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Fermenting in kegs


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#1 Seven

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Posted 17 July 2019 - 11:15 AM

I've been considering fermenting in 10g corny kegs for quite some time but I keep running into an issue...I don't have a 10g corny keg. I used to see these pop up in classifieds from time to time but haven't lately. A few websites sell them but at a ridiculous premium (or at what I think is a ridiculous premium). So now I'm considering other options, mainly using a sanke keg. Anyone have any experience with this, specifically with closed transfers, spunding, etc? I've come across a couple kits to convert sanke kegs to ball valve fittings. Is there an option I'm missing? I would prefer to have a full 5 gallons when I'm done so fermenting in a 5g corny wouldn't be ideal.

 

Thanks!


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#2 Zsasz

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Posted 17 July 2019 - 01:12 PM

I ferment 10-11 gallons in a converted sanke. Search for kegmentor.

It does all the stuff you are looking for.
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#3 jayb151

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Posted 17 July 2019 - 01:37 PM

I remember years ago there wwere a couple people on this board who fermented in sankes. They had legit hook ups for everything too. You should hopefully get some good info. 


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#4 TAPPER

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Posted 17 July 2019 - 07:26 PM

I've been fermenting in sanke kegs (1/4 and 1/2 barrel) for about 5 years now.  There is no need to buy any special equipment to convert anything, at least I don't. 

 

Pull the spear, clean, boil water to sanitize (I put the spear through the retaining ring and set on top and allow steam to hit all of that as it blows out), fill, pitch yeast, put the spear back in and seal back up with the retaining ring.  I cut the bottom 1/2" or so off the spear which gives me clearer beer immediately when racking and leaves a little liquid behind for yeast harvest.

 

Take any sanke coupler you like and remove the check valve from the gas side.  Run a tube from the gas side into a cup or bowl or whatever of star-san.  On the liquid (top) side I just put a nickel inside a beer nut and gasket and seal up.  As your beer ferments nothing will escape via the liquid side and CO2 will blow out the gas side.

 

When you are near terminal gravity just pop the coupler off bunging the keg and getting a little free CO2 into your beer.

 

Closed transfers are great!  Hook your gas in and run the liquid out to your corney keg.  I use a mail flare tailpiece on the liquid side and just screw on my liquid line.  Gas on, engage the coupler and watch the beer flow.  When complete vent off CO2, pull the spear, harvest yeast (just dump into a funnel going into whatever container you like).

 

PROS

- Fully closed transfers.  My beers never touch oxygen (I fill the corny with star-san and then purge with CO2.)

- Some free CO2 to prime your beer, plus I find it helps drive yeast to the bottom of the fermenter.  Clearer beer, more yeast to harvest.

- No glass (break).  No plastic (scratch).  No light.

- sanitize by boiling and steam.  Never a question if star-san was mixed properly or touched everything or whatever.

- Far cheaper than conicals and any fancy engineered keg-mentor type products.

 

CONS

- Difficult access to beer as it ferments.  You can hook things up and push out some beer mid-ferment to test but I prefer to just let everything be.  Less chance of infection.  It helps to have some "feel" as to when your beer is nearly done.  I find experience helpful here.  Worst case....bung a little early and check it daily.  If you have a ton of CO2 blowing off then just keep degassing until you're comfortable.

- More difficult to clean then fermenters you can get your arm and eyes into, but it isn't that much more difficult after doing it a while.  There is a product called The Carboy Cleaner (you buy the keg version of this) that goes on the end of a drill and you can spin around inside the keg.  Works really well, but I've stopped using it the past couple years.  I find I can clean everything off with hot water and a carboy brush.  And again, if I missed a tiny bit of something all that steam destroys it.  

 

If you have any questions or want photos feel free to inquire.

 

I built a spunding valve but have yet to use it.  Just hook it up to that gas out.


Edited by TAPPER, 17 July 2019 - 07:29 PM.

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#5 Seven

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 10:48 AM

Thanks to all. I just found a source of new 10 gallon corny kegs...$350!!! Used at $200 doesn't seem like such a bad deal now ;)

 

Tapper, can you explain your cleaning regimen a bit more? Do you simply pour some boiling water into the keg? I think that's my biggest preference with a corny...I can fit my  arm into one!

 

A 1/4 barrel is large enough to ferment a 5-gallon batch and I wouldn't be doing any modifications to it, so I'm not technically destroying a keg that I don't own. I would need to buy the sanke coupler but that's about it, unless I wanted to purchase one of the commercially sold sanke-to-ball lock conversions kits.


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#6 Zsasz

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 10:49 AM

Thanks to all. I just found a source of new 10 gallon corny kegs...$350!!! Used at $200 doesn't seem like such a bad deal now ;)

 

Tapper, can you explain your cleaning regimen a bit more? Do you simply pour some boiling water into the keg? I think that's my biggest preference with a corny...I can fit my  arm into one!

 

A 1/4 barrel is large enough to ferment a 5-gallon batch and I wouldn't be doing any modifications to it, so I'm not technically destroying a keg that I don't own. I would need to buy the sanke coupler but that's about it, unless I wanted to purchase one of the commercially sold sanke-to-ball lock conversions kits.

 

you can fit your arm into a kegmentor.  (assuming you don't have tree trunk like arms :D)


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#7 Seven

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 11:04 AM

I'm like 155#...I can fit my arm into a lot of places! :)


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#8 TAPPER

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 04:57 PM

My sanke keg cleaning process - 

 

1) Release pressure!

2) Remove retaining ring (look on youtube).  I use a small flat head screwdriver.

3) Pull spear

4) dump any remaining contents of keg

5) Hot water spray, dump, repeat.  Forget the name of the product but I use this cleaning "wand" attached to my faucet.  Just a long piece of thin pvc with a piece on the end forcing the water to spray in multiple directions.

6) Continue cleaning with your choice of tools/products.  PBW, oxiclean...whatever.  Soak if you like.  The carboy cleaner I mentioned before works well.  I also have success with a carboy brush.  A small flashlight with a mirror is a good tool here too.

7) Don't forget to clean that spear too!

 

Once you are satisfied it is clean put the spear back in or put a plastic cap over the opening or whatever you like.

 

BREWDAY

1) Add about 1.5 to 2 gallons of water to keg

2) Place spear through retaining ring and insert into keg.  The ring won't allow the spear to go in leaving a gap around it and the opening.  This will allow steam to release.

3) Boil 10 minutes.  Allow steam to sanitize spear and keg.  BE DARN SURE THE STEAM CAN RELEASE!!!

4) Dump hot water.  I just flip it over and leave it that way until ready to fill.

5) Fill with delicious wort.  Oxygenate.  Pitch yeast.

6) Insert spear.  Install retaining ring.

7) Hook up coupler as mentioned above.  

 

Ferment.

Bung around final 4 or 5 points of fermentation.

Ferment Finish.  Cold Crash.

Transfer.

 

REPEAT!


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#9 Seven

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Posted 19 July 2019 - 07:47 AM

Thanks, Tapper! That's definitely more clear now. Being able to boil in a sanke is a definite plus vs. a cornelius keg. And assuming they still make the shorter 1/4 barrels kegs, that's another option at my disposal. 

 

And I just remembered that my dad uses sanke kegs for his homemade wine, so he probably has wisdome to pass down :)

 

If I do this, I will definitely miss "watching" fermentation...I use a lot of visual clues when deciding when to dry hop, keg, etc.


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#10 Stout_fan

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Posted 02 August 2019 - 08:57 AM

My first 3 beers going AG were 13 gal batches done in Sankeys. I just pulled the spear and threw a #10 drilled stopper in the hole.

Worked fine.


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#11 Seven

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Posted 02 August 2019 - 07:49 PM

I ended up finding a 10 gallon corny on eBay and probably overpaid for it. But I've been looking for them for a while and hopped on it.
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#12 Zsasz

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Posted 03 August 2019 - 05:05 AM

My first 3 beers going AG were 13 gal batches done in Sankeys. I just pulled the spear and threw a #10 drilled stopper in the hole.

Worked fine.

 

you really pushed it right to the edge of that vessel!  must have had some pretty good blowoff.


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#13 Stout_fan

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Posted 06 August 2019 - 03:48 PM

One was an American Wheat,  and i had no blow-off. that'll blow yer mind

Two words:

 

FOAM CONTROL!


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#14 miccullen

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 09:11 PM

One was an American Wheat,  and i had no blow-off. that'll blow yer mind

Two words:

 

FOAM CONTROL!

whoa! mtnbrewer flashbacks!


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