Monday, 13 January 2014

Temperature Control

Now this is the reason that I resisted home brewing for so long. I had a feeling that like many other hobbies that I have started, it would consume my life for a short length of time and I would end up going a little crazy on gadgets. Case in point:

My first home brew sat at about 22deg as that was the ambient air temperature - I only guessed at this because this was what showed on the stick on thermometer on the side of the fermenter. All my homebrewing buddies said that this was too warm and I should find somewhere cooler in the house. I did some checking and while I found somewhere that was about 20deg it was probably still a little on the warm side.

A modified fridge or chest freezer would be ideal. Trade Me (NZ’s eBay) did show some affordable second hand fridges, but we really don’t have that much spare space, plus we do have two fridges already. The second fridge (ours, rather than the landlords) is fairly empty (it was what I used for crash cooling my first beer) so that has the potential for being turned into a fermenter.

Because I know that I do tend to go hard out with new hobbies I thought I would resist making modifications to a perfectly good fridge until I was 100% sure that this hobby is not just temporary, so I needed something in the meantime - so I spent a bunch of money and built an internet connected logging thermometer using an Electric Imp based on the TempBug Indestructible.

My reason for going with this (and ordering a couple of extra parts kits) was that it could evolve in the future to be able to actually turn on and off a fridge (for cooling) and a heat pad (for warming)

What I ended up doing was putting my fermenter into a larger plastic box and filling about 5cm from the bottom with water and adding ice packs to keep the temperature under 20deg. Seems to be working pretty well. I can see the temperature being logged every 5min and see when I need to change the ice packs - I tend to change twice a day, before going to work and before going to bed. Keeps it between 18 and 20deg - hopefully ideal for my stout.

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