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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Beer Discussion > 5 or 6 gallon fermenter?
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Old 12-18-2009, 03:11 AM   #1
TheImmaculateBrew
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Default 5 or 6 gallon fermenter?

All the recipes I read talk about producing 5 gallons at the end of fermentation.

Does this mean I should produce 6 gallons of wort and ferment in a 6 gallon fermentor then rack into a 5 gallon secondary to get around 5 gallons at the end of fermentation?

I've always been confused by this. Any help is appreciated. I'm glad to be part of the forums. Cheers!

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Old 12-18-2009, 03:20 AM   #2
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In the book Brewing Classic Styles, Jamil uses the strategy of targeting 6 gallons for a recipe. and then you end up losing bits of that as you go through the process and end up with 5+ gallons at bottling time. You lose some to hops absorbing liquid, trub in the brew kettle, you lose some after racking from primary, and you lose some to evaporation, etc.

However many people also make 5 gallon batches and end up with 4 or 4.5 gallons. I've done it both ways, and really don't have a preference. It really depends on how long you are going to secondary, if you're adding a bunch of dry hops or fruit, etc. and most importantly, how much beer you want when you're done.

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Old 12-18-2009, 03:25 AM   #3
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If you are wanting 5 gallons of finished product, shoot for 5.5 gallons into the fermentor. You will want a 6+ gallon fermentor 5 gallon batches. Most ale pales are 6.5 gallons, which gives you plenty of headspace for fermentation. If you plan on using a 6 gallon carboy with 5.5 gallons of wort, make sure you have a blow off tube installed during the first couple of days during fermentation.

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Old 12-18-2009, 03:26 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by weirdboy View Post
In the book Brewing Classic Styles, Jamil uses the strategy of targeting 6 gallons for a recipe. and then you end up losing bits of that as you go through the process and end up with 5+ gallons at bottling time. You lose some to hops absorbing liquid, trub in the brew kettle, you lose some after racking from primary, and you lose some to evaporation, etc.

However many people also make 5 gallon batches and end up with 4 or 4.5 gallons. I've done it both ways, and really don't have a preference. It really depends on how long you are going to secondary, if you're adding a bunch of dry hops or fruit, etc. and most importantly, how much beer you want when you're done.
So I assume Jamil recommends a 6.5 wine carboy for the primary and a 5 gallon for secondary fermentation? I guess I am just wondering how much air should should be at the top of the fermentor.
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Old 12-18-2009, 03:55 AM   #5
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Up until recently I brewed 5 gallon batches. I started with 6 gallons of wort in the primary. In my buckets this left around 3.5" of airspace between wort and airlock. When I inserted my racking cane so that I didn't pick up much trub, I had about 5.25 gallons going into the secondary. This would leave me with a bit over 5 gallons going into the keg after settling.

Hope this helps,
John

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Originally Posted by TheImmaculateBrew View Post
So I assume Jamil recommends a 6.5 wine carboy for the primary and a 5 gallon for secondary fermentation? I guess I am just wondering how much air should should be at the top of the fermentor.
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Old 12-18-2009, 05:48 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheImmaculateBrew View Post
So I assume Jamil recommends a 6.5 wine carboy for the primary and a 5 gallon for secondary fermentation? I guess I am just wondering how much air should should be at the top of the fermentor.
Guy teaching me to brew does exactly this. That gives head space for fermentation and almost none if you use the secondary. You will see lots here don't bother with one a lot of the time.

Head space is a good thing at the beginning of fermentation. In the secondary, not so much.
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Old 12-18-2009, 11:58 AM   #7
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I think most of the advice in this thread is good, from what I've experienced. I end up throwing somewhere over 5 gallons into my fermenter if I follow the method I've learned / evolved. I use the plastic bucket for a fermenter. The "standard" one is 6.5 gallons, which works OK for a lot of beers. With some of the heavier ones that produce a lot of krausen, stuff can get up & out of the airlock, depending on the fermenting temperature. When I decided I needed some more primary fermenters, I bought three of the 7 gal. buckets w/ lids from US Plastics. They were around $30 delivered for all, and I've been really pleased with them. They have a slightly taller shape which -along with the extra half gallon volume- means more headspace, and the lids have a real neoprene O-ring seal.

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