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Primary fermentation in corny keg

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Trubadour

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I was at one of my local brew club's member's houses yesterday and discovered using corny kegs as primary fermenters. I've been holding off brewing for a couple of weeks b/c my fermentation chamber is full (only holds 3 buckets / carboys).

This guy's cold storage can hold 18 corny kegs (upright freezer + refrigerator) and all of them are being used as primaries or for lagering. My fridge will hold 6 cornies. Back to brewing!!! Great use for cornies that won't hold pressure or just currently unused ones.

I had thought about using cornies as secondaries, but I don't secondary much. Never crossed my mind to primary in them.

Anyways, just wanted to share.
 

McKBrew

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There are a few related links. If done right it can be successful. I'm personally not big on the idea as you will have to adjust batch sizes to account for blow-off.
 

chefmike

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Are you just pulling the dip tubes, leaving the one post off and putting and air lock in?

Or removing the pressure release valve? Are you using a foam supressant? or just blowing off excess?

I have been considering for the same reasons as you... space in my fermentation chiller.
 

McKBrew

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Are you just pulling the dip tubes, leaving the one post off and putting and air lock in?

Or removing the pressure release valve? Are you using a foam supressant? or just blowing off excess?

I have been considering for the same reasons as you... space in my fermentation chiller.
One of the more recent articles of BYO (or maybe Zymurgy) has a write-up. There are also a few detailed threads here I think.
 
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Trubadour

Trubadour

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Are you just pulling the dip tubes, leaving the one post off and putting and air lock in?

Or removing the pressure release valve? Are you using a foam supressant? or just blowing off excess?

I have been considering for the same reasons as you... space in my fermentation chiller.

After reading some of the other threads, I think a foam suppresant is a good idea, but I don't have any now. I did pull the out dip tube and pressure release valve, and have a hose that fits in the pressure hole. However, since this batch was up to the brim of the keg, and I don't have any foam suppresant, I went ahead and kegged a batch, racked one of my primaries to a corny, and freed up the space in the chamber for this batch.

I'm going to try out the primary corny for my next batch.
 

AQsucka

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Are there any good how to's out there for using corny kegs to primary ferment and then transfer to a serving keg (which is also a Corny)?
 

LakewoodBrew

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i've done it a few times but, really it's not that practical unless you have cornies to dedicate to it. sankes work a lot better.
 

samc

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10 or 15 gallon Cornies do a great job with fermenting. 5'ers were a pain because of size constraints as I usually do 6 gallons into the fermenter. Cornies are easier to clean over Sankes for me as I can see into them better and actually scrub inside if needed.
 

LakewoodBrew

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10 or 15 gallon Cornies do a great job with fermenting. 5'ers were a pain because of size constraints as I usually do 6 gallons into the fermenter. Cornies are easier to clean over Sankes for me as I can see into them better and actually scrub inside if needed.
if you have 10 or 15 gallon cornies available that's pretty cool. i tried to acquire 10 gal cornies, but it's a lot easier/cheaper to get a 15.5 gallon sanke.
 

ddrrseio

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are there general guidelines (or even a calculator) to determine batch size that can go into a corny for primary?

i'd like to do a 5gal lager and hoped that the 51 degree temp would keep the thing from spewing foam through the blow off valve for two weeks.
 

emjay

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ddrrseio said:
are there general guidelines (or even a calculator) to determine batch size that can go into a corny for primary?

i'd like to do a 5gal lager and hoped that the 51 degree temp would keep the thing from spewing foam through the blow off valve for two weeks.
Use Fermcap.
 

killian

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I have heard cornies hold about 5 1/4 to 5 1/2 gallons. I have connected two kegs with a short tube between the out posts to collect blow off worked well but you could have problems if the tube becomes clogged . You might want to look into fermenting under pressure.
 

Mattbrc2001

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This could be a game-changer, thanks for posting!!

I just got myself set up with a kegging system and CO2 tank. I also happen to have 5 old korny kegs which don't seem to be able to hold pressure. But now I think I may try to use them for primary and/or secondary fermentation.

What excites me are these prospects, so maybe you old pros could weigh in:

1. I have a lot of trouble cooling down my wort. The kegs are steel, so I could get hot wort (maybe 100 F or so) into the keg, seal it, and put it outside to cool down to pitching temps. (obviously, would need blowoff because of the size of the container).

2. What about using the CO2 at very low pressure to push the beer from primary, to secondary, to final keg? Seems like the dip tube set up with let you purge out the trub?

3. Especially excited about the easy cleaning of the keg because you can get your arm and a brush in there!
 

mjohnson

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I've been fermenting in corneys for a while and really like it. In fact, I don't even keg, but got the kegs for 20 a piece so thought I'd go ahead and use them to ferment. I usually put 4.5 gallons or so in and just put the gas disconnect with the tubing going to a bottle with starsan in it. I just leave the dip tube in. I haven't used C02 to move the beer, but I imagine it would work. Its true, you do have to scale the batches a bit, but I don't mind that much.

I have seen people that have a lid that doesn't seal well just drill a hole in it and use a grommet. Seems to work well for them.
 

High_Noonan

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I am currently doing my first batch in a corny.
I put in 4gal and rigged up a blow-off tube like Charlie Pap shows in "The Homebrewer's Companion". My brew day went really well, so I was kind of crestfallen when I was not seeing any action out the blow-off tube after two days. Hard to tell what is happening in there! But, on Day 3 of the ferment, I started having CO2 farts escaping to the blow-off tube/growler half full of StarSan. :rockin: It is a LOT of headspace to fill with 1.5gal in the keg and a 4' run of 5/8" ID tubing!

I am rushing this batch a bit in order to try and get it ready in time for a buddy's Holiday visit, so I transferred it last night (rather than waiting for the full three weeks...recipe says ferment 1 week and then bottle) with a CO2 push onto 1gal of water that was boiled, kegged and purged with CO2 the night before. I captured exactly 8oz of trub before the line started running "clear". I've been reading about this method for a while now and have seen a fair bit of back and forth on whether to cut the dip tube or not. Half a pint of trub at the start of a transfer tells me that cutting the dip tube is not needed (I am using a hop spider and am starting to play with whirlpooling). Anyway, I did my transfer at about 10psi and it took about 4 minutes. That left me with nothing but my transfer hose and the two QDs to clean up. No auto-siphon or 6' hose to wrestle with. No inevitable spillage.

I opened the fermenter and added my yeast wash water, shook it all up and then pushed this out with CO2, as well. I seriously need a 1gal jar for this stuff. But, even with the half pint captured at the start, my total take of trub was 1500ml with 1qt added to wash. I haven't done the conversion yet, but I think this shows that there is very little left over (read: wasted) beer in the bottom.

I took a look at the band left from the krausen. It was only about 3/4" thick. I boil with Fermcap-S, but did not add any to the fermenter. As this was far less thick than I was expecting, I feel pretty safe in bumping my next batch up to a full 5gal into the fermenter.

In all, I am done with carboys. I have a pile of the blasted things (about a dozen) clogging up my garage. I'll probably hang on to two 6.5gals and a 5gal...just in case...but the rest are being given away to friends who are getting into brewing, or are going back to the LHBS from whence they came. Hell, the grains and hops for this very batch were paid for in trade for a 5gal carboy at the shop! Free beer! :cross:

I'll play around with this a bit more. Once I am comfy stepping it up to 5gal with the blow-off tube, I might try the airlock in the pressure release route. But make no mistake, I am heading towards pressurized fermenting in a corny keg.

So happy to be done with the glass. Once you break one of those buggers while cleaning it, you will know what I am talking about.
 

1MadScientist

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High_Noonan,

Happy to hear that you are thinking about pressure fermenting now, it's a blast. I fill up the corny to the welded seam with wort, which I believe is the 5 gallon point, add 10-20 drops fermcap-s, set the gauge to 12.5 psi and don't lose anything out the gas-out tube.

Take a look at my photos.
 

mrgreen4242

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High_Noonan,

Happy to hear that you are thinking about pressure fermenting now, it's a blast. I fill up the corny to the welded seam with wort, which I believe is the 5 gallon point, add 10-20 drops fermcap-s, set the gauge to 12.5 psi and don't lose anything out the gas-out tube.

Take a look at my photos.
Wait, can you explain or link me to something explaining pressure fermenting please?
 

hightechlofi

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I just brewed a batch this weekend and am using a cornie as a primary for the first time. I removed the gas post and attached 1/2" Id tubing for a blowoff. Did not have any fermcap, so I hope it goes well

How does everyone else here do the airlock/blowoff setup?

+1 on more info on pressure fermenting! Would live to hear more about this.
 

Mattbrc2001

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Follow up: I did use the korny keg as primary fermenter on Double Black IPA. Some advantages...poured very hot wort right into it and sealed it up and let it cool while I cleaned up my brewing gear.

Removed the pressure release valve and stuck in an airlock with a cork. Blowoff was messy, but basically just stuck a hose into the same cork. Transferred by siphon to carbon after 7 days.

Cleaning was easy, as expected, with a brush inside. Regulating the temp was easy, since the keg stood in my 6 gal bucket. Glued a Fermometer to the outside.

Only drawbacks were not seeing the beer activity inside, and the batch size. I put a half gallon or so that didn't fit in the keg into a growler with airlock, then added it back to the secondary. Seemed to work ok.

Thanks for the tips!!!!
 

drocu

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I'm going to try fermenting my next batch in a corny keg so I'm glad to hear updates from people.

I've also read a lot about people bending/cutting dip tubes to avoid trub at the bottom. Why not simply hook a picnic/cobra tap to your primary (after fermentation is complete) and remove all of that junk before transfering to another vessel? Isn't this what most commercial breweries do or people that own conicals? I definitely read about somebody doing this on HBT but can't remember which thread.
 

Seven

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I've also read a lot about people bending/cutting dip tubes to avoid trub at the bottom. Why not simply hook a picnic/cobra tap to your primary (after fermentation is complete) and remove all of that junk before transfering to another vessel?
Either method will work. I opted to NOT cut my dip tube and instead just ran the first few pints of yeasty beer into a bucket before transferring the rest to another keg. Either way, you'll be losing a couple of pints so I decided to not cut my dip tube.
 

ChargersSB

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Either method will work. I opted to NOT cut my dip tube and instead just ran the first few pints of yeasty beer into a bucket before transferring the rest to another keg. Either way, you'll be losing a couple of pints so I decided to not cut my dip tube.
I just started looking into this idea of fermenting in a corny keg. I usually don't do a secondary, just a longer primary. Would it work if you ferment in the corny, then hook up the CO2 and push out all the trub and such until it starts running "clear" beer and just leave the beer in the same corny to serve? Oh and I usually crash cool it when I am using my carboy before transferring to the keg. If I did this when using the keg as a primary and tried to push all the trub out would it just all get clogged?
 

High_Noonan

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I don't think it would be the worst thing in the world to leave it in the fermenter, it might not be the best thing, either. When you "clear the line" of trub and yeast, you are really only clearing a small area around the bottom of the dip tube. The rest of the column is still sitting on top of all of those solids. From what I remember from my readings, these solids (spent yeast, break material, hops) can impart a bitter flavor to your beer. I'd say unless you have a very good reason to leave it in the fermenter, like you don't have a spare Corny, you'd make better beer by moving it to a clean Corny and getting it off that trub cake.
 

tsb22

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Another less detrimental option to cutting the diptube referenced multiple times on HBT...bend your diptube. I did this after the first time my diptube clogged, its not very fun. I have bent mine to just below the bottom weld line on the 5gal corney. Doesnt seem to leave much beer behind, just the cold break/yeast. Your results may vary, but if you primarily use the same yeast strains & brewing process the trub line shouldnt vary much.
 

High_Noonan

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Do any of you have a part or parts number for a spunding valve and the etc to connect to a corny? Brewing season is about to commence for me and I am still hot to try this technique out.
 

tsb22

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Do any of you have a part or parts number for a spunding valve and the etc to connect to a corny? Brewing season is about to commence for me and I am still hot to try this technique out.
Here ya go:

The super economical:
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/wiki/index.php/Spunding

The not very adjustable:
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f13/cl...ed-fermentation-technique-44344/index132.html

The one I will be buying:
http://www.thebrewingnetwork.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=24259&start=8

And another reference to the one I will be buying:

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f13/closed-system-pressurized-fermentation-technique-44344/index91.html

McMaster Carr part #: 99045K44 (for the valve) and 3795K131 (for the stainless glycerin filled gauge.
 

cpesko

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So I been wondering about fermenting in corny kegs. I have one that will not hold pressure. I was wondering if its not air tight wont it not ferment correctly? Like in a carboy its airtight with the top but on but on a keg that wont hold pressure wont the krausen leak? How do you guys deal with this on those kegs that have warped tops?
 

High_Noonan

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Second batch in a Corny is underway.
I did not have a great seal around the lid, so I lost a bit there (only a very little actually), but once that was fixed up, the blow-off tube started filling with krausen. Good thing I remembered to put the StarSan growler in an overflow bucket!

Now if I could only remember if I left the blow-off tube in place or somehow rigged up an airlock... :confused:
 

High_Noonan

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I have my first pressurized fermentation under way!
Can't wait to get home tonight to see if there is actually any pressure building in there.
 

lud

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I've got about a dozen pressure ferments in a 10 gal corny...simply amazing.
 

High_Noonan

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I would think not.
It probably wouldn't hurt to lay a blanket of CO2 on top of the wort, but if your yeast get to work in a hurry, I wouldn't think it would be all that necessary.
 

Chipman

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Just started my fermentation in a 5 gallon corny yesterday. Added some turbo local brewpub yeast and it's off like a rocket! Sooo I just removed all the hardware from the keg and put on 2 blowoff tubes hose clamped to the (posts?) so they're nice and tight. It's blowing off well now, however, both tubes are pretty well mucked up. Hoping it doesn't decide to have a high pressure hissy fit sometime tonight..or worse tomorrow!
 
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