Jump to content
Mr.Beer Community
Sign in to follow this  
BrownstotheBone

Controlling fermentation temperature?

Recommended Posts

Hello everybody. Just picked up a MB starter kit a few weeks ago at Bed, Bath & Beyond. It was on the discount table marked "returned". So I opened it up and made sure everything was there (always wanted to try this) and it was.

I carried it up to the counter and paid the $17.48 they were asking, went home and ordered the 1 Liter bottles and started my batch. (American Light)

When finished I sat it in the basement as that is the coolest darkest part of my house and the temps were perfect. Everything was going swimmingly until we got a heat wave of 88-90° outside.
The temps in the basement rose to 78-79° a few days. Not sure what the temp on the keg was as I don't have a thermometer on the outside of it yet.

When I'm at work I don't run the air conditioning all day if I'm not here so I don't REALLY have a temperature controlled environment. At least not one that sits between 68-76° consistently.

So my question is this: Is there a refrigerator or something else that anyone ever uses to keep their LBK fermenting at the proper temp or does everyone have their central air set at 70°? LOL (all I have is a wall unit in the dining room)

Running a small fridge seems like it might be more economical for me than heating and cooling a LBK with a thermostat year round.

Thanks for any tips or suggestions and I can't wait to read from the "beginning" now that I have a wealth of information to pull from, but right now this looks like my biggest problem in the summer or winter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi and welcome. Seems like lots of people here put the LBK in a cooler with a frozen bottles in it to maintain the 65 to 68 deg. Just need to make sure you change out the ice bottles every 12 hours.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome!

+1 to the coolers with frozen bottles of water. It's the fastest, easiest, and probably cheapest way to solve the problem.

Plenty of folks do pick up a used fridge or freezer and use a Johnson Controller to keep it at fermenting temps. That is a more "professional" solution, probably less work in the long run, and possibly even just as economical in the long run.

But for about $17 and some recycled plastic bottles full of water and frozen, you'll have a temperature controlled fermentation chamber in as long as it takes to go to Walmart and back.

You can hang up an outdoor thermometer inside to monitor the air temp, but the actual wort temp inside the LBK will usually be a little higher, and a stick-on thermometer strip is the way to go for that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for you response. I just read something about that in another thread.

Really? Every 12 hours until the end of time? ha ha ...or until it ends up in the fridge for conditioning?

Wow that's a lot of messing with. But if it would get me through the hot months... I see the advantages. Dark, cool...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK. Thanks you guys. I really appreciate it. Going to go that way for my next batch. Makes sense the more I think about it. Remember, newbie here.

Love the community already. ;-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The good news is that temp control is most important in the first few days. And the wort temp won't swing with the air temp. I use a cooler, in the basement, change ice packs every 8-12 hours. This keeps the wort in the upper 60s. After about five days, I move the fermenter to the basement floor, (a little cooler than the air) and let the temp rise to about 73. I also keep an old foam cooler (from Omaha Steaks) over it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I live in Nevada and have just a swamp cooler that cools my house - I also ran into this problem where my temps climbed (I use a infra red thermometer)

I was informed about the cooler idea and frozen water bottles - however found a in expensive fridge online in my area for 50 bucks so i picked it up (in fact its nicer than the one in my house so I'm Swapping for my wife's kitchen fridge) will make the change tonight and plan to set it at 68 deg (Wort temp) as I have 3 LBK's

I also noticed walmart sells mini fridges fairly in expensive arround 45 - 100 this may be a option for you if you dont want to deal with changing watter bottles 2x a day

:chug:

PS *im also a newby*

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"JohnSand" post=384634 said:

The good news is that temp control is most important in the first few days. And the wort temp won't swing with the air temp. I use a cooler, in the basement, change ice packs every 8-12 hours. This keeps the wort in the upper 60s. After about five days, I move the fermenter to the basement floor, (a little cooler than the air) and let the temp rise to about 73. I also keep an old foam cooler (from Omaha Steaks) over it.

Nice. Ice packs or water bottles? Wonder which I need/want? I guess I want to just make sure they don't touch the keg. Doing so for 5 days isn't asking too much right now ...with my enthusiasm and all. LOL
If I monitor the temps I can decide by what time of year it is if I should take it out or not.

I had noticed the basement floor is much cooler and had thought about that. What do you know? You're doing it. Funny thing is, I have an Omaha Steak cooler in the basement right now. 2 actually!

Thank you so much for more ideas and tips!


I found a Coleman METAL cooler from the 70's w/ the metal latch (they don't make 'em like that anymore) in my mom's basement today and it will work perfectly.

Thanks for all the info guys! I'm all ears.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Btech117" post=384650 said:

I live in Nevada and have just a swamp cooler that cools my house - I also ran into this problem where my temps climbed (I use a infra red thermometer)

I was informed about the cooler idea and frozen water bottles - however found a in expensive fridge online in my area for 50 bucks so i picked it up (in fact its nicer than the one in my house so I'm Swapping for my wife's kitchen fridge) will make the change tonight and plan to set it at 68 deg (Wort temp) as I have 3 LBK's

I also noticed walmart sells mini fridges fairly in expensive arround 45 - 100 this may be a option for you if you dont want to deal with changing watter bottles 2x a day

:chug:

PS *im also a newby*

Was on earlier trying to find something. I have a small fridge here but it won't fit the keg.
Not sure how many cubic feet I need to get it in there AND close the door. Those doors have shelves and crap.

This is more what I would like though. Love the idea of a big one and 3 going all at once. One would be nice though. Thanks!

Edit: P.S. I lived in Vegas for 8 years so I feel your pain. Would take that over ice and snow though any day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Like in brewing, patience is a virtue AND A Requirement, patience on finding the right fridge ferment chamber is one of my suggestions. I have waited long and hard to make my brewing and fermenting a pleasure looking for those particulars. Glad to see you have joined "THE ADDICTION" and the borg.

Welcome to our friendly community here, read, learn, read some more and above all else, remember these three key things:

Patience, Sanitization & SWMBO (whether it's your mum or your significant other).

:cheers: :cheers: :cheers: :cheers: :cheers: :cheers:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Since I don't have a fridge for fermenting I was experimenting with blue ice in my cooler to see how long and what temps I could get with an empty keg. I imagine with wort in there it will be different.

Started with 2 blocks of blue ice. Temp went to 56°. So I opened it back up, brought the temp back up to room temp and put just 1 block in.

Last night at 10:32pm the temp was 64.8°. When I woke up this morning it was 74.3°.

So I put in 2 blocks again (about 7"x 3.5") and will see what happens throughout the day but this seems about as unstable as my open air so far.

Trying to figure out the combination that will keep me in the right range for a duration of twelve hours.


20130707_070652_zps637825e1.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Testing the air temp with an empty keg tells you little. Liquid reacts such more slowly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"RickBeer" post=384812 said:

Testing the air temp with an empty keg tells you little. Liquid reacts such more slowly.

O.K. So what you're telling me is to fill up the keg with fake wort (water) and test as such I imagine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"BrownstotheBone" post=384815 said:

"RickBeer" post=384812 said:

Testing the air temp with an empty keg tells you little. Liquid reacts such more slowly.

O.K. So what you're telling me is to fill up the keg with fake wort (water) and test as such I imagine.

That is correct. I went through many batches of "test wort" before coming up with what worked for me.
Mine was 2 ice packs to start for a few days and then I could maintain by rotating out one every 12 hours.
Then after 8 months I went and bought a fridge and controller.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Right. And you must measure the liquid's temp, NOT the air temp. Either with a stick on thermometer on the side of the LBK below the waterline, or with a thermometer inside the liquid - which you can do since you're just doing water and not brewing.

Many buy a remote thermometer and tape the probe to the side of the LBK below the water line. Do some searches (see better technique below) for how to tape it in place and placing a piece of paper towel between the probe and the tape to isolate the thermometer for a proper reading.

https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&ie=UTF-8#safe=off&sclient=psy-ab&q=site%3Acommunity.mrbeer.com%2Fforum%20tape%20thermometer&oq=&gs_l=&pbx=1&fp=db2ed75ef7a1a33a&ion=1&bav=on.2,or.r_qf.&bvm=bv.48705608,d.aWc&biw=1280&bih=939

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Inkleg" post=384816 said:

"BrownstotheBone" post=384815 said:

"RickBeer" post=384812 said:

Testing the air temp with an empty keg tells you little. Liquid reacts such more slowly.

O.K. So what you're telling me is to fill up the keg with fake wort (water) and test as such I imagine.

That is correct. I went through many batches of "test wort" before coming up with what worked for me.
Mine was 2 ice packs to start for a few days and then I could maintain by rotating out one every 12 hours.
Then after 8 months I went and bought a fridge and controller.

Thank you. I will start experimenting. That sounds exactly like what I want to do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Btech117" post=384650 said:

I live in Nevada and have just a swamp cooler that cools my house - I also ran into this problem where my temps climbed (I use a infra red thermometer)

I was informed about the cooler idea and frozen water bottles - however found a in expensive fridge online in my area for 50 bucks so i picked it up (in fact its nicer than the one in my house so I'm Swapping for my wife's kitchen fridge) will make the change tonight and plan to set it at 68 deg (Wort temp) as I have 3 LBK's

I also noticed walmart sells mini fridges fairly in expensive arround 45 - 100 this may be a option for you if you dont want to deal with changing watter bottles 2x a day

:chug:

PS *im also a newby*

If you have an extra freezer or fridge (or can pick one up on the cheap), you can very precisely control your fermentation temps for very little extra cash by using an STC-1000 ($19 on Amazon).

It's a digital dual temperature controller. You wire it into a standard 2-plug outlet that you mount in some kind of project box (either homemade or bought at Radio Shack). One (cool) outlet is for the freezer/fridge. Into the other (warm) outlet, you plug some kind of small heater and then put that heater inside the freezer. Where I live in Texas, it's largely unnecessary, but I did use it for a while last winter when it got cold in my garage.

Set the target temp (in Celsius) on the STC-1000. Set the tolerance (default is +/-0.5*C). When the temp (as read by the sensor) climbs 0.5*C above the target, it powers up the cool outlet and keeps it energized until the temp drops to the target and then turns it off. Likewise with the warm outlet if it gets 0.5*C too cool. You tape the sensor on the side of the fermenter and place some kind of insulation like bubble wrap over top of it so that it reads the bucket temp and not the air.

EBay fish tank controller build using Wal-mart parts

It allows you to do whatever you need temperature-wise, like ferment a lager in the upper-40's, do an ale in the mid-low 60's, cold crash, etc. I use three of these little jewels (on the keezer, fermenter chamber and lagering/cold crash freezer) and am very pleased.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First off I want to say thanks to those that have steered me in the right direction so far.

Being only 2 days old I'm really amazed at how much information I've been able to pull from this forum, and how nice and helpful everyone has been.

I'm sure you guys have heard these questions time and time again, yet still take the time to help. That warms the cockles of my heart. (wherever those are..?)

Can't tell you how much more I appreciate the art of making beer and the people that can actually do it properly, since signing up yesterday.

Even though I did my first batch all "Helter Skelter" I'm going to get this wort temp/cooler/blue ice thing down first before I move forward in any way.

I've got a side thermometer and a beer journal coming from Amazon. Not to mention a trip to my LHBS for the Vinator and the tree. Lot's to know. Lots to absorb.

I've got my radio controlled thermometer sensor taped to the front (it was flat) right now and will experiment with blue ice until I can get a thermometer for the water. (research)

Regardless. I started off with a temp of 81.1° and after taping it on and closing the lid I'm down to 68.9° and dropping. Much much better than "the basement". Just adjustments from here.

Thanks again everyone!

[attachment=14130]20130707_141915.jpg[/attachment]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We see you are well on your way to becoming a great brewer, well on your way. :chug:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use the cool brewing bag. By putting in 2- one liter ice bottles, I'm able to get the wort temp to around 62-64. This bag is awesome. I only change the bottles once a day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"losman26" post=385054 said:

I use the cool brewing bag. By putting in 2- one liter ice bottles, I'm able to get the wort temp to around 62-64. This bag is awesome. I only change the bottles once a day.

The concern I have about the Cool Brewing Bag is its cost and the need to tend it every day. The $65 shipped price for that bag will get you a long way (maybe even all the way if you're lucky) towards a used freezer/fridge and STC-1000 controller.

Of course, if you're in an apartment and have no extra room for a fermentation fridge, that bag would be a very worthwhile option.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have 2 Cool Brewing bags (using both right now) and they take up less space than an extra fridge or freezer. Having 2 refrigerator/freezers (used for our food and my hops) and a small dorm fridge and a kegerator, there just is no room for another freezer unless I put one out on my back patio.
That's an idea but the wife isn't very happy about it......I'm slowly working on that.

Twice a day I change the ice packs though I could probably go to once a day. It's not a problem for me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Until I started brewing I had no idea how erratic the temperature in my house was. My first batch I put in a spot in the basement that seemed to be the perfect temperature and that I thought would be consistent, which it was for about 2 days until a change in the weather caused it to go up about 15 degrees because it got very cold outside and the furnace was more active. Now I usually have actively fermenting LBKs in a big picnic cooler (it will hold 3 if I need it to).

I recently bought a small refrigerator at Home Depot, and with a couple of shelves removed one LBK will fit perfectly in the top half for cold crashing, and leave room for a dozen or so 12 oz. bottles in the bottom part for sustenance. When I have a clearer idea of its temperature range I may try it for a lager.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"pspearing" post=385074 said:


I recently bought a small refrigerator at Home Depot, and with a couple of shelves removed one LBK will fit perfectly in the top half for cold crashing, and leave room for a dozen or so 12 oz. bottles in the bottom part for sustenance. When I have a clearer idea of its temperature range I may try it for a lager.

How are you controlling the temp inside the fridge?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"BigFloyd" post=385076 said:

"pspearing" post=385074 said:


I recently bought a small refrigerator at Home Depot, and with a couple of shelves removed one LBK will fit perfectly in the top half for cold crashing, and leave room for a dozen or so 12 oz. bottles in the bottom part for sustenance. When I have a clearer idea of its temperature range I may try it for a lager.

How are you controlling the temp inside the fridge?

For cold crashing that's fine, but you can't lager without a temp controller since there isn't one temp that you keep the entire time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do you folks worry about temperature control after primary fermentation? I don't mean during bottle conditioning, I mean once the kreusen drops.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Bassman" post=385090 said:

Do you folks worry about temperature control after primary fermentation? I don't mean during bottle conditioning, I mean once the kreusen drops.

Not as much, and even to an extent, sometimes in the opposite direction. Most of the off flavors are produced in the first few days of aggressive activity, and that activity alone raises the temp of the wort some 10 degrees, give or take. So that's two very good reasons to keep the temps low during the first week.

After that, the activity slows down, the wort's temp naturally doesn't rise like that, plus off flavors are less likey to develop anymore, so there's less pressure to work to keep the temps lower.

On the other hand, it's actually better to let the temp go a few degrees higher than it was at the initial fermentation while the yeast is "cleaning up" after itself during the 2nd and 3rd weeks. Sometimes simply removing whatever cooling process you had in place is enough to allow the wort to go up a few degrees to finish, and sometimes you might actually have to coax the temps up a few degrees, depending on your circumstances.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Joechianti" post=385125 said:

"Bassman" post=385090 said:

Do you folks worry about temperature control after primary fermentation? I don't mean during bottle conditioning, I mean once the kreusen drops.


Not as much, and even to an extent, sometimes in the opposite direction. Most of the off flavors are produced in the first few days of aggressive activity, and that activity alone raises the temp of the wort some 10 degrees, give or take. So that's two very good reasons to keep the temps low during the first week.
After that, the activity slows down, the wort's temp naturally doesn't rise like that, plus off flavors are less likey to develop anymore, so there's less pressure to work to keep the temps lower.
On the other hand, it's actually better to let the temp go a few degrees higher than it was at the initial fermentation while the yeast is "cleaning up" after itself during the 2nd and 3rd weeks. Sometimes simply removing whatever cooling process you had in place is enough to allow the wort to go up a few degrees to finish, and sometimes you might actually have to coax the temps up a few degrees, depending on your circumstances.

Sorry but i totally disagree with you here. keeping the temperature in the Mr beer recommended range should ALWAYS be followed since they are the ones that have made the HME's and the yeast. I always purchase and use their yeast for all my brews including ingredients from my LHBS and other places. It is the perfect yeast to use with anything. And about raising the temps after the activity slows down is TOTALLY incorrect information to give this gent. I will agree with letting the yeasts to clean up for 3 weeks though. Maintaining temps at the same degrees is the key to good brewing practices and to great homebrews.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Harry Bawls" post=385126 said:

"Joechianti" post=385125 said:

"Bassman" post=385090 said:

Do you folks worry about temperature control after primary fermentation? I don't mean during bottle conditioning, I mean once the kreusen drops.


Not as much, and even to an extent, sometimes in the opposite direction. Most of the off flavors are produced in the first few days of aggressive activity, and that activity alone raises the temp of the wort some 10 degrees, give or take. So that's two very good reasons to keep the temps low during the first week.
After that, the activity slows down, the wort's temp naturally doesn't rise like that, plus off flavors are less likey to develop anymore, so there's less pressure to work to keep the temps lower.
On the other hand, it's actually better to let the temp go a few degrees higher than it was at the initial fermentation while the yeast is "cleaning up" after itself during the 2nd and 3rd weeks. Sometimes simply removing whatever cooling process you had in place is enough to allow the wort to go up a few degrees to finish, and sometimes you might actually have to coax the temps up a few degrees, depending on your circumstances.

Sorry but i totally disagree with you here. keeping the temperature in the Mr beer recommended range should ALWAYS be followed since they are the ones that have made the HME's and the yeast. I always purchase and use their yeast for all my brews including ingredients from my LHBS and other places. It is the perfect yeast to use with anything. And about raising the temps after the activity slows down is TOTALLY incorrect information to give this gent. I will agree with letting the yeasts to clean up for 3 weeks though. Maintaining temps at the same degrees is the key to good brewing practices and to great homebrews.

Well, you, sir, are a scoundrel and a scalawag! I think you're overdue for a shave, there, too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mr. Beer says beer in two weeks as well....give that a shot.

"It is the perfect yeast to use with anything." It's perfect for everything?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have to disagree that one yeast fits all. Yeast is to beer what location is to wine. You characteristic flavors come from the yeast. Brew up the same wort a 100 times and use a 100 different yeasts and they will all taste different.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stopped at Target on the way from home work today. I use these in my lunch box as well so I bought myself some options.

It might take 1, it might take 2. It might take 1 and a half bottle of water. But I will have this thing figured out sooner than later.

I want to do my second go-round this weekend (Mexican Cerveza) and I won't take no for an answer! :-)


[attachment=14142]20130708_183303.jpg[/attachment]
[attachment=14143]20130708_183406.jpg[/attachment]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Harry Bawls" post=385126 said:


Sorry but i totally disagree with you here. keeping the temperature in the Mr beer recommended range should ALWAYS be followed since they are the ones that have made the HME's and the yeast. I always purchase and use their yeast for all my brews including ingredients from my LHBS and other places. It is the perfect yeast to use with anything. And about raising the temps after the activity slows down is TOTALLY incorrect information to give this gent. I will agree with letting the yeasts to clean up for 3 weeks though. Maintaining temps at the same degrees is the key to good brewing practices and to great homebrews.

Darn. I just spent all that time, effort and starter wort culturing nearly 500 billion cells of Wyeast 2124 Bohemian Lager for a Maibock I plan to brew tomorrow. I could have just used a few packets of the perfect Mr. Beer yeast. :silly:

Ever heard of stepped-up fermentations? Guess not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"BigFloyd" post=385176 said:

"Harry Bawls" post=385126 said:


Sorry but i totally disagree with you here. keeping the temperature in the Mr beer recommended range should ALWAYS be followed since they are the ones that have made the HME's and the yeast. I always purchase and use their yeast for all my brews including ingredients from my LHBS and other places. It is the perfect yeast to use with anything. And about raising the temps after the activity slows down is TOTALLY incorrect information to give this gent. I will agree with letting the yeasts to clean up for 3 weeks though. Maintaining temps at the same degrees is the key to good brewing practices and to great homebrews.

Darn. I just spent all that time, effort and starter wort culturing nearly 500 billion cells of Wyeast 2124 Bohemian Lager for a Maibock I plan to brew tomorrow. I could have just used a few packets of the perfect Mr. Beer yeast. :silly:

Ever heard of stepped-up fermentations? Guess not.

Damn Floyd, I hate that for you.
Tell ya what. Go ahead and brew that up and bottle it. I'll sent you a few boxes with return postage (least I can do). You just send that horrible beer brewed with all that good yeast to me and we'll call it a day, ok. :woohoo:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Inkleg" post=385194 said:

Damn Floyd, I hate that for you.
Tell ya what. Go ahead and brew that up and bottle it. I'll sent you a few boxes with return postage (least I can do). You just send that horrible beer brewed with all that good yeast to me and we'll call it a day, ok. :woohoo:

I haven't brewed it yet. I think I'll just toss this 2124 and wait until I can get my hands on some MB yeast.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well I always say anything worth doing is worth over doing. So I designed and built my own custom fermentation chamber with dimensions big enough to hold 4 LBKs or 2 Ale Pales inside with a little room to spare. After fermenting several years of Lager beers the smell of the sulfur and wood have combined to produce one amazing aroma, some days I just open the door an savor the smell to get motivated to have another Lager brewday.


The fermentation chamber I designed and built has 2 inches of heavy duty foam insulation on the inside and is powered by placing frozen water bottles in the top tray. Cooling my beer refrigerator freezer when it's full, in my case with frozen water bottles, is more economical than cooling it when empty so I always have pleanty of frozen water bottles at the ready.


I made use of the fact that colder air is heavier than warmer air so the coldness of the frozen water bottles drives the cold air down and pushes the warmer air up, causing a natural circulation within the chamber. I use it for making true Lager beers where the chamber can maintain 46-54F with no problem by swapping out frozen water bottles one or twice a day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...