1 Posted: Friday, November 10, 2017 11:13 AM

Hi folks,

With summer approaching I'm keen to get into temperature-controlled brewing. The high mercury levels of last summer spoiled a few brews I had going at the time, which was obviously a complete tragedy.

I've been reading up on this a bit, but I'd just like to check my understanding of a few things before I get started. I understand that the general principle is to get another fridge and hook it up to a controller of some sort. It seems a lot of people here use the Inkbird controllers. Are the $50 eBay jobs suitable? The model I'm looking at is the ITC-308. Here's a link: https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Inkbird-ITC-308-AU-PLUG-Temperature-Controller-1-97-Probe-240V-Sous-vide-Brew/331875284839?epid=535835763&hash=item4d454ef767:g:nXMAAOSwTw5Z3xTB

Is it advisable to hook the controller up on the outside so that readings can be taken without opening the door?

What's the go with compressor delay/potential burn out?

Any help greatly appreciated.

Cheers,

KD

2 Posted: Friday, November 10, 2017 11:17 AM

i have the exact same model…
I run a heat belt and the fridge at the same time.

Use a small piece of foam, or such and tape the temperature prob to the FV, so that it is sitting up against the FV and then covered with the foam so it reads the FV temp, not the fridge temp.

I then run the cables through the door seal and to the Inkbird.

When you go to set up the controller, you have to hold down “set” until it starts flashing, then select the temps you want, then hold down set again.

3 Posted: Friday, November 10, 2017 12:32 PM

With some fridges like my bar fridge you can run the temperature probe wire and the heat belt cable through the drain hole. Just cut off the plug from the end of the heat belt to fit it through the drain hole and re-wire a plug from Bunnings.

4 Posted: Friday, November 10, 2017 3:28 PM

Thank you for the fast replies gents. Some good ideas there about the wires.

Repspec: Glad to hear someone else is running the ITC-308. Is it a decent unit that's up to the task mate? Good value for money?

Also, when you say you run the wires through the door seal - does the door still seal properly?

Could someone please shed some light on the delay feature of these controllers for the sake of the fridge compressor? Still not sure how all that works.

Cheers,

KD

5 Posted: Friday, November 10, 2017 9:49 PM

re the seals…fridge always seems to maintain good temp…better than drilling holes or what not.

so the controller works like this…Hook up a heat belt/lamp to the “heating” side then the fridge to the “cooling” side.

Set higher temp at say 19

set lower temp at say 18.5

They have a .5 degree leeway(for memory), so when it drops that half a degree, or rises half a degree it will turn on to suit what you have plugged in ie heat belt for raising the temp, or fridge for cooling…Its easier when the unit is in front of you.

Well worth it imo.

*they will get whatever is plugged in to the setting you are on to the desired temp, then switch off. If you plan on cold crashing, make sure your fridge is set to the coldest setting or it will just keep running

6 Posted: Friday, November 10, 2017 11:12 PM

I have 120v version of this controller, and it works very well, once you get the hang of it.

Regarding burn out of your fridge compressor, you can reduce the workload on your fridge by filling up the empty spaces with jugs of water, to increase the interior thermal mass. That can really help keep the temp stable, especially in summer. Also, make sure your fridge is in a cool part of your house (not in a hot shed).

Cheers,

Christina.

7 Posted: Saturday, November 11, 2017 9:01 AM

Thank you RepSpec and Christina.

RepSpec - when you say you go through the door seals, did you drill a hole through the seal so that it still mates up to the door properly? Or do you have a gap around the cords? Also, it sounds like you don't like the idea of drilling a hole and fitting a grommet to run the cords - why's that?

Christina - thank you for answering my question about the risk of burning out the compressor. Is a 0.5C tolerance (as RepSpec suggested) a good starting point to avoid burnout? I would imagine that if you set it to 0.1C then the heater and fridge might start to fight each other - can that happen? Also, when you suggested putting water etc in there to fill the voids and help fill the interior thermal mass - could you use some other kegs that are conditiong?

Cheers,

KD

8 Posted: Saturday, November 11, 2017 9:55 AM

I also have the inkbird 308, it's a great and easy unit. I run with a +- .5 degree difference and there is
a compressor delay setting to prevent the compressor from potentially burning out, i believe i have mine set to a 3 minute delay. I also run my wires between the door and door seal and it maintains temperature fine.

Hopefully that answers your question.

Cheers,
Hoppy

9 Posted: Saturday, November 11, 2017 9:56 AM

when you open the door, there should be a gap as it swings out…i just feed the wires through there and it seems to seal well.
Id rather not drill holes…just because i dont know that much about fridges and such…rather not risk destroying a good fridge

10 Posted: Saturday, November 11, 2017 10:15 AM

KD1340:

Thank you RepSpec and Christina

Christina - thank you for answering my question about the risk of burning out the compressor. Is a 0.5C tolerance (as RepSpec suggested) a good starting point to avoid burnout? I would imagine that if you set it to 0.1C then the heater and fridge might start to fight each other - can that happen? Also, when you suggested putting water etc in there to fill the voids and help fill the interior thermal mass - could you use some other kegs that are conditiong?

Cheers,

KD


The heater and the fridge will never be on at the same time. In summer the heater will probably never come on at all, and you could leave it unconnected for the season. Say you set the temp for 20C with a 0.5 differential. When the brew gets up to 20.5C, the fridge will come on until the temp gets down to 19.5C. Then it will stay off until the brew temp rises again to 20.5C. My differential is set to 0.3C, which is the smallest it will let you set it. Obviously, the farther away outside temps are to the set point, the more often your fridge or heater will come on. Don't forget, the temp probe is going to be buried under some insulation, up against the FV wall; the temp of the brew doesn't change that quickly, because of the thermal mass. It takes a while for 23L of wort to rise 1C in temp, or 0.6C in my case. If you just left the temp probe dangling inside the fridge, the compressor would switch on and off much more often.

Aren't kegs made of steel? The specific heat capacity of water is much higher (~10X) than that of steel, but you could always try it.

Cheers,

Christina.

11 Posted: Saturday, November 11, 2017 11:31 AM

Thank you all for your replies. I sincerely appreciate your input and look forward to getting one of these ITC-308 units. Great to know there are plenty of others using the same bit of gear.

Christina - I understand what you're saying about the steel, but what if the kegs are full of beer? Wouldn't that work as a thermal mass the same way as a large plastic container full of water? By the way, I am impressed with your knowledge and handle on the terminology - do you have a science background?

I've notived there's a trend both in this thread and elsewhere to brew below 20C, even as low as 18C. Why is that? As a novice, I thought the ideal range was around 22C - 24C or so? My apologies for the rather basic questions.

Cheers,

KD

12 Posted: Saturday, November 11, 2017 8:33 PM

KD1340:

Christina - I understand what you're saying about the steel, but what if the kegs are full of beer? Wouldn't that work as a thermal mass the same way as a large plastic container full of water? By the way, I am impressed with your knowledge and handle on the terminology - do you have a science background?


Not having kegs myself, I am not sure how thick the steel is. If it is thin, it probably would not be that much different than using a plastic container. If it is thick, might it act more like insulation for the beer inside the keg? I don't know the answer to the question BTW, I just wonder about it….I used to be a nurse practitioner, but I picked up the term “specific heat” from my interest in passive solar heating / building design. Always wanted to build a passive solar house, but never did.

KD1340:

I've notived there's a trend both in this thread and elsewhere to brew below 20C, even as low as 18C. Why is that? As a novice, I thought the ideal range was around 22C - 24C or so? My apologies for the rather basic questions.

Cheers,

KD


The ideal range varies between the yeast used, the style you are brewing, and your own tastes. At 18C most ale yeast are pretty clean and neutral, which is ideal if you are brewing an IPA, where you want hops to be the center of attention, or style where you want the emphasis to be on the malt. At 22-24C you will probably get more esters, which would be suitable for English Bitters. Some strains of yeast produce more esters than others though, and the ones they produce can also vary. Then there are Belgian yeasts, like Saisons, which temps really warm. For a lot of Belgian and wheat styles, the yeast is the focus.

I think the reason you see 18C used so often on the forum is because IPAs and APAs are really popular.

Cheers,

Christina.

13 Posted: Sunday, November 12, 2017 8:47 AM

ChristinaS1:

KD1340:

I've notived there's a trend both in this thread and elsewhere to brew below 20C, even as low as 18C. Why is that? As a novice, I thought the ideal range was around 22C - 24C or so? My apologies for the rather basic questions.

Cheers,

KD


The ideal range varies between the yeast used, the style you are brewing, and your own tastes. At 18C most ale yeast are pretty clean and neutral, which is ideal if you are brewing an IPA, where you want hops to be the center of attention, or style where you want the emphasis to be on the malt. At 22-24C you will probably get more esters, which would be suitable for English Bitters.

I've been following brulosophy fermentation temperature experiments with interest… I think there's been 10 so far - same yeast, same wort, but fermented at widely different temperatures. I know some like yourself are critical of some aspects of his methodology, but I think after 10 experiments it's starting to become pretty clear, that the impact of temperature is substantially less than we've been led to believe. Most surprising for me was the popular larger yeast W34/70 (10ºC vs 21ºC) which failed to reach significance among 26 tasters.

With this growing body of experimental work consistently suggesting that absolute fermentation temperature (within reasonable limits of course!) has little or no detectable impact on the final product what I'd like to see now is more work done on evaluating the impact of temperature fluctuations, particularly trials that relate to real-world scenarios - i.e. fridge stabilised fermentations vs ambient fermentation.

14 Posted: Sunday, November 12, 2017 2:18 PM

This seemed like as good a thread as any to ask this question as I’ve just started temp controlled fermentation with a coopers pale ale and a light ale. I’ve got them bubbling away at 18 degrees and wondered can I make use of spare space in my monster old clunker to bottle condition these when I put another brew down?

15 Posted: Sunday, November 12, 2017 7:25 PM

BrettJ:

This seemed like as good a thread as any to ask this question as I’ve just started temp controlled fermentation with a coopers pale ale and a light ale. I’ve got them bubbling away at 18 degrees and wondered can I make use of spare space in my monster old clunker to bottle condition these when I put another brew down?


Yes you can. Very handy in the winter.

16 Posted: Monday, November 13, 2017 9:16 AM

Graculus:

BrettJ:

This seemed like as good a thread as any to ask this question as I’ve just started temp controlled fermentation with a coopers pale ale and a light ale. I’ve got them bubbling away at 18 degrees and wondered can I make use of spare space in my monster old clunker to bottle condition these when I put another brew down?


Yes you can. Very handy in the winter.


Thanks Graculus - it’s more the summer ahead that’s got me needing temp control. Currently 26.5 degrees in Townsville and it’s not even 8.30am yet. I’m trying to keep things cool when conditioning brews and the ambient temp in the shed just won’t cut it.

17 Posted: Monday, November 13, 2017 11:50 AM

BlackSands:

I've been following brulosophy fermentation temperature experiments with interest… I think there's been 10 so far - same yeast, same wort, but fermented at widely different temperatures. I know some like yourself are critical of some aspects of his methodology, but I think after 10 experiments it's starting to become pretty clear, that the impact of temperature is substantially less than we've been led to believe. Most surprising for me was the popular larger yeast W34/70 (10ºC vs 21ºC) which failed to reach significance among 26 tasters.

With this growing body of experimental work consistently suggesting that absolute fermentation temperature (within reasonable limits of course!) has little or no detectable impact on the final product what I'd like to see now is more work done on evaluating the impact of temperature fluctuations, particularly trials that relate to real-world scenarios - i.e. fridge stabilised fermentations vs ambient fermentation.


After you mentioned it, I decided to read the experiment you referred to. Once again I have a bone to pick with his methodology: he split the starter evenly between the warm and cold sides of the experiment. He says, “A few days before brewing, I made a single starter of a Wyeast 2124 Bohemian Lager yeast that I stepped up to ensure enough cells for two 5 gallon batches….With both beers stabilized at their respective fermentation temperatures of 48F/9C and 72F/22C 6 hours later, I decanted the yeast starter then evenly split the remaining yeast between the batches.” It is well known that you need twice as many cells to make a lager than an ale. Why? Because yeast don't reproduce well at 9C. If he used lager pitching rates for the warm half of the experiment, wasn't he over-pitching? Shouldn't he have used ale pitching rates for the warm half of the experiment? Stands to reason that over-pitching the warm half could make it taste cleaner than it otherwise would have.

Which brings up another question: when you compare the stats from Fermentis for 34/70 and S-23 fermented @ 12-14C to US-05 and S-04 fermented @ 20C, ester numbers are about the same across the board, but fusel alcohol levels are significantly lower for lager yeast. I wonder if lager yeast would still produce fewer fusel alcohols than ale yeast if fermented at ale temps? In other words, is this something about lager yeast, or is it due to lower fermentation temperatures? Perhaps the lack of significant difference in this experiment of Burlosophy's suggests that lager yeast are resistant to producing fusel alcohols? Unfortunately home brewers can't measure fusel alcohol levels.

Besides where they like to live, I'd like to know the real difference (flavour-wise) between ale and lager yeast. Is it just that lager yeast can withstand colder temperatures? If you split a batch (simple grist and no late hops) and fermented half with a lager yeast, and half with an ale yeast with a similar attenuation rate, and you pitched the same number of cells, and fermented both at 18C, could you taste the difference?

Cheers,

Christina.

18 Posted: Monday, November 13, 2017 1:13 PM

ChristinaS1:

Say you set the temp for 20C with a 0.5 differential. When the brew gets up to 20.5C, the fridge will come on until the temp gets down to 19.5C. Then it will stay off until the brew temp rises again to 20.5C. My differential is set to 0.3C, which is the smallest it will let you set it.

Actually this is incorrect. It will turn the fridge on when it hits 20.5C but it will switch off when it gets back to 20C, not 19.5C. To the OP, this doesn't cause overload on the fridge if you have the temperature probe taped to the side of the FV about halfway up the level of the brew, insulated underneath foam or the like.

I just had to move my fridge to another room mid brew.. my pils is in its 18C phase but the probe had to be removed to take the FV out to move it… in this instance I've just dangled the probe in the fridge and changed the differential to 2C; it's not coming on very often at all.

Cheers

Kelsey

19 Posted: Monday, November 13, 2017 8:11 PM

ChristinaS1:

BlackSands:

I've been following brulosophy fermentation temperature experiments with interest… I think there's been 10 so far - same yeast, same wort, but fermented at widely different temperatures. I know some like yourself are critical of some aspects of his methodology, but I think after 10 experiments it's starting to become pretty clear, that the impact of temperature is substantially less than we've been led to believe. Most surprising for me was the popular larger yeast W34/70 (10ºC vs 21ºC) which failed to reach significance among 26 tasters.

With this growing body of experimental work consistently suggesting that absolute fermentation temperature (within reasonable limits of course!) has little or no detectable impact on the final product what I'd like to see now is more work done on evaluating the impact of temperature fluctuations, particularly trials that relate to real-world scenarios - i.e. fridge stabilised fermentations vs ambient fermentation.


After you mentioned it, I decided to read the experiment you referred to. Once again I have a bone to pick with his methodology: he split the starter evenly between the warm and cold sides of the experiment. He says, “A few days before brewing, I made a single starter of a Wyeast 2124 Bohemian Lager yeast that I stepped up to ensure enough cells for two 5 gallon batches….With both beers stabilized at their respective fermentation temperatures of 48F/9C and 72F/22C 6 hours later, I decanted the yeast starter then evenly split the remaining yeast between the batches.” It is well known that you need twice as many cells to make a lager than an ale. Why? Because yeast don't reproduce well at 9C. If he used lager pitching rates for the warm half of the experiment, wasn't he over-pitching? Shouldn't he have used ale pitching rates for the warm half of the experiment? Stands to reason that over-pitching the warm half could make it taste cleaner than it otherwise would have.

I've read somewhere that an over-pitch needs to be quite substantial before it has any kind of detectable impact. Interestingly Brulosophy did an experiment on this too - a lager fermented with W-34/70, 50% underpitch vs a 250% overpitch, and again his tasters couldn't reliably pick a difference:

http://brulosophy.com/2016/11/07/yeast-pitch-rate-pt-5-underpitch-vs-overpitch-in-a-lager-exbeeriment-results/

20 Posted: Tuesday, November 14, 2017 6:21 AM

I think he needs new tasters. I mean seriously, even on that one where he deliberately effed everything up the useless pricks couldn't pick a difference in ‘significant numbers’.