Temp control for an open fermentation chamber

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

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

Gadjobrinus

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2017
Messages
6,108
Reaction score
6,258
Location
Madison
OK, against better wisdom, I'm going to try to ferment in my former cheese cave, which is in our basement. I was an idiot and bought a refrigerator without thinking of its height - "it's a "full size" fridge. Great!", and discovered it's a very tight fit with just the corny post/converted keg setup. Whether blowoff or airlock, or even open ferment, it's either too short or not deep enough to handle outlet valves, etc. So it's now a great storage or conditioning fridge, and I'd rather ferment inside anyway.

Moves me to my old cheese cave, which I built when I was doing traditional French alpine cheeses. Obviously before one drop of wort goes into the chamber, it's going to be hit with a sanitation regime it never expected. Moving on.

I currently have an Inkbird running with a small ceramic heater. The cave, and our basement, is about 55F so I'm checking in an hour or so to see how well the setup heats the cave to fermentation temp.

I have a monster AC, which I used when doing the cheese. It was controlled with a coolbot. I don't know if the Inkbird can handle an AC of this demand, but if not, I have the coolbot.

Now my question: AC's always gather dust, beasties, etc. If I end up having to use the AC for this, any suggestions for eliminating this airborne contamination problem?

I'd rather build an internal attemperator, in part to avoid this issue of an AC blowing everything all over the place. Separate attemperators would also obviously allow me to ferment at different temps. But I'm clueless here and have spent quite a bit already; hoping to avoid major investment in a glycol system, etc. Is there a fairly straightforward (and cost-effective, read: cheap), way to do this internal attemperation?

Finally, it's been asked before, but I'm still wondering on a good pumping solution to both rouse the yeast (as in a Yorkshire Square) and move the beer from the open fermentor to a dry-hop and/or conditioning vessel. I dismissed a centrifugal pump, like the Chugger, before, but I'm not sure why I did - wouldn't it work? I seem to recall suggestions for a peristaltic pump, too. Honestly - what kind of pump do commercial brewers use to transfer beer between vessels?
 

SanPancho

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2014
Messages
2,703
Reaction score
824
Location
West Coast Island in the Bay
im not sure, but i think inkbird and AC units dont go together if you run them as actual AC units. but if you have an AC unit, you can easily turn that into a glycol chiller with only a small bit of AC service. pretty easy.

im not clear if your cave stays 55F on its own? or only with the AC going?

fermentation vessel is going to dictate alot of what you can or cant do. any ideas on what those will be? kind of hard to give you ideas without knowing what those are going to be.
 
OP
OP
G

Gadjobrinus

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2017
Messages
6,108
Reaction score
6,258
Location
Madison
im not sure, but i think inkbird and AC units dont go together if you run them as actual AC units. but if you have an AC unit, you can easily turn that into a glycol chiller with only a small bit of AC service. pretty easy.

im not clear if your cave stays 55F on its own? or only with the AC going?

fermentation vessel is going to dictate alot of what you can or cant do. any ideas on what those will be? kind of hard to give you ideas without knowing what those are going to be.

OK thanks, SanPancho. Yeah, that's what I was wondering, re: the Inkbird. Yes, it varies seasonally, but basically it's an unheated and unfinished basement that hovers around 55F. I have additional insulation and so forth in this cave, and when I turned the Inkbird on (heating mode - going to go down and see if this little ceramic heater can heat the room to 65-67F), it seemed promising, at least in terms of heating.

So, if I keep the AC, it's coolbot control. This worked perfectly when cheesemaking but again, I've got contamination concerns via the effectively poor air filtration of the AC.

I have an 8 gallon (of usable volume) square with t/c valve, bought through the kindness of a member here for a song. I am also thinking of just using my MLT - a 20 gallon spike vessel. While the BK is boiling, would clean and sanitize the vessel and use that for the open fermentor. It's almost perfect, IMO, close to 1:1. Actually shallower, since I get about 11.5 gallons into the vessel, at pitch.

Hope this helps provide better information. Is there a kind of glycol chiller from an AC for dummies?
 

ancientmariner52

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 6, 2014
Messages
1,283
Reaction score
1,130
Location
Western Arkansas
I don't know if this will help. Years ago I belonged to a model railroad club. Our rather huge layout was a nightmare for collecting dust. We spent more time cleaning than running trains, I think. We (mostly) solved the problem with some cheap box fans and 20in furnace filters. The fans just sat on the floor and ran 24-7, recircing the air through the filters. Much better air quality.
 

SanPancho

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2014
Messages
2,703
Reaction score
824
Location
West Coast Island in the Bay
got it. well in that case i'd say you dont even need to bother with a climate system. with the right yeast, 55F ambient is fine for lagers. and since ales are higher, basically you will always be warming the wort to ferment temp. (or leaving at ambient for lagers)

so what you need is actually heat. heating pads, fermwrap,etc. you're going to need to heat the vessel to bring them up to ale temps. just wrap the pad around the square or the kettle/tun, then wrap that with a blanket or beach towel to insulate it a bit.

and it sounds like you wont have any dust problem as there'll be no air movement required if you use a wrap.

again, you'll need something to crash in (assuming you crash your beers) but that could be a mini fridge or small chest cooler. so from what you're telling us, it sounds like if you get some heating pads without the auto shutoff, and maybe a chest cooler off craigslist for cheap, and you should be in business.

as for the pumps, big breweries generally use centrifugal. but they are variable speed so you can move the beer gently. although in tank to tank transfer, most dont use a pump at all but just push it with co2/n2. not an option for you tho.

peristaltic pumps are great, and are self priming typically, but really expensive in stainless. there is a small winery pump that is self priming and peristaltic but made of plastic. morebeer sells one.
 
Top