Author Topic: Fermenting in kettle  (Read 599 times)

Offline beersk

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2149
  • In the night!
    • View Profile
Fermenting in kettle
« on: March 17, 2014, 08:07:01 PM »
So, I've been thinking about trying fermenting right in my brew kettle. It's a 24qt tall and narrow kettle, just about the same size as a fermenting bucket. I was thinking I could put seran wrap over the top and set the lid on top. My plan would be to boil with the hops in a bag to keep the sludge out and have a cleaner wort.
Any reason why this wouldn't work just fine for lagers and ales for a typical 10-14 day primary fermentation?
Watch out for those Cross Dressing Amateurs!

Jesse

Offline kramerog

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1009
    • View Profile
Re: Fermenting in kettle
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2014, 07:39:25 AM »
Hot break, some is OK, a lot is bad seems to be the consensus on hot break.

I've never done open fermentation for more than a few days (it sounds like you are doing open fermentation as you don't mention a fermentation lock).  For a lager, open fermentation is inappropriate as it will lead to more esters.
Brewers of South Suburbia
Brixie's Brewers
Oak Park Homebrewers

Offline morticaixavier

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 7101
  • Davis, CA
    • View Profile
    • The Best Artist in the WORLD!!!!!
Re: Fermenting in kettle
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2014, 07:41:57 AM »
I think it will be fine. I don't think there is any consensus on problems with too much hot break in the fermenter. plenty of folks make great beer just dumping the kettle into the fermenter anyway.

give it a try and report back! I'm curioius.

Offline dkfick

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 847
    • View Profile
Re: Fermenting in kettle
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2014, 07:44:33 AM »
I've fermented in my kettle maybe 10 times.  It worked great.... I didn't let the beer sit in there much after primary fermentation was complete and the yeast had time to clean up any off flavors... I do it sometimes when I brew English style beers to encourage more esters.  It's technically an 'open' fermentation since there is really nothing to prevent air from getting in... The lid still prevents bacteria from getting in though... I have not had any infected batches brewing this way.
BJCP A0936 National Beer Judge and Mead Judge
Cicerone Certified Beer Server
AHA Member
CRAFT Homebrew Club
Sons of Liberty Homebrew Club
HBT "mors"

Offline beersk

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2149
  • In the night!
    • View Profile
Re: Fermenting in kettle
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2014, 08:00:06 AM »
Hot break, some is OK, a lot is bad seems to be the consensus on hot break.

I've never done open fermentation for more than a few days (it sounds like you are doing open fermentation as you don't mention a fermentation lock).  For a lager, open fermentation is inappropriate as it will lead to more esters.
I guess it's not truly open though, not anymore than fermenting in a bucket. Except you're right, no airlock. It'd be just seran draped over the top, maybe bungeed around and the lid sitting on top. That way I'd be able to still peek in without risk.
Why would this create more esters for a lager? In reading about atmospheric pressures with different fermenters, there seems to be some info on buckets not really being much different than open. This case not being truly open either...
So I don't know...it seems worth a shot. It'd sure as hell simplify things. Could let the beer primary for 10 days, then rack to keg and let sit at room temp for another week. Then chill and carbonate.

I may run an experiment where I brew an 8 gallon batch and ferment 4 gallons in a keg and 4 in the kettle or a carboy. This is in light of Denny professing that kegs are not an ideal geometry for yeast and can thus affect the flavor and final beer negatively. I've been fermenting in kegs for a bit now, and it seems fine, but what if it could be better? Seems like a fun experiment either way.

Any other thoughts are appreciated.
Watch out for those Cross Dressing Amateurs!

Jesse

Offline dkfick

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 847
    • View Profile
Re: Fermenting in kettle
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2014, 08:28:06 AM »
In a bucket with an airlock there is still some pressure on the yeast as it takes some to push out of the air lock.  In the kettle there is none of that.  I always thought it would make no difference but I do seem to notice more esters when I don't ferment with an airlock.

On the flip side I also do pressurized fermentations at about 15psi when I really want to suppress esters and it does a great job at doing just that.  This difference is much more noticeable to me than the airlock vs 'open' fermentation difference.
BJCP A0936 National Beer Judge and Mead Judge
Cicerone Certified Beer Server
AHA Member
CRAFT Homebrew Club
Sons of Liberty Homebrew Club
HBT "mors"

Offline beersk

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2149
  • In the night!
    • View Profile
Re: Fermenting in kettle
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2014, 09:05:45 AM »
In a bucket with an airlock there is still some pressure on the yeast as it takes some to push out of the air lock.  In the kettle there is none of that.  I always thought it would make no difference but I do seem to notice more esters when I don't ferment with an airlock.

On the flip side I also do pressurized fermentations at about 15psi when I really want to suppress esters and it does a great job at doing just that.  This difference is much more noticeable to me than the airlock vs 'open' fermentation difference.
Do you run pressurized fermentations in corney kegs? I know a lot of guys do that, but they also use more "geometrically sound" fermenters like half barrel kegs. I wonder if I could ferment a couple degrees cooler for a lager to suppress those esters further with the semi-open fermentation.
Watch out for those Cross Dressing Amateurs!

Jesse

Offline dkfick

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 847
    • View Profile
Re: Fermenting in kettle
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2014, 09:11:12 AM »
I usually do 6 gallon batches in the 10 gallon corny kegs.  Gives it roughly the same dimensions as one of those 6.5 gallon 'brew buckets'.
BJCP A0936 National Beer Judge and Mead Judge
Cicerone Certified Beer Server
AHA Member
CRAFT Homebrew Club
Sons of Liberty Homebrew Club
HBT "mors"

Offline beersk

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2149
  • In the night!
    • View Profile
Re: Fermenting in kettle
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2014, 10:31:31 AM »
I still plan to do the 8 gallon split batch experiment, but it seems bunk to me, on a homebrew scale, that 4 gallons in a 5 gallon cornie would negatively affect the finished beer, to be noticeable. But, that's what the experiment will be for. Doing a closed transfer is really awesome and keeps me sane.
I think it may be worth it to semi-open ferment a lager to be brew this week too, to see how it turns out. I may take Thursday and Friday off this week. So maybe Thursday I'll brew a Czech lager, to be fermented, per usual, in a keg. And Friday, I'll brew the Czech dark lager to be semi-open fermented in the kettle. This sound good? Or should I switch them around? Just wondering which would be a better test to see how the semi-open fermentation really affects the flavor profile.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2014, 10:33:35 AM by beersk »
Watch out for those Cross Dressing Amateurs!

Jesse

Offline ynotbrusum

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1517
  • Da mihi sis cerevisiam.
    • View Profile
Re: Fermenting in kettle
« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2014, 10:57:11 AM »
Rather than doing a large starter for a lager, I did a batch of about 1.75-2 gallons and fermented it in the kettle.  It was just Pilsner DME, steeped Carapils and a little bit of Hallertauer hops (that I bagged, so I could remove easily post boil).  A simple Pils - it worked out great and I harvested the yeast for a bigger batch that I ultimately stepped up to 10 gallons in my 15 gallon Spiedel fermenters.
Hodge Garage Brewing: "Brew with a glad heart!"

Offline beersk

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2149
  • In the night!
    • View Profile
Re: Fermenting in kettle
« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2014, 11:00:46 AM »
Rather than doing a large starter for a lager, I did a batch of about 1.75-2 gallons and fermented it in the kettle.  It was just Pilsner DME, steeped Carapils and a little bit of Hallertauer hops (that I bagged, so I could remove easily post boil).  A simple Pils - it worked out great and I harvested the yeast for a bigger batch that I ultimately stepped up to 10 gallons in my 15 gallon Spiedel fermenters.
How did it taste? Did you notice any more esters than usual?
Watch out for those Cross Dressing Amateurs!

Jesse

Offline ynotbrusum

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1517
  • Da mihi sis cerevisiam.
    • View Profile
Re: Fermenting in kettle
« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2014, 01:40:08 PM »
This is going back in the way back machine, but as I recall, it was pretty good.  Maybe a little more estery (fruity, not like S-23, but a little apple and pear), but it wasn't very hoppy, so that might have affected the perceived esters a bit (a bitter pilsner can mask the esters to me).

Definitely drinkable, is what I remember - one of those kegged and too soon gone, due to friends!  I can say it works from a fermenting perspective, but you would need to do a split batch to evaluate the nuances better.
Hodge Garage Brewing: "Brew with a glad heart!"