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Da Morphsta

Wanted: tips for buying a brewing fridge

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Hi folks,

I've got a WIFI Inkbird temp controller and am looking to buy an old fridge for brewing.

Are there any tips for what sort of fridge to get (obviously aside from being able to fit the still...lol)?

I was wondering about fridge/freezer units, do they work ok with the inkbird even though there's a freezer part?

Thanks in advance.

Andrew

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Any will do the job, but personally I prefer fridge or freezer only units. The freezer in combo units tends to get a bit manky being shut all the time at the warmer temperatures fermentation is done at. At least mine did anyway until I replaced it with my old kegerator. 

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Honestly though, I’d be looking for an all fridge if you can get it. The freezer wouldn’t be much use  when at fermentation temps, unless you just want to use if for storing stuff that doesn’t matter constant temp fluctuations.

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All fridge is the go. Look around on your local gumtree site or FB buy/swap/sell....their out there

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, UncleStavvy said:

All fridge is the go. Look around on your local gumtree site or FB buy/swap/sell....their out there

I've seen people recommend upright freezers as well, the claim being it is better insulated and doesn't work so hard. I'm not sure the 'better insulated' is the case these days but I reckon a freezer would coast alone where a fridge is working to bring temps down, particularly for CC'ing.

Just make sure it isn't one where the shelves are part of the cooling system - you can't take those out to make room for your FV.

Edited by Journeyman

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My kegerator must have good insulation. Brew coming up to three days since pitching and two days since activity was visible so right in the middle of fermentation. Dropped to 17.9 degrees around 1am and still hasn't warmed up to the 18.3 needed to kick it back on again 9 hours later. I have noticed the temperature rise on the inkbird controller seems to be slower than it is with the stc on the other fridge but 9 hours is a bit ridiculous. 

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1 hour ago, Journeyman said:

reckon a freezer would coast alone where a fridge is working to bring temps down, particularly for CC'ing

Yeah @Journeyman seeing that right now. Reset the Inkbird around lunchtime yesterday and it's got down from 18 to 6.3° overnight. Slowish much?

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Posted (edited)
3 minutes ago, UncleStavvy said:

Yeah @Journeyman seeing that right now. Reset the Inkbird around lunchtime yesterday and it's got down from 18 to 6.3° overnight. Slowish much?

That's reasonably normal for a fridge. What were ambient temps during that period? 

Ahh... just realised 'lunchtime' - mine would be pretty much down to CC temp in that period.  But your is still not a bad time - that's a lot of brew to cool.

Edited by Journeyman

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Not real sure, was fairly wild and windy last night so maybe 10-12 deg. Was looking around for an all fridge yesterday on gumtree but reckon an old school upright freezer might be best now

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1 hour ago, UncleStavvy said:

Not real sure, was fairly wild and windy last night so maybe 10-12 deg. Was looking around for an all fridge yesterday on gumtree but reckon an old school upright freezer might be best now

I converted a chest freezer into a keezer for my kegs and use an Inkbird, works great🍺

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11 minutes ago, Red devil 44 said:

I converted a chest freezer into a keezer for my kegs and use an Inkbird, works great🍺

I did it the other way around: used a chest freezer as my fermentation chamber and several years later switched to using it for kegs. I was lucky that the secondhand freezer I bought just happened to be tall enough to fit Pepsi kegs without having to build a collar for it. The conversion to keg fridge consisted of nothing more than turning the temp down on the Inkbird. 

If I was starting over, but knew what I know now, and I didn't have enough money for both a brew fridge and a chest freezer, I would strongly consider a chest freezer. Nowadays, what with kveik yeast and spunding valves (which allow you to ferment under pressure), you can make good beer at ambient temps. Kegging is great, and bottling is a pain.

Cheers,

Christina.

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Christina,  you raised a very good point a while ago about the dangers of lifting FV's and kegs in and out of the chest freezer.   In fact, it convinced me to give up the idea of a chest freezer for a conventional upright refrigerator for my brew fridge and I have no regrets (I am not interested in kegging)  .   

Every time I lift the FV in and out of the fridge I am reminded of how much harder (and riskier) it would be to have to lift the FV in and out of a chest freezer.  It is still good advice to avoid those sort of dead lifts, especially with a bent back, especially as one gets older.  

It's something everyone should take into account when deciding between appliances.  

 

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I've never had a chest freezer for brewing but I doubt I ever will. Even at my young age I wouldn't want to be lifting 25kg or more straight up at least a metre off the ground to access it. Much easier in a conventional fridge. Kegs I find easier to lift but still prefer the kegerator where it only has to be lifted a few inches. Besides, my bar setup wouldn't take any other type of fridge so I'll be using kegerators as long as I have it. 

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Posted (edited)

@James of Bayswater You are correct: back when I was fermenting in a glass carboy, which weighs a fair bit even when empty, I did complain about having to lift a full one into my chest freezer. In fact, I could not do it and made concentrated 18L batches instead. But I find lifting a 19L keg into a chest freezer manageable, even for a 60 year old woman.

When I started using my old freezer for kegging I had to buy something else for a fermentation chamber. In my area secondhand fridges cost as much as a new mini chest freezer. To my own surprise I ended up buying another chest freezer. The new freezer was not tall enough to hold a glass carboy so I ended up switching to a plastic bucket for fermentation. Personally I find I can lift a 23L batch in a plastic bucket into the chest freezer without too much difficulty....If I had had a history of back problems I would go with a fridge.

The point of my previous post was to encourage moving to kegs sooner, rather than later. In the past there was no doubt that a brew fridge was the #1 thing a new brewer could do to improve the quality of their beer, but now you have options.

Cheers,

Christina.

 

Edited by ChristinaS1

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@ChristinaS1
OK. Be careful and stay safe.   I am glad you convinced me otherwise though.  I think of it every time I swing an FV into the fridge.  I am glad I didn't have to lift it more than a few inches off the ground.  

Minimal manual handling (and maximum OH&S) was drilled into me at work and I try to employ the same principles at home when I am brewing (or anything else for that matter).   

As for kegging I gave full consideration and came mighty close but eventually I decided that I prefer bottles because for 40 years they have been my ration, how I meter my beer.  Draught beer is dangerous to me.  I like beer too much for my own good.  😋

 

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I still think temperature control improves beer more than kegs do. If I had my time again I'd still go temp control first and kegs later. I am glad I went to kegs, it's a lot more convenient and they take up a lot less room than the amount of bottles required for the same amount of beer. The novelty of pouring my own draught beer wore off after a while so I haven't found it to increase my drinking. I also have some motivation to drink them slower to avoid buying beer too often. 

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I agree with Otto on the temperature statement.

With the chest freezer used as a keezer I agree the negative part is loading a full keg into them and could cause serious back injury. I have some I Beam I scored from a job a while back, going to buy some rollers and make a mini crane rail with my small come-along attached, making it easier to load full kegs into the keezer, it’s not really an issue getting them out when empty. I have some nice hardwood beams underneath my Queenslander so i will mount my rails to that. 😜😜🍺🍺

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45 minutes ago, James of Bayswater said:

Draught beer is dangerous to me.  I like beer too much for my own good.

Our first night on the kegs the missus and I overindulged. Been a little more careful since. 😄

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On 5/19/2020 at 9:09 PM, Da Morphsta said:

Are there any tips for what sort of fridge to get ?

I agree with pretty much everything that has been said - go all fridge/freezer. In my case, I have a 20+ year old Westinghouse all fridge that will form an ice layer on water on its coldest setting. Around 400+ Litres seems to be the sweet spot if you want to fit two FVs in at the same time. Check where the chill element is located to make sure it's out of the way. The larger fridges will also have less problems with chubby FVs and taps etc. Measure your stuff, then measure the insides of the fridge when inspecting.

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Posted (edited)
21 hours ago, Otto Von Blotto said:

If I had my time again I'd still go temp control first and kegs later.

As far as I know, and please correct me if I am wrong, but you have yet to try kveik yeast or pressure fermentation. Without them, I agree that temp control is essential. 

Cheers,

Christina.

Edited by ChristinaS1

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14 hours ago, ChristinaS1 said:

As far as I know, and please correct me if I am wrong, but you have yet to try kveik yeast or pressure fermentation. Without them, I agree that temp control is essential. 

Cheers,

Christina.

No, never tried either. I don't really have any interest in pressure fermentation, and it's not hot enough here for that yeast for another few months, but I'm also happy with the yeasts I already use. 

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