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Old 11-06-2007, 03:19 PM   #1
sleepystevenson
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Default Sanke keg conversion to fermenter???

I know I read a thread on here somewhere not too long ago about converting a 1/2 barrel keg to a fermentation vessel. Anybody out there use this method? Pros / cons?

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Old 11-06-2007, 04:28 PM   #2
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I really like my setup. About three brews ago I started fermenting in a sanke. I was always scared to do anything like that, but like many things I used to be scared of this community has shown me the light, lol. After "finding" oxyclean and the various threads on it I was inspired to try a sanke out. Since I now know I can clean one thoroughly, I have used it religiously. I ran into another piece of reading about closed-system pressurized fermentation and have been doing that also, but as for the sanke the only modification I did was cut 3/4" off the bottom of the spear. You could always just remove the entire spear assemble and ferment with a blow off tube, then rack as you choose. I find it easier to have everything ready to go and just hook up a tap and go when racking. 3/4" keeps the yeast sediment out of my secondary and is easily cut with a hacksaw or dremel. I have just fallen in love with sankes and 5 gallon sankes.

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Old 11-06-2007, 05:37 PM   #3
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So you didn't modify the keg? seems like it would be difficult to get the wort into the keg though that tiny ball fitting. Do you use CO2 pressure to move your wort, or just gravity through the tap head? Thanks for your help.

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Old 11-06-2007, 06:21 PM   #4
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He more than likely removed the spear, filled it and replaced the spear. Its a PITA but seals nicely

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Old 11-06-2007, 06:36 PM   #5
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In my system I go from chilled settled kettle>grant/pump combo>beer out side of sanke tap. I took the little one way ball out of the tap while doing this step. It fills fine powered by the March pump and with the pressure relief open all the way on the tap. Here's a picture of the pressure relief attached while I am carbonating.

I leave the adjustable pressure valve set to 15 psi until 3-4 days of fermentation are complete, then check the gravity by attaching a tasting spigot on the beer out side of the tap. Actually, now I just leave it hooked on there right from the start so I don't have to go back and forth. When I check gravity, if I am within a couple of points of finishing, I will completely untap and let the pressure build up. My gauge only goes to 30 psi so after two complete weeks (ale) I start to crash cool to 35*F. After a couple of days to a week resting cool at 35*F, I re-tap with a unmodified sanke tap and transfer to a secondary/serving keg and viola! I do this under pressure by using the same tap setup I did while filling the fermenter only now the beer is running through a normal beer transfer vinyl line. I really like this setup because I have no worries about possibly infectious air, and it is simply hook it up and go. Afterwords, I rinse the fermenter sanke out real good and fill with hot water and oxyclean and reseal for a couple of days to a week shaking and turning on end from time to time. I have really checked my keg after cleaning this way and it is spotless. I stuck a thin mirror in the keg opening and had a bright light. If I were brewing more than 12 gallons I would probably go to a blow-off tube in the top of an open sanke. I feel I have the head space required to not mess up my tap type system.

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Old 11-06-2007, 06:43 PM   #6
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Truthfully, when you learn how to reseal a sanke it is fast, but until then or if you get a bugger it is a B!tch. I love them now, have one Sam Adam's serving keg that fits all my taps too tight, but other than that they are all a cinch to seal and reseal. If you buy the keg tool it makes it easier for the novice. I have had to do many in the brewery when I was an intern along with Hoff Stephens kegs. It takes me a couple of seconds to get into a keg and only a couple more than that to reseal. I tiny screw driver and a good pair of non toothed plyers is all you need. Secret is when you reseal placing the end of the seal ring close to the opening for the screwdriver to get it easily. All the kegs I have received from the breweries have been turned and hard to get off (hmmmmmm).

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Old 11-06-2007, 06:55 PM   #7
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Wow, that is a great looking setup, wortmonger! I don't think I am ready to take that step yet... though someday....!

I was thinking more along the lines of cutting a large hole in the top, similar to a keggle conversion, and then maybe putting some sort of gasket material around the opening and setting / clamping(?) a piece of plexiglass over the hole. Drill a hole for the airlock, and maybe put some sort of a weight on the plexiglass to keep it down (if it wasn't somehow clamped to the keg...) The large opening would be ideal for access.

Maybe even put a drain into the very bottom center of the keg (the lowest point) for yeast/trub collection/removal, and a second drain a bit up off the bottom on the sidewall for draining off the finished beer. (conical fermenter style)

Just throwing around the idea, as I am currently doing 10 gallon + batches and splitting them between two bucket type primaries and two glass carboy type secondaries.

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Old 11-06-2007, 07:12 PM   #8
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Yeah, I just went this route because I didn't have to do anything except buy cheap parts and cut a keg spear. I use the same tap that is in my kegerator (it just gets untapped that day while I am brewing ) as well as the serving lines as transfer tubing so it all has multi-use and gets multi cleaned. I will admit that making everything quick connect wasn't inexpensive (around $90) but it saves me int time and convenience. As for cleaning, oxyclean all the way means no real cleaning for me. Your setup sounds neat, I really need to get a youtube movie of my brew day and cold-side set up and procedures. I would love to have that just for me. Not to mention it might help explain, at least for me, why I like it so much.

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Old 11-06-2007, 07:37 PM   #9
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Here's a picture of my primary in action.



Here is what I ferment in.



I have since attached my temperature probe to the keg with duct tape to get a more accurate read. The 1975 (pre '82 pennies are copper) penny and gasket stopper on the top of the tap have been replaced by a picnic tap style tasting/testing line. It makes it easy to get gravity samples, and carbonates. Can you tell I am excited, lol. I just like to through stuff out there so someone else can retort with genius suggestions. I have really gotten much further in brewing with everyone here's help.

Here is my grant/pump combo.



I love this thing because I use for a mash-out decoction of "wort only" so it gets boiling temps then gets covered until transfer to fermenter. At transfer I can easily aerate and pitch directly in the grant on its way to the fermenter. I quit using the Therminator all together . It is wonderful except very hard to keep clean of hop pellets. My infusion chiller is now back in business and I am getting better faster cold break in the kettle that gets left behind. I get a little hop residue at the beginning and at the end during transfer, but that falls to the bottom of the fermenter and gets covered by yeast rather quickly (3-4 days). I am looking into a good filtering system for post kettle wort that would work well with my system. Anyways, that is what I do.

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Old 11-01-2009, 09:22 PM   #10
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i see that in your signature link thread you've suggested to pointdexter some different parts. I couldnt find in that thread what parts are better than those you originally had. also, some questions about the conversion:
1. does the pressure not force the wort up the spear, essentially forcing wort into your spunding valve and not CO2?
2. do you have to have a tap attached to beer out, or at least have it capped off somehow, to prevent the beer from 'serving' itself while under pressure?

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