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Old 04-18-2013, 05:29 PM   #1
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Default California Common Conundrum

Hello everyone,

This is definitely a noob question, so I thought I would put it out there.

I am soon to be in a situation where I will have enough ingredients to brew two batches of beer the same weekend! (Not a terrible problem to have, by the way).

My problem now is that I have only one 6.5 gallon carboy, and two 5-gallon batches of beer that I want to make. I also have two 5-gallon carboys that I typically use for secondaries, but no fermenting bucket or any other suitable containers for a 5 gallon batch. The two styles of beer I'm making are a Honey Nut Brown ale and a California Common - both with estimated OGs around 1.060.

My question is this: can I put 5 gallons of the California Common beer in the 5-gallon carboy for this beer's primary fermentation? This would be my first time using the bottom-fermenting California lager yeast strain, so my reasoning is that since the yeast will primarily chill at the bottom, an ale-like kraeusen wouldn't be forming - thus not as much headspace would be needed, and a 5-gallon carboy might do the trick.

Other solutions to my problem that spring to mind are: A: split one of the beers 2.5/2.5 into each of my two 5 gallon carboys and carry out primary fermentation separately, or B: attach a blowoff hose to the 5-gallon primary fermentation undergoing California Common.

Of course option C always exists: brew and ferment them one at a time in the 6.5 gallon carboy. But that's no fun, and I don't want my milled grain to get stale .

Any thoughts? I feel like I'm making things needlessly complicated again, and probably answered my own question somewhere in this massive wall of text. Thanks!

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Old 04-18-2013, 05:32 PM   #2
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You could always brew as planned but only transfer 4.5 gallons into the carboy to allow some headspace.

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Old 04-18-2013, 05:34 PM   #3
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Is there any reason to not buy another bucket? They are like $16 brand new.

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Old 04-18-2013, 05:44 PM   #4
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Laziness mostly, and I was just at my lhbs yesterday to buy a 3 gallon carboy for my cider so my equipment/spending is getting out of hand. But I guess that's the hobby for you :P

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Old 04-18-2013, 05:48 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by forstmeister View Post
You could always brew as planned but only transfer 4.5 gallons into the carboy to allow some headspace.
And lose beer?

Also, and this is at the root of my dumb question, but do California Commons generate lots of headspace when they ferment?
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Old 04-18-2013, 05:53 PM   #6
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I think he meant 4.5 in the 5 gallon and 5.5 in the 6.5 gallon. No lost of beer.

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Old 04-18-2013, 05:57 PM   #7
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There will still be a krausen, but I don't know if it's necessary for the beer to ferment nicely (as in an ale) or not. I would just throw the CC in the 5-gallon carboy and use a blowoff tube. Then just see what happens and report back

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Old 04-18-2013, 06:30 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grem135 View Post
I think he meant 4.5 in the 5 gallon and 5.5 in the 6.5 gallon. No lost of beer.
That wouldn't work because I'm brewing two different beers - a California Common and a Honey Nut Brown Ale.

But yeah, I think I'll do what the above poster suggested and ferment the CC in a 5 gallon with a blowoff.
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Old 04-18-2013, 09:55 PM   #9
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+1 on the blow off tube. Id use it on the 5 gallon just to be safe.

I did a 5 gallon maibock in a 5 gallon fermenter. I read that people didn't use blow offs for some of their lagers when fermenting. I woke up to a small eruption out of my airlock. So I had to switch it to a blow off quickly. I'm not sure if it was more aggressive because of the higher gravity, so I'd just be safe and use able off.

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Old 04-27-2013, 04:22 AM   #10
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+2 on blow off tube if you end up with little headspace in the fermenter. Also, use fermcap-S in that situation, it REALLY helps!

Also, most Wal-Marts sell 5 gallon white, food safe buckets in the hardware section. Costs ~ $3 with lid. They are five gallon TOTAL, so work great for ~ 3-3.5 gallon batches (and great for 4-gallon cider batches). The lids do not seal airtight, so you are doing a quasi-open fermentation (nothing to worry about here - bugs can't climb up and over). I've used these a ton for splitting batches, and they work great. Don't have to put an airlock on or anything because there is no gasket in the lid. Cheap, easy.

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