Process Check - Closed transfer w/ Speidel Fermentors

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jfowler1

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Asking for a sanity check here... if I am right, it could evolve into a pretty good process. Please think about my post and let me know your thoughts.

I have been fermenting 5 gallon batches with 30L Speidel’s for past few years, and kegging all of my beers. The fermentors are elevated above keg height, so process has just been to run a short length of tubing from Speidel spigot into bottom of keg, remove the airlock to avoid suck-back, and open spigot to fill the keg. Once filled, I hook to gas and quickly purge headspace three times. Easy stuff.

After my last brew day (Pale and IPA), I kegged as usual, but had some beer left over in fermentor, so I dropped the leftovers into a few bombers with some priming sugar and let naturally carb. After two weeks, I sampled both and was horrified by how much the bottled beer was oxidized vs my kegged beer. This put me on a mission.

I knew my kegging process could be improved with a small investment. I found a site with a nice set of aftermarket accessories for speidel, and ordered 3 items.

The first piece is an adaptor that attaches to the top of fermentor - it replaces the giant speidel airlock with a small grommet (add a traditional small airlock) and thermowell, and screws on with a lock ring (had to buy extra OEM spigots to acquire this lock ring). A note - this item has no real bearing on my process, but I liked it more than what I was using prior.

The second item replaces the current spigot at bottom of fermentor. It is simply a ball lock liquid out adapter post, and attaches with lock ring from old spigot. This item is critical to process.

The third item would be utilized as the fermenting beer approached final gravity (call it day 5 or 6 of fermentation- will take some experimenting). It takes the place of the airlock/thermowell fitting at the top of fermentor. This third fitting is a gas ball lock adapter and a pressure relief valve, and it is also critical to the proposed process.

So if you followed all that, by the end of fermentation, I’ve basically turned the speidel fermentor into a large keg. It is sealed to build pressure, has gas in post, liquid out post, and a pressure relief valve.

Here comes the sanity check part - the transfer.

By replacing the airlock with the gas post/PRV while a bit of fermentation is still happening, I should be building a little bit of CO2 pressure into the Speidel. And keep in mind - I still have gravity on my side. I plan to attach a little jumper line of Liquid ball lock x liquid ball lock adapters onto the liquid out post of a sealed and purged keg. If I lock open the relief valve on the keg, I expect beer will begin to transfer into keg via the long dip tube, just as it pours into your glass when you open the faucet on the kegerator. As Beer goes in, CO2 exits via the relief valve.

When keg is full, I just reset the pressure valve on my keg, disconnect ball lock jumper, and purge head space just like I used to.

A couple notes. First, the process I laid never utilized the gas post that comes with the pressure release valve fitting. Between the pressure in the fermentor and laws of gravity, I am not sure I will need it - but it is an option if beer needs more of a “push”. Second - sampling. I was bummed that this set up removed the spigot, because I really liked having it as a sample port. My solution will be a short length (maybe 6-12”) of beverage tubing with a ball lock adapter on one end and a picnic tap on the other. I have these items on hand, so if I want a sample, I’ll just hook up the short picnic tap.

My one potential issue would be clogging in the ball lock posts. I had it happen the first time I kegged, but ever since, I have dry hopped in hop sacks and never had another issue - jury is still out on this one.

Process itself still seems low effort. Investment was about $115 per fermentor (I have two). But if this checks out, it gets me very close to keeping beer clear of oxygen, and that is a happy thought.

Thoughts? Opinions? Doing something similar?
 

Dgallo

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Sounds good. A couple of things to make it even better in process;

while fermenting have your keg filled ti the brim with sterilizer solution. Connect the gas post of the fv to the kegs gas post and then have the kegs liquid post to a line to the bottom of a empty bucket. This way the fermentation gas will purge your keg of all o2. After fermentation and dryhoping, cold crash the beer in the fv and connect it to your regulator at 5 psi. When after its crashed transfer your beer to the kegas you stated but instead of opening the prv on the transfer, connect your keg gas post to the line in the bucket of sterilizer so when you transfer the gas in the keg will escape through that line. This will eliminate any chance for o2 to enter the keg. The crashing should prevent any clogging because all hops and trub should be settled at the bottom of the fv.
 

BongoYodeler

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Asking for a sanity check here... if I am right, it could evolve into a pretty good process. Please think about my post and let me know your thoughts.

I have been fermenting 5 gallon batches with 30L Speidel’s for past few years, and kegging all of my beers. The fermentors are elevated above keg height, so process has just been to run a short length of tubing from Speidel spigot into bottom of keg, remove the airlock to avoid suck-back, and open spigot to fill the keg. Once filled, I hook to gas and quickly purge headspace three times. Easy stuff.

After my last brew day (Pale and IPA), I kegged as usual, but had some beer left over in fermentor, so I dropped the leftovers into a few bombers with some priming sugar and let naturally carb. After two weeks, I sampled both and was horrified by how much the bottled beer was oxidized vs my kegged beer. This put me on a mission.

I knew my kegging process could be improved with a small investment. I found a site with a nice set of aftermarket accessories for speidel, and ordered 3 items.

The first piece is an adaptor that attaches to the top of fermentor - it replaces the giant speidel airlock with a small grommet (add a traditional small airlock) and thermowell, and screws on with a lock ring (had to buy extra OEM spigots to acquire this lock ring). A note - this item has no real bearing on my process, but I liked it more than what I was using prior.

The second item replaces the current spigot at bottom of fermentor. It is simply a ball lock liquid out adapter post, and attaches with lock ring from old spigot. This item is critical to process.

The third item would be utilized as the fermenting beer approached final gravity (call it day 5 or 6 of fermentation- will take some experimenting). It takes the place of the airlock/thermowell fitting at the top of fermentor. This third fitting is a gas ball lock adapter and a pressure relief valve, and it is also critical to the proposed process.

So if you followed all that, by the end of fermentation, I’ve basically turned the speidel fermentor into a large keg. It is sealed to build pressure, has gas in post, liquid out post, and a pressure relief valve.

Here comes the sanity check part - the transfer.

By replacing the airlock with the gas post/PRV while a bit of fermentation is still happening, I should be building a little bit of CO2 pressure into the Speidel. And keep in mind - I still have gravity on my side. I plan to attach a little jumper line of Liquid ball lock x liquid ball lock adapters onto the liquid out post of a sealed and purged keg. If I lock open the relief valve on the keg, I expect beer will begin to transfer into keg via the long dip tube, just as it pours into your glass when you open the faucet on the kegerator. As Beer goes in, CO2 exits via the relief valve.

When keg is full, I just reset the pressure valve on my keg, disconnect ball lock jumper, and purge head space just like I used to.

A couple notes. First, the process I laid never utilized the gas post that comes with the pressure release valve fitting. Between the pressure in the fermentor and laws of gravity, I am not sure I will need it - but it is an option if beer needs more of a “push”. Second - sampling. I was bummed that this set up removed the spigot, because I really liked having it as a sample port. My solution will be a short length (maybe 6-12”) of beverage tubing with a ball lock adapter on one end and a picnic tap on the other. I have these items on hand, so if I want a sample, I’ll just hook up the short picnic tap.

My one potential issue would be clogging in the ball lock posts. I had it happen the first time I kegged, but ever since, I have dry hopped in hop sacks and never had another issue - jury is still out on this one.

Process itself still seems low effort. Investment was about $115 per fermentor (I have two). But if this checks out, it gets me very close to keeping beer clear of oxygen, and that is a happy thought.

Thoughts? Opinions? Doing something similar?
I have the same 30L Speidel. I've used a couple different methods to help reduce the amount of oxygen when kegging.

The first method I tried was to ferment with 2 spigots, one at the top and one at the bottom port. The top one open open and attached with a blowoff into some Starsan/water. At kegging time I fill a keg with Starsan/water and completely purge it with CO2. I run a gas line with a QD from the keg to the top spigot, and a beer line with a QD from the beer out to the bottom spigot. Raise the fermenter above the keg and open both spigots. Beer fills the purged keg and the escaping CO2 routes up to the fermenter protecting the escaping beer.

The second (and preferred) method is to buy one of these. I bought one used, from a member here on HBT. Works like a charm.
 

Tallgrass

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With a little time a few dollars you can put many different things in the lid or body of the fermenter via Duotight bulkheads. The lid on the 30L is smaller but they should still fit. I think those lid caps are the same for the 60L and 30L. Put a bulk head in the cap and you could switch accessories at will.
20210623_063842.jpg
I let my fermenter gas into the starsan for 24-36 hours before hooking it up to this keg contraption.
20210623_063514.jpg
It feels to me, with no evidence, that first bit of off gassing is o2 rich. When it comes time to transfer I hook up a liquid QD to the spigot and leave everything else the way you see it. Fill the left keg remove jumper and fill the other keg.

During dry hop I take that gas line and hook it to a CO2 source to add a slow flow of co2 into the fermenter. Don't know how much it helps but makes me feel better. Kegs don't age more than a month around here but I have never noticed any oxygenation problems like I had before using this process.

I had some reservations about push to connect fittings. I must have 20 or so in use at the moment. A couple days ago I sprung a big CO2 leak in the keezer with contains about half the fittings. I thought it must be one of those fittings. It wasn't. The PRV on one keg just suddenly started leaking.
 
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jfowler1

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Thank you for all of the great replies. You made me think about taking this set-up one step further.

Quick aside - My new fittings arrived, and they are fantastic. NorCal was the vendor.

@BongoYodeler really gave me something to think about... given all that I proposed above, it seems a gas x gas jumper attached between the keg and the top of the fermentor would keep the loop completely closed - correct?

My cleaning regiment leaves kegs sanitized and filled with CO2 between fills, so I’d imagine that as fermented beer travels from fermentor to keg via gravity and the liquid x liquid jumper, I could back fill that beer from keg to fermentor with CO2 with a gas x gas jumper.

Unless someone throws up a stop sign, I think this is the route that I will go before my next brew day.
 

Dgallo

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I could back fill that beer from keg to fermentor with CO2 with a gas x gas jumper.

Unless someone throws up a stop sign, I think this is the route that I will go before my next brew day.
As long as the keg is depressurized and an equivalent volume is being displace and replaced it should work fine.
 

BongoYodeler

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Yes, I've done it a couple times and it seemed to work fine for me, albeit not a very fast transfer by any means. One thing I did, because the tubing from the bottom port on the fermenter to the beer-out QD on the keg is filled with oxygen, is to first bleed out a small amount of beer into a bucket. That will eliminate almost all the oxygen that would otherwise end up in your keg. Once the transfer is complete I would still purge the keg a few times with CO2.
 
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