Installing a portable fermentation temperature control unit

For most styles of beer, a chilling system is important for producing a great tasting beverage. In fact, aside from proper sanitation, temperature control is arguably the single most important criteria for brewing a fantastic product. Without temperature control, fermentation temperatures can swing wildly causing a feeding frenzy that leaves a lot of off notes that are hard (or impossible) for the yeast to later clean up. 

portable chiller for brewing beerThe least expensive means for chilling wort post boil is normally municipal or well water. But for various reasons (e.g. the water isn't cold enough or not in sufficient supply) a chiller is useful for controlling temperature during fermentation. A large commercial chiller can often be large and bulky, needing a permanent installation which can cost a lot of money and, if the space is small, get in the way.

Our Water, Beer and Wort Chiller is a great solution for most temperature control needs. Since it uses a water bath instead of glycol it is much less costly, messy and can be easily interchanged with tap water chilling in the jacket. The pump in the Chiller water reservoir can be plugged directly into an ETC (to turn the pump on/off when needed, circulating chilled water through the jacket and back to the reservoir) and one ETC/Chiller combo used for each fermenter to maintain independent conditions meeting the unique requirements in each fermenter.  

bolt holding etc to chillerMaking the Chiller portable is helpful for moving it around to different fermenters on demand, or moving it out of the way when not in use. While different styles of carts could be used, in the photo above, we have shown it on the Rubbermaid 9T33 (purchased separately for about $250 from a local supplier) which has a 300lb capacity (a middle shelf was removed in the photo above to lower the height and provide better stability). The lower shelf can be used for storage of other brewing items, and the cart comes with its own extension cord to which the Chiller can be connected. In the lower photo, for convenience, it is shown how the BREWHA ETC can be attached to the Chiller by a bolt inserted through a hole drilled in the wall above the water reservoir; a second bolt can be installed between the outer wall and the ETC to hold the bolt in place if the ETC is removed.

Note: An additional benefit of having the Chiller raised, is that by keeping the top of the Chiller near the upper level of the jacket, there is a decreased liklihood of water draining out of the jacket, overfilling the Chiller reservoir and spilling onto the floor. When the Chiller pump shuts off, if air can get into the jacket (e.g. through the return hose), gravity will force the water out of the lower port in the jacket, through the hose and back into the Chiller reservoir. In all sizes of BIAC, but particularly with the 5BBL BIAC, the jacket volume can quickly overfill the reservoir causing a major spill on the floor. Raising the Chiller so it is near the level of the water in the jacket, will keep the pressure equal and water will not exit the jacket. Care should also be taken that your particular hose setup does not create a siphon effect; this can occur if the exit of the hose is below the uppermost level of the water, even if a portion of the hose is above the level of the water.