You heard about the garbage can heat shield. Worked well, not bad for ten dollars. Brewed an almost Baltic porter last night for the test run. Decided on ten gallons split between two fermenters. Maybe your brew sessions work out smoothly, but, mine always seem to wind up with a bump in the road or two.
Last night with the water ready for steeping I realized only one of my fermenters remained empty. Yikes, with two batches of cider going I'd forgotten. Wow, cider is too easy to make. Then I remembered the bottling bucket that sat soaking in iodophor from the day before. Bingo, with plastic wrap for a top an semi-open fermentation would do just fine. Some people don't like the extra hiding places for infecting agents around the spigot. Used it a few times for this before so, I went with it.
One bump in the road can generally be overcome without much cursing, however, two hiccups test my resolve. While putting up the water, gathering equipment and making last minute recipe adjustment the Belgian Abbey II Wyeast smack pack remained saggy. By now it should be bursting at the seams. I warmed it a bit thinking that might help. Brewing continued. After the wort finished cooling I transferred half to the carboy and half to the bottling bucket. Now for the yeast. Pitched the slightly puffier Belgian Abbey II in one and Safbrew s-33 dry yeast in the other. Content to see it through 'til morning I hit the sack.
Woke up to a slightly overcast sky promising a mild and sunny Autumn day. Skipped the teeth brushing walking straight to the basement to lift the cover I laid over the fermenters the night before. A puffy tan krausen pushed up toward the plastic wrap on the bottling bucket. This lessened my worries about the open fermentation. No such luck in the carboy. Deep brown wort with a few bubbles on the top laid lifeless in the glass. My mind went to work thinking of yeast. No other yeast in storage here at the house. The local homebrew store was open, just a car ride away. Wait, what if I just pitch some of the fermenting beer from the bottling bucket into the carboy? That's it. After grabbing my beer thief I realized it could be easier than that. The bucket has a spigot. No need for the thief, I'll just pour some right in. I'm already seeing signs of fermentation a couple hours later.
I'm not sure I would know what to do if a brew session went as planned.