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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2012 * Archive through April 03, 2012 * Maintaining Lager Fermentation Temperature < Previous Next >

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Jonathan White
Junior Member
Username: Jonathanwhite

Post Number: 86
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 74.182.33.208
Posted on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - 02:13 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I have a 10 cubic foot chest freezer, with a 2 x 10 wooden collar, that I use for serving. I usually have the temperature set at 48 degrees.

Three times I have fermented a five gallon batch of Your Father's Moustache in it, at 48 degrees, and it has worked well.

I place the temperature sensor of the Ranco controller onto the side of my fermenter under some pipe insulation and secure it with a bungee cord. I have had good sucess with this method.

I recently brewed a ten gallon batch of Bohemian Pilsner and placed it into the same freezer. On Brew Day I tried to chill the wort down to 45 degrees; but, was only able to get down to 52 degrees for various reasons. I put the fermenter into the freezer hoping to get the temperature down from 52 to 48 or so. Not only could I not get the temperature to go down any, I am having a tough time maintaining 52 degrees. It's been ferminting for 19 days now. The temperature is currently at 55 degrees, and except for when I go in and change the temperature setting up, to give the compressor a break, the compressor has been running constantly for almost three weeks now.

I didn't anticipate this problem; but, upon reflection, it does not surprise me. I don't know how these types of freezers are rated; but, the exothermic reaction of eleven gallons of beer fermenting seems to be the equal of the compressor in this one.

I have room for two Corny kegs in the freezer when using this fermenter. When I first put the fermenter into the freezer, there were two kegs in the freezer each with about 2 1/2 gallons of beer in them at 48 degrees. It really wasn't enough thermal mass to have much effect.

Last week, I took a keg of IPA I had in my lagering refrigerator at 33 degrees and put it into the freezer with the Bo Pils. I was able to lower the temperature about two degrees; but, since the IPA has warmed to ambient temperature in the freezer, I'm back to fighting a losing battle over fermentation temperature.

I obviously have the ability to ferment five gallons of lager in my freezer. What's a fellow to do if he wants to ferment ten gallons of lager?
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 13756
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.150.9.127
Posted on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - 03:05 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The short answer is to reserve your chest freezer for serving, and buy a larger refrigerator for fermenting. Check your local online classifieds for used fridges. They're not super efficient in terms of electricity consumption, but the purchase price is right, and they will allow you to ferment and lager 10 gallon batches.
 

Dave Witt
Senior Member
Username: Davew

Post Number: 1660
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 24.7.227.140
Posted on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - 03:08 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Sounds like your freezer might be low on freon, which might mean the end of it if the coil is rusted through. After all, it is a freezer, it should be able to chill any amount of beer to 45 deg with no problem.
 

JimTanguay
Advanced Member
Username: Pizzaman

Post Number: 788
Registered: 02-2003
Posted From: 98.232.11.148
Posted on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - 07:01 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I agree with Dave, something is wrong with your freezer. It should have no problem cooling 10 gallons to well below freezing. Maybe the lid is not closing all the way?
 

Steve Haun
Intermediate Member
Username: Stevehaun

Post Number: 430
Registered: 02-2003
Posted From: 174.63.146.63
Posted on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - 01:20 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I have two sears chest freezers. I routinely ferment 20 gallons in one and 15 gallons in the other. I have no problem getting to 50F and maintaining that temp. When I brew lagers I chill them to 60F, pitch my yeast and use the freezer to chill to 50F. It takes about 8 hours. I agree with Dave and Jim that something is wrong with your freezer.
 

Jack Horzempa
Member
Username: Jack_horzempa

Post Number: 188
Registered: 02-2007
Posted From: 68.82.57.55
Posted on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - 02:45 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I think you have your ‘answer’ that your freezer is not functioning properly.

What you can do in the near term is utilize ice to augment the cooling capacity of your freezer. Before refrigerators were invented people would use iceboxes to keep their food cold. You will need to ‘swap out’ jugs of ice on a regular basis (every day or two). I have a CAP lagering right now in my Son of Fermentation Chiller and with just using ice I am lagering at less than 40°F.

Good luck with your Bohemian Pilsner.

Cheers!
 

Ken Anderson
Senior Member
Username: Ken75

Post Number: 1982
Registered: 11-2002
Posted From: 76.189.235.103
Posted on Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 02:40 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Jonathan, is your freezer indoors or outside?

Both of my chest freezers went kaput on me. One I had bought new. Short life span. My postmortem guess is that they failed because I kept them in the outside garage, exposed to freezing temperatures when not in use.

On the topic of failed freezers, anyone know if outside freezing temperatures can cause them harm?
 

Dave Hacker
Senior Member
Username: Dhacker

Post Number: 2553
Registered: 11-2002
Posted From: 99.117.36.145
Posted on Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 03:15 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

anyone know if outside freezing temperatures can cause them harm?

That almost seems oxymoronic!

I have a 25 cu. ft. Whirlpool chest I got used 4 years ago and it sits out in the Brew House garage. It works perfectly to this day for a ferment chamber. It has done lagering during summers . . (especially last year) where the ambient has been well over one hundred degrees. I will say that I do not run it during the winter, though it is subjected to sub-freezing temps. There may be some sort of negative impact issue running any sort of cooling compressor when the ambient temp is below 40 . . one reason some HVAC units have a low temp cutout on the condenser fan. Maybe an HVAC expert can chime in . . .
 

Tim C.
Member
Username: Timc

Post Number: 245
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 50.4.241.153
Posted on Saturday, March 24, 2012 - 12:52 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The older freezers and refrigerators were nearly indestructible and could be kept outside. I am not sure when this changed. Newer models are specifically rated for 10 degrees and above. It was explained to me the oils in the compressor were not made for the low temperatures. The plus side of the newer models is they use much less electricity. You can still buy newer models rated for a garage (-10 F), however they are more expensive any use more electricity.