Heating things up… adding heat to the fermentation chamber.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!  Mine was awesome, my family all lives out of town but I was able to see everyone earlier in the week and then on Thanksgiving Day I had invites to join two groups of friends for dinner.  I shared some of our Horsey Holidays Horse Pop, which was a hit, and ate and drank until I couldn’t move.  I was able to roll myself into my easy chair with a glass of bourbon and a cigar and called it a night.  Good times.

Horsey Holidays - Tis' the Season

Horsey Holidays – Tis’ the Season

A little while back I shared my info on wiring up the STC-1000 temp controller for heating and cooling a fermentation chamber.  At the time there was no need to add heating but now that temps are dropping it’s a necessity.  After researching a few options I originally went with a small space heater in order to help circulate the warm air.  This worked great for about a week but then the heater died, after sitting overnight the heater started working again but I didn’t trust it to keep our beer safe, so I added a Zoo Med Ceramic Infrared Heat Lamp to the chamber.  It’s been going for a couple weeks now and is holding rock solid.  Note that there are a couple types of reptile heat lamps, this one is ceramic and emits no light, probably the better choice for a fermentation chamber.

Fermentation Chamber with Heater

Fermentation chamber with heater.

Close up on the heat lamp

Close up on the heat lamp.

As you can see from the chart below, there was minimal variation in temps throughout the fermentation process.  I started the fermentation at 62°F (all temps converted from °C) for a couple days then ramped it up to 64°F.  The temperature range once the controller was set to 64°F was 63.68°F to 64.40°F, a variance of only 0.72°F  over a 2 week period (not counting the heater dying) and never more than 0.40 degrees off the target of 64.0°F.  Pretty impressive control.  I was also impressed that the heat lamp was able to pull the temp back to 64°F in <12 hours.

Click chart for full size image.

Fermentation Temperature Chart

Fermentation Temperature Chart

We’re getting ready to rack the beer onto some fruit for secondary fermentation this weekend and we’ll monitor the process with temp control there as well.  I’ve read/heard a thousand times that temp control is the biggest change a homebrewer can make to affect the quality of their beer.  This brew is a huge IIPA so I’m can’t wait to see what we get out of it.  We’ll report back once the beer is ready.

Continuous Hopping our Kiwi Kaleidoscope

Yesterday we brewed an IIPA with all New Zealand hops and dubbed it Kiwi Kaleidoscope.  We used a mix of Green Bullet, Pacific Gem and Kohatu hops and we’re going to add some fresh kiwi fruit to secondary.  In theory we’re pretty sure this is going to be the greatest beer ever brewed.  Don’t be jealous.

In order to make this brew day as much of a pain in the ass as possible we decided to try our hand at continuous hopping after watching some videos with Sam Caligone talking about it.  Since we don’t have an old-school vibrating football game we had to improvise.  We measured out 31 portions of hops to add throughout a 90 minute boil, 30 additions during the boil with a final addition at flame-out with a 15 minute steep.  We started at 90 minutes with heavy additions of the super high AA Pacific Gem (16.4%) and used a blend of Pacific Gem and Green Bullet through the middle of the boil finally tapering to Green Bullet / Kohatu and then just Kohatu with a small addition of all 3 at flameout.  Estimated IBU’s according to Beersmith are 122.2, nice.  It’s very, very hoppy and bitter – but it’s a smooth and crisp bitterness.  I’m really excited to see how this one turns out.

This is also our first brew using our fermentation chamber with full control over temps.  We started it at 62°F and after a few days we’re going to take it up to 64°F.  I’ve heard that having precise temp control makes a huge difference for homebrewers, can’t wait to find out.  I’ll make another post soon showing what I did to add heating to my chamber, it’s a cheap and easy setup.

Continuous Hopping - 31 Additions!

Continuous Hopping – 31 Additions!

My sack looks dirty.

My sack looks dirty.

Fermentation Temperature Control

Fermentation Temperature Control

Next week we should be ready to check out Señor Saison, our jalapeño saison and bottle up our Nutstalgia Nut Brown Ale.  We have several nut extracts (yes I said nut extracts) that we’re going to use in each bottle to have a variety to try.  Hazelnut, Almond and Pistachio for sure and we also have some Black Cardamom and Anise extract, not sure what I think about those in a brown ale but we might do 1-2 bottles just to check it out.  If they don’t kill us we’ll report back with results.

Keezer Temp Controller Using the STC-1000

We recently added a keezer to our arsenal and the person we purchased it from was controlling temps by adjusting the internal thermostat.  We wanted a bit more control over the temps for storing and serving our beers so I built a temp controller to add to the keezer.  A match made in beer heaven.

If you’ve done a bit of looking around at temp controllers you’ve likely seen the STC-1000 mentioned, it’s the go to device for those that don’t mind a bit of DIY.  If you have at least some mechanical/electrical abilities this is very easy to build and total cost is only around $40.00.  The project can be completed in about an hour once you gather everything up.  You ready?  Let’s do this.

STC-1000 Temp Controller Completed

STC-1000 Temp Controller Completed

KEEZER TEMP CONTROLLER BUILD INSTRUCTIONS

Parts List:

  • STC-1000 temp controller  Make sure to get the one rated for 110v and NOT 220v or 12v DC!  (At the time of this post you can get one for $17.92 via Amazon.com, shipped free with a Prime Membership)
  • STC-1000 Temp Controller with FAHRENHEIT display Just added to Amazon, no more messing around converting from Celsius! UPDATE PLEASE READ!  This is not the same as the °C version of the STC-1ooo.  The °F version and only control heating or cooling, it cannot be setup to control two outlets at the same time for simultaneous heating/cooling.
  • Duplex Receptacle Outlet
  • Duplex Receptacle Trim Plate
  • Project Enclosure (I used the 8x6x3 from Radio Shack)
  • Power Cord (I used a 15′ cord and cut pieces from it to use for the internal wiring. You can also use an old computer power cord.)
  • Wire nuts
  • Spade wire connectors (optional)

Tool list:

  • Pencil
  • Ruler or other straight edge
  • Wire cutter / stripper
  • Fleshlight (Just checking to see if you’re reading all of this.)
  • Dremel or other cutting tool
  • Flat and Phillips screwdrivers
  • Electrical tape
  • Drill and bits

Instructions:

  1. Lay out all your parts and make sure you’ve got everything there.
  2. Mark the outline of the STC-1000 and the wall receptacle on the lid of the project enclosure and cut them out.  REMEMBER, you want the inner dimensions of the STC-1000 cut into your enclosure!
  3. Mark and drill holes on the front and back bottom sides (does that make sense?) for the power cord and temp probe to come out of the box, you want these on opposite ends of the enclosure.
  4. Break the hot side jumper tab off of the wall receptacle, this allows you to control each outlet independently.  This is much easier to do before mounting and wiring… trust me.
  5. Mount the STC-1000 and the receptacle in your enclosure.  Attach trim plate over receptacle.
  6. Cut and strip the ends of your power cord.
  7. Run power cord and temp probe into the holes you drilled in the enclosure.
  8. Using the wiring diagram below, wire everything up.
    • On the STC-1000, terminals 1, 5 & 7 are connected via wire nut to the black wire on your power cord.
    • Terminal 2 will connect to ‘cold side in’ on the receptacle.
    • Terminals 3 & 4 will be for the included temperature probe
    • Terminal 6 goes to one hot side connection on the receptacle for your heating control.  Make a note of which outlet you wire for heating and cooling.
    • Terminal 8 goes to the other hot side connection on the receptacle for your cooling control
    • Connect the other cold side connection on the receptacle to the white wire on the power cord.
    • Connect the green wire on the power cord to the ground on the power receptacle.
  9. Wrap electrical tape around the power cord and temp probe to use as a stopper inside the enclosure.  This will prevent the cords from being pulled and damaging your wiring.
  10. Making sure all connections are secure and you have no crossed wires, gently lay the lid with the controller and outlet back on the enclosure.  Plug in the enclosure to verify it powers up.  If you have an outlet tester or multimeter you can set the programming and test each outlet as well.
  11. Place the lid back on the enclosure and secure it with the 4 screws.
  12. You. Are. Done.
STC-1000 Temp Controller Wiring Diagram

STC-1000 Temp Controller Wiring Diagram

Temp Controller Wiring

Temp Controller Wiring

Break off the tab connection these terminals.

Break off the tab connecting these terminals.

So there you have it.  You’ve just built a temp controller you can use on your keezer to keep your brews right where you want them or in a fermentation chamber for lagering.  Add a heat wrap and kick it up for those Saisons and Belgians.  Oh yeah, the STC-1000 only reads in Celsius and since I’m an AMERICAN I don’t know how to read that crap.  I solved the problem of reading in this Commie temperature scale by printing out a Commie-to-‘Merica conversion chart and attaching it to the controller box with gravity.  I’ve included the chart below if you’d like to use it, it prints nicely on business card sheets.  You’re welcome.

Celsius to Fahrenheit Conversion Chart

Celsius to Fahrenheit Conversion Chart