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Thread: Combining forced carbonation & natural refermentation in cans and bottles

  1. #1
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    Lightbulb Combining forced carbonation & natural refermentation in cans and bottles

    Hi all,

    We’re looking at the option of combining forced carbonation & natural refermentation in cans and bottles. The idea behind this comes from the fact that canning and bottling lines are often "capped" around 2.8 vol. of CO2 and even in those volumes the lines are not as efficient as they could be. By decreasing CO2 volumes we should get more efficient packaging overall (fewer losses, better packaging times, etc.). The primary goal is to obtain appropriate volumes of CO2 for some style of beers (saison, berliner, etc.) while maintaining the same efficiency and speed on our packaging line.

    Do you have any experiences to share on similar techniques? Pointers, red flags, etc.

    Cheers. Thanks!

    -
    David
    Brasserie la Ferme
    www.brasserielaferme.ca

  2. #2
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    Most beers in can tend to be around 2.5 vol/vol (5.0 grams / litre). At much higher CO2 content, you risk having unpourable beer. If packaged at low CO2 levels, there is a greater risk of poor / inconsistent fobbing for TPO control.

    So the first question has to be - are you confusing grams / litre with vol/vol?

    There are plenty of calculators around so you can calculate how much CO2 will be produced by a given mass of sugar (often, but not always sucrose) so you adjust you residual fermentable and then you simply adjust the pre-fill carbonation level so the sugars are fermented out by the residual yeast to raise the total CO2 level to your final target.
    dick

  3. #3
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    Hey! Thanks for taking the time to answer.
    I’m not confusing grams/L with vol/vol: the goal would be to package a beer that has a CO2 level around 2.3~2.5 vol/vol and with the help of a natural refermentation (by adding a given mass of sugar) get the CO2 levels to around 2.8~2.9 vol/vol. From what I understand this wouldn’t render the beer unpourable and would also prevent the problems that come with low CO2 levels while packaging like you mentioned.

    Just wondering if anyone has ever tried this method to reach higher CO2 levels in the final packaged product.

  4. #4
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    I have personally canned many varieties specifically on Wild Goose and on Cask at above 2.6 volumes. This was both at almost 9,000ft and at sea level. One IPA would be targeted to 2.65 and other brands at 2.75 - at 35*F you need about 11-12psi head pressure. Have had beer as cold as 30.5*F reducing the head pressure to about 8-9psi. No problems filling or gushing when filled or opened. Lazy operators also overfill in an attempt to get DO numbers down. Overfills are way more likely to gush when opened. It also wastes a significant amount of beer. I have also canned down to 2.3 on a porter without much issue. You typically need to fill a bit more aggressively to induce fobbing. Sometimes purges may need to be increased to counteract DO pickup from more aggressive filling. By my personal experience, I am 100% confident I could properly can a beer at 3.0 volumes if it was below 32*F. May require dropping a can per minute at most, but usually can keep the seamer(s) running without a down second.

    I personally attribute much of the issues in packaging with staff training and competencies. If you are keeping your beer cold and using the proper filling techniques, you should have no problems canning higher volumes without natural re-fermentation. Even at those volumes I could keep full pace with filling by adjusting head pressure, or line restrictions. The manufacturers will tell you they are “capped” because most idiots in the world believe that if the red line doesn’t start until 7,000 RPM that you should be able to run 6,999 rpm constantly without issues. They don’t understand 3,500 rpm is where the performance band peaks. It’s called “but this one goes to eleven” syndrome. They would be constantly troubleshooting user related issues if they told you it can “go to eleven”.

    Carbonating naturallly sounds like a whole lot of work for no added benefit to me (unless sounding). If naturally carbonating, why even pre-carb at all? Why not do as Dick says and “just add sugar” (albeit a specifically calculated amount), but to a flat beer, can it flat, and condition it in a proper cellar until it’s ready to serve? You seem concerned about the speed at which your line runs, but I have to ask why it needs to run full speed? Why can’t you just run higher volumes slower at packaging? It sounds like you are worried about bringing product to market quickly, but you are going to have to wait for conditioning to take place anyways. What is your advantage from this method? Faster canning but longer total time before release. I could only see this as a potential benefit on a full production facility where you literally have a 24hr packaging operation and plenty of climate controlled storage.

    JMHO, but the consistency of your suggested method will be very suspect. You are trying to re-start a fermentation where yeast has no nutrients, is already being poisoned by ethanol, and has osmotic stress of pressures already. You will probably need to re-pitch a fresh healthy champagne type yeast to condition. Consistency may not be a factor if this is only used on speacilty releases. You also mentioned Berliner, which could pose unique challenges. If a true mixed culture fermentation was used, then CO2 production from added sugar will likely be effected somewhat.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for your input Unfermentable.
    About the advantage from this method: the big one would be to be able to cut time on the actual packaging (for example, being able to empty a bright tank in 2 days instead of 3 or even 4). I’m not really concerned about bringing fresh beers quickly in the market (we are not an hop forward haze bomb manufacture) but I hate the idea of having my only BT "locked with a beer" for 4 days a week.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidplasse View Post
    Thanks for your input Unfermentable.
    About the advantage from this method: the big one would be to be able to cut time on the actual packaging (for example, being able to empty a bright tank in 2 days instead of 3 or even 4). I’m not really concerned about bringing fresh beers quickly in the market (we are not an hop forward haze bomb manufacture) but I hate the idea of having my only BT "locked with a beer" for 4 days a week.
    Hey David. What size system are you on? And what type of packaging line do you use? Even 2 days to empty a brite seems like a ridiculous amount of time to spend packaging. Perhaps you should look into some different packaging equipment.

    Have you considered doing only bottle conditioning? I have one of these that I use for still packaging of specialty beers and a team of 3 can fill about 1bbl in 45 minutes. Just some food for thought.

  7. #7
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    Perhaps more detail is in order, however I don’t see why it would take you more than 2 days to empty a bright if you only have one. For rough calculations my old POS Cask SAMS line was three head filler and manually stocked and fed. Pallets were hand packed. She would top out at 13-14 cans per minute (355ml) maximum, which would let me get about 20bbl in an 8hr day. Two people running it. 30bbl per day easy if kegging 1/3 of it. At the 4 head Goose I could push about 42 CPM at 60bbl a day. Two head @ 32 CPM for 45bbl a day. Both increasing with kegs.

    Just my humble opinion, but the proposed solution sounds like a whacky band-aid to a problem that should either be an upgraded packaging operation (equipment upgrades or second-shift labor), or additional cellar capacity (bright tanks or daisy-chained kegs). I sincerely doubt you would see any tangible savings from employing this method.

    Either way, I would certainly be interested to hear updates along they way if you go this route. It’s certainly do-able. Much like calculating the carbonation of a Firkin.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Pivo View Post
    Hey David. What size system are you on? And what type of packaging line do you use? Even 2 days to empty a brite seems like a ridiculous amount of time to spend packaging. Perhaps you should look into some different packaging equipment.

    Have you considered doing only bottle conditioning? I have one of these that I use for still packaging of specialty beers and a team of 3 can fill about 1bbl in 45 minutes. Just some food for thought.
    Hey Richard,
    We’re operating a 10bbl 3 vessel system with 20bbl fermenters and bright tank. We have a DK Bottling line but I feel it’s inappropriate to output those volumes as it’s looking to take us between 2~3 days to empty the bright tank (thus blocking the entire production). We’re definitely looking into some different packaging equipment but I was looking for option in the meantime. More than 1 day of packaging is a nonsense to me so I want to fix that asap; I mean we’re only looking at 20BBL not 200.

    I worked with that exact gravity filler at my previous place of employment. Extremely efficient to package specialty, barrel aged or wild beers that are appropriate for bottle conditioning but not so much for fresh, hoppy and/or delicate products as it can pick up a lot of oxygen and you always have to wait for the bottle conditioning.

    Thanks for you input! Cheers!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by UnFermentable View Post
    Perhaps more detail is in order, however I don’t see why it would take you more than 2 days to empty a bright if you only have one. For rough calculations my old POS Cask SAMS line was three head filler and manually stocked and fed. Pallets were hand packed. She would top out at 13-14 cans per minute (355ml) maximum, which would let me get about 20bbl in an 8hr day. Two people running it. 30bbl per day easy if kegging 1/3 of it. At the 4 head Goose I could push about 42 CPM at 60bbl a day. Two head @ 32 CPM for 45bbl a day. Both increasing with kegs.

    Just my humble opinion, but the proposed solution sounds like a whacky band-aid to a problem that should either be an upgraded packaging operation (equipment upgrades or second-shift labor), or additional cellar capacity (bright tanks or daisy-chained kegs). I sincerely doubt you would see any tangible savings from employing this method.

    Either way, I would certainly be interested to hear updates along they way if you go this route. It’s certainly do-able. Much like calculating the carbonation of a Firkin.
    Thanks for the follow up. I also feel it’s a whacky band-aid solution in someway and that it’s not solving the actual problem and that it wouldn’t result in tangible savings as you’re saying. Kinda here to get some material to back up and defend/present my point.

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