Pressure Brewing Novice

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gthomas

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Hi,
Shiny new member looking for as much detail as I can get on the above brewing method. I used to brew a few years ago, only the basic - brew, bulk prime - bottle- cap - clean the bottles and away we go again. Got a little tired of washing 24 bottles and had not heard of kegging so gave it a miss altogether. Many years later, I am now retired with lots of time on my hands but a body that is crapping out slowly but steadily. Kegging is out of the question as I could not lug a keg about - so pressure brewing has grabbed ny interest. A I understand I can brew under pressure - dump the trub, or transfer to another vessel and dispense at my leisure. So I seek the knowledge of the members of this forum - what do I need (down to tubing what may be obvious to you will not be to me). Cost is obviously a factor as I am on the OAP though I do have some savings that I would be prepared to dip into this if the end result would be worthwhile.

Thanks in advance
 

Nick the Knife

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I'm friends with the OP, @gthomas - have been trying to lure him back into home brewing for several yrs without luck. Alas I know little about pressure brewing myself - but it seemed that the qualities it brings might be very helpful for him.

He's strictly a Kit & kilo brewer, mainly lager styles.

My sales pitch to him was using a basic pressure fermenter - place his extracts, adjuncts and water in the fermenter. He's open to adding a temp controller to a spare fridge he has to ferment within. As he's alluded the lesser physical strain via pressure fermenting is a BIG attraction as moving full fermenters, squatting to wash/fill bottles isn't as easy as it once was. So if the process is physically easier thats a big plus for him.

I felt rather than a fancier yeast/trub catcher (like the Apollo 30L Unitank) he be better served with two more basic models i.e Chubby 30L or Fermentasaurus Sub Nose 35L V2 - decanting under pressure (using a CO2 bottle) from one to the other then carbonating & drinking directly from vessel 2. Vessel 1 can then be cleaned and rebrewed in.

So if folks could give feedback on if this seems logical & what would be the best BUDGET-value gear to buy (ideally all from one retailer to limit postage costs) that'd be great - alas I don't have the knowledge in this area but am sure other members will be able to assist.

As he's stated - we'd seek folks guidance on exactly what to buy (fermenters, connections, fermenter add -ons etc).

Thanks in advance. :)
 
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Hangover68

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One or a couple of the compact pressure fermenters would be ideal, inexpensive and are dual purpose, you could use picnic taps or put proper taps in the door of a suitable sized fridge.
For gas he could use a mini reg and sodastream bottle for serving or boosting the carbonation levels.
 

mynameisrodney

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I have two chubbies as I can fit both in my fridge at the same time and temp control 2 batches. That's about where my love of them ends. The fact that the opening is too small for my hand is super annoying when it comes time to clean. I have an allrounder and love it, but snubnose is also a popular option.

I know you say kegging is not an option, but as kegs are tall and skinny, they are actually the easiest to juggle multiple within a single fridge. Even with my two chubbies, they sit diagonally in the fridge ad I need to take the front one out to get the back out. So IF you do decide to get 2 vessels, two kegs would be easier to sit side by side and not have to move them when they are full. The down side of fermenting in kegs is that batches are a few litres smaller, but in this case it probably just helps making them that bit more manageable. Also I know you've mentioned drinking from vessel 2 while fermenting in vessel 1, but you need to think about the temp setting for the fridge. You will not always have it at the appropriate temp for both, so you are not going to have constant beer supply.

If you go for a single vessel option then I would keep it simple with an allrounder or snubnose.

Either way you will also need:
  • CO2 supply. Bottle + Reg. I would go a 2.6kg to make it easier to carry. $120 for a bottle and reg
  • Tap - your choice of a picnic tap type setup in the fridge, or drilling the fridge for a mounted tap. ~$20 - 50
  • Some disconnects and tubing. $30-50 depending on single or double vessel setup.
  • Cleaning and sanitising gear and chemicals $50
  • Misc - Keg lube, tools, spare O rings etc $50
As a minimum. From there, the sky's the limit in temps of how much you can spend haha.
 

MHB

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Couple of points
Kegging doesnt mean 50L commercial kegs, most common kegs for home brewing being 19L so much more manageable. Another option is to get smaller kegs, 2-10L kegs are available, admittedly they would cost you a bit more to start up but give great portability and easy to lift.
Next up is that beer (well most beers) do still want some time to mature and condition post fermentation. Good rule of thumb is the bigger (more alcohol) and blacker the bigger the benefit from maturity.
Third, I'm a little perplexed by the whole pressure fermentation thing. It was invented to make producing Lager a bit faster (7-10 days faster) and has only been embraced by brewers more focused on volume than flavour.
There are known issues with pressure fermented beers and why anyone would want to pressure ferment Ale is beyond me, but that’s for you to work out.
You could just brew in conventional fermenters, invest in a fridge/fan/controller to give you good temperature management (really important) and fairly inexpensive to get up and running. Invest what you don’t spend on pressure fermenters in your keg system and be up and making first class beer in a matter of weeks and still not need to bottle beer.
Mark
 

mynameisrodney

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Third, I'm a little perplexed by the whole pressure fermentation thing. It was invented to make producing Lager a bit faster (7-10 days faster) and has only been embraced by brewers more focused on volume than flavour.
There are known issues with pressure fermented beers and why anyone would want to pressure ferment Ale is beyond me, but that’s for you to work out.
Despite the thread title, his goals seem to be around using pressure to transfer and serve. It's pretty common practice to leave it open for the bulk of fermentation and then set it to higher pressure towards the end to do this.
 

gthomas

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Despite the thread title, his goals seem to be around using pressure to transfer and serve. It's pretty common practice to leave it open for the bulk of fermentation and then set it to higher pressure towards the end to do this.
I am sorry if I wasn't clearer in my original post. My main aim is to eliminate, as much as possible, any heavy lifting thus if I understand it correctly pressure fermenting would be the way to go. Ferment in the fridge - when brewed drink. My understanding (which may be way off the correct path) was that with a spud valve in place, I could carbonate while brewing. Given my physical state I doubt whether I could lift a full keg thus a ferment in the fridge option seemed like a goofd idea.
 

Nick the Knife

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No looking to cut the OP's grass - but given I've been speaking with him on phone/email about trying to get him backing in brewing I might be able to clarify quickly:

I know you say kegging is not an option, but as kegs are tall and skinny
Corny's are a good idea - I had already flagged these to him as another option to PET pressure fermenters. Seems empty they weigh ¬5kg. Knowing the OP - I believe he could still move a corny with what I'd guess is the max ferment volume in them (15L or so I'd guess) - that'd be about 20kg.

Ideally though he'd have whatever vessel he was going to brew in already in his brew fridge (have also mentioned to him the option of using the newer, more temp tolerant yeasts like Kveik - which should provide more friendly Lager style results in combo with brewing under pressure). He's had some back and leg issues so lifting a 20-30L full fermenter is just courting trouble.

From what I've read Corny kegs need marginal modding to brew in them - lil more expensive to initially buy but plenty of 2nd hand ones around. So is another idea for him.

There are known issues with pressure fermented beers and why anyone would want to pressure ferment Ale is beyond me, but that’s for you to work out.
As mentioned, from what he's stated to me - his brewing preference was very much lager styles. As stated below to do ales one can brew at no pressure or minimal.

You could just brew in conventional fermenters, invest in a fridge/fan/controller to give you good temperature management (really important) and fairly inexpensive to get up and running. Invest what you don’t spend on pressure fermenters in your keg system and be up and making first class beer in a matter of weeks and still not need to bottle beer.
This is a fair point and something the OP should consider but my concern would be transferring the completed brew from the conventional fermenter into the pressure vessel for carbonating & consumption(whether it be a corny, PET vessel etc). I'm not seeing an easy way for him to do this that doesn't involve lifting a full fermenter at some point.

Squatting, contorting etc are not good things for him - whereas if the brew was already in a pressure vessel - my understanding is he'd just need to have his pickup tube at the correct level (so it's above the anticipated trub level) - he then adds the liquid transfer connections and via CO2 applies a small amount of pressure to the fermented beer's vessel - and the liquid should be pushed over to the 2nd vessel. Thats skipping a few steps (purging the 2nd with CO2 in advance etc) but in theory he could do the whole lot while standing and just using a few hose connections.

I've also flagged to him doing much smaller craft size batches i.e under 10L or so at a time and bottling in PET bottles. But I think he likes the simplicity of kegging - just a matter of finding out the exact vessel that will work best.

The OP's physical limitations are the main parameters the system needs to be tailored to - ideally if it's relatively straight forward to use - thats great too. Anyway am sure he'll reply back soon but some good suggestions there, reassuringly they align with what I've said to him so nice to know I'm on the vaguely right path. :)
 

mynameisrodney

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From what I've read Corny kegs need marginal modding to brew in them - lil more expensive to initially buy but plenty of 2nd hand ones around. So is another idea for him.
Yeah you should just need a floating dip tube kit and a blowoff/spunding setup. They are a bit more to buy, but:
  1. They will last forever. Plastic pressure fermenters all have a retest date where you need to check them or stop using under pressure. plastic are also more susceptible to accidental damage, scratching etc.
  2. Used kegs are easy to sell if he decides to give it up again. Used fermenters not so much.
 

mynameisrodney

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I am sorry if I wasn't clearer in my original post. My main aim is to eliminate, as much as possible, any heavy lifting thus if I understand it correctly pressure fermenting would be the way to go. Ferment in the fridge - when brewed drink. My understanding (which may be way off the correct path) was that with a spud valve in place, I could carbonate while brewing. Given my physical state I doubt whether I could lift a full keg thus a ferment in the fridge option seemed like a goofd idea.
Sorry missed this reply earlier. Yeah that's how I read your post, all good.

During the course of fermentation, there will be many times more CO2 produced than is needed for carbonation. I think its around 20 volumes for a moderate wort, whereas you generally carbonate to between 2 to 3 depending on style. So basically you only need to start building up pressure right at the end to get carbonated beer. Some people like building up the pressure right at the start anyway, and then bleeding off the excess throughout the process. This is supposed to suppress ester formation, which may be desirable in some styles but not others. In particular, there are many ale styles where esters form an important part of the final beer. This is what MHB was touching on. I was just pointing out that since your goal is carbonation and transfer, not ester suppression, you don't need to dial up the pressure from the start anyway.

EDIT: And your understanding is not way off at all. Some people do the whole lot in the one vessel and leave the beer on the trub the whole time, others consider this blasphemy and transfer to a serving keg or 2nd unitank.
 
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clickeral

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If doing kit and kilo, if lifting is an issue I would be going larger and then not move it

58L or 29L kegmenter, add a drain, cip ball attachment and pump to run it, boiling water/cleaner to clean or run sanitizer through it etc id add a pressure head so you can dispense out of it

Fridge large enough to access the top of the keg with an inkbird temp controller and a heaterbelt

Mix the kit and kilo with boiling water/cold water (to pitching temp) in the fridge and then seal it up with your yeast/airlock/blow off/ spunding valve setup

When ferment done add c02 to transfer/ carbonate in the keg and dispense straight from the keg. Perhaps invest in a 2-4L growler/mini keg for portability. or just get some tee adapters and fill pet bottles (ok if consumed quickly) If wanting to do 2 beers at once do 2 29L kegmenters, carbonate at fermenting temp and chill when you transfer to a bottle etc

If you are not wanting to lift/carry stuff make it so you don't have too.

Kegs are easy to on sell and don't have the same long term issues as plastic does
 

me14

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One thing i didn't see mentioned is that the plastic pressure fermenters are made from PET which has a limited temp range (max about 50deg). That might influence your decision if your dissolving liquid malt extract in the fermenter with hot water.
 

Half-baked

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So as a cheap option, the ampi style fermenters actually hold a bit of pressure. I used to have a gas post with 1/4 bsp bulkhead instead of the airlock, and that worked pretty well. Well enough to do closed transfers.
You could use that to push the liquid into the keg.
The ampi fermenters are hdpe, so you can use boiling water. Plus they’re pretty easy to get hold of. You can have my old one if you live in Sydney.
Getting the right connections to transfer the liquid side is a bit fiddly though…
 

gthomas

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So as a cheap option, the ampi style fermenters actually hold a bit of pressure. I used to have a gas post with 1/4 bsp bulkhead instead of the airlock, and that worked pretty well. Well enough to do closed transfers.
You could use that to push the liquid into the keg.
The ampi fermenters are hdpe, so you can use boiling water. Plus they’re pretty easy to get hold of. You can have my old one if you live in Sydney.
Getting the right connections to transfer the liquid side is a bit fiddly though…
Living in Sydney I do Western Sydney in fact.
 

Half-baked

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Cool, I’m in the Inner West, let me know if you can be arsed coming to get it.

I should clarify that I only ever used very low pressure with this setup, just enough to move the beer. It won’t hold enough pressure to carbonate but you can just use table sugar for that. 70g will carb a keg, which is like 10c.

Can’t remember what I did for the liquid side, but I have a feeling the thread for the bung is 1/2 bsp. If it is, that makes things really easy.

41 pints of beer in north rocks seems to have a good range at good prices, so they would be able to sort you out for the fittings

Edit: just checked, no thread is not 1/2 bsp! But tap does fit 12.7mm id tubing..
 
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gthomas

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Once again I thank you all. I now have a multitude of alternatives to consider. I will start by measuring the interiors of my 2 fridges as I am assuming that is a consideration in working out which way to go. One other thing - I am reluctant to drill any holes in my fridges because I am the sort of person that would hit a gas-line even if there was only one in the entire fridge.
 

MHB

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Just remember that gravity is very reliable and costs less than a pump. If you have issues with moving large masses around a bit of planning can save you a bunch of grief later. If the fermenters are up a bit higher you can gravity run to the kegs/bottles, if a 19L keg is too heavy maybe a couple of 10L kegs and split the brew into two of them, perhaps filling the fermenter in increments, just a reasonable sized jug can help a lot (5L measuring jugs are handy).

Try a few different configurations, I find a nice clean open area to work with tools laid out where I can get them when I need them makes life easier.
This me with a back that can be very painful at times - working to minimise what hurts and to get the best results for my efforts. At home I have a 10L system now and am moving to all small kegs, not drinking the volumes I used to but still insist on bloody good beer.
Mark
 

yankinoz

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This me with a back that can be very painful at times - working to minimise what hurts and to get the best results for my efforts. At home I have a 10L system now and am moving to all small kegs, not drinking the volumes I used to but still insist on bloody good beer.
Mark
[/QUOTE]

15L system here, knees rather than back, buy more beer than I used to. Start a club?
 

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