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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2003 * September 29, 2003 * Fermenting in a fridge < Previous Next >

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W. G. (67.34.112.60)
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 11:22 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hi,
I found an old fridge on the side of the road with a sticker on it that said "I work, take me home". And so I did.

I plan on using it to place my carboy in throughout the fermentation process. Currently, I am trying to throttle it high enough to be between 65-70 degrees.

I know there is a device for controlling the temperature, but I was curious if the temperature can stay fairly consistent without the usage of the device. I have been checking the temperature regularly and it seems to be holding at 55, but I am unable to check at various times during the day, only the same times at night.

The fridge is in my garage in Miami, Fl. The temperature in the garage can reach 85+ during the day .

~l
 

don price (65.32.41.226)
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 11:30 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Sounds like you have a lagering fridge. I use a Ranco temperature controller to turn my chest freezer into an ale fermentation chamber (60-65F). It should work for an old fridge but freezers seem to be the more common choice.

FYI - 55F is fine for the "colder" ale yeasts or "warmer" lager yeasts. Why fight it?

Don
 

Chris Vejnovich (207.94.179.129)
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 02:22 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Here's a question for all of you out there who make temp control during fermentation a premium part of your brewing. I know that during very active fermentation that your beer's actual temp can be as much as 10 degrees higher than your ambient temp. So how have some of you overcome this in your fridge. Have you just turned down the Ranco controller? Or have any of you tried commercial items like the stainless steel carboy probe that B3 sells which allows you to pluge the temp probe virtually right into the middle of the beer?

Right now I just ferment the low tech way with wet t-shirts and reusable ice packs put around my plastic fermenter. I have a fridge with temp control, but it is usually packed with kegs so the temp is kept too cold for ales, but just right for lagers.
 

Fredrik (213.114.44.237)
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 04:38 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Do you think it would be desirable to keep the wort temp constant by big force? I am doubtful. I think the cooling force itself means stress as in temperature gradients. In my last two batches I had the fermentor cooled by a high airflow of 55F air, the room temp was 77F. The cooling power was big, but I found out that though I was able to keep the temperature below good inside the fermentor. The induced temperature stress caused fermentation to almost halt after top activity, and the finishing took almost 4 weeks. At least it's my theory that the cause was the temp stress.

I am going to do some more testing in my next batch, I belive in smooth cooling, not too forced cooling. With smooth cooling I think a slight temp increase is unavoidable.

/Fredrik
 

Robert R. Heinlein (205.188.208.73)
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 10:13 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I ferment my pils # 53 degrees by means of a temp controller. Never any off-flavors and it ferments steadily .
I condition my ales at 43 degrees. I think the yeast you choose is the biggest factor of success.
...No, I don't probe the actual temp when fermenting in the fridge. But when I ferment ales in the conical I only see about 3-4 degrees rise in temperature. I have a threaded mount thermometer in the sidewall about 70% of the way up. This is said to be the bost active zone to take a reading...
Cheers, Bob
 

Robert R. Heinlein (205.188.208.73)
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 10:15 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I ferment my pils # 53 degrees by means of a temp controller. Never any off-flavors and it ferments steadily .
I condition my ales at 43 degrees. I think the yeast you choose is the biggest factor of success.
...No, I don't probe the actual temp when fermenting in the fridge. But when I ferment ales in the conical I only see about 3-4 degrees rise in temperature. I have a threaded mount thermometer in the sidewall about 70% of the way up. This is said to be the bost active zone to take a reading...
Cheers, Bob

Robert Heinlein
Kennywood Brewing Supply
Visit our website @
http://www.kennywoodbrew.com/
 

Robert R. Heinlein (205.188.208.73)
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 10:15 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I ferment my pils # 53 degrees by means of a temp controller. Never any off-flavors and it ferments steadily .
I condition my ales at 43 degrees. I think the yeast you choose is the biggest factor of success.
...No, I don't probe the actual temp when fermenting in the fridge. But when I ferment ales in the conical I only see about 3-4 degrees rise in temperature. I have a threaded mount thermometer in the sidewall about 70% of the way up. This is said to be the most active zone to take a reading...
Cheers, Bob

Robert Heinlein
Kennywood Brewing Supply
Visit our website @
http://www.kennywoodbrew.com/
 

Andrew Bales (199.64.0.252)
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 12:21 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

If you are a hands on kind of guy that works on stuff, you can get into the temperature control element and swap some resistors to make it work as you want it too. This would provide you with the full range of 34F to 65F probably, using 1-2 potentiometers (variable resistor trim pot). I just went and bought the contoller years back becuase at the time I wanted a heat circuit as well as cold. Now that I don't need additional heat at times, if/when the $90 controller breaks I will just hack into the fridge resistor setup and swap some of the values. Look into this if your the type. A few web sites, Ohm meter, some resistors and a radio shack catalog and your good to go. You will tire of cold feremnted ales. Your post here should get more answers and someone will know a site that tells you how to.
 

Dan Mossman (171.75.169.134)
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 12:22 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I am a big fan of the Johnson Controls A419 electronic temp. control. It cost me $49, is digital and fully programmable. It was relatively easy to wire up (ask if you have any questions). I think there is a wiring diagram on Skotrats site. I've lagered in a fridge with it, as well as used a room with an air conditioner to ferment several ales at 68 deg. in the middle of summer. I love it and would recommend it to anyone. Check it out

www.johnsoncontrols.com

You are right that active fermentations crank out the heat. I simply use the stick-on carboy thermometer, and set the controller a few degrees cooler than what I want. I works well for me. However, be careful to completely cool your wort to the temp that you want if you pitch on a cake, because the ferm. can be explosive and is tricky to bring back down to temp.

Hope this helps!

---Brew it up!
-Dan
 

Dan Mossman (171.75.169.134)
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 12:26 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Oh yeah- the A419 has both heating and cooling capabilities by just moving a "jumper" in the unit. Super easy.

---Brew it up!
-Dan
 

Andrew Bales (199.64.0.252)
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 12:28 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I use a fridge for ales, the wine cellar in the winter for lagers (45F) and the garage in the spring and fall for Belgains(75F).

Don't forget you can expand that fridge by adding a wooden insulated unit to the front after you remove the door. This will expand your lagering capacity to double or tripple. The fridge will survive just fine, the door is never open anyway really so it never comes under a load strain like the one in the kitchen. I rarely run mine under 65F so I did not even insulate it.
 

Chris Vejnovich (198.203.245.8)
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 03:21 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I have to admit that I have always questioned the validity of the those stick on liquid crystal thermometers. I guess I will have to do some tests against my thermometer that I use during the mash to see how accurate that it is. I've never had a real problem with fermentation temps affecting beer flavor. My ambient temps in my fermenting room is usually 63-66F during the winter months here and about 70-72F during the summer. I'm simply looking for ways to tweak my system and and fermentation practices to see if it makes any difference in my beer flavor/quality.
 

Todd Metcalf (129.42.208.182)
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 07:24 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Silly question....
For those that use the temp controller with a refridgerator. I see that the normal mode of operation has the fridge around 40F, if you use the controller to operate the fridge around 48-53 does the freezer part of the refridgerator become useless?

I'm thinking of the standard refridgerator with the separate freezer section above, not some large dorm type.

The reason I'm asking is my girlfriend gave me the green light to use it for a draft system, as long as the freezer part was still used as a freezer. (ie minimal frosted beer glasses)
 

Denny Conn (140.211.82.4)
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 07:35 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Yes, the freezer won't freeze any longer if the fridge temp that high. In most fridges, the refrigerator cooling is ducted down from the freezer. The warmer the fridge needs to be, the warmer the freezer needs to be.
 

Belly Buster Bob (142.177.86.151)
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 07:37 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Todd: The freezer in mine is now useless, as a matter of fact it is a pain. Every time the fridge comes on to cool down a few degrees the frezer part gets frost on it. When the controller turns the fridge off, the frost melts and I have water in the bottom of my fridge. (tray under freezer gone years ago) Anything more than freezing and the freezer will not keep cold enough. Frosted glasses ruin good beer anyway
 

Tom Sell (170.222.244.158)
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 08:01 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

A quick word of caution about old fridges. I got one from a friend, spent an afternoon modifying it to fit four cornies and taps, and the next month I saw my electricity bill go up by almost $40. I know that power is expensive in Vermont ( a silly contract with Hydro-Quebec) but 40 dollars a month to keep my beer cold was too much. I just bought a 9 cu ft chest freezer for 170 dollars with an annual power consumption rated at 24 dollars per year. I figure it will pay for itself in 8 months, including the Ranco controller.

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