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bartron

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Hi......first time poster.

I'm fairly new to home brewing and wasn't expecting any world class stuff but was at least hoping for some enjoyable beer.

I've done 2 brews now, 1st was a kilkenny-esk brew that my local homebrew shop gave the recipe for. Tasted brilliant except for the big fat bubbles...and lots of them. Was down to the last 8 bottles before I realised I could release the gas and re-cap them...those last 8 were rather nice...not much gas left. Still, I chalked that one down to experience (wee bit too much priming sugar methinks).

2nd brew was a coopers lager. Nothing special, although I got the same 'too much carbonation" problem even though I was careful not to use too much sugar. Also it is rather watery. This one was done with malt extract and Coopers brew enhancer 1. Still tastes ok though. Did I use too much water perhaps? (I filled to 23 litres)

Both brews I made sure to wait until fermenting stopped and SG was stable so for my third and fourth I was hoping to try bulk priming but I don't have a 2nd fermenter. Is there an easy way of doing this? (I was thinking of disolving some dextrose and pitching it into the wort...bad idea or no?).

Lastly, I have an old fridge that I'm going to replace the thermostat in and keep it at around 18C so I can ferment in summer (I've been kicked out of the laundry :( ). Any suggestions for winter brewing? The fridge is in the garage so will get quite cold in the winter months (Canberra temps around -4 -5 at night mostly) so I'll need a way of warming up the interior if it gets too cool.

Sorry for the long post. My wife thinks she has unleashed a monster (and a messy one at that after spilling wort on the laundry bench....hence the eviction). So far I'm enjoying the act of brewing more than the brew itself. Hoping eventually to try an all grain brew.

Cheers,

Bart
 

nonicman

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For temp control, a mates Dad in NZ use to use a hot box, simply a box with a light bulb in it which the fermenter sat on top of, this was 15+ years ago so I can't vouch for the quality but we use to get simliar temp to Canberra, in that part of NZ (Blenheim, top of the South Island).

Edit: use the light bulb as Pedro has advised below.

For the big bubbles, maybe try using Dried Malt Extract for priming, this seems to work better than normal sugar IMHO.

From memory the "brew enhancers" contain dextrose which can thin a beer out as the yeasties munch the dextrose completely, converting it to alcohol and CO2. Another kit tip, might be not to fill the fermenter to 23 litres, 21 seems to make a better brew.
 

Gulf Brewery

Microbrewed beer at it's best
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bartron

About 11 years ago, my wife told me to get a hobby. Now it has settled down to just an obsession :)

Anyhow, onto your beers. Try using all malt (from your local home brew store) in your beers. It will give that extra bit of body in the beer.

For winter brewing, still use the fridge, but put a light bulb in it. You will need a thermostat that can be set for heating or cooling (search for thermostat on this site and you will find lots of info).

On the bulk priming, you really need to rack it (fancy name for transfer) to another container to get it off the yeast first. then you can gently stir in your bulk primimg sugar and bottle.

Any other questions, just ask!

Cheers
Pedro
 

bartron

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Thanks for the replies.

I'll give the DME a go for priming. The next brew I'm doing is a stout. From what I've read about so far I should fill to 18 litres and use half the amount of priming sugar. I have 2 packets (1kg) of dexstrose and 1 of brew enhancer 1 (70% dextrose and 30% maltodextrin IIRC) but I'm sure I'll find a use for them. If I can't bulk prime (read...get round to buying another container) is there an easy way to measure out the dry malt? I have one of those sugar measuring things but I'm assuming it is useless for measuring dextrose of DME.

As for the fridge, I have 2 options. First is to replace the thermostat with something else. Jaycar have a digital one that can go to 30C (the warmest the fridge will go by itself is 4C). This won't warm the fridge up if it gets too cool though (or control a lightbulb). Second is to control everything from a laptop. I read an interesting atricle the other day where some guy hooked up a PC to some temperature sensors and had the fridge or a lightbulb switch on depending if he needed heating or cooling....not sure if I'm that devoted yet though :beerbang:

Cheers,

Bart
 

nonicman

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Kitchen scales work well for measuring DME for priming. A laptop to control a fridge seems a bit over the top (unless you have a spare lying around :) ).

I use a Gro Warm controller:
http://www.esbeer.com.au/category34_1.htm

If you shop around you might find a better deal, surely cheaper than using a laptop to switch a light bulb on and off, unless like me you have bits of computers competing for space with the HB gear :)

With a Gro Warm, in winter you could use it to control the light bulb (fridge switched off) and when it warms up use it control the fridge.
 

dicko

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I have got a grow warm temp controller on my fermentation fridge and when I bought it I pulled it apart and found that you can hook up both heating and cooling cycles to work together.
That is; when the temp inside gets too warm the fridge switches on and when the outside ambient temp gets too cold (overnite generally) and causes the inside temp to drop I have it turn on a twenty watt light bulb and this heats the inside until the temp reaches the required range and then switches off.
You might say "total hands free operation"
You can buy the thermostat control unit by itself for about $40.00 if you can wire it or have an electrician wire it up for you.

The unit is made by E.G.O. and the model no is ef55.13204.010.

Or you buy the Grow Warm and wire it to suit.

BTW I put the temp bulb on the fermenter under a piece of polystyrene foam and hed in place with a belt.

Cheers
 

kitkat

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just brew lagers in winter, then no need to bring the temp up to 18 degrees :) Fermentation will just stop a bit at night, then restart during the day :)
 

bartron

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Kitchen scales work well for measuring DME for priming
Hmmm....something else to pinch from the kitchen :)

A laptop to control a fridge seems a bit over the top (unless you have a spare lying around )
That I do...work had a bunch of old 486 laptops that currently do a great job gathering dust. Just add FreeBSD, some free software and a bunch of sensors and relays and bingo...one laptop powered fridge. Here is the link http://www.lemis.com/grog/brewing/temperature-control.html
I think a laptop would look a bit neater....I could duct tape it to the front....take that LG internet fridge :blink: I think it is a bit over the top though....for the moment.

Fermentation will just stop a bit at night, then restart during the day
Hey kitkat, have you done this? How long does it take for the fridge to warm up again? (maybe option three....install lightbulb to warm the fridge manually). I don't mind doing this as long as the yeast is fine with going dormant all the time....and the taste isn't affected.

Cheers,

Bart
 

sosman

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There are a few different approaches to controlling your fridge temperature at
http://brewiki.org/TemperatureControl

As for heating, the automatic defrost in my old Kelvinator is more than enough to keep things warm in the winter.
 

deebee

The Bludgeon Brewery
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bartron,

I wonder what the temp would be in your unplugged fridge in winter with the door closed? You might find it evens out the max and min temps to somewhere around lager temps.

Then again, I never been in a Canberra winter.
 

FNQ Bunyip

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I've been stuck with a frozen solid air starter in a canberra winter.. some where around -10 ....

"I think a laptop would look a bit neater....I could duct tape it to the front....take that LG internet fridge " Very untidy Bartron ,, A few beads of silastic on the back to glue in place.. Please... :)

If you can Why not do it.. :)

cheers
 

bartron

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FNQ Bunyip said:
Very untidy Bartron ,, A few beads of silastic on the back to glue in place.. Please... :)

If you can Why not do it.. :)

[post="48914"][/post]​
But duct tape is like the force...it has a light side, a dark side and it holds the universe together :) Plus nothing says "DIY" like two black strips holding something to the front of something else.

Anyway, I went and got myself a thermostat from Jaycay (option 3 on the link that sosman posted :beer: ) so we'll see how that pans out. It has a relay that I could hook a lightbulb up to but then I will get either heating or cooling, nothing in between....alternatly, get a second thermostat or rig a switch for 'summer/winter' brewing. I doubt it will need extra cooling in winter. One of the seals is busted so it reaches ambient pretty quickly (next item to fix). I've already got a digital thermometer hooked up so I can see outside + inside temps pretty quickly. 32C outside yesterday 3.5C inside the fridge so it works pretty well for a busted rustbucket.

Cheers
 

Gulf Brewery

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bartron said:
Anyway, I went and got myself a thermostat from Jaycay (option 3 on the link that sosman posted :beer: ) so we'll see how that pans out. It has a relay that I could hook a lightbulb up to but then I will get either heating or cooling, nothing in between
[post="48932"][/post]​
Bartron

I think that the relay in that unit is a bit light to switch the fridge on/off (will be fine for a light globe). The unit only supports 3 amps inductive load and the motor starting will generate a lot more than that.

At the price, it would be interesting to try it an see how long it lasts.

Cheers
Pedro
 

dicko

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Bartron,
If you connect the jaycar unit to a relay that will carry the amperage of the compressor in the fridge then it will be ok.
See my above post re the EGO unit cause your options at this stage still involve wiring something that is 240v and you wont need the relay with the EGO unit.
If you choose the Grow Warm it is only a matter of fitting another 3 core lead with a three pin female plug that will operate your lamp.
The choice is yours
Cheers
 

dicko

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I should have added that the Grow Warm unit mounts outside the fridge and the bulb and wiring need to go inside, either through a hole drilled for that purpose or as I have done just pass it through the seal on the door.
Cheers
 

Tony M

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An observation on deebee's post. When my lagers get going, I find I have to set the fridge thermostat 2 or 3 degrees lower than my target fermentation temp because of the exotherm. When SG has dropped thirty odd points and everything slows down, I set the thermostat on target temp and everything stays in equilibrium. From this I would deduce that a hardworking brew in a closed insulated box could get a bit warm.
 

bartron

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dicko said:
I should have added that the Grow Warm unit mounts outside the fridge and the bulb and wiring need to go inside, either through a hole drilled for that purpose or as I have done just pass it through the seal on the door.
Cheers
[post="48945"][/post]​
Dicko,

Any info on where I can get the grow warm unit you mention?

We're looking at a few cool days here in canberra so I'll probably start my stout tomorow. I may have to get some yeast but I'll try starting up some dry stuff tonight and see how it goes (the packet has been on a shelf in the garage in 35C heat...can't hurt to see how it goes though). If it warms up at all then I'll cool the fridge manually. For the time being (i.e. over winter) I'll use the thermostat to run a lightbulb and look at a full heating/cooling system once spring arrives....no doubt while enjoying a nice stout :chug:

Cheers all and thanks for all the help so far,

Bart
 

Captain

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Hey Bart,

I built a fridge temp controller very similar to the Grow Warm device. All the info is on this site, that's where I got it from. It cost about $55 to build, a lot less than the Grow Warm which I've seen for $130.00

here's the link...

http://www.aussiehomebrewer.com/forum/inde...l=ts-040s&st=15

It was very easy to build, if I can do it you can probably train a monkey to do it...

Captain.
 

dicko

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Hi Bartron,
Captain is correct, it is cheaper to build a temp controller if you know what you are doing.
The part no. that I mentioned in the above post is the same unit that is in the grow warm unit, but remember, even the grow warm unit need extra wiring to have it both cool and heat.
I got my Gro Warm from Grumpy's in Adelaide.
Grain and Grape list them on their web site and you could probably get one from a good pet shop as they can be used to control the temp of enclosures for lizzards, snakes etc.
Good luck but remember one theing is that you dont get a second go if you stuff up with 240volt so if you dont know or are not sure get a sparkie to do it.
Cheers
 

Ross

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I've set up my 3 fridges with electronic temp control, providing individual heating & cooling for each fridge. The sensors are sitting in the brew via a second hole drilled in the fermenter lid which takes a s/s sealed tube for the sensor to sit in.

This setup enables me to control the ferment much more effectively as I'm controling the brew temp, not the ambient fridge temp & with a far higher tolerence on the variance (+/- 0.5c).
A fridge compressor dosen't like to be turned on/off too frequently, which is why they can typically vary by as much as 10c.
 

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