No More Closet Fermenting

2012 August
After a good brew day, you need to ferment – that’s basically the process of making alcohol. Living in a desert climate can be difficult to keep the wort between 64-70, without a little help. When I was brewing with Mr. Beer, it was early enough in the year that the closet maxed out at 75 – good enough for that type of brewing, however going to full 5 gallon batches, I needed something better.
I saw a post online about someone converting an ice chest (Igloo Cube) into a fermentation chamber, so my DIY kicked in again, and I just so happen to have the Cube on hand. I had already bought 2 – 5 gallon plastic carboys from MoreBeer, so I set one in the cooler to see what I was up against.

The instructions called for 1″ styrofoam, typically used to insulate garage doors…which I also happened to have just enough on hand. So far, no additional costs…looking good! I laid it all out, traced the cooler and began cutting. I cut out the middle to fit right over the rounded top of the carboy, then added 3 more layers, changing the hold size as it got taller.

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My end result.  turned out well and looked really clean.

Now it was time to test, so I filled the carboy with water, put a water bottle with thermometer next to it, and let it sit. My goal was to maintain a constant temperature, regardless of the temp inside my garage. It succeeded for the most part and without adding any cooling I was at 75 deg, so my next thought was how do I cool it a little more. Considering, when the wort is fermenting, it is actually heating up – I knew this would result it me being more proactive and possibly adding frozen water bottles each day. I really did not want to  haved to do that.

Sitting in my garage, thinking, my eyes spotted this other ice chest I had that plugged into the car to keep sodas cold. Gears-a-moving, I thought again, can you guess where I’m going with this? I disassembled the cooler and found the cooling device (peltier cooling part) was attached to the aluminum casing. Since the Cube was plastic, I went and bought a strip of aluminum with the intent of attaching it to the peltier and some how sticking it inside the cube to cool.

My design came out really cool (no pun intended), and after getting the right power cord to convert ac/dc, I ran it for several days, starting out with 90 degree water. It finally cooled it all down to 75, however that wasn’t good enough.

 I then filled the Cube with water and thought that maybe if my aluminum strip was in water, it would transfer heat/cold better. It cooled it a bit more, but was still a little hokey. So, I called it a bust, and converted my lid back into a solid piece – just in time, since I was brewing that week. I just figured I’d keep replacing frozen water bottles within the Cube to keep it cool.
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