Author Topic: Open Fermentation vs Closed Fermentation  (Read 4283 times)

Offline anotherdrummer

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Open Fermentation vs Closed Fermentation
« on: January 11, 2010, 02:29:09 PM »
I apologize in advance if this is a duplicate thread..

i've been doing some reading, and it looks like open vs closed fermentation is about as debated as free will vs predestiny. what are your thoughts on open vs. closed fermentation? what are the advantages of one over the other? i've always only done closed.

The reason I'm asking is I just finished a 14 gallon lager.  It's in my refrigerator at 55df.  My keggle-fermenter is a keggle with the lid of a plastic bucket sealing off the hole and an airlock in the middle.  The lid is surrounded with rubber and is then strapped down to the keggle to make it a really tight fit.  My issue is this...I pitched the starter for this beer Saturday night.  I see absolutely no movement in the airlock, but I can smell the fermentation.  My only concern is that there may be a leak somewhere in the seal, though not a very big one...at all.  I'm keeping the lager in this keggle for the duration of the entire fermentation, and not moving to secondary.  After d-rest, and temp drop...I'm thinking I should be fine...but I just kind of want a second (or third or fourth) opinion.

What do you think?

Online Kaiser

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Re: Open Fermentation vs Closed Fermentation
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2010, 02:37:20 PM »
What you are doing is not necessarily considered open fermentation.

But I’d be worried that you pull air into the keggle when you lower the temperature to cold conditioning temps. We recently discussed this as the most likely case for the oxidation of a beer in this thread: http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=900.0

Kai

Offline anotherdrummer

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Re: Open Fermentation vs Closed Fermentation
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2010, 02:51:56 PM »
Hey Kaiser...yeah, it's not wide open, it's just not a "tight" seal.  I'm not even going to mess the lid until 8 weeks...then I'm going to remove the lid to transfer it into kegs and purge with CO2.

thanks for the link!
« Last Edit: January 11, 2010, 02:55:22 PM by anotherdrummer »

Offline denny

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Re: Open Fermentation vs Closed Fermentation
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2010, 04:10:10 PM »
It's my understanding that English style beers traditionally used and benefited from open fermentation.  It seems I even recall something about it affecting the ester profile.  Anybody know anything about that?
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Offline lonnie mac

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Re: Open Fermentation vs Closed Fermentation
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2010, 04:42:50 PM »
I don't know if this is too hotly debated really... After all, beer is 10,000 years old and most of that is open fermentation! :)

For me, I have always fermented in a pot with a loose lid sitting on top. I lager this way too... Rarely if ever do I secondary unless it is a real big beer, or a lager... It works for me very well...

In your situation, I really wouldn't worry much... You have already gone to a much greater length that I ever have.



Offline Thirsty_Monk

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Re: Open Fermentation vs Closed Fermentation
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2010, 05:45:01 PM »
It's my understanding that English style beers traditionally used and benefited from open fermentation.  It seems I even recall something about it affecting the ester profile.  Anybody know anything about that?
Czechs are still fermenting in open fermenters. I do not have proof but shalow fermenters create diferent ester profile.
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Online Kaiser

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Re: Open Fermentation vs Closed Fermentation
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2010, 06:39:57 PM »
I think it is more the depth of the fermenter that affects the ester profile. I started moving to a more open fermentation as well and eventually want to see how it compares to a carboy.

Kai

Offline anotherdrummer

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Re: Open Fermentation vs Closed Fermentation
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2010, 07:58:31 PM »
Thanks guys!  Denny, you're right..WAY better.  I'll post a pic of what it looks like.  It'll be blurry..  So basically a keggle with a bucket lid, with rubber around the lid.  The bungees are really tight and do a good job at holding the bucket lid down tight.  I've done one batch with this and it worked well...airlock was active.  This batch..not so much.



Offline tom

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Re: Open Fermentation vs Closed Fermentation
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2010, 09:19:34 PM »
Hey Kaiser...yeah, it's not wide open, it's just not a "tight" seal.  I'm not even going to mess the lid until 8 weeks...then I'm going to remove the lid to transfer it into kegs and purge with CO2.

thanks for the link!
8 weeks? That's a little longer than usual. Is that your usual method? Is the fridge at 55degF or the wort? The fermenting wort is usually hotter than the ambient temperature.
With lagers I usually primary for about 2 weeks at about 50 degF. With a big enough starter and adequate oxygen, you should be done primary within 2 weeks.
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Offline karlh

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Re: Open Fermentation vs Closed Fermentation
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2010, 05:38:15 AM »
I have fermented with a similar set up many times and never had any issues.  I actually wish I had a fermenter set up like yours in addition to what I have.  My previous brewing partner manufactured his "keggle" fermenter lid with a larger cut lid from another keg (fermenter was cut to 11", another keg was cut to 12" and the 12" lid was used for the 11" hole).  On the stainless lid he used a bead of silicone which is safe at boiling temps, and wedges were used rather than rubber.  He could then boil water in the fermenter to sanitize.  With your bucket lid, you might be able to improve sealing/contact areas with a bead of silicone as well. 
Karl
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Offline babalu87

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Re: Open Fermentation vs Closed Fermentation
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2010, 06:08:50 AM »
FWIW I havent locked down the lid on a bucket OR put an airlock on a primary in over a year.

Quote
It's my understanding that English style beers traditionally used and benefited from open fermentation.  It seems I even recall something about it affecting the ester profile.  Anybody know anything about that?

Denny, I think there is something to the esters with the English yeasts.
1469 seems to throw more of the good stuff with tin foil "airlock" vs. a true airlock.
I havent done a side by side yet though, mostly because I am pragmatic  :P
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Offline bluesman

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Re: Open Fermentation vs Closed Fermentation
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2010, 07:46:49 AM »
I'm no expert on open fermentation and frankly it kind of scares me, but apparently it is happening everyday in breweries around the world as this picture shows.



A true top-cropping ale yeast in an open fermentor at Brewery Ommegang

I beleive the krausen layer on top somewhat protects the fermenting beer from the detrimental effects of oxidation during the process.
Ron Price

Offline Thirsty_Monk

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Re: Open Fermentation vs Closed Fermentation
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2010, 09:05:31 AM »
I beleive the krausen layer on top somewhat protects the fermenting beer from the detrimental effects of oxidation during the process.


To my understanding it is fermented in open fermenter till 75% of fermentation is done and CO2 is still been created.
Then it is transfered to close vessel and oxygen is purged out.
This way you do not get oxidation.
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Offline anotherdrummer

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Re: Open Fermentation vs Closed Fermentation
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2010, 09:16:43 AM »
I say 8 weeks...but it will actually be more like 6.  I dont plan to transfer to a secondary.  I've done this recipe several times before and rushed it a few times before as well.  i'm just going to "set it and forget it".  well....of couse doing d-rest and such...but not lifting the lid for 6 weeks..

Offline anotherdrummer

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Re: Open Fermentation vs Closed Fermentation
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2010, 06:59:09 PM »
I'm no expert on open fermentation and frankly it kind of scares me, but apparently it is happening everyday in breweries around the world as this picture shows.



A true top-cropping ale yeast in an open fermentor at Brewery Ommegang

I beleive the krausen layer on top somewhat protects the fermenting beer from the detrimental effects of oxidation during the process.


I had actually seen something about Sierra Nevada doing their Bigfoot Barleywine like that.