Author Topic: Using a keg as a secondary  (Read 2034 times)

Offline gmac

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Using a keg as a secondary
« on: April 14, 2011, 09:48:21 AM »
I've seen some posts about this and I'd like to put 5 gals of beer into a keg this afternoon but I have two questions.
First of all, the beer isn't 100% done fermenting yet.  It's slowed down an awful lot and only bubbles occasionally but there is still some fermentation going on.  Is this a problem?

Secondly, what is the best procedure.  I was going to keg it, seal it and give it a shot of CO2 to set the seals and then leave it for a week or so before putting it back on the CO2 to carbonate.  Should I just put it on and leave it on the gas while it settles?  I don't need the CO2 for anything else right now.

Thanks

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Using a keg as a secondary
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2011, 09:54:59 AM »
Why are you kegging it if you don't think it's done?  Bubbles only tell you so much, you should really check your gravity over a few days and give it a taste.  When it is done, then keg it.

If you're going to go ahead though, don't leave it on the gas.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline bluesman

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Re: Using a keg as a secondary
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2011, 09:55:19 AM »
I agree with Tom.

The beer needs to stay on the yeast in the primary until it has finished fermenting (terminal gravity). Pulling the beer off of the yeast could be detrimental to the beer flavor and the overall beer profile.

I recommend letting the beer finish fermenting completely while in the primary and then cold crashing the primary if possible but it's okay if you don't have the facility to do that. Then after cold crash or terminal gravity has been met then keg the beer by first purging the keg with CO2 and then transfering the beer. Then purge the keg head space with CO2 and chill/force carb.
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Offline gmac

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Re: Using a keg as a secondary
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2011, 10:17:47 AM »
OK, I'll leave it alone.  Just itching to brew another beer and I'm out of carboys.  Finding it difficult to get ahead of consumption so I'm trying to brew at least once a week, usually on Fridays.  Probably need to go buy a few more buckets or something but my choices around here are pretty slim.
The beer I'm considering kegging has been on the yeast for 3 weeks now and it just doesn't seem to want to finish.  It's been bubbling away slowly, maybe once ever few minutes for almost a week now. 

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Using a keg as a secondary
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2011, 10:20:32 AM »
OK, I'll leave it alone.  Just itching to brew another beer and I'm out of carboys.  Finding it difficult to get ahead of consumption so I'm trying to brew at least once a week, usually on Fridays.  Probably need to go buy a few more buckets or something but my choices around here are pretty slim.
The beer I'm considering kegging has been on the yeast for 3 weeks now and it just doesn't seem to want to finish.  It's been bubbling away slowly, maybe once ever few minutes for almost a week now. 
Like I said, bubbles don't mean much.  Once every few minutes might mean it is done, I've definitely kegged with things still bubbling a bit.  Has the yeast dropped?  What are the OG and SG?
Tom Schmidlin

Offline bluesman

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Re: Using a keg as a secondary
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2011, 10:22:40 AM »
Pick up a couple more buckets at your LHBS. That's the best way to accomplish your goal.  :)
Ron Price

Offline gmac

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Re: Using a keg as a secondary
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2011, 10:32:45 AM »
I have to admit, I don't know the FG.  I'm a bit afraid of contamination and I'm not sure how to get a sample out of the carboy without disturbing everything.  

OG was 1.058.  It hasn't dropped clear and still has some foam on top so it's probably still working away.  It's Wyeast London lll at about 64 degrees so it may be a bit cold.  I have a lager that has been fermenting at about 38 degrees for almost a month now and you can set your watch to the bubbles, about 1 every 30 seconds.  Now that it is finally starting to warm up a bit, maybe it will speed up but I'm planning on that one until May 24 (unofficial start of summer for most of Canada - first long weekend).

I'll give it a few more days and then I'll probably flame the mouth of the carboy and pour off some

I'm off to find some pails or something to brew into.  It's hard to have an obsession without enough stuff...

Offline denny

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Re: Using a keg as a secondary
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2011, 10:33:48 AM »
I use a sanitized turkey baster (dedicated to brewing, not turkey!) to draw samples.
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Offline gmac

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Re: Using a keg as a secondary
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2011, 10:37:24 AM »
I have not used yeast nutrient but I know a lot of you do.  Would this help move things along on future batches?  I get a rapid krausen in the first 24 hours and then it seems to have a long, drawn out fermentation after this.  I don't yet have any way to oxygenate beyond shaking.  Would nutrient help?  I guess I  thought for all-grain that there was sufficient nutrient from the malt. 
Just wondering since I appear to be headed to my local wine shop (which has lousy homebrew stuff but it's all I've got unless I want to have pails sent to me via Canada Post which would cost about 3X what they were worth).

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Re: Using a keg as a secondary
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2011, 10:41:22 AM »
Theoretically, an all grain beer should have all the nutrients it needs already.  In spite of that, I've started using yeast nutrient.  Does it make a difference?  Maybe.  Does it make a big difference?  Nope.
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Offline jeffy

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Re: Using a keg as a secondary
« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2011, 11:55:34 AM »
I have not used yeast nutrient but I know a lot of you do.  Would this help move things along on future batches?  I get a rapid krausen in the first 24 hours and then it seems to have a long, drawn out fermentation after this.  I don't yet have any way to oxygenate beyond shaking.  Would nutrient help?  I guess I  thought for all-grain that there was sufficient nutrient from the malt. 
Just wondering since I appear to be headed to my local wine shop (which has lousy homebrew stuff but it's all I've got unless I want to have pails sent to me via Canada Post which would cost about 3X what they were worth).

Buy a wine thief when you're there to get samples out of your carboy.
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Offline gmac

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Re: Using a keg as a secondary
« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2011, 08:46:21 PM »
Buy a wine thief when you're there to get samples out of your carboy.
Done - sort of.  I bought an auto siphon and I think I can sample with that.  As far as I or the guy in the store could tell was that a wine thief would allow me to put the sample back but I'm so paranoid of contamination that once something comes out, it never goes back in (too many GLP courses over the years).  So it shouldn't matter.

I bought two more 23L pails.  Brewed another cali common.  Only complaint (two actually but related) is that I can't get the damn plug to stay in the hole.  It doesn't have the little tight hole, it's just got one that fits a rubber stopper and since the stopper is wet with Star-San, it keeps coming out.  And if I drop the friggin lids one more time I'm gonna blow a gasket.  Other than that, they should be fine.
Thanks

Offline Mark G

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Re: Using a keg as a secondary
« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2011, 09:28:53 PM »
Buy a wine thief when you're there to get samples out of your carboy.
Done - sort of.  I bought an auto siphon and I think I can sample with that.  As far as I or the guy in the store could tell was that a wine thief would allow me to put the sample back but I'm so paranoid of contamination that once something comes out, it never goes back in (too many GLP courses over the years).  So it shouldn't matter.

I bought two more 23L pails.  Brewed another cali common.  Only complaint (two actually but related) is that I can't get the damn plug to stay in the hole.  It doesn't have the little tight hole, it's just got one that fits a rubber stopper and since the stopper is wet with Star-San, it keeps coming out.  And if I drop the friggin lids one more time I'm gonna blow a gasket.  Other than that, they should be fine.
Thanks

I never put the sample back. Drink it, it's called quality control.

As far as the rubber stopper, I get the same problem with glass carboys (when I actually use them, which is rare). Just let them dry off for a few minutes and then they should stay put.
Mark Gres

Offline phillamb168

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Re: Using a keg as a secondary
« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2011, 12:33:15 AM »
Perhaps some of the old hands here will tell me it's bad (no, really, if it is, tell me) but I do all primary and secondary fermentation in kegs nowadays. Got tired of autosiphons that just wouldn't work very well, and having to pick up buckets and risk dumping everything. What I do is:

wort+yeast slurry go into a clean corny keg, just pour it in (that's my 'aeration' but I may stop doing that if this olive oil thing works out). Put the lid on, and attach on the gas in side a gray disconnect attached to a bit of vinyl tubing going into a bucket of water/sanitizer/whatever. Wait for fermentation to finish. Now this is the good part: take your 'secondary' keg, purge it with CO2, make sure it's sealed nicely. disconnect "airlock," from primary, attach a cobra tap, put the keg under pressure. Use the cobra tap to pour out (and save for later if you want) whatever sediment comes out of the bottom, then once it runs clear, disconnect the cobra tap and co2, take two black disconnects and attach them to some vinyl tubing to act as a jumper, attach one to primary keg liquid out, another to secondary keg liquid out, put co2 pressure on the primary, and purge the secondary a bit. Voila, oxygen-free transfer.
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Offline tom

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Re: Using a keg as a secondary
« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2011, 09:49:58 AM »
I love fermenting in kegs for all of the reasons you mentioned.  Only downside is not ending up with a full 5 gallons.
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