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Old 06-14-2009, 07:39 PM   #1
jeremyjudd
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Default 5 Gallon Ordeal

This seems like a really dumb question, but why can't I get a full five gallons of brew after I'm done fermenting?

I have a five gallon glass carboy that I'm using, and if I fill it to the five gallon line (to the shoulder) I get about a half gallon of blow off (normal?) during fermentation, then I lose more because all the cake settles on the bottom of the carboy and eats up another half gallon of brew.

So generally I'm only bottling between 44-48 12 oz bottles rather than the 50-52 I'm supposed to get.

So, two questions:

is a 5 gallon carboy not big enough to actually ferment 5 gallons of brew and...

is all the blowoff I'm getting on virtually every brew I make normal?

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Old 06-14-2009, 07:48 PM   #2
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I ferment in a 7 gallon bucket and get at least 52 bottles each brew. So if possible, I would recommend upgrading to a 7 gallon bucket. I do have a 5 gallon glass carboy that I use for a secondary, though.

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Old 06-14-2009, 07:55 PM   #3
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Ah, will I get less blowoff if I cool my wort to a lower temperature before bottling? I'm always below 90 but perhaps it would help if I were even cooler? Not sure if yeast reacts more vigorously in warmer temps or not...

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Old 06-14-2009, 08:00 PM   #4
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You should be cooling to 80 at least, but that won't affect blowoff afaik. The blowoff you're experiencing comes from fermenting a 5 gallon batch in a 5 gallon container. If you want to stick to carboys then get a 6.5 gallon carboy for your primary. This should prevent all that blowoff, then use the 5 gallon for your secondary.

Also, remember that a good portion of that cake at the bottom is new yeast that wasn't there before. Sure there's hotbreak and hops in there too if you don't filter before fermenting, but a large majority is yeast.

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Old 06-14-2009, 08:05 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by jeremyjudd View Post
Ah, will I get less blowoff if I cool my wort to a lower temperature before bottling? I'm always below 90 but perhaps it would help if I were even cooler? Not sure if yeast reacts more vigorously in warmer temps or not...
From what I've read, warmer temps may kill yeast. It's always a good idea to get below 80 before pitching.
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Old 06-14-2009, 08:46 PM   #6
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Pitching at temps around 68 - 70° is good. Warmer than that and you will get some furious fermentation. Just so you know, the temperature has to be above 120° to hurt your yeast. Warm fermentation temperatures will give you some flavors that are not desirable.

You really need a larger carboy or bucket to ferment 5 gallons of beer. Mine are all 6.5 gallons or more.

One more thing that might help you get some more beer is leave it in the primary longer. The longer it sits, the more compact the yeast cake is. I leave all of mine in primary for 4 - 6 weeks and the layer is so compact that I can rack down to nothing more than 1/2 cup or less of beer.

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Old 06-14-2009, 08:59 PM   #7
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This is why you will see a lot of recipes as 5.5 gallons. We know we are going to loose some to trub and possibly blowoff. If you account for it while you're brewing you will get closer to that "magical" 5 gallon number.

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Old 06-15-2009, 07:06 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Kilted Brewer View Post
This is why you will see a lot of recipes as 5.5 gallons. We know we are going to loose some to trub and possibly blowoff. If you account for it while you're brewing you will get closer to that "magical" 5 gallon number.

I'd thought about that because I can use my bottling bucket as a fermentor and it holds about 6.5 gallons. But I was concerned that adding another half gallon of brew without altering the recipe would also alter the taste. ie - more watery...

Is this not likely?
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Old 06-15-2009, 07:11 PM   #9
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You'll want a 5.5 gallon recipe to make 5.5 gallons of beer. You don't want to just add an extra half gallon of water.

I would go out and get a larger better bottle or bucket to use for your primary. No matter what you do, if you're putting 5 gallons in a 5 gallon container, you're going to get some amount of blowoff. You really need a larger primary.

Going longer in primary (3 weeks or so) will allow the yeast cake to compact down more. With some yeasts, it becomes something close to the consistency of pudding and you can siphon the beer right off it with an autosiphon. Check out some of the posts on this thread: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/leaving-beer-behind-your-yeast-116795/

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Old 06-19-2009, 02:45 AM   #10
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Thanks for the tips. I'll have to get a larger fermenting vessel or split the batch. I'll try S-04 yeast on my next brew and leave it alone longer....

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