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Thread: Carbonation in Uni Taking Way Too long Using the Head Pressure/Flow Method

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
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    St Louis MO
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    12

    Carbonation in Uni Taking Way Too long Using the Head Pressure/Flow Method

    I've read just about every post on forced carbonation using head pressure and gently flowing CO2 using a carb stone to get to equilibrium. But I am having a hard time with this. I started with a Hefeweizen that fermented much quicker than I expected (1st batch) so there was no time to spund and get natural carbonation into the beer. I must say that I am lacking a flowmeter between the secondary regulator and the carb stone, but I have been able to stick my ear to the fermenter to hear when the stone is flowing and when it cuts out based on PSI from regulator. Not the best technique but at least I know there is flow. I'm going on day 3 and while the beer is getting more carbonation it has yet to saturate. Based on all the other brewer's success using this process in minimal time 6-8 hours there is obviously something wrong either in my process or with my equipment. Here is what I have done.

    The FV is at 34F. 15 BBL, 12" carb stone, bulk CO2 going to carb stone, 20 pound tank applying head pressure.

    Day 1 - Set head pressure to 13 PSI, closed CIP arm, turned carb stone to 15-17 PSI. Over the course of the day the head pressure dropped by .5-1 PSI. A little more head on the beer but not much. No CO2 bubbles in beer...except 5 mm below the head.

    Day 2 - same head pressure, but used higher carb stone pressure upwards of 20-22 PSI. Over the course of the day the head pressure rose. So much that I backed it off as to not vent and scrub the beer. A little more carbonation in beer but not where I need to be based on others results.

    Day 3 - Set head pressure to 12 PSI, did not close CIP arm (left CO2 tank hooked up to it ), flowed about 17 PSI through the stone starting at 930 am this morning. I figured 4 PSI wetting pressure, 28" of beer above stone line +1 PSI, plus the 12 PSI head pressure = 17 PSI. I put my ear to the FV and could hear CO2 flowing. I went back tonight around 830 pm and it looks like the head pressure may have dropped the slightest. This is now day 3 of what is taking others a few hours to do. Before I left I turned up the regulator to 18 PSI to see if there is a sweet spot to avoid too slow or too fast. I will say that the beer is generating a nice head with good lacing, but the time it is taking to get to this point is way too long and I still have not reach saturation.

    Anybody have any ideas?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    San Marcos
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    4
    I am no expert, but I have been doing the same technique for a few years now with great success. Here are a few tweaks for you to try. I will take you through my process.

    When tank is full of beer, bring up the head pressure to 25 psi through the CIP arm (I use CO2 coming in at 40 psi on the regulator). Then put a sample port onto the CIP arm so you can slowly control the rate you blow off the pressure of the tank. Then hook up your CO2 to the carbonation stone and use 40 psi or at a rate where you can just barely hear the bubbling through the tank (too much can remove aroma from the beer). Set a timer for 50 minutes and bleed off the pressure through the sample port to keep the tanks pressure at 25 psi. When the time is up, bleed the tank down to 20-22 psi depending on what you want for level of carbonation. You should be good to go within 24 hours!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Pipersville, PA
    Posts
    10
    One thing you may be overlooking is thew wetting pressure of your stone including the additional pressure needed to account for the beer in the tank. You can easily determine the wetting pressure of your stone by putting it in a bucket of water and slowly turn up the regulator until you get good bubbling. This is the "starting pressure" of your stone. So if your stone starts to bubble at 10 PSI, with your regulator at 10 PSI, you are essentially getting 1 PSI worth of pressure through there stone. Then there is also pressure applied by the amount of beer in the tank and you need to also account for that. For use, when we use our 4 bbl serving tanks to carb in, our stone's wetting pressure is 12 PSI and we're adding another 10 PSI of "beer" pressure. so to set the regulator to what would be 10 psi (for example) we actually have to set the regulator to 32 PSI to account for the stone wetting pressure and beer pressure in the tank.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    St Louis MO
    Posts
    12

    Tanks rated 15 PSI

    Tanks are only rated for 15 PSI so I am limited on head pressure. I just bought 4 flow meters from McMaster Carr this morning and will see how the flow compares to what I was hearing in the tank and PSI setting on regulator. Additionally, the manufacturer said the wetting pressure is around 4 PSI which I have accounted for. I was able to get some better results yesterday (but still not completely carbonated) by lowering the pressure on the stone to what I thought was just a trickle. Something I forgot to do before filling the FV was physically running the stones in a bucket to verify wetting pressure. I left it overnight AGAIN at the lower flow and will check it when I get in.

    Thanks

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
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    Huntington Beach, CA
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    The method I've recently switched to has worked great for me on all size tanks (10bbl, 30bbl, 90bbl). I used to do the 'scrubbing' method with letting co2 bleed off from the CIP arm to get the beer carbed in an hour. Use your flowmeter from McMaster and don't have to worry about that anymore. On all of my tanks, I'll usually start with only about 2-3psi headspace. Hook up your flow meter to your carb stone, I set mine to 9psi (~2.45 volumes at 34 degrees) +2psi (stone wetting pressre) +1 psi for each ~28" of beer above the carb stone. So generally around 14-15psi. Set the flowmeter to ~7scfm, let go overnight and the beer is ready to go the next morning.
    *edit: 7scfm is extremely slow. With the hose removed from the tank you can barely feel anything coming out. So I'm guessing what you thought was a trickle without a flowmeter was likely too much co2 for the beer to absorb.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Livermore, CA
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    666
    We run our flows as low as 4 scfm oops, meant SCFH, carb up 10 bbl tanks in 6 hours and 20's in 12.
    Last edited by jebzter; 06-08-2017 at 03:55 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    St Louis MO
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    Flowmeter question

    Thanks for the response guys. Does the flow meter still allow the same PSI through the stone but at a reduced rate? Meaning ...prior to the flow meter I was running say 14-16 PSI. That is what was needed to wet the stone, account for port location and beer above it, and to overcome the head pressure. Now with the flowmeter in place i still have 14-16 PSI going into the FM but the rate is reduced going to the stone but still allows flow because pressure is higher than what's in FV until equilibrium...when I should be carbonated and flow stops....Correct?

    I had a small flow meter laying around but it is a small one...max 1 litre per minute. Based on 4 SCFM I need 113 L/minute but I will let this run over night to see what happens. I ordered 4 flow meters from Mcmaster this morning with .5 to 5 SCFM range. Hoping they get here tomorrow.

    Thanks to all.

  8. #8
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    Mar 2014
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    Huntington Beach, CA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gbc75 View Post
    Thanks for the response guys. Does the flow meter still allow the same PSI through the stone but at a reduced rate? Meaning ...prior to the flow meter I was running say 14-16 PSI. That is what was needed to wet the stone, account for port location and beer above it, and to overcome the head pressure. Now with the flowmeter in place i still have 14-16 PSI going into the FM but the rate is reduced going to the stone but still allows flow because pressure is higher than what's in FV until equilibrium...when I should be carbonated and flow stops....Correct?

    I had a small flow meter laying around but it is a small one...max 1 litre per minute. Based on 4 SCFM I need 113 L/minute but I will let this run over night to see what happens. I ordered 4 flow meters from Mcmaster this morning with .5 to 5 SCFM range. Hoping they get here tomorrow.

    Thanks to all.
    Ya the flowmeter just restricts the flow, which allows the co2 your pumping in to all be absorbed by the beer and not bubble through as it would at a higher flow rate. You would still use the 14-16psi or whatever you calculated to get to your desired co2 volumes based on your stone..at equilibrium the flow will stop. Not sure exactly how long this typically takes. I just let it go overnight, when I come in in the morning the co2 flow has stopped, and my beer is carbed.

  9. #9
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    Mar 2014
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    Huntington Beach, CA
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    Whoops. Just realized I've been saying SCFM...meant SCFH

  10. #10
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    May 2012
    Location
    Livermore, CA
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    Quote Originally Posted by FourSonsBrewing View Post
    Whoops. Just realized I've been saying SCFM...meant SCFH
    I did the same thing, meant 4 scfh

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    St Louis MO
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    12
    Its all good. Even at 4-7 scfh my current FM will only put out 1 L/m. Using the range both of you provided still converts to 1.89 on low end and 3+ L/m on the high side.. No luck with it last night, HOWEVER, UPS is delivering the proper flow meters today.

    Thanks for the insight!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    12
    What flow meter are you guys using? Can anyone provide a link?

    Thanks!

    - Adam

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Western, NC
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    42
    Quote Originally Posted by TIPA0303 View Post
    What flow meter are you guys using? Can anyone provide a link?

    Thanks!

    - Adam
    I know this is a late reply, but here is the info you want:
    McMaster-Carr part 5079k65 or 5079k65
    go to this link and scroll down to pg 612. They are $83.44 https://www.mcmaster.com/catalog/125/612

    Also go and watch this video. This guy is awesome with instructional videos

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utcSWCBMxZc

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