Author Topic: Plastic Fermenter Oxidation Rate  (Read 2556 times)

Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Plastic Fermenter Oxidation Rate
« on: June 23, 2010, 12:08:41 PM »
With big beers, lagers, brett/lacto fermentations, I frequently have all my carboy real-estate tied up when I'd like to brew.

I'd like to make a bigger, belgian sour beer that will condition for quite awhile... I thought about going back to plastic fermenters for the conditioning to free up a carboy and prevent contamination.

Has anyone had success with plastic buckets or better bottles while conditioning/fermenting bigger beers? This beer will have some lacto/brett working for about 6 months or more, so will any oxygen that permeates through the plastic be utilized by the wild yeast?

In a perfect world, I'd ferment/condition this in an oak barrel. Wouldn't oak give you more oxygen permeation than plastic?
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Offline dbeechum

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Re: Plastic Fermenter Oxidation Rate
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2010, 01:40:21 PM »
Turns out.. nope.

Plastic buckets are by far more O2 permeable than oak.
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Offline narcout

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Re: Plastic Fermenter Oxidation Rate
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2010, 09:36:14 PM »
Has anyone had success with plastic buckets or better bottles while conditioning/fermenting bigger beers?

The Better Bottles are supposed to be pretty impervious to O2. I used to use them quite a bit and never had any oxidation issues.

Offline vista

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Re: Plastic Fermenter Oxidation Rate
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2010, 05:35:34 AM »
thanks for the info on better bottles. i actually just purchased a 5 and 6 gallon BB the other day with the intention the 5 would be for bulk aging....then i saw this thread, was about to reply, and then opted not to and thought ignorance is bliss....thank narcout.

on another note...man those things are light!
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Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: Plastic Fermenter Oxidation Rate
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2010, 10:26:57 AM »
http://www2.parc.com/emdl/members/apte/flemishredale.shtml

This was a GREAT article! It was kind of confusing on whether or not buckets were a good thing...

It does say "HDPE buckets are the second best fermenter for sour ale", but gives some conflicting data in the charts.

Also found this article: http://www.byo.com/stories/beer-styles/article/indices/11-beer-styles/659-flanders-red-ale

It says in the article plastic is too porous, but then gives a recipe formulated by professional brewers and homebrewers w/ Flanders brewing that specifically calls out the use of plastic for fermentation and conditioning.
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Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: Plastic Fermenter Oxidation Rate
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2010, 03:51:53 PM »
Experiment time!

I'm going cheap... and buying 2-5 gal bucket for a flanders fermenters.

I'll just set the primary in my basement (per usual), but then for the secondary, I'm going to place the bucket in a plastic bin and fill the bin with water... hopefully the water will decrease the O2 intake (both micro and macro) to a suitable rate.

I'll taste often and report results. I plan to brew up a quick extract in a month or so, after I've collected some good dregs from a tasting I'll do in a few weeks.

Stay tuned!
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Offline richardt

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Re: Plastic Fermenter Oxidation Rate
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2010, 08:11:56 PM »
Kyle,
I've heard of what you're describing being used for temp control, but not for limiting O2 penetration.

My understanding of the oxygen permeability of water based on the tables listed in this link
http://www2.parc.com/emdl/members/apte/flemishredale.shtml
suggests to me that putting your fermentation bucket inside another plastic bin filled with water would be futile.
Creatures of the sea get plenty of oxygen from the water in which they swim, don't they?

Based on the table, completely saran wrapping (i.e., 'mummify") the plastic fermeter seems to be a better option if the goal is to limit O2 permeability. 

Regardless, I've never heard of this being done.  But it should be very easy to do.  I'd appreciate it if others chimed in and gave their views.

Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: Plastic Fermenter Oxidation Rate
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2010, 09:58:17 AM »
Kyle,
I've heard of what you're describing being used for temp control, but not for limiting O2 penetration.

My understanding of the oxygen permeability of water based on the tables listed in this link
http://www2.parc.com/emdl/members/apte/flemishredale.shtml
suggests to me that putting your fermentation bucket inside another plastic bin filled with water would be futile.
Creatures of the sea get plenty of oxygen from the water in which they swim, don't they?

Based on the table, completely saran wrapping (i.e., 'mummify") the plastic fermeter seems to be a better option if the goal is to limit O2 permeability. 

Regardless, I've never heard of this being done.  But it should be very easy to do.  I'd appreciate it if others chimed in and gave their views.

It would actually serve both purposes - I've learned that in the summer my basement temp doesn't stay as consistent as in the winter.

The solubility of O2 in fresh water is around 9.1 mg/L (9.1 ppm) vs 21% (21,000,000 ppm) O2 conc. in air. That is, once water absorbs this much oxygen, excess oxygen in the air will not absorb into the water and "permeate" through to the bucket.

Submersing the bucket in water will limit O2 in the local environment almost completely. No oxygen outside the bucket = no oxygen inside the bucket (except for the lid, which will not be covered by water).
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Offline denny

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Re: Plastic Fermenter Oxidation Rate
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2010, 10:10:43 AM »

I'll just set the primary in my basement (per usual), but then for the secondary, I'm going to place the bucket in a plastic bin and fill the bin with water... hopefully the water will decrease the O2 intake (both micro and macro) to a suitable rate.

I've found that plastic buckets placed in water for more than maybe a month can develop mold.  I think I've had beers contaminated by having that mold migrate through the bucket walls into the beer.  No real evidence, just a SWAG.
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Offline babalu87

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Re: Plastic Fermenter Oxidation Rate
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2010, 10:54:53 AM »

I'll just set the primary in my basement (per usual), but then for the secondary, I'm going to place the bucket in a plastic bin and fill the bin with water... hopefully the water will decrease the O2 intake (both micro and macro) to a suitable rate.

I've found that plastic buckets placed in water for more than maybe a month can develop mold.  I think I've had beers contaminated by having that mold migrate through the bucket walls into the beer.  No real evidence, just a SWAG.

Hmmmmmmm
I always put a little bleach in my swamp coolers....... then again I dont think I've ever left them in there longer than a few weeks. Put a little bleach in there Denny............ no more mold.
I think the water in one of my swamp coolers is at least three months old
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Offline kramerog

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Re: Plastic Fermenter Oxidation Rate
« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2010, 11:07:04 AM »

The solubility of O2 in fresh water is around 9.1 mg/L (9.1 ppm) vs 21% (21,000,000 ppm) O2 conc. in air. That is, once water absorbs this much oxygen, excess oxygen in the air will not absorb into the water and "permeate" through to the bucket.

Submersing the bucket in water will limit O2 in the local environment almost completely. No oxygen outside the bucket = no oxygen inside the bucket (except for the lid, which will not be covered by water).

You are confusing ppmw (9.1 mg/l) with ppmv (21% by volume).  Because the slowest part of the diffusion process is through the plastic, the water and air will be in equilibrium and thus the driving force for oxygen transfer into the beer will be the same.  You could use water to lessen the rate of oxygen transfer if you had antioxidants in the water that reduced the concentration of oxygen.
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Offline denny

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Re: Plastic Fermenter Oxidation Rate
« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2010, 11:08:23 AM »
Hmmmmmmm
I always put a little bleach in my swamp coolers....... then again I dont think I've ever left them in there longer than a few weeks. Put a little bleach in there Denny............ no more mold.
I think the water in one of my swamp coolers is at least three months old

Yeah, I tried that.  It did prevent the mold, but I'd swear I could taste the bleach in the beer.  Probably just psychological, though...or just plain psycho!
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Offline tygo

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Re: Plastic Fermenter Oxidation Rate
« Reply #13 on: July 03, 2010, 06:48:22 AM »
I always use sanitizing solution for the water in my cooling tub and have left the water and towel in there for a few weeks without any problems. 
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Offline ndcube

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Re: Plastic Fermenter Oxidation Rate
« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2010, 12:24:49 PM »
Would an oxyclean solution be able to keep the mold at bay?

I've been looking at an alternative to bleach as well because I've been afraid it might creep thru the plastic.  I may just give it a try and see if I can detect it.