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Fermentation Chamber or Kegerator?

So, for the past few days I’ve been working on converting a mini fridge that SWMBO had lying around into a fermentation chamber. Fermentation temp has always been an issue for me, and I figured this would be a good opportunity to nip that in the bud.

However, I’ve recently been offered some legging equipment. Until now I’ve always bottled, and it is a pain in my ass. I would LOVE to keg, and this ferm chamber could easily be a kegerator.

So, my question is, which do you think would be most useful? I do 't really have any other place to put a keg since I live in a tiny apt, and since I would want to brew and drink at the same time, it would need to be one or the other. I’m interested to see what you guys think. Right now I’m kind of leaning toward kegerator, even though I had had my heart set on accurate temperature control (and possibly lagering, something I’ve never been able to do).

Fermentation temp control = good beer

Kegerator without ferm temp control = less good beer.

Try to do both, kegging is the way to go. If you can keeps temps correct with a swamp cooler, lots of people make great beer doing that.

Gah, I tried the swamp cooler thing before, and it seemed like a lot more work than I wanted. Also, I’m not home for 10+ hours of the day. I might be open to trying it again, but is it really worth it if I’m not going to be here to monitor it all the time?

Kegging seems like a route that I would really like to take. Also, the fact that I’ve been offered all of this kegging equipment fo’ free really makes me want to take it. Perhaps I will turn it into a kegerator and try the whole swamp cooler thing again. After all, I’ll have a lot more time at home next semester (grad student life, yippee!).

Thoughts?

If you have a cooler, try that for the swamp cooler. The insulation helps the heat loss.

I am gone for about 12 hours a day and I had it down pretty good. Get a bunch of different size plastic water bottles and freeze them. Play with a few batches till you get a system down. I got to where I could swap out a couple of ice bottles every morning and evening and it held temps very steady

I might be crazy but I don’t get to brew often and just got into kegging. I am getting into the habit of brewing some what seasonally. Maybe now that I’ve got kegs and a chest freezer w/controller I’ll try a lager and maybe think more about temp control. In the summer we keep it pretty warm high 70s to low 80s in the winter high 60s. Because of this I do belgians and heat tolerant brews in the warmer months and cleaner brews in the cooler months.

During the height of the summer I used my swamp cooler which is a 66 qt storage box with good success. I checked the temperature in the morning and added one or two bottles or ice depending on the wort temp. In the evening I checked again. I usually was able to control the temperature within 2-4 degrees. I wrapped the container with bubble wrap and towels for extra insulation. I agree that a large cooler would insulate better.

Quick question: How exactly do you check the wort temp with a swamp cooler? I had a fermometer on my carboy, and it got destroyed by the water in my first attempt. How can I - A) Prevent this from happening and use the fermometer, or B) use another method to accurately check the temp?

You need to put your fermometers at about the 4.5 gallon mark and keep them out of the water. I also put a thermometer in the water just to double check my fermometers. The beer is usually within a degree of what the swamp cooler water is.

+1 ^^^^

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