After years of homebrewing, we had dialed in a few recipes that we really liked. However, with each batch we brewed, there was always some variation in the final product. After doing a bit of research and speaking with other homebrewers, it became glaringly obvious that fermentation temperature played a much larger role in the outcome of the beer than we had given it credit for. And so the idea for our fermentation fridge was born.
We initially thought about just buying a standard refrigerator and gutting it like many homebrewers do, but that wouldn’t work for our particular homebrewery because we needed more space inside. We also considered using a large chest freezer with a thermostat installed, but that wouldn’t work either because we didn’t want a top-loading unit; we needed access to the front of the fermenters (our shop, Keg Outlet/kegoutlet.com, had recently partnered with Ss Brew Tech and their stackable stainless steel fermenters, so we wanted to make something that would accommodate a decent amount of these as well as other large fermenters and oak barrels for aging ales). So we came to the conclusion that our structure would need to be custom made.
We loved the look of old antique freezers and ice boxes, so we created specs to design and build something that had that aesthetic. I’ve gathered our step-by-step process of framing, building, insulating, and wiring this beast to share with other homebrewers. You can follow the specifications of this project exactly and build your own fridge of this size — or — you can use this story as an inspiration to build something uniquely suited to the space and equipment in your homebrewery.
8-ft. (2.4-m) pieces of 2” x 2” lumber
8-ft. (2.4-m) pieces of 2” x 4” lumber
4-ft. x 8-ft. (1.2 x 2.4 m) pieces of 11⁄32-inch plywood sheets
8-ft. (2.4 m) pieces of 1” x 10” lumber for door frame
Plastic drop cloths
24-gauge galvanized sheet metal
RTC22 Simpson ties
1.5-inch R-Tech foam insulation
Amico silver alloy pull-style latches with strike
Kason reversible 1245 cam-rise hinges with a 13⁄8-inch offset
Metallic gray caulk (for interior of fridge)
Brown caulk (Used for outside seams of fridge, something to match the stain color)
Dual-stage high-voltage digital temperature controller
100W infrared ceramic heat emitter and porcelain lamp with 8.5-inch dome
Copeland 1/3 HP 134A 115V condensing unit
1,000 BTU low profile reach in-style evaporator fan
Copper piping for refrigeration lines
Power supply cord
Square electrical box with cover