Winter Brewing

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Doctor's Orders Brewing
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I'm looking at hooking up a couple of light bulbs in the cupboards where my fermenters sit.
The overnight temp is getting a bit low and my ales are at the bottom end of the ferment temp for the yeast ( and it is only April ).

So I have two questions:

1. Does anyone else use a light bulb(s) to keep the temp at night constant? If so what types of light bulbs (normal household size, or those smaller screw in ones) and what wattage rating/how many bulbs do you use?

2. What about light struck beer? Is this an issue when fermenting? Would opaque light bulbs make a difference?

Lightbulbs sound like a good idea - was also interested to read the posting on CBD - ie insulating the fermenter to use heat generated by yeast activity to keep warm overnight.

I love this time of year - my bung fridge needs less ice for lagering and the ales can be set free (ie don't need to be in the brew-fridge).

During the height of summer I was putting 2 and 3 litre containers of ice in with my fermenters to keep the temp down.
Lately I haven't had to use anything.
Now it is getting a bit cold for the ale yeasts.
If I could switch to straight to lager yeasts then I would. But there is no replacement for the wheat (WLP300) wit (WLP400) or belgian (3787) yeasts.
Also it is a bit warm to ferment using lager yeasts in my brewing cupboards at the moment.
I have a great Marzen-Oktoberfest fermenting like a trooper in the fridge at 11 degC at the moment though using the WLP920 Old Bav. Lager platinum yeast.
I bought the Wyeast Pilsner yeast yesterday, so that will get a workout over winter.

i've got an old t-shirt for insulation, with a hole cut out to see the temp.
maybe that would prevent too much light getting a look at your beer...?

i think i read that 60W bulb is pretty good for a reasonably small cupboard, and if you start with 60 you can always go up to 100W for about $1.50... :)
I bought one of those brew belts. It's ok - a little tricky to control the temperature.

I've got an electronic timer that plugs into the AC wall socket. Think I'll try the brew belt with that so I don't have to turn it on every night.
i sit my fermenter in a tub with about 5 in of water in it.. with a 50W aquarium heater in it.. just to stop them dipping below 18 in the secondary..
I am currently using a heat pad, covered with 2 folded teatowels, then the fermenter. I use the teatowels to prevent the brew getting to warm.

I have tried the aquarium heater years ago, but found it a pain to clean and sterilise, I prefer external heating. Less chance of something going wrong with the brew, and easier to fix if it does.
My water heater cupboard is just big enough to put my fermenter in next to it. Last year we had a couple of sub-zero nights and with a blanket around it, my ales were happy at 18 degrees B)
moray: i sit the whole fermenter in a tub of water, and i have the aquarium heater inside the tub of water.. not the fermenter..
nice solution GSRman.

I hadn't seen your post when I posted.


I have an old broken fridge. It has a thermostat in it thats hooked up to 4 normal light globes (40 Watt I think) In winter I genrerally get a temp variation of 2-3 degrees (according to the min/max thermometer)

Here, have a look!

Hey Wasabi,

Nice implementation of a great solution.
Where did you get those great carboys?


I got them off the shelf at Asquith Home Brew Supplies. I don't remember what I paid for them, but it wasn't that much.

Last time I was in there I noticed that they also sold the large 5 Gallon Glass ones too. Was too afraid to ask the price though....
Pete of Meat said:
Does the beer get lightstruck :huh: or is that only after bottling?
As far as I am aware, beer will only get light struck if it is exposed to UV light. As long as your beer does not come in contact with flourescent light or sunlight you should be fine (the incandescent globes Wasabi uses do not emit UV light (I think :unsure: ))


That is what I've been led to believe too Pete.

I wired up and couple of lights last night for my fermentation cupboards. Not quite needed yet, but the nights are getting colder and longer. My theory is one light per cupboard, and as it gets colder I'll install a higher wattage globe. I'm starting with 25w.

Bought a timer this morning to rig them up on. It allows multiple schedules too which will come in useful. Eyed off the 7 day timers and the digital ones but went for the cheaper option.

I installed the lights last night and configured the timer.
I'm using a 25w bulb in a two door cupboard. The other light is in a corner cupboard that has my 60 litre fermenter.
Currently there is just the one ferementer in there (with the Malt Shovel Pale Ale).

I configured the light to come on a couple of times during the night.
Looks like a 25w bulb will keep the ambient temp in the cupboard around 21 degC.

So this looks the go for anyone else wanting to do something similar.


Has anyone out there tried using immersion heaters in winter? Do they work well? Easy to clean?

Last night I wrapped an old electric blanket around a fermentor filled with 20L of 24C water, followed by a thick beach towel for insulation. On the low setting it raised the water temp to 25.8 overnight (sitting in a kitchen cabinet, 11pm-8:30am). Ambient temperature was about 17C at 11pm.

With one of the timers Doc mentions, this could be easily used to maintain a fairly constant temperature.

Just another option to consider, if you just happen to have an old spare electric blanket lying around :)