t want 10 cases of beer after 5 batches. And I like variety.

I bought one of their cooling systems to try before I bought a fridge to make lagers. The goal was to try to avoid buying another fridge since we were running 3 already, now 4. House fridge, beer bottle and soda fridge, and kegerator. I don’t need more than 1 beer fermenting at a time so this little fridge is all I need.

To clarify: I brewed 20 batches (3 gallons) for 2020. I brewed 21 batches (3 gallons) for 2021. I’m 18 in for 2022 doing what I do. So I’m averaging about 25 cases a year of what I make. And I buy beer. I don’t feel any need to expand my operation. I’m not really even drinking all I make because some of it is barleywines and I’m counting meads and I have several cases of those aging.

We don’t have big parties and I’m not supplying the local VFW or anything like that.

 
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wsmith1625

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Because I pretty much do one batch at a time. I’m the only one in my house who drinks the beer I make. I do 3 gallon batches because I don’t want 10 cases of beer after 5 batches. And I like variety.

I bought one of their cooling systems to try before I bought a fridge to make lagers. The goal was to try to avoid buying another fridge since we were running 3 already, now 4. House fridge, beer bottle and soda fridge, and kegerator. I don’t need more than 1 beer fermenting at a time so this little fridge is all I need.

To clarify: I brewed 20 batches (3 gallons) for 2020. I brewed 21 batches (3 gallons) for 2021. I’m 18 in for 2022 doing what I do. So I’m averaging about 30 cases a year of what I make. And I buy beer. I don’t feel any need to expand my operation.
Sure, make sense and I understand. I do think that OP @Redfutz could use a mini fridge like yours or even a small chest freezer with glycol to achieve his goal of fermenting 5 separate carboys at once.
 
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Redfutz

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I have been doing some downscaling and rethinking of my setup. Thanks for all the input. I have been looking at a 7 cu ft. upright freezer from Vissani as a possible option for a dual carboy fermentation chamber. It runs about $300, and has glass shelves that could easily be removed and replaced with some sort of divider for the carboys.
 
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