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Reason for headspace in ferm question??

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  • Reason for headspace in ferm question??

    Hey guys, what is the ideal range to leave for headspace when fermenting in a unitank? Too much? Not enough? Is this just a blow issue with krausen or is there something else that I am overlooking? What would other concerns be in the event of not leaving enough headspace? Thanks

  • #2
    you ideally want about 25% headspace, If you fill your fermenter to the brim you end up loosing a lot of volume through blowoff, unless you are fermenting all lagers or sour beers.
    another reason to have headspace is because if you ever use top cropping yeast strains you might end up blowing off all your yeast, not to mention losing the ability to top crop those yeasts if you choose.

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    • #3
      Yea I understood that to be the concern.. the reason I ask is because we had a tough time getting the fv to the proper head pressure for saturation when carbing through the stone. The only thing that I could think of was that we filled it more thn usual. Would a lack of sufficient head space possibly lead to an inability to carb properly? Just trying to run scenarios through my head...

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      • #4
        That sounds more like a leaking top fitting, PVRV or spunding valve on the fermenter. Get a spray bottle of soapy water, get up there and look for bubbles.
        Last edited by TGTimm; 01-16-2019, 02:43 PM.
        Timm Turrentine

        Brewerywright,
        Terminal Gravity Brewing,
        Enterprise. Oregon.

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        • #5
          I'll second TGTimm on a small leak somewhere. A smaller headspace should be easier to increase the pressure in due to the reduced volume (PV = nRT).

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          • #6
            Originally posted by theomuller View Post
            I'll second TGTimm on a small leak somewhere. A smaller headspace should be easier to increase the pressure in due to the reduced volume (PV = nRT).
            What?? There are brewers left on here that know stuff?
            Brewmaster, Minocqua Brewing Company
            tbriggs@minocquabrewingcompany.com
            "Your results may vary"

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            • #7
              There needs to be a bit of clarification on this topic. If I put 60 bbls of beer in a 60 bbl brite and start carbing via the stone I have two options, one take the tank up via stone or not to the desired carbonation set point by checking the temp/pressure chart and wait until the beer absorbs enough co2 probably days, or two carb the beer via the stone up to my tanks pressure rated psi (15) and bleed the pressure off very slowly back down to 5-7 psi and repeat until the desired carb level is reached.

              Having done both of these methods I can tell you there is a major difference if I have 30 bbls of beer in a 60 bbls brite. With 30 bbls in beer and 30 bbls in head space one trip up to 15 psi via the stone gets the beer fully carbed. With only 25% (60 bbls in a 60 bbls tank) head space it may take 5 or more trips up to 15 psi and bleed back down for hours before the desired carb level is reached.

              If you add and bleed off slowly you avoid scrubbing and maximize the amount of CO2 that stays in suspension. In this particular scenario head space does save time in carbonation. It just depends or your particular method of carbonation.
              Joel Halbleib
              Partner / Zymurgist
              Hive and Barrel Meadery
              6302 Old La Grange Rd
              Crestwood, KY
              www.hiveandbarrel.com

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              • #8
                If you have to vent and and add more co2 through the stone beyond the first rise to saturation pressure, you are blowing too big of bubbles in your tank. Pull your stone out, make sure there are no leaks and that all CO2 goes through the stone. After that, get a flow regulator with rotameter, do some testing to dial it in as to how many cfm or cfh you need to get your tank up to carb as fast as possible and in one pass. Every venting, even a slow one strips aroma out, and every carbing creates foam which will cause you to potentially loose some head retention.
                I think the carbonation thing has been beaten to death quite a bit, but no one should reccomend venting and then adding more co2 as standard procedure. Do it slow and do it with properly adjusted stones, there should be no problem getting it done in one pass, and in 24 hours or less.

                As for not making it to saturation pressure, I second the small leak thing. I've seen it mostly on the vacuum break portion on our PRV, it has a very light spring, and should seal well under pressure, but Ive found that not to always be the case. I usually just use a screwdriver or punch to push the vacuum breaker portion open and let it close hard from the tank pressure.

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                • #9
                  Do not vent!

                  There is NEVER a good reason to vent in a proper carbonation routine. Ever. If your stone works right and you are pushing a fine curtain of bubbles into the beer (and not through the beer), then you will never require any more carbonation than that achieved by saturating the beer slowly at your desired temperature.

                  As for the OP question, I like only enough headspace to keep beer inside and not pushed out of the CIP arm. Typically 10% in BBTs. And I like a pinned sprayball as opposed to threaded or otherwise: a pinned sprayball allows a bit more beer inside your tank as the pin hole vents the CIP arm just enough to keep beer from being forced out the CIP arm when it hits the sprayball. Besides, you should not have any threads inside your tanks--it's just poor hygiene.

                  If you absolutely must carbonate beer inside a unitank for some reason, then you will want your stone at the very lowest point on the vessel possible. Headspace during carbonation is not the real issue; headspace in a unitank is a function of your kraeusen during fermentation. You can lower this (typically 25%) headspace requirement by lowering fermentation temperature, changing yeast, using an antifoam, and/or having a blowoff line separate from CIP to effectively use more of the vessel dome.

                  Regarding the difficulty of obtaining saturation pressure during carbonation: Before starting the flow to the stone, you should first pressurize the headspace to saturation pressure. Then begin carbonation. This higher pressure during first phase of carbonation allows you to more quickly carbonate and keep the CO2 into solution. There is no reason to blow through the beer to obtain saturation pressure. You just strip aroma, create foam, and destroy your beer just that little bit more. In short, do what Timm said and get some soap in a spray bottle.
                  Phillip Kelm--Palau Brewing Company Manager--

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                  • #10
                    Yes yes, I know venting is the devil. It was the SOP where I worked. We went to a pin point carbonator shortly there after.
                    Joel Halbleib
                    Partner / Zymurgist
                    Hive and Barrel Meadery
                    6302 Old La Grange Rd
                    Crestwood, KY
                    www.hiveandbarrel.com

                    Comment

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