View Full Version : Craft beer: fermenter temp control

27-09-2016, 07:42 PM
I brew ale at home, and have always wanted to temp control the fermenter. There's 2 routes - cheapest is putting the fermenter in a fridge with a temp controller, expensive option is a glycol chiller, circulating through a stainless steel coil in the fermenter.
These rigs are expensive - $250 usd for the coil, pump and fittings (see http://www.ssbrewtech.com/products/ftss-temp-control-for-7-gallon-bucket-chronical), $999 usd for a 1/3hp glycol chiller (see http://www.ssbrewtech.com/collections/ftss/products/glycol).

Anyhow, I already had a 5 meter 3/8 stainless steel coil used for chilling beer (10, thank you eBay), a stc 1000 temp controller (11, thank you China) and compression fittings to fit the coil to the fermenter lid. I also have a 4m head pump (same spec as the commercial one).

So far so good.

To the point: I saw and purchased a water chiller unit from eBay that had been salvaged from a vending machine. It accepts mains water, and chills it down to 7 degrees c. I've uploaded pics of the unit.

My plan is to add a reservoir of water and use this to maintain temp during fermentation.

I'm only looking to bring 25l down from 21c to 19c, and, be prepared for summer weather (when brewing during a heat wave is a risk of getting to warm - more than 22c)

Anyhow, does anyone see an issue with the plan?
Can you suggest a reservoir capacity suitable for the task? As I'll be re circulating the water, rather than just cooling tap water, is there any risk the heat exchange could freeze? I'm not using the chiller for its intended purpose and understand that is why a glycol mix could be useful due to the lower freezing point.

I welcome any thoughts, concerns or suggestions.

Thank you

EDIT: Also wondering if anyone knows anything about the unit. Googling the model and make (dart dar011) was not fruitful. I know nothing about refrigeration hence posting here. Kinda hoping this will work as it will be a kick ass setup for a fraction of the price of new...

28-12-2016, 06:29 AM
First, you need to know what the heat load is. So to start with you will need to know the quantity (volume) of beer that you wish to cool and how much you want to cool it Starting Temp and Finishing Temp and the time period over which you would want to achieve that difference. The specific heat quantity of the beer is something you should be able to get from the web. Once the beer is at the required temperature the heat load should be minimal and will comprise the specific heat of fermentation, gains from the environment and mechanical gains from machinery i.e. circulating pumps or stirrers.

12-01-2017, 07:43 PM
while the refrigeration geek in me is thrilled at your solution, it just seems like overkill to use a refrigeration system to bring 25 liters of beer from 21 to 19 degrees.

From what I gather in google, tap water in the UK is around 7-10 degrees Celsius, much the same as in Norway.

some guys I work with has made a beer cooling cabinet for a local brewer, using the STC 1000 controller and a danfoss compressor/condenser unit, to maintain a steady temp of 20 C if I remember correctly.

The client paid for the components, and the hours used were paid for in beer, so we got 20 liters of Lager and 20 liters of IPA for our christmas party :)
(I was in Spain working at the time so I didn't get to sample it, but it got five out of five stars from everyone in the company)
for the cooling down, we made a 12 meter coil out of 10mm ermeto pipe (stainless), that he runs tap water straight through, tap -> coil -> drain, quickest and most economical way to cool the brew according to him.

if you want to keep it at a steady 19C, I would suggest adding a solenoid to the feedwater that is controlled by a thermostat in the beer, so that is close the feedwater at 19C and opens it at 20C for example.