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Old 03-17-2009, 10:27 PM   #1
Pelikan
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Default Brown Hefe?

I'm reading an interesting article on hops in a Brew mag. It mentions brown hefe, an intensely bitter component of the kraeusen that's sometimes skimmed when one is looking for smoother/less bitterness.

So I'm thinking, every time I use the better bottle, I have to use a blow-off tube because of the limited head-space. And I invariably get blow off. Is this hurting my strongly-hopped varieties? Perhaps even standard hopped ones as well?

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Old 03-17-2009, 10:41 PM   #2
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i noticed a huge difference when, after 9 years, i finally got a 7.5 gallon primary carboy. i could never get enough hop flavor when i used a blowoff tube and a 5 gallon carboy. the 7.5 has enough headspace to use an airlock on all but the craziest initial fermentations.

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Old 03-18-2009, 04:01 PM   #3
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Hmmm. These better bottles are more trouble than they're worth, with that paltry head space. I may just trade my BB for a bucket, provided someone is willing.

But that aside, I think (hope) I won't have any problems with the fairly small amount of blowoff I had with the latest ESB.

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Old 03-18-2009, 04:41 PM   #4
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This is a very interesting phenomenom. Has anyone else experienced this?

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Old 03-18-2009, 05:18 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by blackwaterbrewer View Post
i noticed a huge difference when, after 9 years, i finally got a 7.5 gallon primary carboy. i could never get enough hop flavor when i used a blowoff tube and a 5 gallon carboy. the 7.5 has enough headspace to use an airlock on all but the craziest initial fermentations.
Beyond flavor, how was the level of bitterness compared to blowoff vs/ no blowoff?
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Old 03-18-2009, 05:19 PM   #6
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Not much experience to speak of here, but I had also read somewhere of IBU and hop aroma loss during fermentation, due to both CO2 carrying it away and loss of blowoff foam. But I believe I also read that in some styles it is desireable to drive off this brown hefe. Again, it's all just stuff I've read at this point, only have my 2nd batch in primary right now.

I saw in a post somewhere that someone had commented that using anti-foam during the boil made for much less violent fermentation, sometimes eliminating the need for blowoff even with limited headspace.

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Old 03-18-2009, 05:27 PM   #7
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Hmmm. These better bottles are more trouble than they're worth, with that paltry head space.
Small head-space is the whole point of a carboy (be it a glass one or a PET one like a Better Bottle). You want very small head space in a secondary fermentor to limit exposure of the wort to air and thus prevent oxidation (ideally, the carboy should be full all the way up to the neck to limit the exposed surface area).

For a primary fermentation, there's plenty of CO2 being generated to prevent oxidation. But you need a lot of headspace to avoid having tons of blowoff..

This is why most people use buckets for primary fermentation and carboys for secondary. I wouldn't get rid of the Better Bottle, I'd just use it for those beers that need a secondary.
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Old 03-18-2009, 05:58 PM   #8
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So I'm thinking, every time I use the better bottle, I have to use a blow-off tube because of the limited head-space.
I suspect you've already done this, but take a closer look at your fermentation temps. If you aim for the middle to low end of the range, you shouldn't have an issue. I've used a BB as a fermenter for a long time, and only experienced blowoff once in 25 batches, when I brewed a Roggenbier that used a Bavarian Wheat strain.
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Old 03-18-2009, 06:16 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by SumnerH View Post
Small head-space is the whole point of a carboy (be it a glass one or a PET one like a Better Bottle). You want very small head space in a secondary fermentor to limit exposure of the wort to air and thus prevent oxidation (ideally, the carboy should be full all the way up to the neck to limit the exposed surface area).

For a primary fermentation, there's plenty of CO2 being generated to prevent oxidation. But you need a lot of headspace to avoid having tons of blowoff..

This is why most people use buckets for primary fermentation and carboys for secondary. I wouldn't get rid of the Better Bottle, I'd just use it for those beers that need a secondary.
We're not talking about a secondary, but a primary. O2 is actually a good thing at the beginning, when one is trying to encourage yeast reproduction. After that, the activity of fermentation will more than drive the O2 out of the headspace, even if said headspace is rather large.

Regarding fermentation temperatures, for most of the strains I use I like a 66-68*F wort/beer temp, due to a "middle of the road" ester profile. With top-croppers and high OG brews, I get blowoff every time, which makes sense considering I have about .75 gallons of headspace in a BB.

Contrast that to a bucket, where I have at least 1.25 gallons (2-3 gallons for the larger bucket fermenters). That extra half gallon or so can make all the difference in the world.

Call me crazy, but I just prefer buckets all around. Easy to clean, easy to work with, and easy/cheap to replace should the need arise.
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Last edited by Pelikan; 03-18-2009 at 06:19 PM.
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Old 03-18-2009, 07:27 PM   #10
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We're not talking about a secondary, but a primary.
Yeah, I was just responding to the "I'm going to get rid of my carboy" statement by pointing out that although they're the wrong tool for primaries, they do have an important place in the brew house and I wouldn't trade them away.
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