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Fermenting Specific Temperature Control

A couple of questions for you all. I’ve torn down my entire brewing operation while we finish off our basement. Huge project, but I’m getting what is going to be pretty close to my dream home brewing setup out of it (3 20gal kettles, all electric heat, inline temp control…). The brewing process is going to be pretty sweat. But, it’s left me to do a lot of thinking about the fermenting process.

2 things have come up:
1.) now that the basement is fully insulated, my perfect, year round 65 degree fermenting basement is no more. Now it’s more like 75 degrees and fluctuates more in the fall, spring and summer. More comfortable in a finished space, but not good for fermenting.
2.) with all the brew kit I’m going to have, why would I not make an upgrade to my fermenting process at the same time.

I’ve used fermwraps (http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/elec … eater.html) for years when I have a yeast that likes to be a little warmer than 65 degrees or when it gets really cold outside and the basement temp dips slightly. So my idea was to build custom fermenting enclosures with 2" XPS foam and plywood. I’d cannibalize the cooling works from an old mini fridge to turn the enclosure into a fridge. Then wrap my carboy in a fermwrap, and plug the wrap and cooling enclosure into a dual stage temp controller (http://morebeer.com/products/ranco-digi … ?site_id=5) so I can maintain a specific temp inside the carboy. Plus I can use this for cold crashing my beer and lagering and not futz with the temp of my fridge with the kegs (and leave more room for finished beer!).

Here are my questions:
1.) Is the idea above stupid? Are there flaws I’m this that I am missing?
2.) Temp monitoring… I’ve used a thermowell stopper (http://morebeer.com/products/stopper-th … ?site_id=5) in the past to drop a temp probe into the middle of my carboy. When I need to use a blowoff tube, I tape the probe to the side of the carboy and put some bubble wrap over the probe to help insulate it. This works, but I know my temp is off by a few degrees. I’d like a more elegant solution to be able to use a blowoff tube and still have my probe on the inside. Any ideas?
3.) For all the cool stuff Northern Brewer offers, why have they never sold a dual stage temp controller? Are these not as great as they sound for my application?

Thanks for the advice!

I can’t speak to a lot of your questions, but it seems like you are committed to some capital investment in your hobby (!), so to your point, why not opt for a fermenter that is more in line with your brewhouse/hot-side equipment?

Also, I doubt your insulated probe when you need a blowoff tube is “off by a few degrees”. Even at 5 gallons, we are talking about a decent sized thermal mass of liquid. I insulate mine the same way, but with a trimmed thick piece of styrofoam. Are you maybe thinking the glass of the carboy is significantly cooler than the liquid itself?

As far as my/your first point (fermenter), why not look into stainless steel conical on casters? You could wheel that in and out of a ferm chamber, or better yet, get a glycol jacket for it :mrgreen:

[quote=“Pietro”]I can’t speak to a lot of your questions, but it seems like you are committed to some capital investment in your hobby (!), so to your point, why not opt for a fermenter that is more in line with your brewhouse/hot-side equipment?

Also, I doubt your insulated probe when you need a blowoff tube is “off by a few degrees”. Even at 5 gallons, we are talking about a decent sized thermal mass of liquid. I insulate mine the same way, but with a trimmed thick piece of styrofoam. Are you maybe thinking the glass of the carboy is significantly cooler than the liquid itself?

As far as my/your first point (fermenter), why not look into stainless steel conical on casters? You could wheel that in and out of a ferm chamber, or better yet, get a glycol jacket for it :mrgreen: [/quote]

To the frist point… Yes, I’m thinking the temp of the glass is different from the liquid inside. Especially when the fermwrap kicks in. Since it heats the beer by warming by warming the glass, it is likely off.

And to the the second point… a stainless steel conical with a glycol jacket would the absolutely ideal. But, as committed as I am, I don’t want to drop $2,000 per conical right now to fix a problem that I think can be solved for a fraction of that. Maybe someday I’ll have the cash to upgrade to something bigger.

I use a 7 cf freezer that I got new on sale for about $100 and a Love TSS2 Dual Computer that I got from Dwyer Instruments for about $70. The Controller is completely unwired, I put in a plastic electrical box from HD. That some wire and a typical outlet got me a nice dual controller. You can find a lot of information online on how to program it. I have mine set up to mainly cool with the primary set point at the target temperature and the second point as a 1.5 degree offset. This allows one outlet to control the freezer and the other to control a heater (light bulb, ceramic element, etc.). Most of the time I don’t use the heater side and it still holds with a couple of degrees F.

There are some less expensive controllers, but most that I have seen are fixed in degrees C so that you have to convert. Not a big deal, but I didn’t want to be thinking that hard/ :slight_smile:

You want to run a heater and a cooler on the same beer? Fermenting beer generates head. No reason to have a heater.

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