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Thread: Why does my kegged beer has huge amounts of yeast still in suspension

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
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    Why does my kegged beer has huge amounts of yeast still in suspension

    PROBLEM: Our kegged IPA - which we've brewed consistently 22 times in a row without this problem - has huge amounts of yeast in suspension in the keg.

    MORE DETAILS ABOUT THE PROBLEM: I moved a 1/2 BBL sanke keg of the IPA to our draft box and it was pouring with loads of yeast (I could smell it as it came out of the tap). OK, fine. I'll just run a few pints..... 10 pints later and zero clarity. OK, fine. I'll use a different keg and give this one more time to drop the yeast. One week later, I switch to the keg in question - which has been stationary in the draft box the entire time with no shaking of any kind - and after running 10+ pints out, it is STILL full of yeast. However, I also note this: the first few ounces that came our were crystal clear, then a load of yeast came through. After a couple of pints like that, I begin observing the stream of beer coming out. It's like it is alternating between "more yeasty" and "less yeasty" seemingly with no logic or explanation. Whatever the case, I've now poured over 2 growlers worth of beer with no sign of improvement. So I switch to the other 1/2 BBL sanke keg from the same batch. Normally I would expect the other keg to be more free of yeast (because when we keg, inevitably, one keg gets more yeast in it than any other keg), but in this case, it was just as bad as the first keg! So I'm at a complete loss as to what is wrong. I'm looking at possibly having to dump the entire batch because I can't serve this to my customers.

    BREW PROCESS:
    22 days from brew day to packaging
    Day minus2 - 6 packets of Fermentis S-05 yeast in a starter
    Day 1 - Fermentation starts at 68F in a 1 BBL SS Brewtech conical fermenter
    Day 12 - dry-hop #1 in a bag
    Day 14 - dry-hop #2 in a bag; drop temp to 55F
    Day 16 - remove dry-hops, drop temp to 38F (but it only reaches 41F ever b/c crummy glycol system)
    Day 19 - biofine
    Day 22 - keg
    *Also, every couple of days after primary fermentation, my brewer has been removing yeast slurry to aid in clarifying.

    We've followed this process 22 times for this beer (and a similar process with shorter time frames for non-IPAs), and never had this problem.

    Anyone have any suggestions on (a) the cause and (b) suggestions on saving the beer in these kegs?
    Wages Brewing Company
    West Plains, Missouri
    The Middle of Nowhere Never Tasted So Good!

  2. #2
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    Use kettle coagulants.
    Try gelatin finings.
    Filter.
    Todd G Hicks
    BeerDenizen Brewing Services
    Serda Brewing Company
    (Brewery-In-Construction) - Finally!!!

  3. #3
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    Thanks. I do those things (well, not filtering). But I want to know WHY the yeast might have done this. What should I have done differently?
    Wages Brewing Company
    West Plains, Missouri
    The Middle of Nowhere Never Tasted So Good!

  4. #4
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    West Guilford, ON, Canada
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    Have you determined the proper biofine dosing for this specific beer? If your dosing is incorrect you can get seemingly clear beer which continues to floc.

    I would also consider additives like biofine to be a filter aide, not a solution in-and-of themselves. I don't want that in my beer at the end of the day.
    Last edited by mswebb; 07-23-2017 at 05:30 PM.

  5. #5
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    Check the calibration of temperature gauges and controllers on your conditioning tank. Maybe you aren't getting the IPA cold enough to drop yeast.
    Todd G Hicks
    BeerDenizen Brewing Services
    Serda Brewing Company
    (Brewery-In-Construction) - Finally!!!

  6. #6
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    That's a good point, though it hasn't played into 30+ fermentations until now. Our glycol won't chill below 43F. We do NOT have insulation around the lines and we theorize that is why we can't get to a lower temperature.

    Any suggestions on the best way to insulate the lines? They are really short (maybe no longer than 3 feet each).
    Wages Brewing Company
    West Plains, Missouri
    The Middle of Nowhere Never Tasted So Good!

  7. #7
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    Michigan
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    Old yeast strain? you said you put the hops in a bag, if they are pellets drop them in from the top into the fermentor it will grab some of the yeast on the way down
    Mike Eme
    Brewmaster
    Cheboygan Brewery
    Cheboygan Michigan

  8. #8
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    Richmond, CA
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    Have you checked your glycol concentration with a refractometer? It being too high or too low could result in lowered chilling capacity (although too much water would result in the glycol freezing...) What temperature is your glycol in your reservior? I seriously doubt it's heating up any significant amount from your bulk line to your tanks. I didn't get my drop-downs insulated for a couple months and the only difference afterwards was less condensate on the ground. These foam tubes work really well for insulating.
    https://www.grainger.com/category/pi...gestConfigId=6
    Couple that with some foam tape and wide vinyl tape.

    If your tank isn't getting below 41, I would be curious as to how much yeast you're getting to drop out. Assuming your coldroom is colder than that, I would think that all batches would have additional precipitation of yeasty stuff in the keg. To save the kegs I would just pull a pint or two from each one every couple days to draw out the yeast that has settled.
    Peter Landman | Head Brewer | East Brother Beer Company | Richmond, CA

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by xFutballFanx View Post
    Have you checked your glycol concentration with a refractometer? It being too high or too low could result in lowered chilling capacity (although too much water would result in the glycol freezing...) What temperature is your glycol in your reservior? I seriously doubt it's heating up any significant amount from your bulk line to your tanks. I didn't get my drop-downs insulated for a couple months and the only difference afterwards was less condensate on the ground. These foam tubes work really well for insulating.
    https://www.grainger.com/category/pi...gestConfigId=6
    Couple that with some foam tape and wide vinyl tape.

    If your tank isn't getting below 41, I would be curious as to how much yeast you're getting to drop out. Assuming your coldroom is colder than that, I would think that all batches would have additional precipitation of yeasty stuff in the keg. To save the kegs I would just pull a pint or two from each one every couple days to draw out the yeast that has settled.
    Thanks!! We will check our concentration. What should it be? Everything I have read to this point was just "do so and so ratio between water and glycol". I have no reference on what BRIX or SG it should be. I believe the ratio we went for was around 40% glycol and 60% water.

    And I can't recall what temperature we set the thermostat to inside the unit. I think it's between 20F and 28F. It was freezing up at the lower end, so I recall changing it to a higher temperature just not what that temp was.

    I will get the BRIX/SG and the temperature then follow-up.
    Wages Brewing Company
    West Plains, Missouri
    The Middle of Nowhere Never Tasted So Good!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by beerguy1 View Post
    Old yeast strain? you said you put the hops in a bag, if they are pellets drop them in from the top into the fermentor it will grab some of the yeast on the way down
    Good thought, but yeast isn't old.

    On the dry-hops, we started bagging them because they were causing too much loss of volume. We've been bagging the dry-hops through 20 or more batches.

    But maybe if we can get our glycol temp down further (per the other comment), and that would get the hops to drop out better, so we might could stop using the bags.
    Wages Brewing Company
    West Plains, Missouri
    The Middle of Nowhere Never Tasted So Good!

  11. #11
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    Biofine is best used at colder than 41. If you can't get it colder it won't assist in flocculation as effectively. When you then keg and store at colder temps, it will fill your kegs with floc.

  12. #12
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    Get your beer to 33, Biofine clear needs really cold temperatures. We also don't have insulated drops, but have no problems getting that low. Chiller runs at 28F. Your glycol mix could be why the unit was freezing up 40% should be good for a 28F setpoint. You say chinese tanks, is the cooling jacket dimpled or just a smooth jacket? Non-dimpled jackets are way less efficient at cooling.

  13. #13
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    GTK on the Biofine.

    We are using 1 BBL SS Brewtech fermenters. They are conical single wall with a stainless cooling coil on the inside. The glycol connects to the coil via inputs on the side of the fermenter. The fermenter is also covered with a Neoprene jacket.

    It's this:
    https://www.ssbrewtech.com/products/...rrel-fermenter

    I have 3 of those hooked to my Nordic (used) glycol chiller. It's either 1/3 or 3/4 HP (I don't recall which). It should be plenty powerful enough for 3 BBL of fermentation.. right?

    Does this information help in any way?
    Wages Brewing Company
    West Plains, Missouri
    The Middle of Nowhere Never Tasted So Good!

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by ipabrewer View Post
    GTK on the Biofine.

    We are using 1 BBL SS Brewtech fermenters. They are conical single wall with a stainless cooling coil on the inside. The glycol connects to the coil via inputs on the side of the fermenter. The fermenter is also covered with a Neoprene jacket.
    A couple thoughts: Neoprene jackets don't insulate all that well. I've looked at it to insulate some small vessels, and the R value is pretty poor. I ended up going with multiple layers of flexible foam, laminated together with contact adhesive. You need to be able to not only chill the vessel contents, but make up for any heat absorbed externally. Also, it's hard to say whether the cooling coil is sufficiently sized in this situation. It would be interesting to know the glycol temps as it enters and exits the coil. Now that it's summer, I'd imagine your ambient temps are quite a bit higher. No one thing is likely to be responsible, rather it's a combination of them, combined with higher ambient temps.

    One fairly cheap thing to try out is building a small insulated box around the fermenters, using foam insulation panels. Probably a simple box with no bottom that you slide over the top of the fermenter is all you need. Once it's surrounding the fermenter (with minimal air space) the inside of the box should cool down, and maybe that's enough during the summer to get your temps down.

    You can probably tell if your glycol chiller is adequate by monitoring the glycol temp under load. If it's 28F when running with no load, and the glycol reservoir temp goes up too high when it's running, then it's probably under-sized...again, this may be due to ambient temps in the brewery, and not so much due to crashing 1 bbl fermenters.

    Regards,
    Mike Sharp

  15. #15
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    Thank you, Mike. I need to think on what you are saying.

    In the meantime, a follow-up to Peter. We were discussing the ratio and temperatures. Here's what we are at for the moment:

    1) Temp Controller for the reservoir is set to 28F. We tried 20F but we were getting ice inside the unit and in the lines.
    2) Using about a 40% glycol ratio.
    3) BRIX reading on the mix is ~23 and SG is ~1.094
    4) We can not chill below 43F (at least, not with 2 fermenters running at 67/68F and the third trying to cold crash, even after sitting for 2 days).
    5) EDIT: By the way, our ambient temp is 67F or lower year round (we still ferment about 1/3 of our brews in plastic with no chilling; worry not; it's mostly saisons!).

    Is there anything about that we should change, and how so?
    Wages Brewing Company
    West Plains, Missouri
    The Middle of Nowhere Never Tasted So Good!

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