Naturally carbing lagers in kegs

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SpanishCastleAle

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I'm trying my second attempt at this. First time I let it ferment too far in the primary and it was essentially done by the time I racked it to the keg...so no natural carbonation.

Last night I racked a lager brewed on 2/28 that was still quite murky with trub/yeast/etc. all suspended and still churning a bit...but there was a healthy cake too. OG was 1.060 and the gravity was about 1.016 last night. There were tons of what looked like 'yeast missile launches' from the yeast cake as I racked it (my garage was a bit warm...like 80 F) so it def seemed to still be going. I would think I got plenty of viable yeast in the transfer. But this morning it was at the same pressure as it was shortly after I racked it @ ~2 psig (I put it back in the primary fridge @ 50 F). When I first racked it I left about 4 psig in the keg just to keep it sealed...plus it was gonna cool a little bit and drop the pressure and I didn't want it to go negative. My 'seat-o-the-pants' meter says I'm not gonna get full carb here either but I'm really just guessing.

Any tips on this?
Do I need to rack it even earlier?
Should I expect full carbonation (say ~2.5 volumes) from this or just partial?
Any tips/comments appreciated.
 
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SpanishCastleAle

SpanishCastleAle

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Thanks babalu. No I didn't do a FFT. I need to get a stir plate to do it right. Kaiser's page that you linked was where I got the idea to try naturally carbing in kegs (I'd probably use kegs anyway).
 

Got Trub?

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Was the beer at 80F before you moved it to 50F? If so the cooler beer will absorb a lot of CO2 before you will see increased pressure.

GT
 
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SpanishCastleAle

SpanishCastleAle

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No, I took it out of the primary fridge (as gently as possible) and let it settle in my ~82 F garage for just a few minutes...then racked it and burped/purged it...gave it a 4 psig blanket and put it back in the same primary fridge.

But the keg was warm and the beer warmed a bit during the transfer and the 4 psig wasn't cold so I knew it would drop some. It still was at 2 psig this morning.
 

balto charlie

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I'm trying my second attempt at this. First time I let it ferment too far in the primary and it was essentially done by the time I racked it to the keg...so no natural carbonation.
I'm a little confused as to why you want to naturally carb a lager. I assume this would be considered a cask conditioned beer? Won't this make the beer cloudy? I always thought the purpose of lagering was to drop everything out and make the beer crystal clear. Remember I said I THOUGHT...so I am probably wrong. Someone please fill me in on the details. Thanks, Charlie

PS Spanish: My first 2 lagers are really looking and tasting good. One more to go before the "cold" room falls to spring temps....I really need a cave:)
 
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SpanishCastleAle

SpanishCastleAle

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I'm a little confused as to why you want to naturally carb a lager. I assume this would be considered a cask conditioned beer? Won't this make the beer cloudy? I always thought the purpose of lagering was to drop everything out and make the beer crystal clear. Remember I said I THOUGHT...so I am probably wrong. Someone please fill me in on the details. Thanks, Charlie

PS Spanish: My first 2 lagers are really looking and tasting good. One more to go before the "cold" room falls to spring temps....I really need a cave
It was something I saw on Kaiser's Fermenting Lagers page and thought that since I have two dormant pin-lock kegs (my keezer is setup for ball locks) that I'd try it. So I cut some of the liquid-side dip tubes off (just an inch or so) and gave it a shot. It's basically using a keg as the secondary...but since it doesn't vent it also naturally carbs the beer. I have a gas-side QD with a gage on it for monitoring the pressure. Below is a pic of my Vienna Lager...at 0 psig.:( Then when it's done I just transfer from the pin-lock to a ball-lock for serving. And that last transfer is pretty much a 'closed' transfer...I go from the pin-lock liquid side straight into the ball-lock liquid side by pressurizing them both with the same source (both keg's gas sides) then disconnecting the gas source from the ball-lock and slowly opening the relief valve.

So the beer is still lagering pretty much the same only it's building pressure and putting CO2 into solution.

At least that's the idea...no success for me yet. But I'm doing another lager this weekend and a Marzen soon after that...I'm gonna keep at it.

EDIT: oops forgot pic.

That pic makes the base under the keg look more curved than it really is...it's not quite that bad. I use an 18"x18" piece of ceramic tile with an old pedalboard (guitar stuff) on top to spread the load.
 

balto charlie

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It was something I saw on Kaiser's Fermenting Lagers page and thought that since I have two dormant pin-lock kegs (my keezer is setup for ball locks) that I'd try it. So I cut some of the liquid-side dip tubes off (just an inch or so) and gave it a shot. It's basically using a keg as the secondary...but since it doesn't vent it also naturally carbs the beer. I have a gas-side QD with a gage on it for monitoring the pressure. Below is a pic of my Vienna Lager...at 0 psig.:( Then when it's done I just transfer from the pin-lock to a ball-lock for serving. And that last transfer is pretty much a 'closed' transfer...I go from the pin-lock liquid side straight into the ball-lock liquid side by pressurizing them both with the same source (both keg's gas sides) then disconnecting the gas source from the ball-lock and slowly opening the relief valve.

So the beer is still lagering pretty much the same only it's building pressure and putting CO2 into solution.

At least that's the idea...no success for me yet. But I'm doing another lager this weekend and a Marzen soon after that...I'm gonna keep at it.
I get it. I haven't read that page on Kais wesite. Do you cut off the dip tubes to prevent taking up yeast sediment?
I was wondering if I could secondary in a keg and bleed off the pressure each day. It would be easy to bleed and do not figure it to be much pressure. Am I wrong here??? I would hate to blow up keg:cross: I guess that once pressure is established and I bleed it I should leave the bleed valve open and cover with sanitized cheese clothes or such. The reason to do this instead of glass secondary (for me) would be the ability to store more kegs into the fridge for lagering. I was lagering in a cold area (low 40s) but temps are climbing so need to finish the last 2 and the next one in a fridge.
I am going with the marzen this weekend. Charlie
 
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SpanishCastleAle

SpanishCastleAle

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Do you cut off the dip tubes to prevent taking up yeast sediment?
Yup.
I was wondering if I could secondary in a keg and bleed off the pressure each day.
That's the idea but I haven't needed to bleed off any yet. I dunno how much pressure it could ultimately build. Having more space in the fridge is another benefit...easier and safer to move around too.
 

balto charlie

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I just put the first 2 lagers into kegs and out into the unheated garage. Got down to 34F last night. They are in an unplugged refrigerator for insulation. Hopefully the weather will hold for a few weeks so I don't have to turn on the fridge. So far I have not needed to use any refrigeration for these. I'll call them "Green" lagers:)
 
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SpanishCastleAle

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I just put the first 2 lagers into kegs and out into the unheated garage. Got down to 34F last night. They are in an unplugged refrigerator for insulation. Hopefully the weather will hold for a few weeks so I don't have to turn on the fridge. So far I have not needed to use any refrigeration for these. I'll call them "Green" lagers
Haha...yesterday was 85 F and today is supposed to be 84 F...it's all I can do to keep my ales cool enough...sitting in a tub half-full of cold water inside with A/C.:p

I just seal up the room during the day...add some ice to the water when I get home from work...and open the window at night to get the whole room in the lower 60s (lows are ~60 F). The temp still swings up and down during day/night though...between about 64 and 70.
 

menschmaschine

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Rheinheitsgebot conformance.
I think it's worth mentioning here that if one can determine that the CO2 they purchase was produced by fermentation (I assume it would have to be barley-based fermentation), they could force carb and still be adhering to the Reinheitsgebot. I don't think it would be unusual for CO2 that we purchase to be produced by fermentation.

I guess when you look at it that way, CO2 is CO2, so why not force carb regardless of the CO2 origin?
 
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SpanishCastleAle

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I guess when you look at it that way, CO2 is CO2, so why not force carb regardless of the CO2 origin?
I wasn't really trying to adhere to the purity law per se...just wanting to try a new technique (new...to me that is). But as remilard mentioned that's why the Germans do it.

I've read that yeast works 'cleaner' when under a little CO2 pressure...also slower of course...but I dunno if it's to a degree that would be noticable in the final product.

It was mostly just to try a new technique though.
 

menschmaschine

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I wasn't really trying to adhere to the purity law per se...just wanting to try a new technique (new...to me that is). But as remilard mentioned that's why the Germans do it.

I've read that yeast works 'cleaner' when under a little CO2 pressure...also slower of course...but I dunno if it's to a degree that would be noticable in the final product.

It was mostly just to try a new technique though.
Sure, I didn't mean to imply you shouldn't naturally carb.:) Several times, I've even gone through the trouble of carbing with saved wort, just for the Reinheitsgebot-heck of it.

Kaiser can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe most German breweries these days collect CO2 from primary and then force carb with it.
 
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SpanishCastleAle

SpanishCastleAle

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Kaiser can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe most German breweries these days collect CO2 from primary and then force carb with it.
That sounds reasonable...I think I saw that somewhere too. Maybe they use something like an intensifier...just getting the CO2 doesn't seem that difficult but I wonder how they scrub it or purify it...to get rid of impurities/odors/etc. Maybe activated charcoal and/or a mol sieve?
 
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