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Fermentation Fridge

 

Honestly, this is one of those things that is so very nice to have, but really isn't a necessity. It makes it nice to be able to do lagers in the winter or summer, as well as not having to take up the bathtub with towel-draped buckets, attempting to cool them via evaporation.

When I moved, my wife got a new fridge in the deal. I got the old one! It's a regular side-by-side that has had all of the shelving removed.

I built a wooden frame to split the fridge and allow me to hold twice as many buckets/carboys/kegs as could normally be stored on the fridge floor. I considered just using the shelving that came with the fridge, but it's just not strong enough. Considering a 5-gallon bucket of beer weighs in excess of 40 lbs., two of them on a shelf might equal a beer-disaster.

I used 3/4 inch plywood. You'll notice on the bottom that there appears to be a footing added to the box. The bottom of the fridge has a hump at the rear. This footing allows the box to be level, and extend all of the way to the back of the fridge.

The cord you see hanging down on the upper right part of the fridge is the temperature probe from the Ranco controller [the cord has now been attached to the ceiling of the fridge with velcro, with the probe hanging free in the air - the body of the controller is also velco'd to the side of the fridge].

If I'm doing an ale, I'll typically place the "set" temp at 62 F with a 4 degree differential. What this means is the power will turn off when the temp drops to 62 F. If it rises 4 degrees to 66 F, it will turn on the fridge, cooling it until it again reaches 62 F. I do lagers with the "set" temp at 52 F.

One of the really nice things is using this as a lagering chamber. I'll brew up enough beer to hold me for at least 3 months, get everything kegged and into my freezerator. I'll then brew two 10-gallon batches of a lager in a row. After fermentation, I drop the "set" temp down to 36 F and just leave the beer for 3 months. Awesome stuff!

The fridge can hold any combination of 4 buckets, carboys or corny kegs. Ironically, in the picture, I've got two carboys with beer. I never use these any more for secondaries (too dangerous) - I now opt solely for corny kegs.

Enjoy.... JMS


 

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