Coagulating(?) Beer

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Martinez

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Alright... So I just pitched my starter about 30 min ago and the beer is completely coagulating.. i used one whirlfloc during boil but it didn't really have any trub after whirlpooling for some 30 min through the counterflow chiller.
It seems like the whirlfloc only worked after transferring to the fermenter?
What did I do wrong?
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philrob

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Hang on, just what is your process here?
You pumped your wort for 30 minutes through a counterflow chiller at the end of the boil, after you used whirlfloc during the boil (presumably towards the end of the boil) ?
I'd imagine you also pumped your trub, hot, and cold break as well. Was there anything left in the kettle? If not, it's not surprising you see this flocculation.
Correct me if I have the wrong picture.
 

Martinez

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Yeah, wasn't anything left.

I used the whirlfloc 15 min roughly to end of boil. Once boil ended i pumped through counterflow to chill it down to pitching temp. During counterflow it flowed back to the kettle through a whirlpool port. After it cooled down, i turned everything off and left the kettle closed for some 30 min or so to let everything settle.
Then I transferred to the fermenter and pitched yeast
 

MHB

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Well what you are seeing is break material, probably both hot and cold break. The hot break should have been left in the kettle.
Would be interested to know how long was the boil.
Where is the pickup from which you pumped to the fermenter.
Did you get good flock in the kettle, it should have been quite cloudy before you started chilling.
Mark
 

Martinez

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Boiled for 90 minutes. Added hops in a spider at 60, 10 and 5. Whirlfloc went into the kettle around 15 to end.
There was almost nothing left in the kettle when I transferred to the fermenter. It was cloudy and just a little bit at the bottom of the kettle. All those big blobs were formed only when in the fermenter.
 

MHB

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Have you applied any pressure?
Flushed the fermenter with CO2?
M
 

Martinez

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Not forced. I left the sounding tight to pick up pressure and it's at 5psi or so now. I usually ferment at 10psi, I'll let this go to 30 or so to minimize craus (is that the word for the foam?) Because the fermenter is way too full 😬

Why wouldn't the hot/cold break form in the kettle? Don't understand why almost nothing for whirlpooled in the middle. When I used to put hops directly in the wort, it formed a huge pile after the whirlpool.. ever since I started using the hop spider, no. This time was by far the worst
 

djebel

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The pile you used to get in the middle of the whirlpool was evidently hop material, and maybe some of the hot and cold breaks nucleating around the hop material.

This time the hot break was probably pumped through the pump and CF chiller, which mixed it in with everything that got transferred to the fermenter.

Now you have the hold and cold break settling out in the fermenter.
 

MHB

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Ok couple of things are probably going on together.

As you recirculate through the pump and counterflow chiller, the pump is probably chopping the break material into small bits that tend to settle very slowly. I did ask where the pickup for the pump was and suspect it’s on the bottom. So the break material can’t really settle.
Not having the hops in there isn’t helping, the hop debris is going to reinforce the trub cone and help it stay together.
Once you started fermenting under pressure you have pushed some CO2 into solution forming Carbonic Acid and lowering the pH. The flocculation and the action of Carrageenan (in Whirlfloc) is very pH sensitive. If the pH is just a touch too high flock has trouble forming, conditions change and it all clumps together with the results you are seeing.
Mark
 

Martinez

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Pickup for the pump is at the bottom.. not super bottom, but at the bottom.
What do you recommend then? Waiting more time for the chopped material to settle? Not use the hop spider? Lower PH? My mash pH was about 5.4, with my shitty reader.

Cheers
 

MHB

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If you have enough Calcium (Ca) in your wort, the pH should drop to 5.1-5.2pH during the boil, it will drop further during the ferment to about 4-4.2pH. Given you have enough Ca you should in a 90 minute boil be getting close to the target pH.

On the layout of your plumbing, a picture might help but you should be able to work out a better pickup height, somewhere around 1/3 of the wort height from the bottom would be ideal. Maybe a new hole and bulkhead will be required, if you want to keep using the counterflow the way you are.
Running wort as it cools through a pump is problematic; the textbooks say to keep the flow rates/velocities under 3m/s, very good chance your pump impellers are going a lot faster than that.

I would be tempted to whirlpool at the end of the boil having added your kettle flock with a spoon or paddle then draw down the wort through the counterflow chiller, slowly enough to allow it to cool on the way to the fermenter.
A syphon or gravity flow would be better than pumping.
You will still get some cold break but that isn’t a problem, it’s the hot break you want to leave in the kettle.
Mark
 

Martinez

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Let me play that back to you to see if I understood.
15 min or so to the end of boil I should add whirlfloc and turn whirlpool (through CF) on to sanitize it... When boil finishes I turn pump off and do a whirlpool with my paddle. After some 30 min the hot break should have settled and only now I turn CF water on and pull wort directly from kettle, through CF into fermenter. This should be done by gravity or as slow as the pump allows to not pull the hot break in, and if it's slow enough, it should reach the fermenter as cold as the CF will get it. From then i wait until pitching temps and success
 
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Lots of good advice above on future brews, but there is still that ugly batch to deal with.

Is there a tap not visible in the pic at the bottom of that fermenter. If so, try to get as much as possible in the cone. If it sticks to the sides, tap them. Try cold crashing. Once the crud is down as much as possible, drain it.
 

Martinez

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Unfortunately there isn't a tap on the bottom and it's a floating dip tube...
What's the issue with letting it all sit there in the bottom of the cone?
If needed I can ferment at higher pressures and higher temperature to get it done quicker so there's less time in contact with that

Honestly, it's still not 100% clear to me how to whirlpool/chill with my setup. How does people with a whirlpool port through a pump deal with it?
 
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Unfortunately there isn't a tap on the bottom and it's a floating dip tube...
What's the issue with letting it all sit there in the bottom of the cone?
If needed I can ferment at higher pressures and higher temperature to get it done quicker so there's less time in contact with that

Honestly, it's still not 100% clear to me how to whirlpool/chill with my setup. How does people with a whirlpool port through a pump deal with it?

The main issue is the effect of hot break. There are home brewers who regularly dump wort and all the trub into the fermenter, not a good practice, but at least it tells you your batch may end up drinkable. Offhand, I'd make two recommendations, both pretty obvious:

1. Keep the trub out of bottles or kegs as much as possible.
2. Keep the beer cold and drink it young. If you bottle carbonate, do that for only a week at >20, then chill.
 

Martinez

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Absolutely will keep it out of the keg!
I'll give the fermenter a shake in a day or two to make sure everything settles as low as possible, but it's all in the bottom already.
Question I have is about harvesting yeast from this batch.. it's the first time I bought an "expensive" yeast, so want to be able to keep it. Is it just saving it, decanting, washing, decanting again etc?
 
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Question I have is about harvesting yeast from this batch.. it's the first time I bought an "expensive" yeast, so want to be able to keep it. Is it just saving it, decanting, washing, decanting again etc?

Given the unusually large amount of break proteins mixed in with the yeast, you're in uncharted territory. Your plan sounds good in theory, but who knows? Hopefully someone with more experience washing yeast than I have will wade in. My inclination would be to buy that yeast at least one more time.
 

Martinez

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Let's see.... Might try washing and making a starter to guarantee i have enough 😬😬

Good news is the vast vast majority of the yuck has already settled. I'll let it ferment for some 2 weeks before cold crashing as cold as the fridge goes.... I reckon it'll be a good one 🙄
Happy to give some away for whoever's in central coast
 

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@Martinez
re yeast harvest.

You may well find that you have a nice ring left around the fermenter from the krausen. This will be top fermenting residue and you might be able to scrape this off with a very well sterilised ( ie boiled or pressure cooked ) spatula ( plastic or silicone ) and then grow that up for your next yeast.
Would save sorting out the trub from the yeast and all that faff.

Next time harvest the blowoff using this setup, suggest you use a smaller pet bottle and then you won't need to decant it. It's basically no touch or opening the fermenter harvest. I stand the bottle to use it but was lying it down to take the picture.
 

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