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Refrigerator Fermentations

Anyone out there use a “dorm” refrigerator for fermentation with a temp controler? I am just wondering the pros and cons…other than you can only fit one carboy in at a time.

Pros: Better beer. Ability to lager.
Cons: Only holds 1 carboy or bucket at a time.

It really comes down to planning out your brewing schedule appropriately. I leave my ales in the fridge for about 7 days then let them sit at room temps. For lagers, I ferment for 10-14 days at lagering temps (50ish) then raise the temp slowly every day until it gets to the mid 60’s. Then pull the fermentor out to sit at room temps for a few days for a d-rest. If I can plan another brew day and make an ale right in this window, I can get an ale fermenting in the low 60’s while the lager sits at d-rest. Then when active fermentation slows or stops on the ale, I can get the lager back in the fridge and drop it down to 35F for a few weeks.

I also plan different styles of beer around the availability of the fridge. For example: I’m brewing a Dusseldorf Altbier next weekend. It needs to ferment for 2-3weeks around 60F then lager for about a month. So While this is fermenting and lagering, I’ll be brewing a Belgian IPA and a Saision that can and should ferment at room temps (70F+).

A fermentation fridge to control temps will drastically improve the quality of beer you’re making.

I was going to go with a smaller dorm-style fridge at one time, but I would have had to deconstruct so much of it that I decided to pass. Shortly after, I came across a fairly new, but used smaller full-sized fridge. I like the slightly bigger size, since it will hold bottles and a fermenting lager. Right now it has 3 kegs lafering and a 5 lb CO2 bottle hooked up to one of the kegs (it is my bull pen at times like this).

I love the smaller fridge, but usually it just holds bottles in my basement. I would have hated to ruin it by bending the freezer plate trying to modify it for a fermenter chamber… YMMV of course.

[quote=“ynotbrusum”]I was going to go with a smaller dorm-style fridge at one time, but I would have had to deconstruct so much of it that I decided to pass. Shortly after, I came across a fairly new, but used smaller full-sized fridge. I like the slightly bigger size, since it will hold bottles and a fermenting lager. Right now it has 3 kegs lafering and a 5 lb CO2 bottle hooked up to one of the kegs (it is my bull pen at times like this).

I love the smaller fridge, but usually it just holds bottles in my basement. I would have hated to ruin it by bending the freezer plate trying to modify it for a fermenter chamber… YMMV of course.[/quote]

Yeah, that’s a problem. I found one without the freezer. And you have to remove the molding from the inside of the door as well (the part that has compartment for drinks and what not), but it’s not hard. Just a few screws.

I am now on my second full size fridge, (first one worked but was noisy). When or if this one dies I am going for a small dorm fridge. I hate how much space the fridge takes up and you can only use the bottom half. I will not pack a third fridge through my house down the stairs to the basement (never again). I’m done now.

That’s why my refrigerators are in my garage :wink:

I’ve been slowly acquiring the pieces to do this very same thing. So far I’ve got a Sanyo 4910 mini fridge, Love TSS2 dual stage controller and some reptile heat tape to use like a fermwrap. I plan on mounting the TSS2 right in the door and wiring it directly into the internal thermostat. Just need to get a piece of white board for the inside of the door and I’ll be good to go.

Small footprint means the wife can’t complain too much about keeping it in the basement. No way I could get away with that with a full size fridge. Space is at too much of a premium.

Yeah, that’s what I was planning on doing too. I wouldn’t really be able to store bottle beer in it because I will mainly be using it for fermenting ales in the low 60’s with a temp controller. Why would one use a ferm wrap to raise the temp slowly if you could just turn up the controller one or two degrees at a time?

Mine will be kept in the basement, which can easily hit the low 60’s in the winter time. If I want to ferment at 67 then the fermwrap would kick in to warm it up. That’s why I went with the dual stage controller. If you won’t need the ability to switch on the heat once in a while, you would only need a single stage controller.

The dual stage temp controller is really handy if the area you ferment in has wide temperature swings, like a garage. Like Takehiko said, if your temps are pretty consistent you could probably get away with a single stage controller.

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