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Old 10-25-2013, 05:16 AM   #1
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Default Conical Practices

First of all, love my conical...no regrets... The quality of my beer has noticeably improved - not just better, but consistency and things like taking a gravity reading are a 30s process. However, with no other changes, my brewhouse efficiency has gone from +85% down near 60% with almost 0.5 gallon of beer out with dumping trub and another 1 gallon beer left in the fermenter after kegging.

Under my conical, I have a valve, a 2" dia sightglass and then another valve. After pitching yeast, I open up the top valve and let the sightglass fill. After a day, it's mostly full of trub and I dump it via the bottom valve, but a lot of beer comes with (even if I slightly close the top valve). This creates a vacuum and slowly starts to pull blow-off tube liquid up the tube. Lately, I've been hooking up CO2 during the dumping, but it's a hassle to change the blowoff to the CO2 each time I dump. How do commercial breweries do this? (does scale makes it not an issue?)

Any tips on dumping trub/harvesting yeast/etc? Or, should I just scale my 5gal recipes for 8gal boils/7gal ferm batch size?

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Old 10-25-2013, 01:55 PM   #2
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Add a stainless T between the blow off and fermenter. Thread in a ball valve with a house barb. Seal off the blow off (that should already have a valve), open the gas, and pressurize for the trub/yeast push.

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Old 10-25-2013, 11:38 PM   #3
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What about fully closing the valve above the sight glass when opening the bottom valve?

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Old 10-26-2013, 12:45 AM   #4
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I would think that if it's actively fermenting, it would blow any oxygen that back flowed through the blow off out in no time.

A couple of things I've learned:

1) Lift the blow off tube out of the Star San before dumping the trub.
2) Draw about a quart of liquid or so, enough to get clear beer, out of the racking port before dumping it into kegs.

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Old 10-27-2013, 06:11 AM   #5
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Thanks TIPA0303. I already have a T which has my temp probe, so I'll just add another with a ball valve. out of curiosity - do the big boys pressurize their fermenters? I have seen ball valves and pressure gauges...just assumed they were monitoring/releasing fermentation "pressure", not adding.

Correct that closing off the top valve, and then the bottom valve creates a chamber of oxygen that bubbles up through the beer. I fixed that by getting the bottom valve...once you open the top valve, you really have to keep it open. My top valve has 5-6 locking positions as well. Ratcheting it down to just barely open has helped...just enough pressure for some beer to flow down, but not so there's a gush/spray of trub everywhere. If I simply lift the blow off tube out of the star san bucket, it will allow O2 in.

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Old 10-27-2013, 07:25 AM   #6
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Yeah, pressurize to about 4-5 psi to drop the yeast out. It could be conical size specific on the pressure, but I'd start with 2-3 psi and increase from there if needed. You want to drain REALLY slow when draining the yeast out so you don't "rat-hole" the trub and cause beer to just channel through before dropping all the yeast out.

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Old 10-27-2013, 07:33 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laughingboysbrew View Post
Thanks TIPA0303. I already have a T which has my temp probe, so I'll just add another with a ball valve. out of curiosity - do the big boys pressurize their fermenters? I have seen ball valves and pressure gauges...just assumed they were monitoring/releasing fermentation "pressure", not adding.

Correct that closing off the top valve, and then the bottom valve creates a chamber of oxygen that bubbles up through the beer. I fixed that by getting the bottom valve...once you open the top valve, you really have to keep it open. My top valve has 5-6 locking positions as well. Ratcheting it down to just barely open has helped...just enough pressure for some beer to flow down, but not so there's a gush/spray of trub everywhere. If I simply lift the blow off tube out of the star san bucket, it will allow O2 in.

I work with 120BBL fermenters and we seal the blow off lines at about 80% attenuation to allow fermentation to build pressure to around 15PSI at the end. This saves us money on CO2 costs because we use endogenous CO2 from fermentation, and also allows us to have positive pressure for yeast/trub drops as well as filtration racking without needing to hook up CO2. However, we always hook a pressure umbilical from the bright tank to the fermenter to keep the head pressures balanced so tanks don't crumple.
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Old 10-27-2013, 08:22 AM   #8
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I'm pretty sure I read that one guy put a quart sized container off the valve he had on bottom of conical. Leaving the valve open during fermentation. All the heavy stuff just settled out to there and he closed the valve and removed the container. This limited his loss to 1 qt or less. The container could be replaced and done again if need be?
I don't have a conical as yet so have no first hand knowledge.
Aloha

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Old 10-29-2013, 02:34 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zzzzzzzzz View Post
I'm pretty sure I read that one guy put a quart sized container off the valve he had on bottom of conical. Leaving the valve open during fermentation. All the heavy stuff just settled out to there and he closed the valve and removed the container. This limited his loss to 1 qt or less. The container could be replaced and done again if need be?
I don't have a conical as yet so have no first hand knowledge.
Aloha
this is exactly what I was doing with a 2" sightglass. Problem is when you close off the top valve, remove the sightglass and then reattach, there is a chamber of air that is released up into the fermenter when you re-open the top valve. You can avoid this by putting a valve (not pictured) at the bottom and always keep the top valve open...just opening the bottom valve slightly to drain trub/yeast.

Seems though, after 2-3 dumps, a yeast pull, plus gravity checks, I have about 3/4 gallon of waste, plus the gallon or so left in the cone below the racking arm. I guess that's why I got a 14.5gal fermenter...increase batch size.
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