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Pete’s Pint Pot.

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This is the small print where I deny everything and refuse to take any responsibility for anything. Any opinions given should not be taken as facts & any facts given should not be taken as opinions. As an extra precaution all the really small print is in white text, this is copyrighted .

E. & O. E.

Copyright www.petespintpot.co.uk  2008. First published 17 October 2008, last updated  20 December 2017.

Pete’s Pint Pot is dedicated to the home production & sensible drinking of beer, wine, cider & meads plus a little bit of china painting & a few bits of photograph tampering.

If you are affected by any of the articles on this site or any of the issues raised in them, I truly feel very sorry for you.

Finally the sanity clause: As Chico Marx

famously said to brother Groucho,

  “Everybody knows there ain't no

     Sanity Clause!”


Some pages may contain music!

Do not enter this site if you are allergic to nuts!

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             messing with electricity, especially when liquids are involved, can be very dangerous so don’t drink whilst wiring. If you want to try any of these designs then get a competent person to build them for you. Don’t come running to me if you electrocute yourself! Unless otherwise stated a standard 50Hz supply of 230V is assumed as supplied here in the United Kingdom.

Keeping fermenting drinks at a reasonable temperature day & night was always a problem for me. Summer time was not too bad as I found that wrapping my bins & demijohns with clean, unused off-cuts of new carpets & underfelt helped reduce the extremities of the temperatures &, importantly, any changes were much more gradual, yeast cells greatly appreciate these things.

I first tried a thermostatically controlled 75W immersion heater but thought it more trouble than it was worth. Being fragile great care must be taken, as it was inserted in the brew it had to be kept sterile when in use. At 75W I found it too powerful, causing a central hot-spot & the thermostat setting was difficult to alter as it meant dismantling the unit but worst of all the control was far too coarse.

The BrewBelt is much more robust & versatile, it can heat up a single brewing bin, or one or two demijohns at the same time and, as it is fitted externally, no sterilization is required. At 15W it is less aggressive & the heat is dissipated over a larger surface area but it still has problems in that it can easily slip down when in use, especially when used on a tapered fermenting bin and, more importantly, it has no temperature control. The first problem has to be tolerated but there are several ways of mitigating the temperature problem. The instructions say that the heating effect of the belt can be decreased or increased by moving the belt up or down the enclosed vessel. This is quite a crude method of control but better than none.

A plug-in mains timer can easily be bought cheaply & allows the `belt to be switched on for say 15 mins per hour &

so is capable of quite even temperature control, specially if used in conjunction with an insulated “jacket”.

Heat trays are also available, your fermenter(s) is (are) just rested on top. These are available in a variety of sizes & heater ratings. They are expensive & still have the problems of controlling the heat.

All the above devices can prove very useful to the home beer, wine & cider maker, especially during the colder weather & all have the same drawback, lack of heat control. So far the best way to keep things within a reasonable temperature range is to use a timer. This is not problem free as quite often it can be the actual heat out-put of our heater that is too powerful. If we could only have a half-power switch. That is easy, all we need is a suitable switch, a resistor of equal resistance & a similar power rating to our heating device plus a suitable box. This is not as good as it may sound, it is bulky & wasteful as we need to dissipate half the heat through our resistor. Another way of reducing our heat would be to use a transformer, this could possibly allow us to have different heat settings but is again bulky, expensive & messy. How about using a switch in a box with a simple silicon diode such as the 1N4004 rated at 400V, 1A. The diode, only about 1cm long, reduces the heat output to 50%, has virtually no losses, costs only a few pence & the box size can be minimal.

After all this you will no doubt be thinking that whichever heating device we choose a fairly accurate thermostatic control is what we really need. Mechanical devices are no good as the operating temperature range is far too great & commercial thermostats cost a lot of money, that is why I built my own!

Electronic Thermostat

The circuit shewn below will maintain a temperature within a fraction of a degree C. The switching load can be several Kilo Watts depending on the choice triac used. A 0.8 Amp device will handle up to 180W (UK - 90W USA) & should not require a heatsink for a BrewBelt (15W), a 75W immersion heater or similar capacity heating elephants. I attached my thermistor to a small aluminium plate which can easily be held in place on a fermenting bin or demijohn etc. with an elastic band & a small piece (5cm square or so) of clean, un-used carpet or a folded paper kitchen towel etc. to place on the out side thus keeping the thermistor at an even temperature.

Electric Booze
An exercise in control

“Hey! Bo Diddley” was performed by Bo Diddley, written by E. Mc Danniels (Bo Diddley) & recorded in 1957.

If no sound plays then you may need an MP3 player or the iTunes player, both are available free in the internet. If you still get no sound then check that you have some speakers, & if so, they are turned on!


R1 = 22K0 3W min.

         (11K0 2W for 110V)

R2 = 120R 0.25W

R3 = 12K0 0.25W

C1 = 100nF (0.1uF) 400V

C2 = 10Nf (0.01uF) 100V

C3 = 100uF 15V electrolytic

TH1 = 12K0 NTC Thermistor

IC1 = CA3059

Q1 = 400V 0.8A min. Triac

         (200V for 110V)

Misc.: 14 Pin DIL socket, 0.1” matrix Veroboard, 5A terminal strip & suitable box.

Component notes:

One addition I found useful was to fit a small neon indicator N1 with a 56K0 (27K0 for 110V operation) series resistor R4 across the heater terminals as per the dashed circuitry. The neon lights when the heater is in operation.

Any Negative Temperature Coefficient thermistor between 10K & 15K can be used & R3 should be of a similar resistance. R3 can be replaced with a potentiometer of 15K0 if a variable temperature control is required, I settled for a fixed resistor & found that 12K0 gave about 20°C & 10K0 for about 23°C, the actual temperature for a given resistor will depend on the nominal thermistor resistance.

General notes:

Plugs should be fitted with a 3 Amp fuse maximum. Cases will need to be ventilated as R1 produces some heat, if a neon light is used then the light will be seen through the ventilation holes. If a metal case is used then this must be earthed. BrewBelts etc. do not have an earth conductor in their leads (see diagrams below).



Annual 2015