A WARM FERMENTATION IN COLD WEATHER
Have you stopped
brewing, or are you just brewing lager because your brew area
is just too cold when the temperature drops? There are many ways to keep
your fermenters warm, even if your brew room is icy cold. We have heard
many suggestions over the years, from temperature controlled/heated
to light boxes and electric blankets. Here are some ideas, and the inevitable
DISCLAIMER: some of the following brew tips call
for the use of electrical devices or lights for purposes they were
not designed for. These brew tips are ideas only and we at 7 Bridges
are not responsible for damage or personal injury resulting from
your use of these devices.
A Light Box: A simple incandescent light bulb
can provide enough heat in a small space to keep your fermenter
warm. Use a large box, build an enclosure, or section off a small
closet. Place a utility light with a 60 to a 100 watt bulb inside
the enclosure to provide heat. The fermenter should be covered
with a thick cloth to keep the light from reaching the beer, and
the light bulb should be at least 8 inches away from the fermenter
and any flammable materials. Keep a thermometer in the light box
to monitor the temperature.
Electric Blanket: We have heard from many customers
who have reported success in using an electric blanket to keep
their brews warm during fermentation. The danger in using an electric
blanket is that it can create too much heat. To prevent overheating
your fermenter, first wrap a thick blanket around the fermenter,
and then drape the blanket loosely over this. A fermometer (stick-on
thermometer) will help to monitor the actual fermentation temperature.
Check the temperature frequently.
Aquarium Heater: If you have a large tub that
can hold water and will fit your fermenter (the water does not
have to reach the top of the fermenter), you can use an aquarium
heater. The aquarium heater should be placed in the tub of water,
and the fermenter resting in the warm water will stay at the temperature
you set with the heater thermostat. When purchasing an aquarium
heater, it is important to buy the right one. Aquarium heaters
are rated for volume of liquid and for temperature differential.
If you want to heat 20 gallons of water (include the volume of
liquid in your fermenter in your calculations) about 10 degrees
over the average room temperature, you should buy an aquarium heater
of 200- 300 watts. A good aquarium heater has both a thermostat
and a temperature sensor that measures the current water temperature.
For a small investment, this is one of the most effective ways
to keep your fermenter warm and at a constant, controlled temperature.
Digital Temperature Controller: A digital temperature
controller, an insulated enclosure (such as a refrigerator, and
a heating pad or other thermostatically controlled heating device
can also be used to keep fermentation warm. This method requires
a more modest investment, but because the digital temperature controller
can control both heat and cold, it may be worth it if keeping your
fermentation cool or brewing lager is a concern.