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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2005 * Archive through March 25, 2005 * Liquid Cooled Lagering Chamber < Previous Next >

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Peter Roman
Advanced Member
Username: Lilbordr

Post Number: 626
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2005 - 07:45 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Greetings fellas,
I was just curious about something I was thinking about the other day. Say I wanted to ferment 15 gal of lager at 50F. Now say that all I have to work with is a mini fridge, a cold plate, my brew pump, and my ranco temp controller. Now would it be possible to put the fermenter in a larger bucket, fill it with water, and then circulate the water through the cold plate, and back into the bucket? I would use the temp controller to regulate the pump cycle so that it stay close to 50F. I was just curious if anyone had ever heard of this. For a smaller system, could I use an immersion chiller in the fermenting wort, and run the cold water through that, leaving a reservoir in the mini fridge? Any input or conjecture would be appreciated.

Cheers to MacGuyver Brewing!
Peter Roman
 

Roger Herpst
Junior Member
Username: Roger456

Post Number: 60
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2005 - 09:01 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Dude, check out the Minifridge extension thread in the Photo gallery. It has more to do with duct tape than it does with MacGuyver (and even less to do with MacGuyver mullets).

You could easily modify your minifridge to accept your 15gal fermenter (or split the batch into 5gal sets even more easily, with the added bonus of the opportunity for yeast experimentation). If you go the 15 gal route, I would recommend you use plywood, rather than rigid insulation, as the surface upon which you set the fermenter.
 

Roger Herpst
Junior Member
Username: Roger456

Post Number: 61
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2005 - 09:02 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The downside, of course, is that you have to buy (or mooch) rigid insulation, liquid nails, and silicone. Of course, you should have the duct tape. Precious, precious, duct tape.
 

Peter Roman
Advanced Member
Username: Lilbordr

Post Number: 628
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2005 - 09:17 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hmm. What about going with the immersed chiller concept, and wrapping the fermenting bucket with sheet neophreme? That would insulate it pretty well I would think. I'm just curious because next year I won't have access to any fridge big enough to fit my 15 gal fermenter.

Cheers,
Peter Roman
 

Pete Mazurowski
Junior Member
Username: Pete_maz

Post Number: 64
Registered: 07-2003
Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2005 - 09:26 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Would you really want to run your pump that much? I've read where others have said that the pumps aren't really meant for continuous duty. Even if it did cycle on & off, you'd be wearing your pump out much faster by using it for the entire lagering period. That kinda brings up another point, what is the life expectancy of a typical pump?
 

Vance Barnes
Senior Member
Username: Vancebarnes

Post Number: 1502
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2005 - 09:50 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

This has been kicked around before if you search on glycol chilling. You would have cleaning and sanitation issues with the IC in the fermentor. Plus your IC is probably copper which you don't want to have in contact with the fermenting wort.

I made 2 insulated boxes to go in front of my mini fridge. One holds 1- 5 gal bucket and the other 2-5 gal buckets. Put a computer fan inside the fridge wired to a timer that cycles on and off every 3 hours. Right now I have a kolsch going at 60. It will definately not get down to lager temps with the fridge I have. Maintains about 65-66 during the summer when the temps a little warmer in the basement.
 

Wortgames
Junior Member
Username: Wortgames

Post Number: 68
Registered: 06-2003
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2005 - 12:32 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Vance, why wouldn't you want copper in contact with the fermenting wort?!
Wortgames is an independent home brewer, and has no commercial interests in the brewing arena. In fact, brewing is largely a gadget-based obsession that places a significant burden on his resources.
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 2696
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2005 - 01:15 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

There was someone here a few years back who built a copper conical fermenter.
 

Peter Roman
Advanced Member
Username: Lilbordr

Post Number: 629
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2005 - 01:58 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Yeah, I saw that conical fermenter. I think that is actually the cheapest mental conincal solution I have found thus far. So say that I take my 15 gal fermenter bucket and place it in a bucket that is just a hair bigger. Fill the bigger bucket with the fermenter and water, and recirc that through the cold plate. That way you wouldn't have to deal with the immersion coil in the wort. I realize that using my pump might now be the best idea, but I would wager that even a cheap pump from a decratory fountain would be enough for the task at hand. Let me know what you foggies think. While these concepts sound good in my head I realize that you guys have a lot more knowledge in these things than I do.

Thanks,
Peter 'the kid' Roman
 

Wortgames
Junior Member
Username: Wortgames

Post Number: 74
Registered: 06-2003
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2005 - 02:35 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I always thought copper was good for beer, hence the large 'stainless' breweries deliberately adding copper contact at various stages of the process.

Peter, you would need to really insulate the whole thing from the environment, otherwise your poor little fridge is trying to chill NY. If you could find or build an insulated cooler big enough to take your fermenter, add an inlet and an outlet, and circulate your chilled water through it, it could work quite well. Otherwise, your fridge will be running so much of the time to cool that 'cold plate' (which fast becomes a 'warm plate') that it will soon burn out.

I'd get a bigger fridge. They are cheap to come by and easy to warm in winter - it's just a matter of space.

(Message edited by wortgames on March 17, 2005)
Wortgames is an independent home brewer, and has no commercial interests in the brewing arena. In fact, brewing is largely a gadget-based obsession that places a significant burden on his resources.
 

Doug Pescatore
Senior Member
Username: Doug_p

Post Number: 1236
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2005 - 03:57 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Peter,
I think you are on the right track. I would added a fan running all of the time inside you fridge to make sure you cold plate stays cold. The water should have enough thermal mass that it does not rapidly warm up. However, the more you can insulate the tub the better you will do.

I did a couple batches of Kolsch fermented at 60F with an air temp of 74F when my fridge died. I put the fermenter (6.5 gallon bucket) in a 20 gallon bin filled with water until the fermenter was nearly floating. Then all it took to keep the water at 60F or slight less was two frozen 2 liter bottles in the morning and then later in the evening. Once you have your water at 50F your fridge will be just trying remove the heat gained from the environment, so I would load the tub with ice to get it started.

-Doug
 

George Schmidt
Intermediate Member
Username: Gschmidt

Post Number: 445
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2005 - 04:19 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

FWIW, I've been researching the March pumps and they are very often used for circulation in solar heating systems. Their duty cycle must be really high.
Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors -- and miss. ~~Robert A. Heinlein: The Notebooks of Lazarus Long
 

David Spaedt
Junior Member
Username: Crockett

Post Number: 55
Registered: 02-2004
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2005 - 01:02 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I just skimmed this thread but would like to add one thing. I have no idea what kind of pump you have but I doubt you would have to worry about “wearing it out”. Think of an aquarium pump. I had a 150 gallon saltwater aquarium with two filter pumps, they moved a lot of water and never stopped running for 5 years. You’re just pushing a small amount of water in a circle. I bet your pump will be fine.
 

Paul Edwards
Advanced Member
Username: Pedwards

Post Number: 621
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2005 - 01:26 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Cold plates are designed to be covered in ice water.

I don't think the cold air inside the fridge will be enough to keep the cold plate cold.

I know somebody who tried using a cold plate inside a fridge for beer dispensing with kegs on the outside of fridge. Worked sort of OK for puttin a pint every now and then, but didn't work at all well when he had a party and volume was higher.

Who was it that came up with "Son of Fermentation Chiller"?

Basically it was a two chamber box made out of 2 inch rigid foam insulation. One chamber held the primary fermeter. The other, smaller chamber held a plastic milk jug filled with frozen water. ther was a low-voltage muffin fan that moved the air around. Once a day you trade the jug for one fresh from the freezer. I think it may have had a thermostat to control the air movement.

Plus it was constructed in a way that it could be dismantled for storage.

It was very slick.
 

Peter Roman
Advanced Member
Username: Lilbordr

Post Number: 632
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2005 - 01:37 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Paul, I think I know what you are talking about. One of the guys who is affiliated with the barley crusher made that chamber (i think). As for keeping the cold plate cold enough; I heard all one needs to do is have the plate in a small bucket of water in the fridge. A 12V computer fan would also help I'm sure. I think in the end that it Best Buy has another chest freezer sale, that's going to be my next kegerator. I'll use my old one for lagering.

Cheers,
Peter Roman
 

John McElver
Member
Username: Johnmc

Post Number: 172
Registered: 02-2004
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2005 - 01:58 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

[edited to clean up duplicate post]

(Message edited by johnmc on March 17, 2005)
 

John McElver
Member
Username: Johnmc

Post Number: 173
Registered: 02-2004
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2005 - 01:58 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The Stainless Steel Specialists fermenter does just what is being described; it has a chill plate and you can lager in it. (http://www.stainlesssteelspec.com/html/an/aframe.html click on products and then BC-50. They sell the fermenter seperately.)
I've done this in mine. I have a glycol chiller & pump.
For somebody who's got one of those Toledo cones, I'd just put the coil throught the lid. Cleaning would then be easy, and you could dip the mess in starsan to sanitize. A small, cheap freezer & a bucket could act as the chilled glycol reservoir.

Regarding copper in fermentation; it's a required micronutrient of all living things, in the right range. Too much is toxic. When you've got a copper boil kettle, or copper chiller, etc, enough gets into the brew. When your equipment is all stainless, there's no copper added. So, you need to toss some inline somewhere.

But, as a fermenter, it'd suck. Beer is a mild acid and copper isn't to resistant to that. A copper coil would eventuall corrode through and wreck that batch!
 

Vance Barnes
Senior Member
Username: Vancebarnes

Post Number: 1503
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2005 - 04:30 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Wortgames, I think John answered your question. I'm trying to remember exactly where I originally read about this. Was it an article in BYO? A year or more ago seems like. Didn't recommend contact with copper or brass after the fermentation is started.
 

PaulK
Member
Username: Paulk

Post Number: 169
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2005 - 04:54 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Copper in fermented/fermenting beer will cause oxidation. I posted some articles on this here a few months back. Now if I could only find them.
 

PaulK
Member
Username: Paulk

Post Number: 170
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2005 - 05:03 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Here it is: http://hbd.org/discus/messages/20001/25877.html
 

Zymie
Junior Member
Username: Zymie

Post Number: 54
Registered: 10-2001
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2005 - 05:19 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Back when I used to brew.....


I used a glycol chiller to circulate refrigerated liquid through coils that were in 20 gallon trash cans. I used 10 gallon corny kegs as fermenters, and they sat in a waterbath in the trash can. I insulated the trash cans

It worked quite well. I have pictures somewhere.

Z
 

Mark Tigges
Intermediate Member
Username: Mtigges

Post Number: 256
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2005 - 05:40 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Paul, it was Schwarz who came up with the "Son of Fermentation Chiller"

http://home.elp.rr.com/brewbeer/

I built one, and while it does work as advertised, I can not in good conscience recommend it. For the added expense of a cheap A/C unit, and a Ranco (and presumably more MDF and insulation) you can have something that does the job properly.

I built a small corner of my garage into such a cold room, but there is no reason why you couldn't build something bigger than the Schwarz chiller, and smaller than this:

http://home.swbell.net/bufkin/cold_storage_box.htm

No hassle with ice, and you can reach lagering temperature if you need to regardless of ambient.

If you're smart about the design, you could even build it to be collapsable, and hence a lot more moveable. This would be desireable if you are ... oh say ... a college student at a co-op job and know you'll be moving soon.
 

Richard Nye
Advanced Member
Username: Yeasty_boy

Post Number: 610
Registered: 01-2004
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2005 - 05:41 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I've seen some chillers for sale on ebay. That may be a cheaper way to go than another fridge. Look under injection molding equipment. Chillers are used to chill water that cools molds down
 

John McElver
Member
Username: Johnmc

Post Number: 174
Registered: 02-2004
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2005 - 05:47 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Metals don't oxidize; they GET oxidized, to form ions. Anybody who's ever put acid on magnesium in chemistry class, to watch the hydrogen bubbles fizz off, has oxidized a metal with an acid. Essentially the same reaction occurs, more slowly, in acidic beer with copper.

Metal ions, like copper ones, plus oxygen yield free radical oxygen species. Free radical oxygen is highly reactive and can cause cascades of reactions that equal stale beer and are suppposed to be associated with aging and some cancers, IIRC. Eat your antioxidants!

The darker brown that comes off your copper parts as you brew has copper ions in it. Yeast have a protein called Cup1 that sucks up copper. Most of the copper is scavenged by the yeast and stays in their cells, on the bottom of your fermenter. If they didn't do that, beer from copper kettles would approach human toxic levels. But, they do their job and we're happy.
 

Norty
Junior Member
Username: Norty

Post Number: 42
Registered: 11-2000
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2005 - 10:21 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Well after all the reading and researching, nothing gives a result like trying it in person. If using copper increases your chance of oxidation, I haven't noticed it to this date. I have a few barleywines that are over 2 years old that do not have a cardboard taste. Both of these were fermented in my copper fermentor. The best beer I ever made (competition wise) was made in this fermentor. I guess what I'm saying, is that I don't see any data on time spent on the copper vs amount dissolved into the beer vs taste impacts, etc. I'm just basing my opinion on the system I've been using for over 3 years.

Just another data point!

Norty
 

Wortgames
Junior Member
Username: Wortgames

Post Number: 76
Registered: 06-2003
Posted on Friday, March 18, 2005 - 12:21 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Regarding the cold plate, your best bet would be to put it in close contact with the evaporator (ie the chiller coil inside the freezer compartment). Then, if the fridge is to be sacrificed for this purpose, I'd even go so far as to fill the whole thing (or at least the freezer) with expanding foam to help insulate it and eliminate condensation.

Make sure you're getting good contact (use clamps, bolts, whatever works without damaging any of the lines) and use antifreeze as your medium. This way you have the makings of a commercial pumped glycol system.
Wortgames is an independent home brewer, and has no commercial interests in the brewing arena. In fact, brewing is largely a gadget-based obsession that places a significant burden on his resources.