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Temperature control

As we head into Spring and Summer, especially where I live, it becomes rather warm (it can get into the 100’s for pretty long stretches). I am wondering if anyone has come with an economical and efficient way to control the temperature of their beer as it ferments when living in a warm climate. Or does it just make sense to suspend brewing for the warm months then resume again when things cool down.

Unfortunately for where I live that generally only starts happening in late October and into November.

Two words: swamp and cooler; I used a swamp cooler until I added refrigeration to my brewery. Search this forum for lots of good info.

You’ve got air conditioning, right? Swamp cooler will help. A dedicated fermentation refrigerator would be even better. Otherwise, yeah, if you can’t keep fermentation under 70 F, you need to take the summer off, except maybe for saisons.

My house stays around 75-76 during the summer–much too warm for most ales. I use our laundry sink (tub type, pretty deep) as a swamp cooler. I place the fermentor in and fill with water about 2/3 of the way up the fermentor, then use frozen water bottles and milk jugs to keep the water cold. I can usually keep a constant 60-62*F by changing bottles before I leave for work and after dinner. You could do exactly the same thing in a large, plastic tub purchased at wally world. I just keep 5 or six bottles frozen and then refreeze as I swap them out. I’ve used the same bottles for about a year now.

Cheers,
Ron

P.S. After further thought, you could buy a cheap version of the laundry sink. It’s on legs so no stooping, and has a drain in the bottom for easy emptying. Could put it anywhere.

[quote="I use our laundry sink (tub type, pretty deep) as a swamp cooler.[/quote]

That’s a great idea. Eliminates the trouble of lifting the container to dump it when you’re done.

I built a “Mother of Fermentation Chiller” a few years ago and I’m really happy with it. I can easily ferment ales all summer long, even when it’s warm in the house. In the winter, when the house is still quite warm (68-70 deg) I can ferment lagers at 47-50 degrees.

I still have to lager the beers in a fridge though. The MOFC is not hard to build and is really efficient both on ice and on electricity. I typically have 2 ice bins in the freezer, and 2 in the chamber. They get swapped out once every day and half or even 2 days.

We do have air-conditioning, however, we usually keep the house in the high 70’s during the summer due to the heat reaching into the 100’s for long periods at a time, to keep our electricity bill down.

I do like the portable laundry sink idea, though the only place I could keep that would be the garage, and that kind of turns into a sweat box during the summer.

I may just forgo brewing for the summer when the temp starts staying north of 85-90. Until that happens I will probably use the cabinet under the kitchen sink as my “brew corner” for a while.

Thanks for the suggestions.

I hear ya, summer is brutal for fermenting. Some years there are days it breaks 80F. I just take the summer off from brewing. I figure 50 weeks a year for brewing is good enough, I can sweat it out for the remaining two.

Oh, if only it were that short around here. We generally start getting into the 90s in April and don’t see much of a break until October.

We keep the house in the mid 70s during summer, 68-70 in winter. I use a swamp cooler with frozen water bottles year round to control fermentation temperature.

How are you controlling your ferm temps now?

Nothing overt. For my first brew I stored the fermentor in our pantry, which is in the garage. It quite possibly got down into the 50’s at night out there.

The one I am fermenting now (honey ale) is under the kitchen sink, where the temp is a bit more controlled, as it is just room temp (around 70). I have a feeling this one may go a bit better than the last.

I could see under the kitchen sink being problematic. Kitchens tend to be the most eratic room in the house for keeping a stable temperature.

I would say you have to go swamp cooler to get the results you are looking for. Using frozen bottles, I have kept temps down to 10C fairly consistanly when needed. So you should be able to keep a reasonable ale temperature, even in warmer weather.

[quote=“Brew Meister Smith”]I could see under the kitchen sink being problematic. Kitchens tend to be the most eratic room in the house for keeping a stable temperature.

I would say you have to go swamp cooler to get the results you are looking for. Using frozen bottles, I have kept temps down to 10C fairly consistanly when needed. So you should be able to keep a reasonable ale temperature, even in warmer weather.[/quote]
+1

Currently under the sink is a bit more controlled than the pantry. I will have to figure something else out, but want to avoid any spillage especially if I am using a closet elsewhere in the house.

I must be the luckiest man in the world… It doesn’t get much above 70 F in the summer here (within a mile of Lake Michigan), basement is a nice 62-65 F, and then in the winter the basement gets down to about 50 F, perfect for making lagers. I like it cool here and never want to leave. Winters can be a pain with all the cold and snow, but oh well.

Holy carp!!! I wanna move to your neighborhood.

My basement is pretty nice as well (for brewing anyway). Definately has a chill in winter time (Canadian Style). Very similar in summer when the air con is running. So there are only a few months in between where the temps go much above 16-17C.

Cheap do fridge from craigslist and an arc 1000 temp controller. The combo will let you do anything you want.

My auto correct is a bastard:

  • dorm fridge
  • temperature controller (stc 1000 )
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