Trying to Automate temperature of Fermintation - using STC-1000 and brewing belt

KarangaKaranga Member Posts: 2
edited June 2012 in General Home Brew Chat
Hi everyone,

I'm a virgin home brewer preparing to take my first steps. I have received all the kit I ordered which included
Woodfordes Micro Brewery starter kit, STC-1000 temperature controller and a brewing belt. I'm setting this all up in our cellar which is unheated so goes from cool in summer to cold in winter.

As a test I intend to set-up the above kit and set the temperature controller to 22 degrees C before filling the fermentation barrel with water to test that everything works before trying it out with the real thing. I will use a spirit thermometer to check the reading from the temperature controller matches the temp of the water recorded by the thermometer.

I have a couple of queries before I give this a try:

Is the best place for the brewing belt at the bottom of the barrel as the temperature and brewing belt operation is *hopefully* going to be monitored and controlled by the temperature controller?

Where should I place the sensor on the fermentation barrel for most accurate results? I'm thinking it shouldn't matter too much providing it isn't placed directly above the heating belt and is insulated from the outside temperature which it will be as I will be housing it in a block of polystyrene which has the sensor shape cut out of so it presents itself directly to the outside of the barrel. I'm thinking of putting the sensor two thirds of the way up the barrel as feel this would give an average reading. Is this a good idea or should the heating belt and sensor be moved to a different height?

Is 22 degrees C an ideal brewing temperature or should I just set the temperature controller to whatever the Wherry kit in this instance suggests? Is there any danger in brewing a couple of degrees higher than the suggested temperature to move things along a little quicker or should I stick to the kit recommendations religiously.

Thanks for any advice offered in advance.



  • HBO_StaffHBO_Staff Administrator Posts: 2,115
    edited June 2012

    Sounds like a comprehensive set-up which can be kept up to temperature fairly accurately, this is more involved than many home brewers achieve, so the controlled conditions should help make a good brew in quick time. Manufacturers of beer ingredients kits give the ideal temperature to brew that kit at, generally speaking if it is cooler it will take longer, warmer it may be a little quicker, but extremes of cold or heat and it may kill the yeast. A couple of degrees either way will not harm the brew which is what most home brewers will achieve and ideally a hydrometer should be used to check when the brew has finished it's primary fermentation. Often home brewers brews will vary in temperature depending on the weather and will be cooler in winter and warmer in summer as it cannot be helped, particularly in hot weather when the brew can't easily be cooled down, so you just have to let it brew at the temperature it is, and usually the brew will turn out fine.

    Brew Belts can be moved up an down the vessel to change the temperature they are achieving, the lower down it is the warmer it will keep the brew, and the higher up it is the temperature increase will be reduced, it is usually trial and error and checking with a thermometer to see what the brew's temperature is.

    Testing your set up with some water is probably a good idea, it will be trial and error, but a good starting point is probably to fix the Brew Belt fairly low down on the vessel, and any temperature sensor higher up to minimise it being affected by the heat source, perhaps two thirds of the way up as you say. By then monitoring the temperature from time to time you can adjust the set up to make it work best by comparing it to your temperature readings taken with a thermometer. You could use an LCD self-adhesive thermometer to see at a glance, although they are not as accurate, but do have the advantage that you are not putting anything into direct contact with the liquid so the risk of contamination is reduced. If using a glass thermometer just ensure it is sterilised and clean before putting into the brew.

    The main thing is don't worry too much if you haven't achieved the exact temperature the manufacturers recommend, most brews turn out well with no problems, they often base their timescales on optimum conditions so any deviation and the brew may take a little longer

  • KarangaKaranga Member Posts: 2

    Thanks for the comprehensive reply. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't making any blunders not having tackled any of this before. Thanks also for the steralising the thermometer tip! I would have probably forgotten to do that so I think I might have to plaster the cellar with Post-It note reminders for Sterilisation.

    I'm really impressed with the service so far from HBO, so much so I cancelled an order with a competitor after they delayed my initial order with no feedback. I chased them with an email which was subsequently ignored. In between all this I had ordered and received my kit from HBO. I know where I will be coming for future supplies! Keep up the good work.


  • HBO_StaffHBO_Staff Administrator Posts: 2,115
    Cheers Dan, keep us posted on how you get on wont you
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