Wednesday 6 January 2010

Constructing a Brewfridge

One of the first things I noticed about brewing in the shed was that the extremes of temperature seem to affect my brew adversely in terms of how long it would take; it would sometimes get "stuck" at a specific gravity of 1018 and take days to shift.

Quite apart from anything else, the extremes of temperature in my rickety old shed, aren't going to lend themselves to conditioning too well either, so I followed some advice on the
Brew it Yourself forum and started constructing a temperature controlled brewing environment.

In principle it's quite a straightforward idea; you use a fridge, a heater and a means of switching them both on and off a degree either side of the specified temperature.

The tube heater in the botton of the fridge.

The fridge I picked up on Freecycle, but the heater and controller were slightly more expensive. The tubular heater can be bought from any online electrical retailer but I would avoid Chemist Direct who took 10 days to deliver mine.

There are a few temperature controllers on the market; I chose one called an ATC800 from a company called Forttex. These are more often used to regulate the temperatures of tropical fish tanks but have applications in brewing also.

The ATC800 controller.

Basically you set a predefined point at which you want your brew toferment (or condition) and wire the fridge and heater into either end of the controller, a probe goes into the fridge. For my current brew (A Woodforde's Wherry) the ideal fermentation temperature is 24 degrees C. So I set the ATC800 to 24, with a 1 degree tolerence either side. The heater comes on until the temperature reaches 24, when the hearter goes off. The temperature continues to rise and when it reaches 25 degrees, the fridge comes on until the temp reaches 24 when it turns off, then when it gets to 23 degrees the heater kicks back in.

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