HELP> Do you mechanically filter your homebrew? If so, I need your advice.

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CJnCincy

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Not here seeking opinions on whether to mechanically filter or not. I've recently bought a plate filter, so I'm past that decision point. I do have a couple questions though.

My situation: I brew lagers primarily. I keg condition these beers by carbonating with corn sugar in the keg after primary fermentation. When it comes time to serve, I'll place in my beer fridge, connect the keg on serving carbonation (~14 psi), then start serving several days later.

My questions are these:
When should I filter? I think my options are pre-lagering (immediately after primary fermentation when transferring into keg) or post lagering?
If filtering pre-lagering, do I still keg condition with corn sugar? Will the beer "spoil" if I lager for extended times without keg conditioning? Do I just add enough corn sugar to build to ~ 5-10 psi?
If filtering post-lagering, I suspect I will have to release all the CO2 built up from the keg conditioning? Does this make sense?

What do you do?
 
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CJnCincy

CJnCincy

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Kegs will always have gunk in the bottom of the keg from settling over time.

What is hoped to achieve by filtering? Fining?

Keep beer in a cold environment to extend the life. Warm temps = bad for storage.
I just want to try the plate filter to gage the ability to produce a super bright clear beer. I lager at about 55 deg (ambient temp of our cellar on the farm). Not ideal, but I think even at this temp, the lagering (typically 5-7 weeks) helps with flavor. I rotate Helles, Dunkel, Kolsch, Schwarzbier, and Pilsner every three months, so 5-7 weeks is about the most I lager these beers.
 
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I've filtered many times. The only beers I filter are pilsners (I also filter light wines), but I don't do it much anymore. I've always filtered right after kegging - rack to keg from carboy, then immediately push from keg to keg with gas at ~ 3psi.

If you didn't already know this, you CANNOT filter after the beer is fully carbonated. It's a foamy disaster. I learn the hard way, BTW.

It's important to get the beer as clear as you can before filtering. So while the beer is still in the fermentor, a combination of time, cold, and potentially some sort of fining are a good idea. For me, 1 week of settling time after gelatin is added, 33F degrees.
 
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Not here seeking opinions on whether to mechanically filter or not. I've recently bought a plate filter, so I'm past that decision point. I do have a couple questions though.

My situation: I brew lagers primarily. I keg condition these beers by carbonating with corn sugar in the keg after primary fermentation. When it comes time to serve, I'll place in my beer fridge, connect the keg on serving carbonation (~14 psi), then start serving several days later.

My questions are these:
When should I filter? I think my options are pre-lagering (immediately after primary fermentation when transferring into keg) or post lagering?
If filtering pre-lagering, do I still keg condition with corn sugar? Will the beer "spoil" if I lager for extended times without keg conditioning? Do I just add enough corn sugar to build to ~ 5-10 psi?
If filtering post-lagering, I suspect I will have to release all the CO2 built up from the keg conditioning? Does this make sense?

What do you do?
BTW, the common course filters for beer are about 5 micron, and that's about the size of a yeast cell. It's possible that yeast won't make it through, and you won't be able to carbonate naturally. Not sure about this.
 
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CJnCincy

CJnCincy

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BTW, the common course filters for beer are about 5 micron, and that's about the size of a yeast cell. It's possible that yeast won't make it through, and you won't be able to carbonate naturally. Not sure about this.
I bought both the rough filter pads (5-7 micron) and the fine filter pads (1-2 micron). My thought was I'd use the rough for most of my filtering, but have fine available for something I wanted to be super clear.
 
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CJnCincy

CJnCincy

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Based on rotation and temp you should be OK.

Please realize, some believe, a plate filter will "pull" flavor and/or color from the brew.

Why using a plate filter?
Using a plate filter for clarity only. Though I lager for several weeks, use whirlfloc, ets, but just haven't reached the brightness I'm looking for. It is a minor thing in the broad spectrum of homebrewing, but something I wanted to play around with.

As far as pulling flavor, Ive heard the same thing. Brulosphy debunked this however. Here is the link: The Impact of Mechanical Filtration | exBEERiment Results! They also have a good podcast on the issue.
 

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I’m assuming your plate filter is in the middle of two corny kegs...
Either way, try using the clear beer draught on the first keg. My understanding is that those filters clog up very fast, especially if your dip tube is drawing up a bunch of trub.
 
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I bought both the rough filter pads (5-7 micron) and the fine filter pads (1-2 micron). My thought was I'd use the rough for most of my filtering, but have fine available for something I wanted to be super clear.
That's what I do for white wine. Course, then "sterile", which is 0.5 microns.
 

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I used to filter periodically, but stopped doing it. If you are going to filter, make sure to soak the filters in Star San solution and flush out all the air from the filter and lines with CO2 to prevent oxidizing your beer.

I find 90 days lagering in a keg with gelatin at 34F ensures crystal clear lagers consistently without filtering.
 
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I used to filter periodically, but stopped doing it. If you are going to filter, make sure to soak the filters in Star San solution and flush out all the air from the filter and lines with CO2 to prevent oxidizing your beer.

I find 90 days lagering in a keg with gelatin at 34F ensures crystal clear lagers consistently without filtering.
I do soak filters as described, but I just toss the first cup of beer through it.

I've got 4 carboys of german pilsner ready for kegging. Maybe I'll do a filters vs unfiltered comparison with them. They've been @33F for a week with the gelatin.
 
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CJnCincy

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I used to filter periodically, but stopped doing it. If you are going to filter, make sure to soak the filters in Star San solution and flush out all the air from the filter and lines with CO2 to prevent oxidizing your beer.

I find 90 days lagering in a keg with gelatin at 34F ensures crystal clear lagers consistently without filtering.
When you filtered, did you also lager the beer or did it go straight into the "kegerator" for serving. I'm just wondering if I should go with.....

Option A: filter after primary fermentation into keg, lager 5-7 weeks without adding any priming sugar (corn sugar in my case) thus not building up carbonation in the keg while lagering, then place in kegerator to carbonate and serve.
Option B: filter after primary fermentation into keg, add the priming sugar to keg condition, lager for 5-7 weeks, then place in kegerator to serve.
Option C: add priming sugar, lager 5-7 weeks, then release the built up co2 and then filter. Place in kegerator immediately after filtering to carbonate and serve.
Option
 
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CJnCincy

CJnCincy

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I used to filter periodically, but stopped doing it. If you are going to filter, make sure to soak the filters in Star San solution and flush out all the air from the filter and lines with CO2 to prevent oxidizing your beer.

I find 90 days lagering in a keg with gelatin at 34F ensures crystal clear lagers consistently without filtering.
The instructions I received with the filter, and on the MoreBeer website where I purchased it, mentioned running boiled, but cooled water ~1 gallon first to remove paper taste. No mention of starsan but that makes sense to me.
 

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I don't have a spigot on my brew kettle(s) so I typically transfer the hot wort through a 300 mesh bag after the boil (and some cooling) into a 6 gal bucket with a spigot, where I oxygenate. The bag fits over the bucket top with a draw string and a toggle lock and It is easier to transfer to my fermenter through the spigot on the bucket than directly from the kettle. The wort is usually pretty clear by the time I'm ready to pitch and my first yeast dump (before any dry hopping) is clean enough to keep. I never filter post fermentation. Cold crashing and time take care of all of the clarification I ever need.
 

Beermeister32

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When you filtered, did you also lager the beer or did it go straight into the "kegerator" for serving. I'm just wondering if I should go with.....
When I was filtering, I was really doing what is known as “polishing” the beer. I’d lager it to get it clear, then do a keg to keg transfer prior to force carbonating with CO2. Then you continue lagering it another month, or bottle it using a counter pressure filler. It’s a lot of kitchen mess.

Lately I’ve been naturally carbonating with corn sugar and skipping filtering. I lager 90 days and use gelatin, so no real difference and a lot easier. Beers are crystal clear, you could read a newspaper through them.

One other thing - I typically have 4-6 kegs lagering at any time, so there is no need for me to rush the clarifying process. If you are trying to get a keg on tap quickly, you could do a keg to keg filter transfer much earlier, then force carbonate the keg and place it on tap. Let it lager while you have it on tap, the last beer will be the best beer!
 
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Beermeister32

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My filter is the whole house type plastic canister that uses spun poly tube shaped filters. You can get them in different micron sizes.

Also, I did a line tap into the opposing end of the filter to increase the flow rate.
 
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When I was filtering, I was really doing what is known as “polishing” the beer. I’d lager it to get it clear, then do a keg to keg transfer prior to force carbonating with CO2.
I'm assuming you were filtering after lagering?
If so, did you keg condition during lagering using dextrose, or another sugar? If so, I assume you had to release the CO2 prior to filtering?
Or....did you lager without any sugar, thus not building CO2 during the lagering process?

Or, if you were filtering prior to lagering (right after fermentation), did you add sugar to your keg during the lagering process? If so, did it build CO2, or did the filtering remove the yeast?
 

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I've always filtered right after kegging - rack to keg from carboy, then immediately push from keg to keg with gas at ~ 3psi.
When I filter, I do the same as passedpawn. Force carbonate afterward and forget the corn sugar. One of the things that filtration does is remove yeast. If there was some yeast left, it would build up a colony and cloud the beer again.
 
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CJnCincy

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When I filter, I do the same as passedpawn. Force carbonate afterward and forget the corn sugar. One of the things that filtration does is remove yeast. If there was some yeast left, it would build up a colony and cloud the beer again.
Thanks Mickey.......I guess my question really revolves around lagering after filtering without any type of keg conditioning using sugar since I've never done this before. Are there any risks to this?
 

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My lagering routine is not traditional. If I were preparing for competition, it would be. For my everyday drinking beers, I keg the beer and chill it under 35 degrees F for about 3 weeks. During that time I'll force carbonate it @ 8 - 9 psi. After that, I let it warm up to serving temp. It comes out bright and tasty.
 

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I used to filter using one of those water canister filters starting with a 5 micron then finishing with 1 micron filter.
While it somewhat worked, it didn't work as well as I liked.
These days I lager at 38°F for several weeks, then fine with gelatin and cold crash at 30°F for another week and I my beer drops crystal clear.
I don't bother with mechanical filtering anymore.
 

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I agree with the other posters...Irish moss in the boil, cold crash, gelatin, lager, then 5 micron filter then force carb.

I'm not an expert, but from what I've heard at 1micron clogs are more common, it takes progressively moving from 5 down to 1, and there's more chance of flavor loss. I don't think 1 micron is necessary if you use flocculants and finings, personally.
 

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I don’t filter anymore, but when I was filtering I’d lager it in the keg a month or two, do a keg to keg transfer through the filter, then lager it another month. I then force carbonated in the keg, then bottled or placed on tap.

One thing I didn’t mention, usually when on tap, I’ll carbonate to 10 psi. When bottling with a counter pressure filler, I carbonate the keg to 20 psi to account for pressure losses when filling bottles (16 oz flip bottles primarily).
 
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Beermeister32

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I'm assuming you were filtering after lagering?
If so, did you keg condition during lagering using dextrose, or another sugar? If so, I assume you had to release the CO2 prior to filtering?
Or....did you lager without any sugar, thus not building CO2 during the lagering process?

Or, if you were filtering prior to lagering (right after fermentation), did you add sugar to your keg during the lagering process? If so, did it build CO2, or did the filtering remove the yeast?
1. Yes - lagered about a month or two, then filtered, then continued lagering or bottling.
2. No conditioning with sugar
3. Not much if any C02, I was lagering basically flat beer at that point. Much easier to filter dead flat beer.
4. No, I wasn't using sugar any where in the process, I was force carbing with CO2 afterwards.
5. Filtering removes most of the yeast. Not all, but most of it. I'm sure some get through here or there, also depends on your filter micron size.
 

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I just want to try the plate filter to gage the ability to produce a super bright clear beer. I lager at about 55 deg (ambient temp of our cellar on the farm). Not ideal, but I think even at this temp, the lagering (typically 5-7 weeks) helps with flavor. I rotate Helles, Dunkel, Kolsch, Schwarzbier, and Pilsner every three months, so 5-7 weeks is about the most I lager these beers.
55 is too warm to lager. Lager temp should be in the 30s. 50-55 is lager yeast fermentation temp
 

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I’m not making lager, but plager. This is fermented with 1056. Fermented at normal ale temps, then lagered cold. Miller High Life on the left. My plager on the right. I was happy with how mine cleared, but the Miller beer really shows what filtration does for you. I still believe we as hombrewers don’t really have good filtration options. I wish we did. I am happy with mine. This is 7 days in the keg.
8F1BB051-7893-4ED3-B1BA-7A7383706B64.jpeg
 

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I’m not making lager, but plager. This is fermented with 1056. Fermented at normal ale temps, then lagered cold. Miller High Life on the left. My plager on the right. I was happy with how mine cleared, but the Miller beer really shows what filtration does for you. I still believe we as hombrewers don’t really have good filtration options. I wish we did. I am happy with mine. This is 7 days in the keg.
View attachment 726715
Looks good for 7 days in the keg. Compare to that High Life in another month and post up here again, eh?

Dan
 

Tobor_8thMan

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Nice!

How long post-gelatin pitch was that pic? Looks fantastic!
I only use the plain gelatin to fine for 1 to 2 days. Carefully transfer beer into keg leaving gunk crash cooling and gelatin pulled into the bottom of the fermenter (in other words leave the gunk behind). Burst carb, pour off first 1/2 glass (as inevitably, some gunk does come over into the keg) and begin drinking. Long story, but was probably 3 to 4 days (total) after plain gelatin was added to fine.
 
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CJnCincy

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I’m not making lager, but plager. This is fermented with 1056. Fermented at normal ale temps, then lagered cold. Miller High Life on the left. My plager on the right. I was happy with how mine cleared, but the Miller beer really shows what filtration does for you. I still believe we as hombrewers don’t really have good filtration options. I wish we did. I am happy with mine. This is 7 days in the keg.
View attachment 726715
Looks pretty good to me. I'm going the filter route mostly because....I want to try it as a new process to me to gauge on my own the results. To me it is part of the fun of homebrewing.....always chasing after something new to acquire more skill with the hope it makes the beer better.

So here is my process. I'm going to try it first on a Leichtbier I just pulled out of the primary last night.

1. Transfer from primary to keg, force carbonate slightly to maintain pressure ~ 1 volume or 5psi
2. Lager/condition keg 5-7 weeks at cellar temps (may be longer/shorter depending on drinkable inventory at the time)
3. Release carbonation in keg, filter @ 5 micron while transfering to serving keg, carbonate keg and serve.

Anything I'm missing?
 
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