Small-scale pressure fermentation vessels?

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CDCTx

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I figured this is the appropriate forum to post this since it deals with fermentation and yeasts.

I am curious if anyone is aware of any small-scale fermentation vessels that can handle pressure. Most are geared for 5gal batches, with systems like the Spike CF5 Unitank capable of 2.5gal as their low end. For the sake of experimenting with yeasts and seeing how they act under pressure, it would be nice to find a transparent, Fermzilla-like vessels so you can not only tell that a yeast strain is still fermenting under pressure but also see how it is acting under such conditions. Though continued fermentation and end product are the most important, being able to observe the activity can be helpful and insightful, I think :)

It seems the field of pressure-fermentation is still young in the homebrew world, with little available about which specific strains will still perform well under various levels of pressure (e.g. for the sake of self-carbonation, recognizing that esters will be muted due to the pressure). My ideal setup would be a 1–2.5gal fermenter to do small SMASH experiments (and actual scaled-down brews as well to see how they may play out at a 5gal scale).

Thanks for any leads!
 

DuncB

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I've tried about 10 different yeasts and they all seem to work under pressure up to 25 psi ( I don't go any higher in my fermentasaursus) .

They used to make 3 litre pet soda bottles mainly saw them for coke and cheap cider in the UK.

These would make a great small pressure fermenter with a KegLand PCO Tee Piece (Female x Male x Male) and two carbonation caps attached. One for beer out and the other for gas in / spunding valve.

Sadly I haven't seen these bigger pet bottles for a few years. Make great mini kegs as well.
 
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CDCTx

CDCTx

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I have several 1.75 mini kegs, so that would work great. But I like the idea of being able to see how the fermentation carries on rather than watching the signs of such through a spunding valve. The PET soda bottles with Kegland piece may be a viable route, as DuncB mentioned.
 

crazyjake19

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Have you considered fermenting in a small corny keg?
This was my immediate thought as well. 5 gallon corny kegs work great for pressurized fermentation, so smaller corny kegs would work just as well. I wish I had more sub-5 gallon cornies.
 

Tom R

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I've never used transparent fermenter, maybe I don't know what I'm missing!
Maybe drop a Tilt inside to keep an eye on progress?
 

DuncB

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You don't know what you are missing! like watching boiling liquid when you have a kveik ferment going.

I use ispindels inside my fermentasauri ( is that plural of fermentasaurus ?). Trouble is you will get changes related to the pressure as the lid deforms hence volume change etc. But still works really well to tell you the temp and when fermentation finished.
Obviously won't get one in a PET bottle.

But if you had a really accurate set of scales you could see when the weight stopped reducing, there's a project for someone. Not sure the mass of CO2 produced from a ferment, but it is calculable.
 
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CDCTx

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Yeah.. a big part is just seeing how the fermentations go and act. I know almost all saison strains hate pressure, so one reason I'm interested in this is to find the best yeasts (attentuation-, flavor-, and activity-wise) to blend with to finish fermentation and naturally carbonate in my bigger vessels without the cost of multiple 5gal batches to find the holy grail for my palate ! :)
 

bkboiler

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I second the recommendation to ferment in clear 2L bottles...since it's under pressure you'd really only need two bottles per gallon of wort...
They're completely clear, highly pressure rated and very cheap (and recyclable)...
Adapters converting them to ball lock are only $10 and that way you can attach your spunding valve...
Cold crash, decant into pitcher and enjoy!
 

DuncB

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If you could work out a small float and silicone tube you could pressure transfer into a clean bottle or into the glass without sediment. I'm thinking a small bit of plastic cork tied on the narrow silicone tube for the floating dip tube.
 

ba-brewer

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If you could work out a small float and silicone tube you could pressure transfer into a clean bottle or into the glass without sediment. I'm thinking a small bit of plastic cork tied on the narrow silicone tube for the floating dip tube.
I am think a stir-bar attached to silicone tube and a strong magnet on the outside to adjust the depth might work well.

I have not worked out the details fully but started thinking about it when I lost about a half gallon of beer in my fermazilla using their floating dip tube.
 

Vale71

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I know almost all saison strains hate pressure...
No, they don't. That's just a myth some fool started (I believe they even wrote it down in a book if I recall correctly) out of sheer and abysmal ignorance. All yeast strains will keep fermenting at pressures that you cannot even possibly reach in commercial fermenters, much less in ones geared towards homebrewers. The only real concern with pressure fermentation is how the beer will turn out.
 
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CDCTx

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Well, I came across that myth when I let my bottle-harvested Dupont saison yeast start building pressure while keeping the heat high and plenty of gravity points to go. Fermentation stopped, not a tiny bubble in sight. I removed the pressure, gave the Fermzilla a couple of swirls, and added a few more degrees. Finally got fermentation started again, just slower.

That's when I researched saison yeast strains and saw that it is apparently backpressure resistant, at least in the experiences of others and this myth that floats around. I haven't had that happen with other brews.
 

CascadesBrewer

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Cold crash, decant into pitcher and enjoy!
MoreBeer listed the Kegland T-Fitting in a recent email: Carbonation Ball Lock Cap Tee Fitting | MoreBeer

It really got me thinking about how great it would be for small batch "kegging". One challenge with small batches is the challenge of bottling small volumes plus the extra 2+ weeks it adds to the process. I really like the idea of fermenting, and serving right out of the same bottle.

It starts to add up in $ if you go for a full blown setup with spunding valves and carb caps to fit more than a bottle or two.
That's when I researched saison yeast strains and saw that it is apparently backpressure resistant
Yeah, Drew Beechum claims that. He has more experience in Saisons than I do with some experiments that hint that the Dupont strain at least is sensitive to back pressure or CO2. My first Dupont beer stalled like typical (though I did not have any ferm control back then). I have a Dupont Saison in the fermenter now that I fermented with just a foil cover and it at least pushed down to 1.010 in 5 days fermenting at 78F.
 
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CDCTx

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Thanks @CascadesBrewer. I'll look into these and see if I can rig up a good super small batch system for tests. The spunding setup is all set for me. I have the Kegland one and built two with analog sensors and solenoids to work with BruControl. I want to test various yeast blends to see which I can have start open then pressurize at the end without attenuation loss (or complete stoppage like I had with the saison).

As for the Dupont Saison, I'll definitely leave the top open for the first few days. My ideal outcome is to nail down a good blend to let the Dupont straib do its thing then let the other yeast finish up. I've read about this approach and additional yeasts used, but I don't want to keep spending on 5gal batches to find what I like most, hah.
 
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