Oxidized NEIPA after closed transfer

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Four days ago I enjoyed a few pints of my best-to-date hazy IPA. It was about three days after kegging so it had a bit of hop bite still, but I was excited to try it again after settling a bit more. Last night I poured a couple...and it was night and day. Some of the aroma and taste were still there, but there was a strong, sharp oxidized flavor that overrode it and made the beer very unenjoyable. I can't really pinpoint any specific thing to look for or fix, so I was hoping someone here has good advice.

Here was my process:
  • Aerated wort in conical, fermented around 66 F
  • 1-2 gravity points above terminal, I removed the 1.5" TC for the blow-off tube and dry hopped. As soon as it was open I ran ~4 PSI CO2 into the fermentor, which I continued during and after dry hop. Closed opening and let conical pressurize at 4-6 PSI
  • After 4 days I kegged using closed transfer. Kegs were about half filled with sanitizer, which was pushed out with gas. I wasn't able to completely cold crash so there was some clogging and I had to remove the conical out post a couple times to clean it out, but I purged well each time
  • Force carbed both kegs with a carbonation stone via new carbonation lids. Three days after beer tasted a bit green, but awesome, 7 days after kegging beer tasted awful. More so on Keg 1, which drew from the top, than on Keg 2, which drew from the bottom, but both were declining.
It was such a quick (and disappointing) turn for the worse that I'm stumped. Any thoughts?

Edit: I'm just remembering that the dry hops were from the same 16 oz bags that I opened on brew day 6 days prior...could using previously open bags have contributed that much oxidation so quickly?
 

VikeMan

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  • After 4 days I kegged using closed transfer. Kegs were about half filled with sanitizer, which was pushed out with gas. I wasn't able to completely cold crash so there was some clogging and I had to remove the conical out post a couple times to clean it out, but I purged well each time

It sounds like your keg wasn't actually purged.
 

MMP126

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1. In the future, fill the keg to the tippy top with sanitizer. 100% full. Half full doesn't guarantee full removal of O2. You can purge the 2nd half of the keg immensely to rid the open space of O2, and may have success with this approach. But its just easier to fill the keg 100% full and push the sanitizer out with CO2. Fill it through the OUT post, and continue to fill until sanitizer comes out of the IN post. Then purge the top of the keg, then proceed to push the sanitizer out.

2. You have to cold crash well to best mitigate clogging. Clogs can happen though. I have oxidized 2 or 3 NEIPAs from poorly dealing with clogging. If it does happen, you have to be EXTRA careful when disassembling things, and clearing clogs. Take your time. You can introduce O2 so easily in these situations. But, a proper cold crash should mitigate most of the potential for clogging. If you still clog, you need to assess the situation with a mindset of "how do I not get O2 in and ruin my beer".

I would guess that the open hops would not contribute to your issue. Since the beer was awesome at first, and got worse, I don't think the open bags of hops were the culprit. You would have noticed something off a lot sooner if that was the case.

Hope this helps! Good luck!
 

Golddiggie

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I've had no issue with dry hopping via a CO2 purged hop dropper into my conicals. I also carbonate (fully) IN conical. Since I have chill coils and a glycol chiller, that's pretty damned easy. When I was carbonating in keg I would have a color shift in my pale ales after enough time (several weeks, not days). I did use a carbonation lid a couple of times (before getting my conicals) and didn't have the color change with those. But, I made damned sure to CO2 purge the kegs before filling, as well as after filling (as well as after changing over the lid).

If your conical can handle 15psi (sounds like it can since you either have 1-2psi limit, or 15psi limit), and you can drop the finished beer temperature to a low enough level to carbonate in conical, I'd do that. Also get/make a CO2 purging hop dropper for the conical. I put at least the butterfly valve on the lid before filling when brewing a batch that will be dry hopped. I've also added the assembly (without hops in it) at that time too. Put CO2 into the hop dropper when you have things connected and you reduce worries.

BTW, I don't bother with blow-off setups on my conicals. Simply using the SS Brew Tech [graduated] spunding valve setup on the fermenter from the start. Zero problems using that to date. Depending on how high you fill your conical, you could do that too. Also depends on how much pressure you want it to retain. I've gone as high as about 12psi in the past. More recently I've had things fermenting in the 5-6psi range (to get more of what I want from the yeast).

I'd work on making sure you can cold crash your brew better. Or use a racking arm that won't pull in stuff you don't want. Depending on how much hops you added, you could simply do a dump out of the bottom of the conical before you are going to transfer. I'd do that a day or two before hand.

IME, being able to fully carbonate IN conical is a huge win. No more needing to change out carbonating lids, or worry about the force carb method you use in keg.

I've been using Spike CF10 conical fermenters. With those, 2-3oz of hop pellets are no trouble provided you let things settle before you fill your keg(s). I DO let the batch settle down for a full day (or two) once I stop carbonating. That allows the hop matter to drop down into the cone and not impact my transfer out. To the level where I've had zero clogging after doing that. I've also made sure to actually run the initial amount from the conical into a waste catch before filling a keg. I do the same once the keg is filled and I'm then filling cans. Running the beer through the line, and tossing the first few ounces that comes out. IMO, it's better to toss a few ounces that could cause issues than not. I also purge the space between the extraction TC cap (fitted with a liquid ball lock post/setup) with CO2 before using it. While it's a tiny amount of air in that space, initially, I find it's worth taking those steps. With all MFL connections on my lines, it's easy to change the gas QD to a liquid QD to do this.
 
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1. In the future, fill the keg to the tippy top with sanitizer. 100% full. Half full doesn't guarantee full removal of O2. You can purge the 2nd half of the keg immensely to rid the open space of O2, and may have success with this approach. But its just easier to fill the keg 100% full and push the sanitizer out with CO2. Fill it through the OUT post, and continue to fill until sanitizer comes out of the IN post. Then purge the top of the keg, then proceed to push the sanitizer out.

2. You have to cold crash well to best mitigate clogging. Clogs can happen though. I have oxidized 2 or 3 NEIPAs from poorly dealing with clogging. If it does happen, you have to be EXTRA careful when disassembling things, and clearing clogs. Take your time. You can introduce O2 so easily in these situations. But, a proper cold crash should mitigate most of the potential for clogging. If you still clog, you need to assess the situation with a mindset of "how do I not get O2 in and ruin my beer".

I would guess that the open hops would not contribute to your issue. Since the beer was awesome at first, and got worse, I don't think the open bags of hops were the culprit. You would have noticed something off a lot sooner if that was the case.

Hope this helps! Good luck!
Thank you for the detailed information. I recently purchased this conical and started kegging so it is helpful to get these tips! Hopefully the next one will be better.
 
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I've had no issue with dry hopping via a CO2 purged hop dropper into my conicals. I also carbonate (fully) IN conical. Since I have chill coils and a glycol chiller, that's pretty damned easy. When I was carbonating in keg I would have a color shift in my pale ales after enough time (several weeks, not days). I did use a carbonation lid a couple of times (before getting my conicals) and didn't have the color change with those. But, I made damned sure to CO2 purge the kegs before filling, as well as after filling (as well as after changing over the lid).

If your conical can handle 15psi (sounds like it can since you either have 1-2psi limit, or 15psi limit), and you can drop the finished beer temperature to a low enough level to carbonate in conical, I'd do that. Also get/make a CO2 purging hop dropper for the conical. I put at least the butterfly valve on the lid before filling when brewing a batch that will be dry hopped. I've also added the assembly (without hops in it) at that time too. Put CO2 into the hop dropper when you have things connected and you reduce worries.

BTW, I don't bother with blow-off setups on my conicals. Simply using the SS Brew Tech [graduated] spunding valve setup on the fermenter from the start. Zero problems using that to date. Depending on how high you fill your conical, you could do that too. Also depends on how much pressure you want it to retain. I've gone as high as about 12psi in the past. More recently I've had things fermenting in the 5-6psi range (to get more of what I want from the yeast).

I'd work on making sure you can cold crash your brew better. Or use a racking arm that won't pull in stuff you don't want. Depending on how much hops you added, you could simply do a dump out of the bottom of the conical before you are going to transfer. I'd do that a day or two before hand.

IME, being able to fully carbonate IN conical is a huge win. No more needing to change out carbonating lids, or worry about the force carb method you use in keg.

I've been using Spike CF10 conical fermenters. With those, 2-3oz of hop pellets are no trouble provided you let things settle before you fill your keg(s). I DO let the batch settle down for a full day (or two) once I stop carbonating. That allows the hop matter to drop down into the cone and not impact my transfer out. To the level where I've had zero clogging after doing that. I've also made sure to actually run the initial amount from the conical into a waste catch before filling a keg. I do the same once the keg is filled and I'm then filling cans. Running the beer through the line, and tossing the first few ounces that comes out. IMO, it's better to toss a few ounces that could cause issues than not. I also purge the space between the extraction TC cap (fitted with a liquid ball lock post/setup) with CO2 before using it. While it's a tiny amount of air in that space, initially, I find it's worth taking those steps. With all MFL connections on my lines, it's easy to change the gas QD to a liquid QD to do this.
Interesting. I didn't think about carbonating in the conical, but that would make sense and would be worth a try. My conical does hold 15 PSI, and I was looking at getting spunding valve and pressure ferment lid upgrades in the future. First will be the dry hopper though, what I was doing seemed risky. Thank you
 

mnbrewr

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Nice. Have you tried the filter attachment for the tip of the floating dip tube?
My fermenter (SS brewbucket) has a valve near the bottom of the bucket vs. a dip tube from the top, so I haven't used a floating dip tube. The people that use them seem to like them though. I would tend to get clogs at the ball lock disconnect at the keg vs at the fermenter valve. The few times I've got a clog at the fermenter I pushed a bit of CO2 back through the valve to clear the clog and was fine after that.

I used to dry hop in the keg with one of those mesh dry hop containers but in pursuit of minimizing O2 I started adding hops towards the end of fermentation like you mentioned in your first post. After repeatedly having to disassemble the ball lock disconnect during transfer to clear clogs I build a transfer hose with the filter mentioned above.
 

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1-2 gravity points above terminal, I removed the 1.5" TC for the blow-off tube and dry hopped. As soon as it was open I ran ~4 PSI CO2 into the fermentor, which I continued during and after dry hop. Closed opening and let conical pressurize at 4-6 PSI

Our process sounds similar - not sure what you use, but I use a Spike Flex+. If I'm dry hopping for any biotransformation (which I rarely do) I do it with 8-10 gravity points remaining - you want the yeast to be active long enough for the actual biotransformation to occur. 1-2 gravity points is not long enough for this. If you dry hop slightly earlier you also allow the yeast more time to digest any O2 that you may have introduced, and as long as you're fast, you may be able to skip the process of pushing CO2 into the vessel to prevent O2 ingress - your mileage may vary here.

If you wait to dry hop until after fermentation is complete (which I what I would recommend) I would do the following - raise temp to 72° for 2-3 for a diacetyl rest, then soft crash to 58° and dry hop here. When you dry hop - do as you described above, seal the blowoff (I recommend adding a valve), connect your gas in the off position set to around 3-4 psi, loosen your TC cap, just before you remove it, turn on the gas until you hear it rushing out the loose cap, pull the cap off, quickly drop the hops in and then replace the cap, I would pressurize to 10-15 psi and remove the gas. If you did this right, zero oxygen entered, and there's no need to purge the headspace.

If this was a conical I would hold the temp at 58° for 48 hours, drop the hops out and then cold crash to 36° for 24-48 hours and then immediately transfer to a keg.

Mine is not a true conical so once I dry hop at 58°, I immediately crash to 36° for exactly 48 hours and then transfer to the keg immediately.

After 4 days I kegged using closed transfer. Kegs were about half filled with sanitizer, which was pushed out with gas. I wasn't able to completely cold crash so there was some clogging and I had to remove the conical out post a couple times to clean it out, but I purged well each time

I'm about 99% sure this is your problem - half filled with sanitizer won't work. Put the correct amount of sanitizer into the open keg, then slowly fill the keg with water (some foaming is good, too much will make it difficult to see your water level). As you get near the top, the foam should start spilling out, slow down your flow and keep filling until your water level is convex with the lip of the keg. At this point there's zero oxygen in the keg. When you put the keg lid on, do so carefully and only displace enough water to slide the lid into place.

At this point you have two options:

1. If you planned ahead, connect your fermenter blowoff to the gas in of this keg. Add a "blowoff" to the liquid side of this same keg and put the other end into a bucket - just remember to swap the bucket once it's half full so it doesn't overflow over night. Through natural fermentation, your fermenter will push CO2 into the keg, pushing all the sanitizer into the bucket. This is a great way to save some CO2.

2. The alternative is repeating the process above, just with a CO2 bottle instead.

Edit: I'm just remembering that the dry hops were from the same 16 oz bags that I opened on brew day 6 days prior...could using previously open bags have contributed that much oxidation so quickly?

I think this is very unlikely.
 

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One thing I have not heard mentioned, but the lines used for the closed transfer are often not purged. After noticing this, I started to use a ball lock "carbonation cap" from amazon to purge the beer line, straight from the fermentor with the first second or two of beer, into a sink/bucket before attaching to the keg for filling (my Spike conicals are almost always under some positive pressure, even if low). I am guessing a bit of O2 can be had from those transfer lines depending on the length.

I do also purge my kegs with CO2, maybe 3-4 cycles of fill & pull the pressure release. All in all, it seems to work. A Rye IPA I kegged almost 80 days ago has better hop aromatics than a commercial IPA I recently opened and compared side by side.
 

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One thing I have not heard mentioned, but the lines used for the closed transfer are often not purged. After noticing this, I started to use a ball lock "carbonation cap" from amazon to purge the beer line, straight from the fermentor with the first second or two of beer, into a sink/bucket before attaching to the keg for filling (my Spike conicals are almost always under some positive pressure, even if low). I am guessing a bit of O2 can be had from those transfer lines depending on the length.

I do also purge my kegs with CO2, maybe 3-4 cycles of fill & pull the pressure release. All in all, it seems to work. A Rye IPA I kegged almost 80 days ago has better hop aromatics than a commercial IPA I recently opened and compared side by side.

3-4 cycles definitely doesn't get you down to 0 PPM of oxygen. That's why the best practice is to fill the keg to the top with starsan and push it all out with CO2. When I'm pushing that out, it's going through the tubing that will be used to fill so that's also getting purged as part of the process. Once the keg is full of CO2 and it's just blowing gas out of the transfer hose, I disconnect the QD temporarily and connect it loose onto the fermenter's beer out port. Connect the black QD again and let the keg vent down which purges the final cavity on the outbound side of the fermenter. Tighten that connection last.
 

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Just ferment and serve in the keg and you never have to deal with any of this

That can work but it introduces a few other challenges. You can't move that keg when it's half empty without stirring up yeast and having to wait again. If you're slow to drink it, there's a ton of yeast and trub in contact with the beer.
 

moreb33rplz

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That can work but it introduces a few other challenges. You can't move that keg when it's half empty without stirring up yeast and having to wait again. If you're slow to drink it, there's a ton of yeast and trub in contact with the beer.
Who are these people who are moving around their kegs after they're in the keezer?

In my experience there is zero problem with extended contact with yeast or trub, I think that's an old wives tale. I've had lagers in a keg for 6+ months and they just taste better with age.

Oxygen on the other hand, now there is a problem that you can actually taste
 

VikeMan

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Who are these people who are moving around their kegs after they're in the keezer?

People who take kegs to picnics, brewfests, wedding receptions, etc.

In my experience there is zero problem with extended contact with yeast or trub, I think that's an old wives tale. I've had lagers in a keg for 6+ months and they just taste better with age.

By old wives, do you mean brewing scientists? Sorry, but there are extra (unneeded) chemical reactions happening when trub is present, some of which are detrimental to beer stability. For just one example, unsaturated fatty acids (from trub) break down to cause E-2-nonenal, an aldehyde responsible for the classic stale "cardboard" (more like cucumber, IMO) taste. The same acids can also react in other ways to cause fatty/goaty flavors. This stuff is literally in the textbooks used in brewing academia, not just some guy's blog.

That said, it's your beer, and if you like the way it evolves, that's all that really matters.
 
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moreb33rplz

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People who take kegs to picnics, brewfests, wedding receptions, etc.



By old wives, do you mean brewing scientists? Sorry, but there are extra (unneeded) chemical reactions happening when trub is present, some of which are detrimental to beer stability. For just one example, unsaturated fatty acids (from trub) break down to cause E-2-nonenal, an aldehyde responsible for the classic stale "cardboard" (more like cucumber, IMO) taste. The same acids can also react in other ways to cause fatty/goaty flavors. This stuff is literally in the textbooks used in brewing academia, not just some guy's blog.

That said, it's your beer, and if you like the way it evolves, that's all that really matters.
Well post a link so we can have some context please. Telling me that a certain chemical reaction takes place doesn't tell me what makes higher quality beer.

I seem to remember having the 'trub ruins beer' argument back in 2008 when everyone transferred to a secondary for fermentation, and we all know how that ended up.

I've brewed a few hundred batches using 'normal' methods, ie using a traditional fermenter, then transferring, open or closed, to a keg for serving, and another hundred or so batches serving/fermenting in the same keg, and I know which one makes better tasting beer in my brewhouse. I also know which method has the absolute least O2 exposure, but I guess the homebrewing boogeyman has now moved from oxygen to trub again. Full circle.
 

VikeMan

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Well post a link so we can have some context please. Telling me that a certain chemical reaction takes place doesn't tell me what makes higher quality beer.

I can't post links to textbooks. I could spend some time gathering links to white papers on the topic. But I won't. Stating that keeping finished beer on trub is good for the beer isn't commonly accepted, so the burden of proof, for your extraordinary claim, is yours, not mine.

I seem to remember having the 'trub ruins beer' argument back in 2008 when everyone transferred to a secondary for fermentation, and we all know how that ended up.

I'm not advocating for secondaries for most beers, and never have.

I've brewed a few hundred batches using 'normal' methods, ie using a traditional fermenter, then transferring, open or closed, to a keg for serving, and another hundred or so batches serving/fermenting in the same keg,

With careful and clever techniques, you can get vanishingly low levels of dissolved O2 with closed transfers. I would be the first to stipulate that no transfer is better than the best closed transfer from an O2 standpoint, but we're talking about differences in parts per billion when done right. But even your non-transferred beers are going to pick up some O2 ultimately.

and I know which one makes better tasting beer in my brewhouse.

As I said, if you like the beer you make, that's all that really matters.

I also know which method has the absolute least O2 exposure, but I guess the homebrewing boogeyman has now moved from oxygen to trub again. Full circle.

I'd say that's a false dilemma, you can avoid both to a great extent.
 
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