cold crashing a pale ale

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kkuczma

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Hello!

I upgraded to equipment that allows for 5 gallons of brewing, which is a joy and also terrifying because I also picked up a temperature controller as my pale ale kit was fermenting.

I've heard all about cold crashing and would love to go that route. I have the Inkbird ITC-308 Temp Controller and I have a chest freezer. Some questions before I proceed:

  • Would I add the priming sugars before I go to cold crashing or after?
  • The lid for the fermenter does not have an extra hole for threading the thermometer into it. What are my options here? I saw somebody recommended taping it to the outside of the fermenter at center and insulating it with tape and paper towels.
  • What do I do about the airlock in the fermenter? Does that stay in?
  • If I understand this right, I'm plugging the temp controller into the power source and the chest freezer into the temp controller. The chest freezer would be plugged into the heating outlet, correct? So as to prevent the wort from freezing?
  • Is the ideal temp for a pale ale (or most any beer) 32 F?
  • How long should I cold crash for?
  • Anything else you think I should know? I'll be transferring this to a keg (first time!) when it's ready afterwards.
Thank you for your patience and assistance. I am the king of second guessing everything and researching as much as I can but I still feel about as unclear about what I've been reading. It's important to me to get this right and learn from it!
 

marc1

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Hello!

I upgraded to equipment that allows for 5 gallons of brewing, which is a joy and also terrifying because I also picked up a temperature controller as my pale ale kit was fermenting.

I've heard all about cold crashing and would love to go that route. I have the Inkbird ITC-308 Temp Controller and I have a chest freezer. Some questions before I proceed:

  • Would I add the priming sugars before I go to cold crashing or after?
    • Priming happens at packaging. Below you say you're kegging, are you keg priming? Or carbing with a CO2 tank?
  • The lid for the fermenter does not have an extra hole for threading the thermometer into it. What are my options here? I saw somebody recommended taping it to the outside of the fermenter at center and insulating it with tape and paper towels.
    • Bungee to the side with bubble wrap/cloth works for me
  • What do I do about the airlock in the fermenter? Does that stay in?
    • It depends. When you crash you will get suckback because the CO2 in the headspace will contract. It's going to pull in the airlock fluid and then a bunch of air. Brewers concerned about O2 mitigation find a way to prevent this (balloons of CO2, low CO2 pressure added to the fermenter during the crash, and so on). Whether you want to concern yourself with this at this point is up to you.
  • If I understand this right, I'm plugging the temp controller into the power source and the chest freezer into the temp controller. The chest freezer would be plugged into the heating outlet, correct? So as to prevent the wort from freezing?
    • Chest freezer is plugged into the cooling outlet, because a freezer cools it. If you have a heat belt or equivalent, plug that into the heater.
  • Is the ideal temp for a pale ale (or most any beer) 32 F?
    • You can crash it to there, I've had beers freeze a bit before by accident so I keep it a bit higher.
  • How long should I cold crash for?
    • The longer you crash the clearer it can get. I've done a couple days to a week or more.
  • Anything else you think I should know? I'll be transferring this to a keg (first time!) when it's ready afterwards.
    • Look into closed transfers and purged kegs. It can help with beer quality, especially for hoppy beer. You don't have to change everything all at once, but continuous improvement as you get more experience is a worthy goal.
Thank you for your patience and assistance. I am the king of second guessing everything and researching as much as I can but I still feel about as unclear about what I've been reading. It's important to me to get this right and learn from it!
 
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kkuczma

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I'm going to be carbing with a CO2 tank.
I also saw somebody suggest sanitized foil as an option for dealing with suckback.

I really, truly appreciate your answers. Looking forward to attempting this tonight (and then bottling a saison I have from a 1 gallon kit)
 

marc1

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I'm going to be carbing with a CO2 tank.
I also saw somebody suggest sanitized foil as an option for dealing with suckback.

I really, truly appreciate your answers. Looking forward to attempting this tonight (and then bottling a saison I have from a 1 gallon kit)
OK, if you're carbing with a CO2 tank, then you don't prime.

If you take the liquid out of your airlock, sanitized foil will prevent any dust or debris from getting in through it. It will not prevent air from being sucked in.

Good luck and have fun!
 

Jim R

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The questions are a little confusing so I will just summarize my basic steps. I have my temperature controlled refrigerator plugged into the cooling plug on my Inkbird controller. On brew day I place my fermenter into the refrigerator and set the Inkbird to my desired fermentation temperature (usually around mid 60's or so for ales depending on the yeast). I also use a heating blanket around the fermenter which is plugged into the heating plug on the Inkbird. I then let it ferment with the blow off tube connected for usually around 2 weeks.

After 2 weeks, I transfer the beer to my keg, apply the desired CO2 pressure to the keg (usually around 12 psi), and place the keg into my temperature controlled refrigerator and lower the temperature on the Inkbird to 38 degrees for cold crashing. I then usually let the beer mature for 1 week or so before I tap it.
 
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kkuczma

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I feel a lot more confident now about the process since I was able to watch how it actually works in real time. I felt like the info I was getting via google just wasn’t giving me any clarity (or I was just overwhelmed with all of life yesterday and couldn’t quite focus). I love the wifi app letting me know where it’s at and allowing me to make adjustments, helpful for when I’m at the office.

I went with the foil wrap at the top.
I’m going to let it unfold as it will with this one; this was a kit included with the 5 gallon equipment package so if it’s not my greatest, I won’t be too heartbroken over it. Need to learn through trial and error, right?
 

SourLover

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I went with the foil wrap at the top.
The product below is very inexpensive and has worked well for me when cold crashing beers.

 

Jim R

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  • The lid for the fermenter does not have an extra hole for threading the thermometer into it. What are my options here? I saw somebody recommended taping it to the outside of the fermenter at center and insulating it with tape and paper towels.
I tape the Inkbird temperature probe to the side of my fermenter and then my keg inside my refrigerator. I then tape some insulation (like packing material) over the probe so it reads the temperature of the fermenter / keg.
 
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kkuczma

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I tape the Inkbird temperature probe to the side of my fermenter and then my keg inside my refrigerator. I then tape some insulation (like packing material) over the probe so it reads the temperature of the fermenter / keg.
That's what I went with. Bubble wrap and a small hand towel. Worked like a charm!
 
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kkuczma

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Thanks again, everyone. I finished cold crashing yesterday and moved it into a cleaned/sanitized keg; now have it hooked up to a CO2 tank in the chest freezer with the temp controller keeping the freezer around 34-35. I tried to see if the freezer’s lowest setting would avoid being too cold, but that turned out to be too low anyway. Can’t wait until I can get a kegerator.
 

spittiz

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now have it hooked up to a CO2 tank in the chest freezer with the temp controller keeping the freezer around 34-35. I tried to see if the freezer’s lowest setting would avoid being too cold, but that turned out to be too low anyway. Can’t wait until I can get a kegerator.
That's still cold crashing temperature - a more typical serving temperature is around 5-6c (41-43f). Be sure to adjust your regulator pressure according to the temperature you choose so you get the correct carbonation level.

A freezer will always have to be used with an external thermostat, but there's nothing wrong with that, plenty of people do it, me included. I have two chest freezers, one for fermentation/cold crashing and one converted to a keezer for serving.
 

Holden Caulfield

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I went with the foil wrap at the top.
I think this means you decided to cold crash in your fermenter with foil covering the top of the airlock. Also, I realized that you have already done the cold crash, but for next time...

Next to bad sanitation, oxygen is your worst enemy. Cold crashing in your fermenter without allowing the suck back to pull CO2 rather than air (21% O2) is not best practice. There are two simple and better options given that you keg.

Option 1, as mentioned above, use a CO2 capture device like a balloon or the Cold Crash Guardian.

Option 2, which is the simplest of all, just cold crash in the keg - this is what I do every time

BTW, just to introduce a little controversy all for fun :). Brulosophy did a cold crashing exbeeriment to see if it made a difference.

Results showed that the cold crashed and non-cold crashed beers looked and tasted identical. Which means neither the cold crashing or introducing oxygen made any difference - so no harm/benefit done either way. Of course, all finding should be taken with a grain of salt and recognized that they are done in the name of fun - single experiment, process, results interpretation, etc.
 
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kkuczma

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I think this means you decided to cold crash in your fermenter with foil covering the top of the airlock. Also, I realized that you have already done the cold crash, but for next time...

Next to bad sanitation, oxygen is your worst enemy. Cold crashing in your fermenter without allowing the suck back to pull CO2 rather than air (21% O2) is not best practice. There are two simple and better options given that you keg.

Option 1, as mentioned above, use a CO2 capture device like a balloon or the Cold Crash Guardian.

Option 2, which is the simplest of all, just cold crash in the keg - this is what I do every time

BTW, just to introduce a little controversy all for fun :). Brulosophy did a cold crashing exbeeriment to see if it made a difference.

Results showed that the cold crashed and non-cold crashed beers looked and tasted identical. Which means neither the cold crashing or introducing oxygen made any difference - so no harm/benefit done either way. Of course, all finding should be taken with a grain of salt and recognized that they are done in the name of fun - single experiment, process, results interpretation, etc.
I actually read this in my seemingly never-ending research on the topic! I love reading about test groups with varying brew methods; in fact, some of what I've read has made me feel confident I am doing the best I can with what I've been given and I shouldn't second guess myself. I've not had a particularly clear beer since I began brewing, but that was with bottling 1 gallon kits. This is my first time kegging, so I'll be curious to see the results from having cold crashed and I can certainly try again in the future without cold crashing. Having the spigot on the fermenter was way more efficient for me than using the auto siphon; I'm curious if less sediment would kick up from the trub even without cold crashing (and if 5 gallons of beer vs. 1 gallon of beer spread out into 10 bottles also aids with the clarity if you only kickup the same amount of sedment).
 
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