Author Topic: Packing a heater ...  (Read 3996 times)

Offline SleepySamSlim

  • Barley Engineer
  • BeerSmith Grandmaster Brewer
  • *****
  • Posts: 277
Packing a heater ...
« on: January 28, 2009, 01:45:03 AM »
Anyone every use something like this

Thermowell Fermentation Kit  -- bottom on the page
http://www.northernbrewer.com/temp-control.html

For $130 it seems like a reasonable way for those who live in Northern areas to brew in the colder months. Everything I'm learning tells me that the primary fermentation is a key part of the process for good beer. So to be able to control that to within a couple of degrees sounds worthwhile.
Some people tell you the old walkin' blues ain't bad
Worst old feelin' that I've ever had ...
-Robert Johnson

Offline MaltLicker

  • Global Moderator
  • BeerSmith Grandmaster Brewer
  • *****
  • Posts: 2004
    • Blue Ribbon Brews
Re: Packing a heater ...
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2009, 07:25:27 AM »
Ferm temp control is important, and this is a good store-bought solution.  Some friends here (NC) use that thermo controller with a light bulb in a sealed coffee can.  Generates enough heat to do the job. 

Offline Henway

  • BeerSmith Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 36
Re: Packing a heater ...
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2009, 01:04:13 PM »
I think it's overkill for what you're trying to do.

The Ranco can be set to either heat or cool (electricity either on or off at a temp; it can't control the temp by itself...)  I assume the Johnson is the same.

You're trying to keep from cooling the beer too much from the outside.  Yet the thermowell is in the center of the carboy.  By the time the cool has hit the center of the carboy, you've already got a few degrees difference.  Since it's an exothermic reaction, it's producing heat by itself.  I'd just use painter's tape to affix the temp probe to the outside of the carboy--it will probably be more accurate than the center and you'll have fewer things in contact with the beer.

On the flip side, if you're trying to cool it down in the summer and connect the controller to your refrigerator, the thermowell in the center makes more sense.

If you are planning for the future, then great--you'll want this kit and a refrigerator.  If you are only worried about keeping it warm, then it's overkill.  I have the same brew heater as your link and like it a lot. Too bad they don't have a dual stage Ranco/Johnson as an option--then you'd be able to control for cool nights/warm days like we have here in San Diego that sometimes exceed the +/- 2 degF settings I use.

Offline SOGOAK

  • BeerSmith Grandmaster Brewer
  • *****
  • Posts: 383
Re: Packing a heater ...
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2009, 02:31:08 PM »
I like staying low tech.  I think these are all really good gadgets, but I am holding off from them.  The next big time capital expenditure has to be kegging/with a refridgerator.

Good Recipe, Good Ingredients, Good Procedure, Good Sanitation = Good Brew.

Offline SleepySamSlim

  • Barley Engineer
  • BeerSmith Grandmaster Brewer
  • *****
  • Posts: 277
Re: Packing a heater ...
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2009, 09:33:23 PM »
Well I think I'll go semi-low-tech and pop $23 for a brew belt. The ability (during the cooler months) to hold fermentation at around 75deg for a few days should help the yeast to get off to good start. It will be the end of March before temperatures start to moderate here in Oregon.

I'll report back - I'll use it in a couple of weeks when I brew a Black Butte Porter clone
Some people tell you the old walkin' blues ain't bad
Worst old feelin' that I've ever had ...
-Robert Johnson