If Lost in Fermentation’s dual chamber fermentation cabinet is Frankenfridge, what sort of beast have I created?

Frankenstein's Lovechild

Frankenstein's Lovechild

Built from a mini-fridge, thermostat, cold boxes from the local greengrocer, a digital thermometer to monitor the temperature inside (optional), and the most psychedelic lino I could find – the fermentation chamber now occupies the space where my bedside table used to be.

Here’s how it was born…

Take a mini-bar fridge...

Take a mini-bar fridge...

Take off the door - this one just unscrewed at the top and then lifted off...

Remove the door - this one just unscrewed at the top and then lifted off...

Make sure the box covers the entire front of the fridge...

Make sure the box covers the entire front of the fridge...

Then take of the lid and cut a hole the size of the fridge opening in it...

Then take of the lid and cut a hole the size of the fridge opening in it...

I just used a standard bread knife for the cutting - didn't give the cleanest of finishes though; a specialist foam cutting tool would probably have been better...

I just used a standard bread knife for the cutting - didn't give the cleanest of finishes though; a specialist foam cutting tool would probably have been better...

Here I've moved the fridge into position, taped on the lid, and then attached a second box (large, with a hole cut out the side). I've then fed in the wires for the thermostat and the (optional) thermometer...

Here I've moved the fridge into position, taped on the lid, and then attached a second box - this has a large hole cut out each side, to match the hole I cut in the lid. I've then fed in the wires for the thermostat and the (optional) thermometer...

You can see the second box I added above splits in the middle, giving me access. I've then cut a hole in the back to that and attached some more boxes (with corresponding holes cut in) to extend the space...

You can see the second box I added above splits in the middle, giving me access. I've then attached some more boxes (with corresponding holes cut in) to extend the space...

The last set of boxes open differently...

The last set of boxes open differently. I have the thermostat reading the temperature from the furthest point (you can just see a glass with water in the open box).

And that’s it. The one thing that isn’t included in the steps above is a fan. I’ll put this either in the fridge or between the two “areas”. I’ll plug it into the thermostat so that it switches on when the fridge does. While the chamber cools without the fan, I suspect the temperature isn’t even inside – the fan will circulate air, evening out the temperature and making the cooling more efficient. 

It looks both hideous and gorgeous at the same time. Hideous because, well, look at it – if it was a girl, you’d need a lot of beer before you wanted to put anything inside that. But gorgeous because I know it will help me to make beer in the summer. Over the next few weeks it will continue to evolve – I’ll get some more boxes from the greengrocer and make the walls thicker, and I’ll cover the joins better than I have done now.

Why did I use cold boxes instead of buying sheets of styrofoam? First because they’re free – so I thought “heck, why not try it? I can throw the boxes away if it doesn’t work.” Secondly, I don’t have a car and don’t particularly want to take large sheets of styrofoam on the subway. And thirdly, because it only has to get me past this summer – I’ll either leave Japan or move to a new place after then, so it will be time to go for something bigger and better. As long as it keeps the temperature at 19 degress, I don’t care whether the fridge is on all day or not – it’s way cheaper than aircon.

Although there are two spaces for buckets here, that’s only because of the design of the boxes – I’m planning on keeping everything at the same temperature. I should be testing it out with real beer this weekend!

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