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Old 02-15-2014, 09:40 PM   #11
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Temperature control is via a freezer-based ferm chamber (7 cu ft GE with 16" collar). It holds two Vittles Vault 80# units, each with a capacity of 20 gallons. Since the hump is 9.25" tall, they sit atop a 2x10 frame a layer of plywood to give a perfectly flat, supportive surface.

Primary is typically 57-60F (liquid temp, not ambient), but varies based on yeast and recipe. I've recently switched to 4 weeks primary, with the cold crash taking up the last 3 days of it.

I set the controller down 10F and put a box fan in front of the freezer to help ease the compressor in heat exchange. I have an oversized recirc fan that helps keep the air moving. 10F typically takes 3-4 hours, and I get the compressor a 1 hour rest before cranking down another 10F. On the last temp drop, I set the controller to cycle between 34-37F, then leave it until the 3 days is up.

Without moving the primary, I unscrew the lid and attach a cask widge, which skims the top layer of liquid. I siphon directly into the serving keg, then throw the first 5 gallon keg into the keezer and carb at 3x serving pressure (as determined by a vol CO2 calculation for the style) for 24 hours. The rest go into a 70F closet for bulk aging until they're needed for serving.

If there's dry hopping involved, none go in the keezer immediately. Dry hops are suspended from a paint strainer bag with dental floss for the time prescribed in the recipe.

Because the primary was completely undisturbed for the entire 4 weeks, the beer comes out pretty freakin' clear. All remaining yeast and sediment serve off in the first pint or two.

Edit: I don't use airlocks. I use 4' of 5/16" ID blowoff tube, with the end in about 6" of StarSan inside a 16oz Gatorade bottle with a drilled lid. I've never had StarSan suck back into the fermenter, perhaps because there's about a 2.5' elevation it would have to climb to enter the fermenter.

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Old 02-15-2014, 09:49 PM   #12
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The last two batches I cold crashed, I just put the primary in the keezer and took it out and transferred after a couple of days. I also let the kegs sit on about 20-30 psi for a day or two, then drop the pressure to around 12psi and the kegs sit on that for two weeks before I start serving.

It might not be the right way (or preferred way), but that's how I have done it. Like Thadius mentioned, "to each their own" but I am always open for suggestions on how to do something easier that's just as productive.


"There is no right way to brew. The journey to finding out what works best for you is 99% of the hobby. Ethanol is the other 1%" - Bobby M

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Old 02-15-2014, 10:39 PM   #13
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I'm actually near the end of cold-crashing two batches in their primary/only fermenters (6.5g carboys). I dry hopped both with free-swimming pellets on Monday morning, switched out the blow-offs for s-locks, turned the fridge controller down to 50°F yesterday evening, turned it down to 35°F just before I went to bed around midnite, and they reached 35°F this morning.

The hops are slammed to the bottom and there's a two inch bright band on the top of both carboys as the last yeasty/trubby bits drop. I could wait a few/many days for that line to continue to drop, but as I'll be "slow force carbing" these for at least two weeks I'll rack above the dregs while doing a CO2 push, keg these tomorrow, and let them brighten while they carb in a separate cold-conditioning/carbing fridge on their eventual way to the keezer.

I stopped using secondary vessels even when dry hopping (which is pretty much part of every batch I do) two years ago after trying this process out and realizing I could cut out an entire transfer (with everything that entails, pre-sanitation, post-cleaning, and oxygenation-avoidance -wise) and end up with equal if not better quality product.

As for oxygenation during cold-crashing, no doubt there's some amount of that, but the only cold-crashed batch in which I've ever detected oxygenation effects was due to kegging with a suddenly recalcitrant auto-siphon (that was promptly dispatched to Polycarbonate Heaven with the switch to CO2-push).

Considering the potential CO2 displacement due to headspace pressure drop along with the short exposure during the crash, I choose to assume any deleterious effects are minute in magnitude...


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