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Old 07-16-2007, 03:48 PM   #1
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Default Aeration: Shaking vs. Aquarium Pump?

How many people out there shake their carboys to aerate the wort, versus using an aquarium pump or some other kind of O2 dispenser?

I just shake my carboys and I get good ferments. Home brew lore has it that a pump is better, but how much better will my beer be, really? Has anybody compared the two methods? Is there any empirical data to show that pump aeration is really superior?

IMO, as long as there is some O2 in the wort, I think fermentation temperature is probably more important than additional aeration in producing a good beer.

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Old 07-16-2007, 03:50 PM   #2
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I always just shake my carboys and have never had a stuck ferment. Every brew always ferments all the way. I was looking into getting an O2 wand and start aerating. I just spoke with another experienced home brewer in which he stopped using O2 for it was causing off flavors in his brews. He went back to the shake method and has not had any problems since.

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Old 07-16-2007, 03:51 PM   #3
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I would not bother doing the shaking ordeal. I would go with pure O2 it's quick and very effective. Some people use the pump with ok results too. I can only speak for my results and I have seen my fermentations improve a great deal sine I have been using pure O2.

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Old 07-16-2007, 03:54 PM   #4
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I don't have any empirical evidence but my fermentations improved greatly when I went with the pump through an airstone and HEPA filter. My lag times increased slightly (due to way more yeast growth) but my fermentations were much quicker and more vigorous.

Not too mention I don't have to sit there and shake the bucket anymore. I can finish cleaning up while the aeration is running and then pitch and I'm done.

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Old 07-16-2007, 04:26 PM   #5
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Well, this topic comes up quite often. Truth of it is you need to sufficiently aerate the wort no matter what method you choose. If a means other than injection or pumps work then so be it.

My method of choice has always been to strain my cooled wort, dumped from about a foot or so above the strainer into an aluminum 'tomato strainer'. Kind of a perforated cone. Not a fine mesh. The wort shoots out of the holes like hundreds of tiny little jets. When it is poured off, I have a big head of foam on the top of the beer in the fermentor. Never had a ferment problem using this method. Now, if that wasn't working for me I'd obviously have gone to some other method.

I'd add that a healthy colony of yeast will yield a higher quality beer because it isn't struggling through the ferment. As long as you are getting substantial aeration there is no need to worry imo.

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Old 07-16-2007, 04:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anthrobe
I always just shake my carboys and have never had a stuck ferment. Every brew always ferments all the way. I was looking into getting an O2 wand and start aerating. I just spoke with another experienced home brewer in which he stopped using O2 for it was causing off flavors in his brews. He went back to the shake method and has not had any problems since.
sounds like your experienced homebrewer buddy should have taken a closer look at his issues before declaring O2 the cause.....

on topic: I am getting good results with my aeration via wipping up the wort from 90 down to pitching temps, straining into the fermenter and the old shake like a polaroid method
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Old 07-16-2007, 04:38 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brewt00l
sounds like your experienced homebrewer buddy should have taken a closer look at his issues before declaring O2 the cause.....
Agreed -- if you are getting off flavours because of oxygenating, you are doing something very wrong in the process.

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on topic: I am getting good results with my aeration via wipping up the wort from 90 down to pitching temps, straining into the fermenter and the old shake like a polaroid method
If done properly, all three methods (shaking, pump aerating, and direct oxygenation) work very well. None is necessarily 'better' than the other. It all just comes down to convenience. Shaking a carboy takes about 5 minutes and some elbow grease. The pump is 'set and forget' for about 20 - 30 mins, plus a bit of clean-up. Oxygenation is about the same work as a pump, but only takes about 45 seconds of bubbling in the carboy.

I have done all three, and like the O2 system the best, because of its convenience. But at the homebrew scale, one won't be substantially better than another (except possibly in the case of a very high gravity beer where it is very tough to get O2 into solution -- that is when an O2 system tends to stand-out a bit).
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Old 07-16-2007, 04:54 PM   #8
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Disclosure: I use the O2 system by Williams brewing with an O2 cannister.

That said, in the print version of HowtoBrew, Palmer talks about over oxygenating (not areation) and gives an example of an award winning brewer switching from such a system back to shaking (or maybe the pump with the filter).

The takeaway for me was to NOT over-aerate with the O2 system. In other words, don't leave it on indefinately. More is not better.

I just read this last week, so in the future, I will carefully monitor the time spent using the O2 system.

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Old 07-16-2007, 05:00 PM   #9
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Maybe it exists and I haven't seen it yet, but a great little software tool would be an O2 calculator. One could type in their regulator pressure, stone size, wort gravity, wort volume, and wort temperature, and it would tell you how long to oxygenate for.

I always use about a 45 second blast with mine (bit less with the medical system, bit more for higher gravity beers). It seems to work perfectly, but honestly I have no idea if I am at an optimum amount.

One benefit of the air pump is that you effectively can't over-oxygenate with them because you can never exceed the oxygen concentration in the atmosphere.

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Old 07-16-2007, 05:14 PM   #10
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Another method I have read about for aeration is to pour the cooled wort back and forth between the pot and carboy a couple of times. I've never tried it; seems like too much work.

I think I'll stick with the vigorous shake method for now, but I am tempted to get one of the small aerators from B3 (http://morebeer.com/view_product/16607/102281). They make the claim that just "5 minutes is better than shaking." Even if that is not true (got data?) the convenience of just dropping it in and walking away would be nice. Maybe Santa will leave it under the tree this year...

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