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Insanely hot fermentation?

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1 Insanely hot fermentation? on Mon Jun 28, 2010 11:20 pm

Living here in Brooklyn without a second refrigerator to maintain steady fermentation temps has been a constant challenge. I recently brewed a Brooklyn Summer Ale clone, fermented it in a wash tub full of water and left my air conditioner on at 65* pretty much around the clock. While the final product turned out great, I just got my ConEd bill and don't think I can do this all summer. I recently read that Wyeast's Belgian Saison (#3724) ferments best at around 90*, and while this would be perfect for local conditions, it just seems impossibly high. Does anyone have experience using this strain? Can this really be true?

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2 Re: Insanely hot fermentation? on Tue Jun 29, 2010 1:43 am

You'd better believe it's true. That, and the French Saison yeast do wonders at 80+. However, they are saison strains, so if you wanna brew some other style just make a swamp cooler. Get yourself a plastic tub or something that can gold your fermenting bucket, fill it with water, and throw in frozen soda bottles filled with water to keep the temperature where you want it. Almost free and works like a charm. Cheers!

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3 Re: Insanely hot fermentation? on Tue Jun 29, 2010 12:21 pm

I've been doing something similar to the swamp cooler. Basically i have a plastic tub with water and ice bottles, drape a towel over the fermenter and have a fan blow on it. But there are 2 problems. One is that i have no real way of controlling the temperature and also my apartmentbgets to 80' easily in this heat. So i keep my AC at 75' all day long. I'm expecting a huge bill from Con Ed!

I'm thinking of a couple of different solutions. One is a small fridge with a Johnson type controller. This would be more upfront cost but is accurate and i can get a small fridge won't take up much space inmy kitchen. I could also do a SOFC, but I will be swapping ice bottles all the time and the thing looks ugly unless i build a cabinet around it. However i don't have a place to cut wood or even the insulation without making a mess in my apartment. Lastly i could do the low tech layering system but that takes up a lot of space and also involves swapping out frozen bottles.

I'm leaning towards a small fridge which wouldnalso allow me to lager.

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4 Re: Insanely hot fermentation? on Tue Jun 29, 2010 10:46 pm

Thanks for the input guys. Dimik, you've convinced me to brew a Saison. I enjoy the style but have never attempted brewing one. Bassman, I am currently using the same methods that you are - tub of water, changing out ice-filled bottes, keeping the AC on and using a towel to encourage evaporation. It's been giving me decent results, but damn is it a lot of work. I've also been considering making the investment in a larger fermentation chamber with a Johnson Controls unit, though I'm leaning toward a chest freezer, as it has a wider range for lagering, which I've also never done due to temp limitations. Dimik, what kind of fermentation chamber, if any do you use? Thanks again guys. It's great to finally trade ideas with other local homebrewers.

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5 Re: Insanely hot fermentation? on Tue Jun 29, 2010 11:42 pm

I use swamp cooler for ales, as needed. So, for instance, Belgian ales and Saisons do not really require temperature control besides the initial cooling to pitching temps. My apartment is also very hot in the summer, and getting into 80+ is nothing at all right now. Thus, saisons are a natural choice Smile I don't find temp control difficult with frozen bottles. I just seem to have a natural feel for it and have no problem keeping my beer bubbling at 64 with no shirts and fans.
For cold conditioning, clarifying, and lager fermentation I use a mini fridge. If only I had any space in my apartment... ahhhh that would be a dream.

One suggestion for your first Saison. I'd start with 3711 because it is easier to use, not as capricious as the Dupont strain (3724), and ferments the living hell out of your wort quickly. I'm getting around 91% attenuation from it consistently. The Dupont strain takes longer to finish, and may cause you to freak out or something since you don't know what to expect. Smile Either way, you'll have a delicious brew, I'm sure. And meanwhile, I need to brew another Saison in 2 weeks...

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6 Re: Insanely hot fermentation? on Wed Jun 30, 2010 1:23 am

I love the French Saison #3711 best, but Belgian Saison #3724 will also definitely do the job in the heat. it just may take a while. My Belgian saison w/ #3724 took almost 4 months to ferment out even with a nice starter and a clean re-pitch. It really can take forever. Wyeast describes #3724 as... "notorious for a rapid and vigorous start to fermentation, only to stick around 1.035 sg. Fermentation will eventually finish, given time and warm temperatures."
I've had no such problems w/ the #3711.

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7 Re: Insanely hot fermentation? on Wed Jun 30, 2010 9:43 am

According to Brewing Classic Styles he recommends starting fermentation at 68' but raising it into the 80.s over the course of fermentation. Athough he says you may still ned to add more yeast if it gets stuck.

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8 Re: Insanely hot fermentation? on Thu Jul 01, 2010 3:02 pm

Bassman wrote:According to Brewing Classic Styles he recommends starting fermentation at 68' but raising it into the 80.s over the course of fermentation. Athough he says you may still ned to add more yeast if it gets stuck.

+1 What you're going to worry about most is the production of diacetyl and fusels from a hot initial fermentation, just keep it as cool as you can (preferably 70 or under) until you start seeing some activity. Then let it rise. Towards the end you'll appreciate the heat to help it finish out.

Alternatively, you could do the same with Wyeast 3711. Slightly easier strain to manage. Though I think you're not supposed to let it get quite as hot, I've had good fermentations with it around 80F.

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9 Re: Insanely hot fermentation? on Fri Jul 02, 2010 6:55 pm

+1 on the French Saison. It is my summer yeast.

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10 Re: Insanely hot fermentation? on Mon Jul 05, 2010 4:37 pm

My system for temperature control works good enough to keep me at around 68 in the summer and where ever I want to be in the winter. It's simple but does require a temperature controller.

I used to run reef aquarium systems, so I had a temperature controller already which simply changes between a heater and cooler whenever the temp reaches the programmed amount. They can be found on ebay cheap as hell.

Currently, I ferment in a tub filled with water and have an aquarium heater plugged into the "heat" side and a small fan in the "cool" side. I'm pretty sure this fan only cuts it because I have central air in my house which keeps my beer room at a fairly consistent temperature. If I did need to go lower, I could always add ice.

Now in the winter, that room gets much colder than the rest of the house because it is on the ground floor. Thankfully, with the aquarium heater I can keep my fermentation at any temp I want, well into the 90's.

It's a simple set-up, but it works magic. Even if you had to buy everything it can be had for under $100.

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11 Fermentation Chiller on Wed Jul 07, 2010 1:54 pm

I had the same concerns a few months ago during a spring heat wave that put an IPA I was fermenting in my living room over 80F. Run a Google search for "Son of Fermentation Chiller" and you should be able to locate some schematics for a great solution.

Basically, you will be building a box out of 2 inch extruded polystyrene insulation (i.e. "Pink Board"). It has two compartments: 1 in the front for your fermenter, and 1 in the back for some ice. The two are connected through some small openings at the top, and temperature is controlled by a computer's 30mm cooling fan hooked up to a standard AC thermostat.

It runs on 12V AC to DC (adapter from radio shack) so it's very friendly on the ConEd bill. A bit of an eye-sore, but my mother-in-law came through in the clutch with a quilted cover that gives me some added insulation and disguises the box so as not to offend my wife's delicate sensibilities.

I rotate through 1.5L bottles of ice 2 at a time about once or twice a day, depending on the difference between ambient temp and fermentation temp. But I've generally been able to hold it down as low as the high 50s lately.



Last edited by AstoriaBrewer on Wed Jul 07, 2010 1:56 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : typo)

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12 Re: Insanely hot fermentation? on Wed Jul 07, 2010 2:04 pm

Where did you get the insulation material? I checked Home Depot and all they had was thinner, maybe 3/4", pink board and 1" thick white styrofoam.


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13 Re: Insanely hot fermentation? on Wed Jul 07, 2010 2:19 pm

Home Depot on Northern Blvd in Queens. I couldn't find 2" board either, so I doubled up 3/4". Had to basically manufacture a piece of 4' x 8' x 2" board with insulation adhesive, then cut it down with a PVC saw. It was a fair amount of work, but I'm happy with the results.

Oh, and I forewent the grommet and dowel closure. That did NOT seem like it was worth the effort.

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14 Re: Insanely hot fermentation? on Wed Jul 07, 2010 2:25 pm

Thanks, that's where I saw the 3/4". I may do the SOFC. I wanted to get a small fridge and controller but i have to budget a bit and SOFC seems like a good compromise. Plus it's got to be cheaper to build than running the AC at 70' 24/7!

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15 Re: Insanely hot fermentation? on Wed Jul 07, 2010 3:57 pm

The total cost wasn't THAT bad... More than $50, but less than $80, I think.

Another tip to make your life easier: don't bother with the wooden molding to support the weather stripping. I found that it does not adhere very well when glued. Instead, I opted for 1/2" adhesive foam tape. Just buy a couple 10" rolls of that and double up where necessary.

I also left off the "fan running" LED indicator. I tried, but couldn't get it working. A neat perk, but you can check just as easily by popping the top to check once in a while.

Lastly, don't sweat it if the fit is not supper snug all around. I sealed all the inside fixed seams with spray foam, and the top and front with duct tape when in use.

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16 Re: Insanely hot fermentation? on Wed Jul 07, 2010 8:05 pm

Thanks for the tips. I may try to build it this Saturday.

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17 Re: Insanely hot fermentation? on Wed Jul 07, 2010 8:21 pm

Not to piss into your beer, but wouldn't it be easier to just get a mini fridge from craigslist or something for the same $50, rather than have to build a chamber and hook it up to a fan plus have the AC running into it?

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18 Re: Insanely hot fermentation? on Wed Jul 07, 2010 10:20 pm

Maybe. But then you don't get to geek out with wires and electrical tape and caulking guns and such.

Also, the energy cost of running on 12V AC versus what a used mini fridge will draw will ultimately be less.

I guess it all depends on what your idea of "fun" is.

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19 Re: Insanely hot fermentation? on Wed Jul 07, 2010 11:05 pm

Unless you wanna run the AC in the winter to control your temperatures and cold condition, I'd go with the fridge Smile

Then again, wrapping yourself in wires may give one a sense of satisfaction like none other.

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20 Re: Insanely hot fermentation? on Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:13 am

The son of fermentation chiller ( SOFC )would not need AC in winter at all. It would need some in the weather we are having now, but not as much as the fermenter in water draped with a towel with a fan on it.

The fridge has a few downsides, the cost is more when you add in the johnson controller because you do not need a high amperage controller for a SOFC but do for a fridge, space is an issue if you cannot find a cheap mini-fridge that will fit a carboy on craigslist, or you buy a new mini-fridge in which case the cost is then even more.

The SOFC is a pain because you need to change ice bottles and have to watch condensation, but it is cheap and quiet.

It is not an easy decision in a NYC apartment, especially if you don't want to spend $200 to $300.

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21 Re: Insanely hot fermentation? on Thu Jul 08, 2010 3:00 pm

Just thought we would pass this little bit of info a customer just sent us!!! It looks awesome and it's small, we may see if they would make a nice addition to our shelves!


"Brooklyn Homebrew folks,

I was in the other day picking up another wyeast 1968 to re-pitch in what I was hoping was not a failed ESB brew. Got to talking with staff and shared some pics (on iPhone) of my *mad scientist* fermenting setup. Thought I'd share the completed version with fermenting beer - see attached photo. Btw, the brew turned out perfect - target OG 1.066 (actual 1.063), target FG 1.020 (actual 1.017) for attenuation of 69% and ABV 6.0%. i drew off a small sample from the valve on fermenter for gravity readings - took a taste of course - seems like no off-flavors, strong malty profile with moderate bitterness and hints of fruit (granted it still needs to condition for a while longer).

OK, here's the Frankenfermenter setup in the photo:

- Stainless steel fustini
- Internal copper coil attached (using o-rings for seal) to fustini lid
- Internal thermowell - also copper
- Mini thermoelectric cooler (that's the red thing in the pic)
- Low GPH 120V AC submersible pump (inside cooler) circulates water through coil in fermenter
- Johnson Controls A419 - attached to pump
- Old liquid cooler from PC and used PSU for cooling thermoelectric diode
- Thermometers, tubing, airlock, etc.
- Felt plus sweater vest cozy for fermenter!

It can keep the beer in the upper 60's pretty well. I will probably add a more powerful thermoelectric diode (like the IceProbe many homebrewers use: http://www.novatecproducts.com/iceprobe_product_gallery.htm - see the pics) for the next batch. Not sure about lagering at this point, but maybe with the more powerful setup it will be possible. It was so much fun to make this thing!!!

Actually, the IceProbe might be something for you guys to consider carrying. I've seen quite a few examples of homebrewers installing one into their stainless conicals. just a thought - so many apartment dwellers and putting an upright freezer in your 400 sq. ft. apt can be a problem.

let me know what you think. sorry for the crazy long email - I get carried away. Thanks also for all your advice on brewing and for troubleshooting my issues!

Best,
Zach"


The IceProbe costs around $99. Pretty sweet!!



Last edited by brooklynhomebrew on Thu Jul 08, 2010 3:20 pm; edited 1 time in total

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22 Re: Insanely hot fermentation? on Thu Jul 08, 2010 3:11 pm

Just goes to show what lengths a man will go to to get a pint of good brew!

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23 Re: Insanely hot fermentation? on Thu Jul 08, 2010 3:15 pm

I especially like the V-Neck sweater! Classy! afro
-Danielle

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24 Re: Insanely hot fermentation? on Fri Jul 09, 2010 12:43 pm

That is great. I've read about people using peltier coolers for fermentation temp control. To me it seems to be a cooler DIY than the SOFC but more money. But it's less expensive than a new mini-fridge but take up more space.

imo

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25 Re: Insanely hot fermentation? on Wed Jul 21, 2010 5:41 pm

So I've decided to do nothing in terms of buying a fridge, building an SOFC or peltier or anything. But I have successfully been controlling my fermentation at ann ale temperature of 68' and I think I could get down to 66'.

When I brewed last weekend I used an immersion chiller, although that gets it down to about 78'. I aerated and pitched and then put the fermenter in a bin and put about 6" of water. I had a good bit of ice cubes ready to go and dumped that in the water. I had pre-cooled my living room to 72', which is the best I can do. I wrapped the fermenter in a wet towel and set a fan blowing on it at a high speed. By the time I got cleaning and went out for a burger and a few pints I checked the temperature and it was at 66'. In the morning it was still at 66'. I lowered the fan and during the day keep the living room at 75'. I have not seen a temperature above 70' in the 5 days I have had it fermenting. It has been bubbling away since Saturday morning , I pitched on Friday night. Once the bubbling calms down I will relax a bit on the AC and next weekend will probably brew another batch, so I need my bin and fan.

So for now this works. I am paying Con Ed some cash that I wish I wasn't but at least I have a solution for ales. Lagers are a way off but that is okay.

By the way, my last ale, a brown, turned out great and I was fermenting in the mid 70's.

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26 Re: Insanely hot fermentation? Today at 4:59 pm

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