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Temp control during fermentation

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Fenster

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I live in Southern California, and even this time of year the temps in my upstairs condo are around 80F.

I realize that temps in this range can produce some undesired fruity flavors, especially because the fermentor is going to be warmer than the ambient air.
The problem is space. I don't have enough room for a tub to fill with water and ice packs, and I don't have room for a beer fridge. I don't want to leave the AC on all day either, so does anyone have a suggestion on how to get around this problem? :confused:

Thanks.

PS: the garage is downstairs and I don't feel like lugging carboys up and down either!
 

TheJadedDog

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Try getting a 70qt Igloo Ice Cube cooler and either using a dremel to cur the lid to fit your carboy or making new lids out of polystyrene board. The cooler footprint is about the same as a 6.5 gallon carboy and a 1L bottle of ice per day should keep your temps down if the ambient air is 80deg.
 

Germey

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I am still fermenting in a closet in the garage, which, like you, spends a good amount of time in the 80's. During the day, I have been putting a 1 gallon bucket of water that I froze the night before in the closet with the fermenter, then wrapping them both with a sleeping bag. I am not doing real time monitoring or anything, but it seems to be doing the trick. the bucket is always melted at the end of the day, but still cool. Just make sure you take the condensation into consideration.
The other thing to keep in mind is that it takes a long time for 5 gallons of water to change temperature. Your fermentation temperature is really the average temperature over the 24 hours. If your condo gets up to 85 from about 9am to 5 when you come home, then you kick on the AC when you're home, you might be OK if you just insulate the fermenter during the warm hours and let it soak up the cool the rest of the time.
Cheers,
Jeremy
 

BrewDey

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On this note-does anyone who's used this method of immersing the fermentor into a keg bucket with frozen water bottles have any idea as to what 'x' amount of ice will yeild in terms of temparature of the fermentor?

I've got a Dubbel up next and it calls for a day at 68 degrees, then down to 60, then up to 68 for the rest of the fermentation. I've heard that wlp500 is pretty sensitive, and I want to get it as close as possible. The ambient temp of the basement now is low-mid 70s.
 

San Jose State University

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I live in CA, too, and have had to deal with this problem. You can decide if you want to deal with it the way I do.

Wetting a T-Shirt and sticking it over the carboy, then setting a small fan to blow on it can lower the temperature about 15 deg F. The only thing is that you need to re-wet the shirt once in the morning (and once at night if it's not cool enough at night, either).

The evaporation will cool the sucker down.

(The good thing about CA is that the dry air makes evaporation a real good way to go)
 
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Fenster

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Cheers to the Spartan!

I had wondered if convective cooling would be enough to bring the temp down enough...it's certainly cheaper then buying another cooler.

Thanks for the idea!
 

shafferpilot

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keep an eye on ebay.com and craigslist.org for a cheap air conditioner. I just picked one up for a whopping $5. I'm building an insulated lager box, but you could use a big cardboard box. Those can be found in back of any appliance store in town. cut a hole in the side of the box to fit the A/C and adjust till you get the right temp. Total investment: $5 Happy yeast: priceless
 

simplecj

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Germey said:
I am not doing real time monitoring or anything, but it seems to be doing the trick.
...
Cheers,
Jeremy
You should spend a few bucks and get temp strips to stick on the side of your fermenters. That way real-time temp monitoring is as simple as looking at the fermenter. Personally I think the ease of monitoring is worth the investment!

ALSO, you don't really need the huge ones brew supply shops sell, a smaller fish tank temp strip will work just fine and probably cost less...
 

Germey

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simplecj said:
You should spend a few bucks and get temp strips to stick on the side of your fermenters. That way real-time temp monitoring is as simple as looking at the fermenter. Personally I think the ease of monitoring is worth the investment!

ALSO, you don't really need the huge ones brew supply shops sell, a smaller fish tank temp strip will work just fine and probably cost less...
Hmm, let me clarify. I've got the strip. but I am gone from about 5am to 6pm. I asked SWMBO to check it every 10 minutes for me...her response would be censored here. I don't think it is getting too cold during the day, and it is not too hot when I get home, but who knows what it is doing during the day.
Cheers,
Jeremy
 

simplecj

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Germey said:
Hmm, let me clarify. I've got the strip. but I am gone from about 5am to 6pm. I asked SWMBO to check it every 10 minutes for me...her response would be censored here. I don't think it is getting too cold during the day, and it is not too hot when I get home, but who knows what it is doing during the day.
Cheers,
Jeremy
You could get one of those little digital thermometers that tracks min and max temps and just set it on top or near your fermenter and check it when you get home in the evening.

Just a suggestion, I didn't actually mean check it every ten minutes.

Because the specific heat of water is very high, mild fluctuations of ambient temp will have little effect on your brew. A 10 degree swing during the hottest parts of the day might only result in a 2-3 degree change in your brew, as long as it's stable in the morning and evenings at proper temps you're probably ok. BUT, 80 F is kind of high and if it peaks above 85 during the day, you probably need to do something to cool it down... hot condos with no basement makes that hard as I'm sure you don't have room for an insulated box...

I tried to cool my mead down by placing ice packs around it and wrapping it with a towel, but it didn't even drop it a single degree over two days. Ambient temps will dominate unless you can submerge a good amount of your fermenter with cold water and maintain the temps (you could possibly get it too cold). Otherwise you'll still end up with large fluctuations in temp as the ice water will also reach equilibrium with ambient room temps within 24 hours... which from my understanding can stall your fermentation if it fluctuates too much...

A mini air conditioner blowing into a closet with a thermostat regulator on it would be a good deal if you could manage it in your condo.

I also like the wet t-shirt idea... maybe use a thick towel to hold more water and stick a fan on it. Of course if humidity is high where you live, this will not work that well just like swamp coolers don't work where it's humid... I'm assuming California is pretty humid...

Temps are key... Mine ferment around 70-72 F in my basement...
 

acepilot

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I asked SWMBO to check it every 10 minutes for me...her response would be censored here. I don't think it is getting too cold during the day, and it is not too hot when I get home, but who knows what it is doing during the day.
Cheers,
Jeremy
Sounds like it might be a bit "chilly" ;)
 

Bacchus

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I live in Southern California, and even this time of year the temps in my upstairs condo are around 80F.

I realize that temps in this range can produce some undesired fruity flavors, especially because the fermentor is going to be warmer than the ambient air.
The problem is space. I don't have enough room for a tub to fill with water and ice packs, and I don't have room for a beer fridge. I don't want to leave the AC on all day either, so does anyone have a suggestion on how to get around this problem? :confused:

Thanks.

PS: the garage is downstairs and I don't feel like lugging carboys up and down either!
Your best bet is to try and climate control a small area. Living up here on the central coast (Monterey) of CA, I have the opposite problem. It's freezing-assed cold here just about year round and so I had to build a cabinet in my garage that I keep at a constant 70F with a small space heater. Pick a closet or a corner of your garage or basement and then look online for a cheap heater/air conditioner that you can use to maintain the proper temp for brewing. I think wetting t-shirts twice a day would get old really fast. LOL!!!
 

EricCSU

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I use a large rubbermaid style storage container filled with water (illustrated in this post with pics on post 28) I place the better bottle carboy with an adhesive temp strip (placed at the 5 gallon level, as high as it can be placed and still be touching beer on the other side), in the storage container and then fill it with room temp water up to about 3 inches below the thermometer. That gives enough room to add ice (or hot water) bottles without putting water up to the level of the thermometer.

This technique has worked very well for me with temp control. I can keep the carboy up to 20 below ambient without too much of a problem.

Experience will help you determine how many bottles you need to produce what temp change. I can tell you what I do, but it is also highly variable on the ambient temp, water temp, stage of fermentation, gravity of beer, and type of yeast. So, my experience will be of little use to you.

You will only need to check the temp every couple hours or so during the first couple days of fermentation. After that, you will be ok with checking every 6-8 hours.

I will probably get a chest freezer for temp control, but only because I want to cold crash and start brewing lagers. This technique by itself works pretty well for fermenting any ale.

Eric
 

StAnthonyB

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Hmm, let me clarify. I've got the strip. but I am gone from about 5am to 6pm. I asked SWMBO to check it every 10 minutes for me...her response would be censored here. I don't think it is getting too cold during the day, and it is not too hot when I get home, but who knows what it is doing during the day.
Cheers,
Jeremy


Yes, but Carlsbad on friggin' beautiful nearly every day of the year.

I miss the Boar's Crossing!

:cross:
 

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