Maintaining primary fermentation temps

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TeeJayEss

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Hey y'all, last night was brew night #2 (an extract altbier), and I've got a question about the best way to maintain my temps during primary fermentation. The recipe calls for fermentation between 60-64F (Wyeast 1007).

Fermenting in an 8 gallon plastic bucket, which is sitting on the floor of my kegerator (ambient temp of about 45F). I've got a FermWrap heating pad taped to the bucket, and and plugged into a Ranco. The probe is taped to the opposite side of the bucket underneath four layers of bubble wrap.

However, the heating pad only covers about 1/2 - 1/3 of the bucket, so I'm heating one side in order to get a reading on the opposite side. Am I overheating the pad-covered half of my beer in order to get the probe-side to show the 60F that I'm after? I'm a little concerned that between the concentration of the heat source on one side, and the natural increase in internal temps during the yeast feast that 60F showing on the outside of my bucket is actually a lot higher towards the middle/heating pad side.

Before my next brew I'll likely pick up a used chest freezer and re-wire my Ranco to control its ambient temps for a proper fermentation chamber, but is this an issue that I need to address for my current brew? Would I be better off plugging the fridge itself into the Ranco to control its ambient temps, and ditch the heating pad altogether? Or am I just worrying too much about this?

Prost!
 

freisste

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I doubt it. If you ever ferment in a carboy you will see the yeast do quite a bit of churning. I would guess there's plenty of convection within the beer to keep the temp uniform.
 

Brendad

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I like to have my fermenter in water. That stabilizes temp well and prevents swings. A regular carboy can fit inside a plastic bucket which would fit in your cooler.
 

frazier

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Instead of fermenting in your kegerator, get a plastic tub at Lowe's or Home Despot, put your bucket in, and fill it part way with water. You can easily mainain the temperature to anywhere from 60 up to room temp by swapping in frozen water bottles when necessary. I did a Scottish Ale at 57* by religiously swapping in three frozen bottles three times a day.

Cheers,
 

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