Keeping Fermenter Cool

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

Suddy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2009
Messages
130
Reaction score
2
Location
Kernersville, NC
Hi Everyone,

I was wondering if anyone had any ideas on how to keep my fermenter cool. Due to my wife and children I have to keep the house at about 70-72 degrees. When I brewed my first batch I watched the temp go above 78 in my beer. I can smell a slight banana smell from the airlock, so I am assuming I goofed that batch. :(

So how do you guys keep the fermenter in the 60-65 degree range?

Suddy :mug:
 

Yooper

Ale's What Cures You!
Staff member
Admin
Mod
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jun 4, 2006
Messages
74,940
Reaction score
12,874
Location
UP/Snowbird in Florida
Here's mine:



It's an igloo cooler with a "new" lid made out of foam insulation, so just the airlock pokes out. I fill it about 3/4 full with water to surround the carboy, and then change out frozen water bottles as needed. I have a floating thermometer in the water bath, to keep an eye on the temperature. It works in the winter, too, with an aquarium heater in the water bath, to keep the water warm and keep the temperature inside the fermenter warmer as well.
 

jmiracle

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 8, 2007
Messages
217
Reaction score
0
Location
Lansing, MI
I had good results with the "swamp cooler" method....place the carboy in a big rubbermaid bin or something, fill it to at least half the height of the carboy with cold water , soak a t-shirt and drape it over the remaining exposed part with the t-shirt running into the water. As the water evaporates it takes heat with it and the shirt wicks up more moisture from the pool to replace it. I hear this works even better if you can leave a fan on it. You could also add frozen water bottles to the water in the bin and swap them out twice a day.
 

jmiracle

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 8, 2007
Messages
217
Reaction score
0
Location
Lansing, MI
No smell from the airlock ever reliably indicates that your beer is screwed. All kinds of weird smells can come out during fermentation, even different smells from the same yeast, same malt, etc. I'm willing to bet your beer will be great, most ale yeasts are pretty tolerant of higher temperatures. It might not be IDEAL but it'll still be tasty.
 

Cpt_Kirks

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 11, 2008
Messages
3,704
Reaction score
60
Location
Lakeland TN
Here's mine:



It's an igloo cooler with a "new" lid made out of foam insulation, so just the airlock pokes out. I fill it about 3/4 full with water to surround the carboy, and then change out frozen water bottles as needed. I have a floating thermometer in the water bath, to keep an eye on the temperature. It works in the winter, too, with an aquarium heater in the water bath, to keep the water warm and keep the temperature inside the fermenter warmer as well.
I copied Yooper's lid idea like that, but I also now have a cooler I made from the foam board. I just cut the pieces to size and used real duct tape (aluminum backed) to hold it together. I have a Pils bubbling away in it right now at a steady 48*F.

The cube cooler has another light lager crash cooling after D rest, getting prepped for the keg.

I am watching CL for a steal on a large dorm fridge. When I find one, I am going to get some more foam board and graduate up to a powered cooler.

:rockin:
 

phatuna

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 4, 2009
Messages
793
Reaction score
6
Location
San Diego
Yoopers cooler rig is awesome. I use a plastic tub like you would put a keg in at a party. I fill it about 8-10 inches with water, put a black t-shirt over my better bottle or bucket, then put my primary into the water with the bottom of the t-shirt in the water.

During active fermentation when temps go up higher than ambient, I throw in a couple of handfuls of ice a couple of time a day. Keeps by beer in the mid 60's.
 

batfishdog37

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 5, 2008
Messages
187
Reaction score
1
Location
Menomonie, Wisconsin
Hi Everyone,

I was wondering if anyone had any ideas on how to keep my fermenter cool. Due to my wife and children I have to keep the house at about 70-72 degrees. When I brewed my first batch I watched the temp go above 78 in my beer. I can smell a slight banana smell from the airlock, so I am assuming I goofed that batch. :(

So how do you guys keep the fermenter in the 60-65 degree range?

Suddy :mug:
Do you have a basement? Does it stay cooler than the house?
 

springer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2008
Messages
4,736
Reaction score
34
Location
Wappingers falls NY
cheap and easy I just cover the carboy with a towel that soaks up the water then between the evaporation and the ice in the water I can keep the water pretty much any temp I want

 
OP
Suddy

Suddy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2009
Messages
130
Reaction score
2
Location
Kernersville, NC
Do you have a basement? Does it stay cooler than the house?
I wish I had a basement! My parents have a huge basement that i can use. It stays cooler that the rest of the house. I was considering moving my brew operations there if I had to (to the pleasure of my brother).:drunk:
 
OP
Suddy

Suddy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2009
Messages
130
Reaction score
2
Location
Kernersville, NC
I think I am going to pick up one of those igloo coolers after work. Can you just take a dremel tool to the original lid? Or will I need to fabricate a new lid from foam like Yooper?

I really want to pick up a small fridge or freezer and convert it to a keezer. Space is at a premium in my small house so I would have to install it in my shed.
 

carnevoodoo

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 17, 2007
Messages
4,258
Reaction score
25
Location
San Diego, CA
I think I am going to pick up one of those igloo coolers after work. Can you just take a dremel tool to the original lid? Or will I need to fabricate a new lid from foam like Yooper?

I really want to pick up a small fridge or freezer and convert it to a keezer. Space is at a premium in my small house so I would have to install it in my shed.
The 60 qt cooler needs a new lid built. If you can find a 70 qt. Max Cold cooler, you can drill a hole for the airlock to stick out. I have two like this.
 
OP
Suddy

Suddy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2009
Messages
130
Reaction score
2
Location
Kernersville, NC
Where did you find the 70 qt version? I know I saw a few similar coolers at the Bubba-mart. I am off to investigate in t-minus 1hr 12 min.:rockin:
 

Cpt_Kirks

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 11, 2008
Messages
3,704
Reaction score
60
Location
Lakeland TN
Where did you find the 70 qt version? I know I saw a few similar coolers at the Bubba-mart. I am off to investigate in t-minus 1hr 12 min.:rockin:
Yeah, I'm looking for a 70qt too, but for another project. Supposedly, the 70qt cube cooler will hold two 3 gallon kegs.
 

Boerderij_Kabouter

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 21, 2007
Messages
7,763
Reaction score
178
Location
Oconomowoc, Wisconsin
Use an extra fridge. I used a side by side fridge for mine. My build is in my sig.

The swamp cooler does work nicely. It is a bit messy and you can't get exact control, but it works well to keep temps in range and is cheap.
 

Yooper

Ale's What Cures You!
Staff member
Admin
Mod
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jun 4, 2006
Messages
74,940
Reaction score
12,874
Location
UP/Snowbird in Florida
I think I am going to pick up one of those igloo coolers after work. Can you just take a dremel tool to the original lid? Or will I need to fabricate a new lid from foam like Yooper?

I really want to pick up a small fridge or freezer and convert it to a keezer. Space is at a premium in my small house so I would have to install it in my shed.
That's great! Can you show a shot of the inside?
Good thinking.

I like to use the plastic buckets as also shown in this thread. Your 'cooler' may keep a more constant temp though. good thinking
You can use a dremel to cut the lid (my original plan), but when I started to, I noticed that the lid was hollow! I thought that would be pour insulation, and I'd have to fill it with spray foam or something so I decided to just pull off the lid, and make the foam lid.

The inside looks like the inside of a cooler. This is the wheeled model, so there is a little bit of wheel well, but the carboy still sits ok in there. The wheels are nice so I can fill at the sink, then wheel it over to the fermentation area. Then, when I'm finished, I just wheel it over to the floor drain in the basement (or outside, if the fermenter is on the main floor) and open the drain on the cooler to drain out the water. With the water and carboy in it, it's really heavy!
 

humann_brewing

More Humann than human
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Oct 6, 2008
Messages
15,503
Reaction score
358
Location
the sun
49*



After this picture I switched it over to my 10G round cooler and just added ice cubes and covered the top with a towel. The insulation helped keep within a degree all day long.
 

DeathBrewer

Maniacally Malty
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Apr 9, 2007
Messages
21,787
Reaction score
317
Location
Oakland, CA
The first thing I used was a son-of-fermentation chiller:

http://www.blackcanyonbrewers.com/BCHA-PDF-Files/chiller.pdf

I didn't bother with the pegs, just used duct tape to hold the sides together and put weight on the top.

Then I built an ale fermentation cabinet:

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/diy-fermentation-cabinet-86815/

Then I bought this chest freezer for lagering:

Kenmore 8.8 cu. ft. Chest Freezer - Model 16949 at Sears.com

I can only use 2 carboys at the moment, so I'm going to build a collar for it like this:



That way I can have up to 3 carboys and have some taps on the side.
:mug:
 

tenglert

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2009
Messages
56
Reaction score
0
Location
Hattiesburg MS
Here's mine:



It's an igloo cooler with a "new" lid made out of foam insulation, so just the airlock pokes out. I fill it about 3/4 full with water to surround the carboy, and then change out frozen water bottles as needed. I have a floating thermometer in the water bath, to keep an eye on the temperature. It works in the winter, too, with an aquarium heater in the water bath, to keep the water warm and keep the temperature inside the fermenter warmer as well.
I've been using this same exact setup for a couple of years now, after my spair fridge died on me with a lager in it. It works better than the fridge did.

I fill it up to three inches from the top or until the carboy becomes almost buoyant. I use frozen water bottles to get temps down slowly, and bottles heated up in the microwave to get temps up. I also have a dial thermometer stuck through the styro lid to keep an eye on the temp. A coffee can over the water lock keeps light out

I just picked up another one at wally-world for $29 to use as a mash tun and extra chiller.
 
OP
Suddy

Suddy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2009
Messages
130
Reaction score
2
Location
Kernersville, NC
You can use a dremel to cut the lid (my original plan), but when I started to, I noticed that the lid was hollow! I thought that would be pour insulation, and I'd have to fill it with spray foam or something so I decided to just pull off the lid, and make the foam lid.

The inside looks like the inside of a cooler. This is the wheeled model, so there is a little bit of wheel well, but the carboy still sits ok in there. The wheels are nice so I can fill at the sink, then wheel it over to the fermentation area. Then, when I'm finished, I just wheel it over to the floor drain in the basement (or outside, if the fermenter is on the main floor) and open the drain on the cooler to drain out the water. With the water and carboy in it, it's really heavy!
Is the cooler in your pic the 60 or 70 qt?

edit: after viewing the label...I can see that it is the 60.....and I didn't even drink tonight.
 
OP
Suddy

Suddy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2009
Messages
130
Reaction score
2
Location
Kernersville, NC
The first thing I used was a son-of-fermentation chiller:

http://www.blackcanyonbrewers.com/BCHA-PDF-Files/chiller.pdf

I didn't bother with the pegs, just used duct tape to hold the sides together and put weight on the top.

Then I built an ale fermentation cabinet:

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/diy-fermentation-cabinet-86815/

Then I bought this chest freezer for lagering:

Kenmore 8.8 cu. ft. Chest Freezer - Model 16949 at Sears.com

I can only use 2 carboys at the moment, so I'm going to build a collar for it like this:



That way I can have up to 3 carboys and have some taps on the side.
:mug:
As soon as i can get a house with a basement/garage I will do something like this.

Right now I have an outside attached storage building that is 5x5 to work with. I also have a shed that is 12x10 (Dutch Barn) that is filled to the brim with useless crap that I have wanted to get rid of for years.....one day it will be converted to my external man cave
 

m3n00b

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 17, 2013
Messages
1,132
Reaction score
155
Location
Orange County
Here's mine:



It's an igloo cooler with a "new" lid made out of foam insulation, so just the airlock pokes out. I fill it about 3/4 full with water to surround the carboy, and then change out frozen water bottles as needed. I have a floating thermometer in the water bath, to keep an eye on the temperature. It works in the winter, too, with an aquarium heater in the water bath, to keep the water warm and keep the temperature inside the fermenter warmer as well.
I know this is a super old post but is that a 6.5 gal carboy? I went and bought the same exactly cooler yesterday at wallyworld and mine sticks way out of the top. Also, where did you get the insulation? I went to lowes and they only sell 4'x8' sheets of the stuff.
 

Yooper

Ale's What Cures You!
Staff member
Admin
Mod
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jun 4, 2006
Messages
74,940
Reaction score
12,874
Location
UP/Snowbird in Florida
I know this is a super old post but is that a 6.5 gal carboy? I went and bought the same exactly cooler yesterday at wallyworld and mine sticks way out of the top. Also, where did you get the insulation? I went to lowes and they only sell 4'x8' sheets of the stuff.
That happens to be a 5 gallon carboy, as I was lagering in there at that time.

The insulation does come in 4X8 sheets- I cut four layers with a dremel and then cut a hole for the airlock. You could go much wider in the first few layers for a 6.5 gallon carboy.
 

m3n00b

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 17, 2013
Messages
1,132
Reaction score
155
Location
Orange County
That happens to be a 5 gallon carboy, as I was lagering in there at that time.

The insulation does come in 4X8 sheets- I cut four layers with a dremel and then cut a hole for the airlock. You could go much wider in the first few layers for a 6.5 gallon carboy.
Genius!! This was the foam sheet you got?
 

m3n00b

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 17, 2013
Messages
1,132
Reaction score
155
Location
Orange County
This thing works beautifully! My 6.5g carboy needed 3"+ of foam to fit. I need to round of the edges of the foam and paint it. My barley wine is sitting at a perfect 62F!!! This is so much more stable than my old Rubbermaid swamp cooler setup. Still need to get a freezer since I have 4 more fermentors that hopefully will be full at the same time over the summer. I also want to dabble in lagers.

ForumRunner_20130520_043934.jpg
 
Top