Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com

South Florida Brewing

So I have had my first (small batch) attempt at Caribou Slobber in the fermenter for about 48 hours now. It was bubbling up a storm after about 8 hours, now it’s pretty quiet in there. One thing that concerns me though…my house is at 76 pretty much always. Even though it gets cooler than that at times during the winter, the house temp doesn’t drop much and if it does it warms back up pretty quickly. The rest of the year, it’s about 76 due to the AC. Now, I keep reading that ale yeast prefers temps in the 60-70 range, and lagers even colder. Am I going to get less than optimal taste results because of this?

Given that I have the small batch kit I could probably get a mini-fridge that would hold that 1 gal carboy, but how on earth do all the 5 gal people do it? That would be a pretty sizable fridge, and would cost significantly more than everything else combined.

Controlling fermentation dynamics (yeast health, pitching rate and fermentation temperature) is what separates great beers from decent, well-brewed beers. So yes, it is going to make a difference. And yes, people do spend a fortune on brewing equipment, including full-sized chest fridges with external, programmable temperature controllers.

Or they live someplace with a nice climate where the ground water lets you chill the beer to fermentation temperatures in 5-10 minutes and you need to heat to allow lager yeasts to stop shivering and do their thing. :smiley:

Chest freezers are less expensive to operate than refrigerators. You do need a temperature controller so you don’t freeze your beer. Need a temperature controller for a refrigerator also. A lot of brewers use the STC-1000 for this. Some excellent YouTube videos on wiring it for cooling and heating.
The main draw back to a chest freezer is that you need a strong back to heft full carboys in and out. Some use CO2 under pressure to fill and empty a carboy in the freezer.
I’m going to use a trolley and trolley hangar with a pulley to do the lifting when I begin using a chest freezer.

There are several ways to handle the situation: 1) brew above optimal temperatures (I do this and love the beer I produce), 2) brew beers that like to be warm, such as saisons (I do this and love the beer I produce), 3) spend the money on fermentation controls to make great beer outstanding. My life situations force me to “settle” for great beer rather than outstanding beer. No one that has tried my beers has told me “this beer is good, but you know it would be better if you dropped 5* during fermentation.” But I’m not in a homebrew club either, so maybe I’m running with the wrong pack…

[quote=“bureau13”]So I have had my first (small batch) attempt at Caribou Slobber in the fermenter for about 48 hours now. It was bubbling up a storm after about 8 hours, now it’s pretty quiet in there. One thing that concerns me though…my house is at 76 pretty much always. Even though it gets cooler than that at times during the winter, the house temp doesn’t drop much and if it does it warms back up pretty quickly. The rest of the year, it’s about 76 due to the AC. Now, I keep reading that ale yeast prefers temps in the 60-70 range, and lagers even colder. Am I going to get less than optimal taste results because of this?

Given that I have the small batch kit I could probably get a mini-fridge that would hold that 1 gal carboy, but how on earth do all the 5 gal people do it? That would be a pretty sizable fridge, and would cost significantly more than everything else combined.[/quote]

A mini-fridge will hold a 6.5gal bucket, 6gal carboy, or smaller. I found one on craigslist for $75. Bought a temp controller for another $75, and haven’t looked back. I can honestly say my beers have improved dramatically since controlling fermentation temps. For a test, try fermenting 1/2 a batch of wheat beer (or any beer really) at 60F and the other 1/2 at 70F and let me know what you taste. You’ll have 2 dramatically different beers.

If you have the means… get a mini-fridge and controller. You’ll be happy you did. This will also allow you to brew lagers. If not, at least look into making a swap cooler to at least control your ale fermentations.

[quote]The main draw back to a chest freezer is that you need a strong back to heft full carboys in and out. Some use CO2 under pressure to fill and empty a carboy in the freezer.
I’m going to use a trolley and trolley hangar with a pulley to do the lifting when I begin using a chest freezer.[/quote]

Wouldn’t it be easier to rack to a secondary/keg/bottling bucket straight from the primary while it sits in the freezer?

[quote=“Helvetica”][quote]The main draw back to a chest freezer is that you need a strong back to heft full carboys in and out. Some use CO2 under pressure to fill and empty a carboy in the freezer.
I’m going to use a trolley and trolley hangar with a pulley to do the lifting when I begin using a chest freezer.[/quote]

Wouldn’t it be easier to rack to a secondary/keg/bottling bucket straight from the primary while it sits in the freezer?[/quote]
Siphon won’t work to well with both carboys/buckets at the same level.

[quote]

Helvetica wrote:
The main draw back to a chest freezer is that you need a strong back to heft full carboys in and out. Some use CO2 under pressure to fill and empty a carboy in the freezer.
I’m going to use a trolley and trolley hangar with a pulley to do the lifting when I begin using a chest freezer.

Wouldn’t it be easier to rack to a secondary/keg/bottling bucket straight from the primary while it sits in the freezer?

Siphon won’t work to well with both carboys/buckets at the same level.[/quote]

My bad- forgot about that.

[quote=“Helvetica”][quote]

Helvetica wrote:
The main draw back to a chest freezer is that you need a strong back to heft full carboys in and out. Some use CO2 under pressure to fill and empty a carboy in the freezer.
I’m going to use a trolley and trolley hangar with a pulley to do the lifting when I begin using a chest freezer.

Wouldn’t it be easier to rack to a secondary/keg/bottling bucket straight from the primary while it sits in the freezer?

Siphon won’t work to well with both carboys/buckets at the same level.[/quote]

My bad- forgot about that.[/quote]
Pump will work. Expensive, but cheaper than back surgery. Bucket costs and weighs less than a carboy too, in case you can’t afford the pump.

Good info everyone…I’m going to be patient and see how my “Warm-brewed Caribou Slobber” turns out, but I’ll keep an eye out for a used mini-fridge. If it’s big enough to hold a 6gal bucket or carboy, so much the better…

In the meantime google swamp cooler. A $30 cube cooler and some frozen water bottles will do the trick.

I live between Sarasota and Ft Myers on the West Coast and I brew ales year round with this simple system.

Prior to brew day, I cool 3 or 4 liters of tap water to 38 to 40 degrees in the refrigerator.

On brew day, those 3 liters go into a 10 gallon Home Depot water cooler.

My primary carboy containing my latest batch goes into the cool water that is in the cooler and it is followed by 3 liters or so of water from the tap. A bit of ice from the kitchen refrigerator freezer brings that water in the cooler down to 66 or so. I made a plywood cap for the cooler, probably because I had the wood lying around. Photos below.

For the first day or so, and as fermentation begins, I keep a reasonably close eye on the water temp and I add a small amount of ice as needed to keep the water temp at 66. It doesn’t take a lot and our icemaker in the refrigerator freezer keeps up with the demand quite nicely.

Once fermentation slows, the water temp doesn’t vary quite as much and less attention is needed.

I use this process for both the primary fermentation phase and the secondary fermentation phase.

I brew in the Fort Lauderdale area year round. Often the house temperature gets to 80F when we are not home running the AC. I use the “CoolBrewing” bag for my fermenting. Typical is to have a 6 gallon Better Bottle with 3 or 4 containers of ice (48 oz. peanut butter containers filled with water and frozen). With the bag I can hold 68-70 degrees all day long. If you need colder add more ice. I change out the ice twice a day. Very simple process and it really improves the quality of the beer. After a few weeks (depending on the style) I reduce the amount of ice and let the temps rise to 75F for the last week before bottling. Using this system or the cooler type in the previous post you will see a difference in your finished beers. Cheers!

I’m in the Fort Myers area and brewed my first batch in Jan. it was the Irish Red Ale and I didn’t even know that I needed to control the fermentation temp…it has some slight banana esters but besides my super taster wife my friends and I enjoy it.

For my next batch I was thinking of doing a swamp cooler in one of those big buckets that you usually see a keg in. I have been keeping my 1.5L zypherhills water bottles and have about 7 in the freezer. If I have a fan on the bucket, cover the carboy in a shirt to wick the water, and start the water off cold like a previous poster said he did, do you think changing the ice about every 12 hrs will suffice? I am usually gone for about 10-11 hours every day.

Every 12 hours should work just fine. Just adjust the amount of ice to get the temp to where you want it.

Thanks! Also I was planning on using this tub to chill a full 5 gallon boil. I have seen again and again that for a full boil I need at least an immersion chiller. I was planning on filling the tub with ice/salt and water coiling the hose in it then running the cooler hose water through the immersion chiller while all of this sits in the tub with the brew kettle. Is there any reason you think I shouldn’t do this?

Thanks! Also I was planning on using this tub to chill a full 5 gallon boil. I have seen again and again that for a full boil I need at least an immersion chiller. I was planning on filling the tub with ice/salt and water coiling the hose in it then running the cooler hose water through the immersion chiller while all of this sits in the tub with the brew kettle. Is there any reason you think I shouldn’t do this?[/quote]
You don’t actually need an immersion chiller for a 5 gallon batch, if you don’t mind waiting till the next day to pitch the yeast.
It only took me a couple of full-boil, 5 gallon batches to decide it was worthwhile to buy a chiller.

[quote=“rebuiltcellars”]You don’t actually need an immersion chiller for a 5 gallon batch, if you don’t mind waiting till the next day to pitch the yeast.
It only took me a couple of full-boil, 5 gallon batches to decide it was worthwhile to buy a chiller.[/quote]

Sounds good, My wife is on call the weekend before St Patties day so I’ll be around the house all day.

Will it really take all day to get down to pitching temps? Even if I add ice to the ice bath? Also as long as I don’t splash around much, could I stir the wort to cool it faster? I don’t want any hot side aeration, but I am fairly sure I can slowly stir the wort without any splashing.

[quote=“schitzoflink”][quote=“rebuiltcellars”]You don’t actually need an immersion chiller for a 5 gallon batch, if you don’t mind waiting till the next day to pitch the yeast.
It only took me a couple of full-boil, 5 gallon batches to decide it was worthwhile to buy a chiller.[/quote]

Sounds good, My wife is on call the weekend before St Patties day so I’ll be around the house all day.

Will it really take all day to get down to pitching temps? Even if I add ice to the ice bath? Also as long as I don’t splash around much, could I stir the wort to cool it faster? I don’t want any hot side aeration, but I am fairly sure I can slowly stir the wort without any splashing.[/quote]
How long it takes to cool depends on how you go about chilling it, but unless you add a LOT of ice to the ice bath, it will take at least 4-6 hours to get it down to pitching temperature. Frankly, it’s easier to just set it in the ice bath at the end of the brew day, then wake up the next morning to syphon it into your fermenter and pitch the yeast.

Or buy a plate chiller like I did. 10 minutes max to get it down to pitching temp. Of course, I live in a nice climate where the tap water runs at about 40F this time of year…

Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com