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View Full Version : possible 1bbl nano, keg carbonating questions



defenestrate
03-12-2010, 12:37 PM
hey guys, first post. i've been slowly planning out setting up a 1bbl nano brewery (yes the definition of nano, ha) and i'm wondering about what would be the easiest way to carbonate.

i like the idea of carbing naturally with priming sugar or fresh wort but am wondering if this seems like a reliable and feasible idea. i prime at home with no problem but i would hate the idea of selling a flat keg :mad: i see this as a "higher end selling" selling point, and also a good way to give the beer a few weeks to age. also, this would probably be the cheapest way to go about it. is there any issue with the possible sediment in the bottom of the kegs with buyers?

would anyone recommend against this practice at this small of a level? if so, how would you recommend i force carbonte? i plan on buying plastic kegs and hoping to turn over about 15-20 a month (we'll see about that :o )

burcher
03-12-2010, 12:48 PM
I've been carbing in sixth bbl kegs individually in my 1 bbl nano. I have two 'keezers' to keep the kegs cold and hook them up to a spider of sanke coupers fed by a 100lb (or is it 50, the big tall one) co2 tank. I carb for about 40 hrs @ 34F to get about 2.5 volumes. For us, waiting the extra time to carbonate would suck although it wouldn't tie up the cold space. carbing with co2 is just easier to control and adjust if it's too high or too low IMO.

defenestrate
03-12-2010, 12:55 PM
I've been carbing in sixth bbl kegs individually in my 1 bbl nano. I have two 'keezers' to keep the kegs cold and hook them up to a spider of sanke coupers fed by a 100lb (or is it 50, the big tall one) co2 tank. I carb for about 40 hrs @ 34F to get about 2.5 volumes. For us, waiting the extra time to carbonate would suck although it wouldn't tie up the cold space. carbing with co2 is just easier to control and adjust if it's too high or too low IMO.


this sounds like what i had in mind, basically just a bigger homebrew set up-for my keezer at home i just have an air distributor and carb at 45 degrees for 48 hrs at about 30 psi. the control and accuracy is a valid point. maybe i'll hold the natural carbing for any special brews i bottle in bombers :p if you dont mind i'm going to throw a few other questions at you.

my plan was to maybe pick up large vertical chest freezers and fit plastic conicals inside for a ferm chamber, probably 2 or 3 to start. this would be cheaper than controlling the temp of an entire room and i could also cold crash them and dump off the sediment prior to kegging. do you ferment in 1 bbl or do you blend multiple batches?

also, what is your turnaround for an average gravity batch (say 1050 or so)? do you age them after carbonated at all?

BrewinLou
03-12-2010, 01:01 PM
These are pretty cool, of coarse you could only carb 1/2 bbl at a time.

http://breweryparts.com/index.php/barrel-topping-cellar-keg.html

defenestrate
03-12-2010, 01:14 PM
These are pretty cool, of coarse you could only carb 1/2 bbl at a time.

http://breweryparts.com/index.php/barrel-topping-cellar-keg.html

and mighty expensive for a very small nano set up, that is really cool though. i would be moving 1/6 bbls though so i think the above option is sounding pretty good.

thanks for the quick replies guys, keep em coming !

Gordie
03-12-2010, 03:57 PM
Howdy. I actually run a 1bbl brewhouse, use 1/6 bbl kegs exclusively and naturally carb everything. Priming the kegs isn't a big deal, the bigger issue is the time needed to get the beer conditioned and the space needed to hold the kegs for that time. Because I'm re-fermenting, I'm not comfortable just leaving the primed kegs at ambient temps and I use temperature controlled freezers as fermentation chambers. I generally give it about 3 weeks (to be safe), so that ties up a bunch of space.

I haven't had much of a problem with carbonation levels, but I pay close attention to the weighing of the sugar and also the SG of the beer that I'm throwing in the primed kegs. For the most part, my lighter colored beers drop pretty completely clear. There's a haze for a pint or two, but the bartenders that are pouring my beer use that as an opportunity to talk about the nano and hand crafted nature of the brew. Mostly, I cask condition because at some point I split off a few batches and force carbed one and naturally carb'd the other and just liked the naturally carb'd beer better, and made the decision to cask condition everything because I liked the result. It also gives me the option of putting it on a beer engine, which is pretty darn cool...

Kevin McGee

Healdsburg Beer Co.
Sonoma County, California

defenestrate
03-12-2010, 04:40 PM
Howdy. I actually run a 1bbl brewhouse, use 1/6 bbl kegs exclusively and naturally carb everything. Priming the kegs isn't a big deal, the bigger issue is the time needed to get the beer conditioned and the space needed to hold the kegs for that time. Because I'm re-fermenting, I'm not comfortable just leaving the primed kegs at ambient temps and I use temperature controlled freezers as fermentation chambers. I generally give it about 3 weeks (to be safe), so that ties up a bunch of space.

I haven't had much of a problem with carbonation levels, but I pay close attention to the weighing of the sugar and also the SG of the beer that I'm throwing in the primed kegs. For the most part, my lighter colored beers drop pretty completely clear. There's a haze for a pint or two, but the bartenders that are pouring my beer use that as an opportunity to talk about the nano and hand crafted nature of the brew. Mostly, I cask condition because at some point I split off a few batches and force carbed one and naturally carb'd the other and just liked the naturally carb'd beer better, and made the decision to cask condition everything because I liked the result. It also gives me the option of putting it on a beer engine, which is pretty darn cool...

Kevin McGee

Healdsburg Beer Co.
Sonoma County, California

sounds awesome! i'm a little confused with the first bolded section. so you use temp controlled freezers as ferm chambers... but what do you mean you arent comfortable leaving the beer at ambient temps? are you saying you use freezers to control the kegs temps while carbing/conditioning? i would assume you would want them as steady and as close to 70 degrees as possible. after priming i'm curious to here exactly what you do with the kegs as far as temp control.

for the second bolded section, i assume you are referring to the gravity of the beer in regards to how long it will take to prime, as in higher gravity=longer carb/condition time.

i def like the idea of "non filtered, naturally conditioned artisan beer" but i'm def putting consistency at the top of my list.

nohandslance
03-12-2010, 04:58 PM
Why not ferment in cornies, and cap fermentation. Your cast-out volume is 35gallons? ferment in 5 cornies, cap fermetation, chill and serve. Is this what you are looking for? I posted on a thread for Zwickel Bier, same information.

Good luck

defenestrate
03-12-2010, 05:03 PM
Why not ferment in cornies, and cap fermentation. Your cast-out volume is 35gallons? ferment in 5 cornies, cap fermetation, chill and serve. Is this what you are looking for? I posted on a thread for Zwickel Bier, same information.

Good luck

i have wondered about that carbing technique... but wrote it off mainly to the amount of yeast and trub that i would imagine is in the bottom. i didnt think bars handled cornies, either?

nohandslance
03-12-2010, 05:15 PM
You would have to rack off from the primary, to secondary, all done with C02 if you can self distribute, just supply the fittings to the draught towers. On this small scale your probably in 'good standing' with the bar owners you will be selling to, you can make some retrofits to the system

defenestrate
03-12-2010, 05:20 PM
i see, so you are not serving from the corny that was the primary, you transfer over to a fresh keg, post carbonation?

nohandslance
03-12-2010, 05:25 PM
yes. and with this technique, you cut out the 10 - 20 days for priming, or bottle conditioning type process.

defenestrate
03-13-2010, 07:07 AM
so the positive pressure has no ill effects on fermentation? interesting

Gordie
03-14-2010, 10:25 PM
Howdy. As far as fermentation chambers, I basically like to keep a close eye on any fermentation temps. I'm in Northern California and the temp fluctuations from day to night can be 30+ degrees. If my brewery goes down to 45 deg overnight, the yeast can drop out or get sleepy and I'll have a hard time getting consistent fermentation. I want predictable volumes of CO2 after a standardized amount of time and the only way I'm confident of doing that is to make sure the fermentation temps are consistent and favorable. I generally settle in around 68 deg F. In terms of checking gravity before moving to a primed keg - I mostly want to make sure that the beer is pretty much at a final gravity before re-priming it. If I move it early, the carbonation will be too high since the CO2 produced by both the continuing fermentation and the priming sugar will be dissolved into solution.

Hope that makes sense... anything else?



Kevin

Healdsburg Beer Co.
Sonoma County, California

defenestrate
03-15-2010, 04:18 PM
Howdy. As far as fermentation chambers, I basically like to keep a close eye on any fermentation temps. I'm in Northern California and the temp fluctuations from day to night can be 30+ degrees. If my brewery goes down to 45 deg overnight, the yeast can drop out or get sleepy and I'll have a hard time getting consistent fermentation. I want predictable volumes of CO2 after a standardized amount of time and the only way I'm confident of doing that is to make sure the fermentation temps are consistent and favorable. I generally settle in around 68 deg F. In terms of checking gravity before moving to a primed keg - I mostly want to make sure that the beer is pretty much at a final gravity before re-priming it. If I move it early, the carbonation will be too high since the CO2 produced by both the continuing fermentation and the priming sugar will be dissolved into solution.

Hope that makes sense... anything else?



Kevin

Healdsburg Beer Co.
Sonoma County, California

ah ok, i'm on the same page now... i tend to over think what people are saying :rolleyes: if you are using freezers to control temp, and the ambient temp drops, what are you using to heat the chamber? or is the chamber insulation/beer volume enough to keep it from falling?

i'm assuming that your brewhouse has some sort of temperature control, or are you using a seperate room to carbonate the kegs and maintain 68?

i'm mainly asking out of curiousity now, as i've been talking to a few brewers and the difference in practices is pretty interesting.

beerking1
03-16-2010, 05:41 AM
I takes a LONG time for a chest freezer full of beer to change temperature, even with the lid open.
I have a chest freezer that holds 4 cornies, or 2 carboys. With one carboy and a couple of 6-packs in it, I have left it off and the lid open overnight to try and do a diacetyl rest. The next morning, the temp had only risen 2*F (from 52*F, in a room at 68*F).

defenestrate
03-16-2010, 06:19 AM
I takes a LONG time for a chest freezer full of beer to change temperature, even with the lid open.
I have a chest freezer that holds 4 cornies, or 2 carboys. With one carboy and a couple of 6-packs in it, I have left it off and the lid open overnight to try and do a diacetyl rest. The next morning, the temp had only risen 2*F (from 52*F, in a room at 68*F).

yeah this makes sense. i think he is probably using veritical freezers but same difference, basically a stand up chest freezer :p i have a converted chest freezer for my kegerator and being set at 42, it doesnt even kick on until the temp outside reaches 65+.

defenestrate
03-16-2010, 06:20 AM
i guess if you wanted to ferment in the low 60's, having the room set at 60 and the freezers at say 64 would work well.

Gordie
03-16-2010, 10:27 AM
I like chest freezers mostly because I've got an easier use of horizontal space in my brewery and they seem more efficient to me because opening the door doesn't dump the cold air on to the floor. I've got three of them and they're set up so I can use each as its own environment and I have the flexibility to do what I want with them. I tend to do a lot of batch splitting and messing-about with variables to see what I can learn and having parallel fermentation and conditioning chambers allows me to do all kinds of stuff. Each of my freezers has a two-stage controller and I've got a heating pad running on the second stage. I basically "book end" the temps I want and let the compressor and heating pad play pong. Not perfect, but within the budget and the beer is tasty so I'm going with it.

Kevin

defenestrate
03-16-2010, 12:01 PM
I like chest freezers mostly because I've got an easier use of horizontal space in my brewery and they seem more efficient to me because opening the door doesn't dump the cold air on to the floor. I've got three of them and they're set up so I can use each as its own environment and I have the flexibility to do what I want with them. I tend to do a lot of batch splitting and messing-about with variables to see what I can learn and having parallel fermentation and conditioning chambers allows me to do all kinds of stuff. Each of my freezers has a two-stage controller and I've got a heating pad running on the second stage. I basically "book end" the temps I want and let the compressor and heating pad play pong. Not perfect, but within the budget and the beer is tasty so I'm going with it.

Kevin

what size fermenters are you running inside the freezers?

Gordie
03-17-2010, 10:30 AM
The freezers I have I can fit two 15.5g kegs (I'm using Sanke's as primary fermenters for the time being) or seven 5g kegs.

twoodward15
03-17-2010, 07:28 PM
hmmmmmm, we'll have to talk about this at the pick -up. Your best bet might be to carb in a cornie and transfer to a sixtel. Getting a few 20 gallon cornies would be a good start. They'll each fill 3 sixtels with a bit left over for QA purposes. Brewing one barrel, once a week would get you the beer you need to sustain. The biggest expense is going to be propane and a big kettle. I would like to talk to you about this more!

beerking1
03-18-2010, 05:44 AM
Getting a few 20 gallon cornies would be a good start.

Where? I have used a friend's 10 gal, but have never seen 10 or 20 gal cornies for sale...anywhere.

defenestrate
03-18-2010, 11:12 AM
hmmmmmm, we'll have to talk about this at the pick -up. Your best bet might be to carb in a cornie and transfer to a sixtel. Getting a few 20 gallon cornies would be a good start. They'll each fill 3 sixtels with a bit left over for QA purposes. Brewing one barrel, once a week would get you the beer you need to sustain. The biggest expense is going to be propane and a big kettle. I would like to talk to you about this more!

i think i'm leaning towards carbing naturally.. if i did that in a large corny i would have to transfer under pressure... might be easier than priming each keg and hoping they come out all about the same. lots of options to consider.

defenestrate
03-18-2010, 01:23 PM
The freezers I have I can fit two 15.5g kegs (I'm using Sanke's as primary fermenters for the time being) or seven 5g kegs.

how many gallons can you actually ferment in a sankey? i've seen the ones from sabco but i figured there just wasnt enough headspace to ferment 15 gal in those.

twoodward15
03-18-2010, 02:29 PM
Where? I have used a friend's 10 gal, but have never seen 10 or 20 gal cornies for sale...anywhere.

You can buy them. I had a 10 gallon keg. I know where there are at least 4 more. I also know where there is a 20 gallon. BigBear (from round 2 of the grain buy) and I were talking about you at the last meeting. Don't remember what about though. You might PM him for some 10 gallon kegs! I have a friend with at least one 20 gallon keg. I think these would be great to carb in (if you are worried about sediment) then rack to a sixtel for sale. Shoot me a PM with your location. I have some ideas as well. Maybe we can grab a beer somewhere local and go voer some things.

defenestrate
03-25-2010, 10:57 AM
The freezers I have I can fit two 15.5g kegs (I'm using Sanke's as primary fermenters for the time being) or seven 5g kegs.

hey gordie i sent you a PM about your fermenters... not sure if you got it or not.

rdy80
04-01-2010, 05:20 PM
Just wondering if you mix up your corn sugar and do natural carbonation in kegs, do the kegs need to all be filled at the same exact level to get fairly consistent carbonation. I know in the past I had issues homebrewing using the larger automatic bottle filling tubes in small 12 oz bottles since the tube was larger it left more air space on the top and the carbonation didn't seem great and the beers went bad quicker than when I filled up 22oz or 1 liter bottles with the same system. If this is an issue how would one get the kegs filled more or less evenly? You can't see in the sankeys while filling and the corneys I suppose you could estimate pretty well especially if you don't use a foamy sanitizer like starsan.

Gordie
04-02-2010, 09:41 AM
The fill level will effect carbonation levels, mostly because an increase or decrease in the headspace will effect how readily the CO2 dissolves into solution. Less headspace, more dissolution. The practical effect would be pretty minimal, though. As far as filling, you can either pull the spear and regulate your fill visually, or leave the spear in and fill until it squirts out the gas port on the coupler or get a scale and do it by weight. They all work.

olllllo
04-02-2010, 11:11 AM
I've always bottle conditioned on the warmer side (70F )

Understanding that the below info is for Belgians, which I tend to bottle condtion around (78), I think most people bottle condition too far on the cool side.

http://www.thirstypilgrim.com/2009/01/first-new-warm-room-next-world.html



Glazen Toren began as a 50L hobby but now has a 2,500L capacity. Its backyard has the makings of a small construction site so that capacity can grow further. The installation of a new warm room, where the bottled beer conditions at a toasty 29.5 C (about 85.1 F), means more storage. And that, Marc explained to us, means that the trio can double their weekly output if they want, brewing on two days instead of just one.


I'd be curious to know what temperature Sierra Nevada and Mendocino have in their warm rooms. Certainly not as high as de Glazen Toren or other Belgian breweries, but probably warmer than most people think.

Mikestro35
08-26-2011, 04:16 AM
Where are you guys running these 1bbl nano breweries out of? I know this is an older post, but me and my brother are starting a little nano brewery in WV and wonder what would be the cheapest place to brew out of as from what I read has to be a commercial property.