Bill Serowski

Bill Serowski

Son of Fermentation Chiller Build

May 13, 2016 | Blog, Das Hausbrauers Blog | 0 comments

This spring’s big homebrew upgrade for me is going to be a new fermentation chamber. I’ve been thinking about one for a couple years now and many flavors have come in and out of my head. I think I first started with the idea last summer of building a “Son of a Fermentation Chamber“. It was definitely cheap, parts were easily accessible and it looked like good clean fun to put one together. Considering we already have a full size refrigerator in the kitchen, another in our basement and yet another in the garage played a big role in the decision to build this. The idea of having a custom chamber sized just enough to hold a couple of fermenters sounded very inviting and not bringing in another major appliance into the home. I’m not exactly sure what happened to that project, maybe it was a busy summer or maybe I procrastinated too much but anyhow I never did get off the ground with that one.

By the way, has anyone ever noticed how the word fermenter never shows up in any spell checkers as a legitimate word?

So as time goes by other options have came in and out of the spectrum. The SS BrewTech stainless steel fermentation bucket with temp controller option is some serious brewing eye candy in my opinion and for a short time I felt like I just had to have it. $200 plus odd dollars for the fermenter and then another $200 plus dollars for the temp control portion quickly weened me away from that idea. Considering the amount of money you spend, you are also manually adding ice to another cooler on a regular basis for the duration of the fermentation process. For that total price it better bottle my beer for me too.

On the same note there is a new Brew Jacket immersion type fermentation temp control device that fits into just about any fermenter you already have. I would say this is definitely very cool and innovative and most attractive for those who simply do not have much room for any kind of chamber. Unfortunately its a costly $300 bucks and I feel can buy a couple of chest freezers for that price. The spec on that says it will cool up to 35° below ambient temperature. Not bad for a little guy.

So that brings me on to the next idea. I have sitting in my basement right now a very small dorm refrigerator. I have scanned over images upon images of people who have made custom cabinets that either fit the refrigerator inside of the cabinet or mounts it to the outside of the cabinet. I wanted to go a step further and dismantle the refrigerator to discard of it all together except for the mechanics responsible for cooling. I would then have a completely custom size fermentation chamber that can nicely hold at least two fermenters. The bottom line unfortunately for me is working with wood. I’m great with electronics and very good with metal, but I’d be damned if I could draw up the plans inside my head to begin to build a custom cabinet. I sat procrastinating this one for the longest of them all and would still very much enjoy something like this if I had the capabilities. All said and done however, you still have a chamber that takes up space which leads my up to what I decided to go with.

Yup………the good old chest freezer.

A smaller standing freezer would be nice and less back breaking but they are typically far more expensive than the chest freezers.  My wife even gave me the permission to buy a brand new one. It seems the 7.0 cu ft freezers will hold a couple of fermenters nicely. The 5.0’s look a lot better in price but it looks like only one fermenter at a time. I’m just waiting to pull the trigger on it. I keep scanning craigslist in hope to find something that looks like it comes from a clean environment. Some of those freezers on craigslist are looking a little rough. Who knows what was stored in them. Home depot now has a sale on a 7.0 cu ft for 185 and a 5.0 cu ft for 148 I think. It wont be long now, I gotta have one for this summer as a few of my beers from last summer were sporting some unwanted fruity characteristics. I also cannot wait to brew up some lagers!
 
Over the past couple years at my work place, the younger generation here was on a Raspberry Pi kick so I picked one up myself to play around with. I also toyed around with an arduino board a bit so when I got into looking at temperature controllers for the fermentation chamber I immediately went for BrewPi. For just a few bucks more (and I mean just a few bucks) I was able to pick up the other parts I needed like temperature probes, resistors and a relay board. Then, after much trial and error, I got the Pi loaded up, displaying a dashboard via web browser on wifi and temperature probes reading. All I need now is a couple of electrical receptacles and some sort of case to mount it all into. 
 
That is where I stand today with everything. Hopefully I will have some more updates soon on where it stands. I’m sure the next posts will be much shorter then the first here. I had a little time on my hands here so I thought I would just let the words flow.  
Brew Pi

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