I'm changing my technique and have a few questions

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HappyDrunk

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Well, after a year long hiatus from brewing, I am now fully back into the swing of things. For starters, I am not really a beginner anymore, but I didn't know where else to put this as I have a few questions I'd like to ask all at once.

First of all, I am doing my best to WAIT for my brew to age these days. I used to ferment for 2-3 weeks, keg it, hook it up to CO2, shake it, and drink it fast (as in pulling pints the same day I kegged it, lol). The problem was that the quality of these beers was nowhere as good as it was when I used to bottle. The only reason I could come up with was that the extra 3 weeks at room temperature (while carbing) was 3 more weeks for the beer to age and condition. So, in order to force myself to wait, I have decided to try naturally carbing my kegs. I kegged this batch 10 days ago after priming with 1/3 cup corn sugar. Which brings me to my first question - can I pull the pressure relief valve to check if it is indeed carbonating? I intend on buying a gauge to hook up to the kegs while they are carbonating to avoid that in the future, but is it okay to do this time?

My second question is now that I am naturally carbing, will I have to force a cleaning solution through the dip tube to clear out yeast/trub after each batch? I've been doing a lot of reading, and it seems to rarely be an issue, but I would like to know what yalls protocol here is.

Third question is, do I need to pull the relief valve on the keg before hooking up to CO2? I have heard that if the beer is overcarbed (or at a higher pressure than the regulator or something) that beer will flow through the air line and ruin the regulator.

My fourth question pertains to fermentation. I have finally gotten an old fridge and an analog johnson controller to control the temperature of fermentation (which was a major issue for me living in south Texas). I am amazed at how well it works. The fermometers are both giving me the same 68 degrees CONSTANTLY. I am really hoping that I will be able to taste the difference in the end product, but I never really tasted fusel alcohols in my brews before that fermented at 75. Maybe I was just using forgiving yeast strains - I don't know. Anyways, now that I have complete control over the temperature, what is the best practice? I have read two competing theories - one says to leave it high (about 75) during the lag phase, and then drop it down to the mid 60's during the growth stage. The other theory says to put it straight into the fridge after pitching, and slowly raise the temperature up to about 72 over the next week or two. I realize the answer may change depending on the yeast strain, but is there a general method you prefer?

Sorry for the long drawn out post, but I have been reading a lot of different opinions all over the web lately and it has raised more questions than I originally had. I just want to make my beer as good as it can be! Any opinions, tips, suggestions, etc are very much appreciated. :mug:
 

unionrdr

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I've found that it's better to set the temp to the yeasts' low ideal range. Mid 60's,on average is a good bet. And even though you're kegging,the beer still needs a couple weeks conditioning time. No way around that for best flavor & aroma.
 

chickypad

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1) My disclaimer is that I force carb my kegs so have no experience with priming them, but I would personally leave the beer alone while carbonating, only pulling the valve when you're ready to hook up the gas. You don't crack your bottles to see if they are carbing then recap, right?
2) Are you asking about while the keg is still full? Sounds like most folks who naturally carb are able to pull out the yeast on the first few pints and then be okay, but you may want to shorten your dip tubes a bit depending on their length. If you get clogged, yes you're going to likely need to pull out the dip tube and/or maybe jump the beer to a new keg.
3) It's good practice to always pull the relief valve before setting a new pressure. There could still be an issue with backflow if the beer is overcarbed and your keg is very full. I'd put a good check valve on the regulator if you don't have one.
4) Agree with above posters, pitch at the right temp or lower and let it rise. Off flavors happen early.
:mug:
 
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