In my Wild Cow (sort of) Kölsch blog post, I mentioned that I was using my Anvil Cooling System for Bucket Fermenter to help keep my temperature in a range appropriate for Kölsch fermentation.
Last time I used the system for a lager, I was using Glycol stored in my deep freeze pumping through the system to cool. It didn't quite work out how I envisioned. If you would like to go back and see what I wrote at the time ... check out Anvil Stainless Bucket Fermenter with Cooling System (Part 2).
This time, I went back to the low-tech ice water in a cooler method with a couple of small modifications.
The first was really something I kept telling myself I should do and never took the 5 minutes to do it.
I drilled holes in the cooler to allow the tubes and power cord to run through. This way, I could close the lid of the cooler.
To be honest, I'm sort of shocked at how much difference this seemed to make to help keep the ice water colder.
To be fair ... the temperature in my house this time of year is probably the coolest of any other time. The heat isn't running much and it isn't so hot that air conditioning is needed. Also, keeping beer at Kölsch temperatures is much easier than lager temperatures.
But, still, this modification seems to have really helped.
The other thing I did was to use ice bottles rather than actual ice. Rather than use up a bunch of ice and have to empty out the water, I could replace the old bottles with ones in the freezer. I just kept rotating bottles from the freezer into the cooler.
I didn't have to use nearly as much ice / water.
Again, I was surprised that this kept things as cold as they did.
So ... I think my next brew in the Anvil Bucket will have to be a lager to see if I'm able to keep beer in the 50's for an extended period of time using these two modifications.
Based on the experience with the Kölsch fermentation, I think it will work great.
But we'll have to see.
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