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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Techniques > Open Fermentation
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Old 01-18-2008, 04:45 PM   #1
maltMonkey
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Default Open Fermentation

Has anyone ever done an open fermented ale? I was just reading an article about how Samuel Smith's (my favorite brewery) does all open fermentation with a Yorkshire Square. Is there any way to replicate this system/method at home?

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Old 01-18-2008, 04:51 PM   #2
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The only reason to do an open fermentation at home, really, is to purposely introduce wild bacteria into your wort to create sour beers (lambic, gueuze, etc.). Otherwise, you'll not really be affecting your beer very much. The unique characteristics that a yorkshire square lend to a beer don't really come from the fact that it's an open fermentation as much as from the fact that they use stone/slate to make it. If you wanna try that out, more power to ya.

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Old 01-18-2008, 06:15 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maltMonkey
Has anyone ever done an open fermented ale? I was just reading an article about how Samuel Smith's (my favorite brewery) does all open fermentation with a Yorkshire Square. Is there any way to replicate this system/method at home?
Supposedly open fermentation allows for a stronger yeast character in the beer. In the same way breweries use pressurized fermentation vessels to inhibit yeast character, the opposite allows for more yeast derived flavors. I know people(including myself) have tried this with Belgian(non-sour) styles by removing the liquid in the airlock once 'high-krausen' has started and there is a fairly constant flow of CO2 out of the fermenter. Whether this makes a big difference or not..????

I think it is that the shape of the vessel that makes a larger impact. Shallow and wide vessels allow for less pressure because there's less weight/pressure on top of the yeast. The link says, " Yorkshire Square vessel is a two-story system consisting of a shallow chamber approximately "

Maybe try fermenting 5 gallons in 3 different carboys without liquid in the airlocks once high-krausen has started? No pressure + shallow liquid level?
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Old 01-18-2008, 06:20 PM   #4
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Yep, just did on my last trippel, but only because I had some crazy fermentation and it keep trying to blow the lid off.

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Old 01-18-2008, 06:26 PM   #5
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From what I have heard, the co2 will protect your beer fairly well from infections. I have just used al. foil over the top of my carboy before without using an airlock. Kinda the same thing, but less surface area.

If i were to do something with more surface area, I would cover it until it started to ferment, then take off the cover and let it go, then when things settle down, put the lid back on.

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Old 01-18-2008, 06:34 PM   #6
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Keep in mind that the breweries that practice open fermentation ferment a whole lot of beer in the same place, using the same strain. Chances are good that there aren't many other microbes living in that area, so contamination isn't much of an issue.

The homebrewers that take the lid off after active fermentation begins are well protected by a few things. First, the yeast is up and running at full speed, so shame on anything else that tries to get a foothold in that fermenter. By the time the yeast is through with its party, the pH of the beer is low enough and the alcohol is high enough to keep any stray microbe from doing much else. Also, the CO2 generated literally blows away much of anything that would otherwise land in the fermenter.

It could be a very different story if a homebrewer were to just pour wort into an open fermenter, pitch some yeast, and let nature take its course. I bet Landhoney can talk all about that!


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Old 01-18-2008, 06:39 PM   #7
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I'm sure there's a million and one variables, but I wonder what the typical attenuation/ABV of your average wild yeast would be? Or would it be foolish to depend entirely on that and hedge your bets with a packet or two of cheapo dry yeast?

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Old 01-18-2008, 06:59 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EinGutesBier
I'm sure there's a million and one variables, but I wonder what the typical attenuation/ABV of your average wild yeast would be? Or would it be foolish to depend entirely on that and hedge your bets with a packet or two of cheapo dry yeast?
I don't think he wants an "all wild yeast" beer. But FYI, mine went from 1.060 down to 1.002 by using 100% wild yeast that were floating around and found their way into my beer. It was foolish, but I tried it anyway, and it turned out very well.
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Old 01-18-2008, 07:01 PM   #9
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Do you mind if I ask what location you're at? I'm sure there's gotta be a couple tasty yeasts here in the continental US. : / Also, any other tips you have would be appreciated. I'm debating doing an open fermentation since it's still in the swing of winter here in WI and there shouldn't be too many unwanted organisms floating around. How long do you expose the wort?

Almost forgot. Congrats on your good attenuation. : D How long did that take? Sorry about all the questions - just curious.

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Old 01-18-2008, 07:24 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EinGutesBier
Do you mind if I ask what location you're at? I'm sure there's gotta be a couple tasty yeasts here in the continental US. : / Also, any other tips you have would be appreciated. I'm debating doing an open fermentation since it's still in the swing of winter here in WI and there shouldn't be too many unwanted organisms floating around. How long do you expose the wort? Almost forgot. Congrats on your good attenuation. : D How long did that take? Sorry about all the questions - just curious.
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=43888

It took a little over two months, that thread contains all the info. Also, mine was ambient or spontaneously fermented. Open fermentation is different from what I did, mine was only open for 2-3 days or so to get the wild yeast in there, and then fermented with an airlock. But, trying open fermentation while using a cultivated strain is a cool idea. Unless you're saying you want an all wild yeast beer.
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