Temperature control

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Bacchusuga

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I just brewed my third batch yesterday and I keep reading more and more about how to improve my beer. I've read a lot about temperature control during fermentation and how different temperature work better for different yeasts. What are some tricks for temperature control? This time of year is tricky in Georgia. Some days the outside temp is up to 80+ and some days its mid 60s. I store my beer in the dining room in a plastic fermenter.
 

FrewBrew

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Usually a well insulated closed off closet or basement works well. Another important thing to consider is you should avoid sunlight as much as possible; Im sure you're not getting that in the dining room.
 

BobBailey

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Best thing you can do is get a used fridge and a 2 stage temp. controller. If you're a serious brewer you'll get one sooner or later. Why not do it sooner?
 

Sheldon

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will a temp controller enable the fermenter to maintain temps between 60 and low 70's as some yeasts prefer? I can see how it would help keep temps low, but I would like this re-assurance.

gracias,

Sheldon
 

tdogg

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do you have a basement? usually a basement is steady enough for most ales. also, do you have a stick-on thermometer on your fermenter?

the thermostat controls override the temp control on a fridge or freezer so you can set it at whatever you want, as long as its at or below the ambient temp.
 

coypoo

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will a temp controller enable the fermenter to maintain temps between 60 and low 70's as some yeasts prefer? I can see how it would help keep temps low, but I would like this re-assurance.

gracias,

Sheldon
Yes. The temp controller just turns the fridge on when it is above the temp set point. Especially in GA you can feasibly maintain any temp you want from 48-80 before you only have to worry about cooling it down. In CO in the winter getting the fridge warm enough can be the issue. If you are going to go down that route, I would suggest buying an un-wired temp controller and wiring it yourself. I have zero electrical experience and was able to do it easily with the help of pictures/videos/walkthroughs from this fourm and other websites.

If you dont want to spend any money, do a search for "swamp cooler." Its basically submergering 60% or so of your fermenter in water and then using ice packs/frozen 2L bottles to keep the temp down. The water helps keep the beer colder as well as prevent temp swings due to changs in ambient air.

If you can, I would suggest the temp controller method. Much easier, you dont have to babysit the beer and everyone always says they wished they would have done it sooner
 

ayoungrad

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I live outside Boston but in a hermetically sealed condo. Temps (as my wife and I set them) vary 68-77 degrees depending on the time of year. With a digital Johnson Controller and a mini-frig I have all the temp control I need (but I have not done batches needing temps over 68 degrees). Keep in mind that an ambient temp of 70 means a temp of anywhere from 73 to 80 in the bucket during fermentation.

Also, the controller I have is simple (about $70). Plug your frig into the controller outlet instead of the wall outlet, set the temp on the controller and you are done. No wiring skills needed.
 

Sheldon

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Thanks for the good info. I need to find a mini or small frig for temp controlled fermentation. One of the details I have not mastered in my brewing (good beer) experience.
 

coypoo

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Thanks for the good info. I need to find a mini or small frig for temp controlled fermentation. One of the details I have not mastered in my brewing (good beer) experience.
I think that fermentation is probably the most important aspect of brewing. You will see the difference when you start controlling the temp well. Be patient and watch CL for deals
 

EricT

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Here in San Diego I have the same issue with fluctuating temps. I keep my freezer (fermentation chamber) in a storage closet outside. When it dips to the 40's it gets way too cool for ale, so I just throw a heating pad in there on the lowest setting (not touching the carboy) and if it starts to get too warm I just wedge the top open a bit. It takes a little babysitting this way but if I had a 2 stage temp controller I could easily set that up to to heat/cool as necessary. So I recommend biting the bullet and getting the 2 stage controller and a chest freezer.
 

aggiejay06

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I also go for the swamp cooler method with the frozen 2 liter bottles. $3 for a stick-on thermometer is an excellent investment so you can monitor the temp better. I also like to have the thermometer above the water level but still up against the beer...
 

BobBailey

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will a temp controller enable the fermenter to maintain temps between 60 and low 70's as some yeasts prefer? I can see how it would help keep temps low, but I would like this re-assurance.

gracias,

Sheldon
I use a Ranco digital controller. I bought it wired, but it's cheap and easy to wire one yourself. You just plug the fridge into one stage and a heating device into the other. For heating I use a 50 watt mini Halogen spot.

Here in Northwestern Nevada we range from over 100 in the summer to around 0 in the winter and I'm able to maintain temperature within a 2 degree range regardless of outside temperature, and my fermentation fridge is in an uninsulated shed. Just a few seconds to change your temp settings too.

If your fridge is indoors and you keep the house above 65 or so, a single stage is all you'll ever need. I have a Johnson Control analog controler I use with my keezer and it works well too. Much cheaper too if that's all you need and it's even faster to change settings than the digital.

Bob
 

funkswing

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I live in GA and all you need is the one stage Johnson control unit (analog one is fine, and the cheapest) and a spare fridge/chest freezer (i would go fridge b/c there is less of a mold problem in our humid-ass summers). The control unit is <$70 and well worth it! You can prolly craiglists or ask around for a nearly free fridge.

It truly is the best investment for homebrewing.
 

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