How to climate control fermentation for homebrewers
A Step-by-Step Guide To Climate Controlled Fermentation For Homebrewers
Firstly, the most important part of brewing is about fermentation. Yeast is vulnerable for rapid temperature changes and can get stressed easily. Therefore, understanding your yeast is key to brewing great craftbeers at home. Follow this stepy by step guide to set up your climate controlled fermentation setup. In this blog you will find all the products you need for setting up your own climate controlled fermentation system at home! Looking for the products you need can sometimes be time consuming, that’s why we did the job and we share it with you guys! Besides, this checklist tells you what you need and where to get it. After all this makes it easy to shop the products and you can focus on building your setup right away.
STEP 1: Read first!
Secondly, the second most important thing about fermentation is understanding the process and the yeast you use. Therefore reading about yeasts tells you about the do’s and don’ts in climate controlled fermentation. Consider using liquid yeast of dry yeast, but ask youself why you want to use a specific yeast strain and what the characteristics are. That’s why you should start reading this bookabout yeast before starting to build your climate controlled fridge. Also dont’forget check out our page with the best books for homebrewers!
STEP 2: Get a fridge
Third, the best way to set up a climate controlled fermentation system is by using a fridge or refrigerator. Although we were lucky to have one for free. Furthermore, they are easy to find and the second hand ones go for prices in between €50-€80. A fridge is well insulated wich is beneficial to controlling the fermentation temperature.
Tip: Try to avoid drilling holes in your fridges (as we hitted the wiring), you can just use the condensator opening to get your cables in! This is a small hole in the back of the fridge.
STEP 3: Get a Inkbird thermostat
So the best way to control fermentation temperature is by using a thermostat. Therefore Inkbird has great products, actually they offer affordable thermostats with great quality. Thus our system is using the Inkbird WiFi ITC-308. As we are not brewing at our home we have chosen this type of inkbird because it is WiFi controlled. Yet we are able to remote control our fermentation temperature by using the inkbird-app! If you don´t need the WiFi features you can buy the cheaper Inkbird ITC-308 Digital.
STEP 4: Cooling & Heating
In the end, setting up a temperature controlled system isn’t that hard! The inkbird thermostats are using two outpout sources, one for heating and one for cooling. The fridge will be plugged in the ‘cooling’ output, the inkbird will start cooling by using the fridge when the ambient temperature is higher than your preference. To regulate the temperature during the fermentation process you also need a heat source. Therefore brewers can use a lightbulb, but we use a frost-resisted heating cable that normally prevents the roots of tropical plants from frostbite. An other option is using this fermentation pad. As the fridge is a humid area where condensation and freezing can occur we find this a safe way of heating our fermenter. The only thing you need to do is mounting the cable in your fridge or wrap it around your fermenter and plug it in the ‘heating’ output of the inkbird thermostat. Lastly we are using the SS Brewtech Brewmaster bucket with a thermowell and this works fine! But any fermenter will do!
Tip: Read the inkbird instruction manual, it is important to configurate the settings. It works with codes and it is important that you know these. Find the Inkbird manual here
Fridge, mounted heating cable and fan for circulation (test version)
STEP 5: How to use
The inkbird turns the heating and cooling on and off at your desired temperature and there you go! If you have a fermentation tank with a thermowell you can put the inkbirds temperature probe in the thermowell. This will improve the reliability of the measurements because they are measured in the center of the tank/volume. Besides cooling and heating optimizing circulation is also imported. We added a small fan into the our fridge to keep a stable temperature.
Tip: Don’t forget to set your ‘Compressor Delay’ (CD), this will help to increase the lifetime of your fridge (compressor). This will reduce the workload and increases it’s lifetime. You can’t control your fermentation with a broken fridge!
In the end, to get you started we made this list below to shop the items you need, including the prices. Without the fridge the total costs are about €80,00 – €100 euro’s to complete this setup. However, i really recommend setting up a climate controlled fermentation system as it will make a major difference on improving the quality of your hombrewed beers! After all it also gives you a better understanding of the yeast you are using and how temperature affects the final taste of your beers.