Where to ferment?

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Weezknight

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I'm getting all of the pieces in place to begin my first homebrewing adventure. My only problem is where I'm going to ferment.

We keep our house at around 62-63 degrees in the Winter. I planned on using my basement as my primary place to ferment. From October through April it runs anywhere from 50-60 degrees. The rest of the year it is 60-70 degrees on average.

So this begs the question, should I only do lagers in the cold months, and do ales in the warmer months? I really don't have any other place to ferment.

Also, is it possible to do lagers without racking to a secondary?
 

SeamusMac

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I make brews that have longer fermentation times in my parent's basement because it's colder than my apartment and I can choose wherein the yeast temperature range I want it to be. The storage room in their basement is 50*F and I use a bucket full of water to immerse most of the carboy with a submersible fish tank heat to keep the water at my preferred temperature.

Right now I have a hard apple cider fermenting at 67*F to avoid some of the undesirable esters I might find if I were to ferment it at 72-72*F.
 
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Weezknight

Weezknight

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I use a bucket full of water to immerse most of the carboy with a submersible fish tank heat to keep the water at my preferred temperature.
Wow! That's a great idea. Any idea of how efficient the aquarium heaters are if they are sitting in a 50-degree basement? I'd hate to think I would be burning out a heater with every batch. Also do you know the brand/size of the heater you are using?

Also is there any chance of the water-bath leeching anything through a plastic bucket fermentor into your beer?
 

woollybugger2

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Your winter temps sound a little too high for lagers and a little low for ales,

+ on the water jacket with fish tank heater
 

EvilTOJ

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There are some ale strains that work in the mid fifties and up fairly well. I know I have two batches fermenting with Nottingham yeast right now in my attic stairwell and it stays at 55-60 pretty consistently. What I would suggest is keeping them near a heat source to keep them a little warmer if it gets really cold in the house. Next to the fridge or freezer is a good spot, along with near the furnace.

There are also brewers belts you can buy that wrap around the fermenting bucket to keep it a tad warmer. Some people have used fish tank thermometers and a water bath to keep the fermenters warm too.


Holy crap you guys are fast!
 

wilserbrewer

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Your basement might just be perfect...perhaps near the furnace or wter heater will put you close to 60. US05 or nottingham will give you a nice clean ferment at high fifties to low sixties.
 
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Weezknight

Weezknight

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Your basement might just be perfect...perhaps near the furnace or wter heater will put you close to 60. US05 or nottingham will give you a nice clean ferment at high fifties to low sixties.
That's the one place I didn't check the temps. Today at lunch I'll put my indoor thermometer in the space between the furnace/boiler & the water heater and see what it says.

Where there's a will (to brew) there is a way, so I will make this work. :)
 

HairyDogBrewing

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I have a similar situation to OP: 50 - 60 in the basement, desired ferment 66 -70.
I'm currently using a 100 watt aquarium heater in a picnic tub.
It's better than nothing, but there are some issues.
1. I should get an ice cube type cooler to reduce the heat loss.
2. The temp in the picnic tub is 10F different from top to bottom, so I should add a stirrer or pump.
 

Homercidal

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Actually, I'd do the initial fermenting at around 60-62 because the yeast will cause some heat on their own. When it starts to slow down after a couple of days, you can move it a bit warmer to finish.

I've also wanted to do that cooler and aquarium heater thing. Sounds decent. You can also buy a brewers belt that wraps around the fermenter and heats it up. I think they sell for around $20 or so.
 

SeamusMac

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Wow! That's a great idea. Any idea of how efficient the aquarium heaters are if they are sitting in a 50-degree basement? I'd hate to think I would be burning out a heater with every batch. Also do you know the brand/size of the heater you are using?

Also is there any chance of the water-bath leeching anything through a plastic bucket fermentor into your beer?
I bought the biggest aquarium heater they had at the pet store, I'm only at my parent's place on the weekends so I'll check the brand/wattage when I'm there this weekend. It has a sucker so I stuck it to the bottom of the bucket in an effort to create some natural circulation and keep the top-bottom temperatures reasonably close. The temperature is perfect at the surface and still well within the temperature range of the yeast so the water at the bottom of the bucket.
 
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Weezknight

Weezknight

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Thanks for all the great responses. I knew I would find good information here. As I said I'm going to take another temperature reading today, and see how much extra "heat" I'll need. Then I'll talk to my LHBS to see if they have the brewer's belt, if not, there's a good aquarium shop really close to my house.
 

rsmith179

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The water and aquarium heater idea has worked wonderfully for quite a few people on the forums. I can't say from experience how well this does, but most of the people that do this have great results. I actually use a BrewBelt for keeping my beer at fermentation temps in the basement during the cold winter months here in Cleveland. The only thing I would recommend if you go this route is to use something to raise your primary off the floor. If your basement goes anywhere from 50-60F, the floor will be even cooler. Actually, if you place the primary on the floor you may very well be able to get your beer to lager temperatures.
 
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Weezknight

Weezknight

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Well the temperatures near the furnace/boiler were slightly better. Nice and cozy 71 degrees right up against the side of the furnace, but in a more practical location it looks like it may be closer to 60-63.

Since it will be my first time brewing, and no matter how much I try, I know I will worry, I will probably go the brewer's belt route to be safe. I'll probably chart the temperature changes for a few months so that I can be more accurate about brewing temps throughout the year.
 

spitfire

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Are there any issues with it being in a basement if it is dusty down there? I do woodworking in my basement and have an area under the stairs that i could box in to keep most of the dust out and then I could use the brewers belt to hit my target temp.

Does the brewers belt get really hot or is it more like a heated blanket, just holds a constant temp?
 
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Weezknight

Weezknight

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Does the brewers belt get really hot or is it more like a heated blanket, just holds a constant temp?
I was just reading about the BrewBelt. It says you shouldn't use it for more than 8 days continuously. I'm not sure what you're supposed to do if you need to keep the temps up for longer than that. Unless you give it a rest for 1-day and hope all the yeast doesn't go dormant before plugging it in again.

There is also a Fermwrap that I saw, but I don't know if that can be used continuously either.

At least the aquarium heaters I've seen are run sort of like a thermostat, so they will turn on and off as necessary.
 

woollybugger2

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Dust and other external conditions have no effect on the sealed (airlock) environment of your brew... just don't let any contaminants fell in when your racking and you'll be good.

I've got three great batches from an anything but sterile environment.... just sanitize your equipment, bottles, and anything that comes in contact with the beer and you'll be good!

=============

Bottled: Belgian Tripel, Hefeweizen
Secondary: Brown Ale
Primary: empty
On Deck: Belgian Tripel, Smoked Porter
 

spitfire

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Dust and other external conditions have no effect on the sealed (airlock) environment of your brew... just don't let any contaminants fell in when your racking and you'll be good.

I've got three great batches from an anything but sterile environment.... just sanitize your equipment, bottles, and anything that comes in contact with the beer and you'll be good!

Thanks for the info, I will be doing everything in my kitchen but the actual fermenting itself so I should be good.
 
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Weezknight

Weezknight

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Well I'm pulling my own thread back up again. I'm wondering if anyone knows the dimensions of the normal "Ale Pails" that people use. I'm looking to set my fermentor inside of an Igloo cooler, and use the aquarium heater. I want to be sure, though, that the cooler I'm looking at will fit the run-of-the-mill bucket fermentors.

I'm looking at the Igloo Ice Cube (50-75 can version). The dimensions are: 17.75" x 17.25" x 18.94".

Anyone have experience with this cooler, or have any suggestions for another make/model?
 
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