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From wort to serving: What are the disadvantages of this lazy brewing setup?

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AntDoctor

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As I lay awake last night, insomnia running wild, I spent a long time thinking about the laziest (and cheapest) brewing setup that I could possibly imagine. It's not quite automated, but it does remove most of the headaches I experience post-boil. Let me hear your thoughts on this possible system:
  1. Pour wort directly into a purged, sanitized 5 gal corny keg.
  2. Don't worry about cooling the wort, seal that bad boy and just wait overnight, aka the "no-chill" method. Or, throw in some cold water, whatever.
  3. Ferment in keezer, using a spunding valve as an airlock. (NOTE: I like brewing 2.5 gal batches, so I wouldn't have to worry about blow-off material getting into the valve.) A spunding valve will also allow you to carbonate the beer ASAP, without needing to wait for a week-long force-carb.
  4. Serve directly from this original keg. To avoid getting the yeast lees or trub, use the clear beer draught system or a float attached to a flexible dip tube.
No chilling, no racking, very little sanitizing, no bottling, no risk of oxidation, no waiting for the keg to force carbonate. Plus, it's cheap! Used keg ~$30, CBDS ~$50, spunding valve ~$25, so the total is about $100.

However, I KNOW I'm missing something though. What are the disadvantages with this idea? What sorts of beers would I be unable to make?
 

hopjuice_71

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I frequently do this, except for the no-chill part. Works great. The (near) zero risk of oxidation seems to far outweigh any issues of the beer sitting on trub (even dry hops) for an extend length of time (in the fridge). The only issue I could see is with the no-chill approach where the cooling of the wort would create negative pressure in the keg. I don't think you could damage the keg, but it might break the seal at the lid a suck in contaminants. Not sure though.
 

Vale71

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As I lay awake last night, insomnia running wild, I spent a long time thinking about the laziest (and cheapest) brewing setup that I could possibly imagine. It's not quite automated, but it does remove most of the headaches I experience post-boil. Let me hear your thoughts on this possible system:
  1. Pour wort directly into a purged, sanitized 5 gal corny keg.
  2. Don't worry about cooling the wort, seal that bad boy and just wait overnight, aka the "no-chill" method. Or, throw in some cold water, whatever.
  3. Ferment in keezer, using a spunding valve as an airlock. (NOTE: I like brewing 2.5 gal batches, so I wouldn't have to worry about blow-off material getting into the valve.) A spunding valve will also allow you to carbonate the beer ASAP, without needing to wait for a week-long force-carb.
  4. Serve directly from this original keg. To avoid getting the yeast lees or trub, use the clear beer draught system or a float attached to a flexible dip tube.
No chilling, no racking, very little sanitizing, no bottling, no risk of oxidation, no waiting for the keg to force carbonate. Plus, it's cheap! Used keg ~$30, CBDS ~$50, spunding valve ~$25, so the total is about $100.

However, I KNOW I'm missing something though. What are the disadvantages with this idea? What sorts of beers would I be unable to make?
Any beer style that relies heavily on hop aroma. Aroma hopping on the hot side will be mostly a waste of time since the aroma will leave the wort by the time it's slowly cooled to pitching temp and dry hopping in this kind of setup is really not that practical.

In general terms your beers will benefit from the lack of cold side oxidation normally associated with homebrewed beer, but it will be affectad by the trub and yeast not being removed from the beer. At the very least you should consider closed-transferring the beer to a sanitized and purged keg once it's spunded. After all all you'll need is an additional spare keg to transfer to and that won't increase your equipment costs by that much, also considering that only the fermentation keg needs to have a floating pickup and a spunding valve, the serving keg can have a standard dip tube.
 

hopjuice_71

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I don't disagree about the no-chill and hopping, but I don't have experience with that and other people seem to have worked it out. The dry hopping, however, I disagree with. When using a floating dip tube with a SS mesh screen over the intake it is very easy to dry hop with free swimming hops. To minimize O2 hops can be added while simultaneously flushing the headspace with CO2 followed by purging after sealing the keg. The caveat is that after the dry-hopping stage one has to be patient and store the keg cold for a while (~1 week) to let the hops settle, otherwise they can compact on the intake screen and affect dispensing.

Transferring to a purged serving keg is best practice, but when considering the convenience aspect it can be a bit of a pain, though personally I still do it most of the time. I do sometimes think, however, that the purported risks of storing on the trub, at least in the relatively short term and when storied cold, might be a bit overblown. Here is a personal anecdote on this. My friend recently organized a beer event where two of my beers, an IPA and Blonde, were competing with several examples of popular local and brewery fresh commercial craft beers of the same styles. There were 20 tasters, tasting was blinded to the origin of the beer, and a simple scoring system reflecting beer preference was used. Both of my beers were chosen as the preferred of each style. My point is not to pump my tires here, the point is that for a variety of reasons I was forced to be "lazy" with these beers. They were fermented in (with spunding), and served from, 10g kegs without transfer, much like what the OP is suggesting, though I don't use no-chill. Both were dry-hopped, the IPA very heavily so. Both beers sat on their hoppy trub, albeit cold at ~1C, for around 8 weeks, yet both were good enough to be chosen over fresh commercial beers. The kegs lasted an additional 4 weeks beyond this without any noticeable change in quality, to my palate at least, which admittedly isn't the best. Personally, this set my mind at ease regarding this method of serving from the keg fermenter. I would say to the OP - give it shot. Once you work out your process I'm sure it will work just fine for you.
 

twd000

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this is my standard method (minus the no-chill part). I use an immersion chiller to quickly chill wort with my cold well water.

The Aussies have mastered no-chill so I'll let them chime in. I've heard that late-hops aroma is reduced. I have been toying with the idea of injecting hop-tea into my sealed kegs anyways, to remove oxidation risks due to opening a sealed keg to dry-hop

So anyways my standard method is to chill the wort, siphon rack 4 gallons each into two kegs, pitch yeast, attach the keg lid and BlowTie spunding valve, wait for fermentation to finish, chill, carbonate, and drink. I have floating dip tubes in all 8 of my kegs.

It works great. Simple and good results.
 

str1p3s

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The only issue I could see is with the no-chill approach where the cooling of the wort would create negative pressure in the keg. I don't think you could damage the keg, but it might break the seal at the lid a suck in contaminants. Not sure though.
Hook CO2 to it and set it to ~2 psi. No negative pressure. I don't cold crash anymore and this is what I do to get the keg down to force carb temps.
 
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The only other issue I can see is youd have a keg tied up for 2 weeks while fermenting.
 

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Hook CO2 to it and set it to ~2 psi. No negative pressure. I don't cold crash anymore and this is what I do to get the keg down to force carb temps.
I was thinking the same thing when I came across your post. It would work for no chill as well. Transfer from BV to keg, apply CO2 head pressure, allow to cool and "inject" starter yeast through the gas-in post.

Late hops can be placed in the keg before transferring the wort, as in steep/whirlpool, though bagging is probably better than commando.

After fermentation, transfer under pressure to a serving keg. No conical? No problem! Never done an 'no chill' but it should work OK.

Brooo Brother
 

Bobby_M

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As I lay awake last night, insomnia running wild, I spent a long time thinking about the laziest (and cheapest) brewing setup that I could possibly imagine. It's not quite automated, but it does remove most of the headaches I experience post-boil. Let me hear your thoughts on this possible system:
  1. Pour wort directly into a purged, sanitized 5 gal corny keg.
  2. Don't worry about cooling the wort, seal that bad boy and just wait overnight, aka the "no-chill" method. Or, throw in some cold water, whatever.
  3. Ferment in keezer, using a spunding valve as an airlock. (NOTE: I like brewing 2.5 gal batches, so I wouldn't have to worry about blow-off material getting into the valve.) A spunding valve will also allow you to carbonate the beer ASAP, without needing to wait for a week-long force-carb.
  4. Serve directly from this original keg. To avoid getting the yeast lees or trub, use the clear beer draught system or a float attached to a flexible dip tube.
No chilling, no racking, very little sanitizing, no bottling, no risk of oxidation, no waiting for the keg to force carbonate. Plus, it's cheap! Used keg ~$30, CBDS ~$50, spunding valve ~$25, so the total is about $100.

However, I KNOW I'm missing something though. What are the disadvantages with this idea? What sorts of beers would I be unable to make?
It will be challenging to get hop bitterness dialed in with no chill. Sealing a keg with hot wort will pull a vacuum and potentially implode the tank (but more likely just cause oxygen to ingress through the lid. You'd want to probably put 20psi on there initially. You'll want to drink it quickly because the beer won't do well long term on all that trub.
 
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AntDoctor

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You'll want to drink it quickly because the beer won't do well long term on all that trub.
However, I've heard that these days, the consensus is that yeast autolysis isn't really a thing for homebrewers at small scales?

Good point about the bitterness stuff though, I didn't think about that!
 

Bobby_M

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However, I've heard that these days, the consensus is that yeast autolysis isn't really a thing for homebrewers at small scales?

Good point about the bitterness stuff though, I didn't think about that!
These days people are claiming that nothing matters and nothing will negatively affect any beer's quality.
 

hopjuice_71

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These days people are claiming that nothing matters and nothing will negatively affect any beer's quality.
See post #5 in this thread. It may or may not resonate with you. As always, people need to try these things for themselves.
 

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I've fermented quite a few batches of beer in the serving keg with a floating dip tube, no racking. In my experience so far, it's hit or miss. I'm a solo drinker in my house, so most things stick around for many weeks - in fact I've had a couple of these kegged for several months. So I've tested it over time, which is where the differences become apparent.

Early in the beer's life, for quite a few weeks, all is well. It clears fast, drinks smooth, etc. And I've not had any issues with bad flavor. But some of them have become irrevocably cloudy over time. Since they're already cold and still, this doesn't get better, and I've invariably dumped these batches because they're no longer appealing. I will note that all of them have been lagers. Ales seem not to exhibit this behavior, so it may be yeast-dependent.

The nice thing about a traditional bottom dwelling dip tube is that sediment is drawn up and out early on, never again to return. You may wait a little longer for settling at the beginning compared to a floating dip tube, but once clear, it's clear til the very last pour. I still think I prefer a floating dip tube for beer that's been carefully racked into a keg post-ferm, but it's not as reliable for beer actually fermented in the serving keg. At least not for lagers, where that practice is the most compelling for O2 avoidance - unfortunately.
 
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AntDoctor

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Why would a floating diptube cause irrevocable cloudiness??

Maybe an interaction with the plastic tubing or something?
 

Brooothru

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Why would a floating diptube cause irrevocable cloudiness??

Maybe an interaction with the plastic tubing or something?
I've had similar experiences on 2 kegs that I've retrofitted and have a few possible causes. With regard to the "low keg crud" pickup issue, perhaps the floating diptube pickup is settling closer to the settled trub/yeast layer. It's possible that movement of the floating assembly is stirring the settled gunk just like moving a settled keg stirs the lees. This doesn't happen in my unmodified kegs.

I'm also experiencing a lot of "first pull" foaming on one modified keg, but it may be a dip tube gasket issue. I'll see when I rebuild the keg after it kicks, but the first pull of the day always dumps half a glass of foam before the pour clears. It's a flow control Perlick tap, the beer lines are balanced, and the beer is not over-carbed. After the first pull it pours clear until the tap sits overnight.

My problems are mostly on this one keg, though I'm less than satisfied with 2 others that have been modified. The concept sounds good but in my case it's only resulted in clearer beer on newly tapped kegs but other pour problems showing up later.

Glad I saved the old full-length diptubes and didn't mod all my kegs from the get-go.

Brooo Brother
 

z-bob

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I have a 5 gallon corny-keg that I'm not using. (I've never used it, bought it for a good price 20 years ago) Started thinking about using it as a fermentor. I brew 4 gallon batches...

Chill the wort and pour it in a sanitized bucket and pitch the yeast. (that's what I do now). When the fermentation dies down but the beer is still cloudy, transfer to the keg. You leave most of the trub behind this way. Add priming sugar (maybe a little extra) and add the popoff valve set to about 22 psi. I think that should be about 2.5 volumes of CO2 because it's 1.5 bar, but not sure about the temperature part. Wait 2 weeks, and you've got naturally-carbonated beer.

I've never used the keg because I don't have a fridge for it. I do have a CO2 tank and a party tap...
 
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