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Fermentation Temp Control (Step 1)

September 18, 2010

I’ve long heard about how important fermentation temperature control is to brewing, but I’ve never felt in a good position to buy and set up the equipment.  Now that we’re somewhere stable for the foreseeable future, I thought now was a good time.

Initially, I thought I’d use the fridge that came with the apartment once we got our own fridge installed.  Unfortunately, the only power on the porch (where I first though I could keep it) that I could find was from the porch light and I’m not inclined to get so ghetto with the wiring that I’ll connect a fridge to an ungrounded light fixture.  Plus, once winter comes around, it’s going to be so cold out there, the fridge won’t even be turning on.  I’d be challenged to keep things warm enough.

As with most everything brewing, a Google search brought up several good forum posts (most of the best from homebrewtalk.com, as usual).  From this search, I was led to the water bath with aquarium heater method.  Having a ~12 gallon cooler, I found that it should easily hold either a 5-gallon carboy or 2 1-gallon fermenters (maybe 3?).  After a trip to a few pet shops, I settled on the 200W Marineland visi-therm submersible heater.  After some shopping magic, the total cost should be in the $20 range (better than a Johnson Controls or Ranco temperature controller for a fridge, at least).  I chose this particular heater because it had the lowest temperature setting of any I could find at 65 F.

So now I have my ~12 gallon cooler sitting in the fridge on the porch, full of water, with the heater on the side.  I’m looking forward to trying it out on my Test Porter (whose “Test” moniker now takes on more meaning).

Update (~1 week into use)

My Test Porter and 1 gallon of my ‘Tweener have been sitting in the cooler with the aquarium heater for almost a week now.  We had a couple days in the upper-70s to lower-80s which made me have to add ice a couple times a day each day.  During that time, I think temperatures fluctuated from ~65.5 and 68.  On the days it was cooler (really just starting yesterday) it’s been solid between 66.2 and 67.  Tonight’s supposed to get in the low 40’s (it’s 46 now) so I can see just how much it varies.

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  1. Brown Porter Brew « My Brewing Blog

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