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German Brewing • My Cold Fermentation Process
Page 1 of 8

My Cold Fermentation Process

Posted: Sat May 07, 2016 5:56 am
by Brandon
This is how I have started fermenting 5 gallon batches. I brew 6.5 gallons of wort, so I have extra for a fast ferment test, gravity checks, and sipping.

End of hot-side
After the boil, I recirculate the wort through a counterflow chiller through a whirlpool in the kettle. This chills the wort quickly as well as aggregating the bulk of the trub into the center of the kettle. Once the wort is below ~25-35C I put a pre-chiller into a cooler of ice and use that to get the temp down as low as possible. In the winter I can get to near freezing (and I can sometimes use snow with the pre-chiller). I can chill to around 9-10C in the summer.

Once the wort has reached the lowest temperature possible, I shut off the pump and let the trub settle for about 15 minutes (it doesn’t take long and there’s usually not a lot). Once settled, I pump the chilled wort into the fermenter, a 6.5 gallon corny keg. The keg then goes into my lagering freezer for further cooling for no more than an hour or two while I finish cleanup and whatever else needs to be done. I will pitch immediately after filling the keg if possible.

Classic cold fermentation
See: https://edelstoffquest.wordpress.com/20 ... mentation/

I pitch the yeast and aerate using pure O2. Then install the heating pad and insulation jacket that slides over the keg. Once seated, I add the temp probe pack into the insulation jacket, so the beer probe is firmly seated touching the keg and the ‘chamber’ probe is seated between the outside jacket and the insulation cover that is over the keg-side probe. This provides a reasonably accurate beer temp and chamber temp that gives the BrewPi a relatively accurate reading. I install the blow off tube via the gas in port and set the far end into a bucket of StarSAN and let fermentation commence. Possible add additional oxygen as needed and depending on pitch size.

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I have been watching the BrewPi over a few fermentations now, and ran a few water-only tests and the temperature readings are pretty stable and consistent. My ideal scenario would be to install a thermowell in the fermentation keg, but I’m not convinced yet that it’s really necessary.

Classic Secondary Fermentation
See: https://edelstoffquest.wordpress.com/20 ... mentation/

Once primary fermentation is down to 1.5P above anticipated FG, I transfer under pressure to a 5 gallon keg (initially filled with StarSAN, pushed out and purged with CO2). I install a similarly configured 5 gallon keg-sized insulation jacket and heater over the 5 gallon keg and hook it up to the BrewPi. I install a Spunden valve (see: https://edelstoffquest.wordpress.com/20 ... 4/spunden/) and gauge set on ~.8 bar on the gas out side and let fermentation continue (following the cold fermentation schedule linked above). Currently I only have one Brew Pi, so can only manage 1 automated fermentation. but I have spare Ranco controllers and can set the daily adjustments manually.

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I configured the BrewPi to drop temp .5C per day until it reaches ~3C. The it holds steady for 2 weeks by default, then drops another .5C per day until it’s at lagering freezer temp of -1C.

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I am currently building a 3-chamber BrewPi controller solution that will give me the ability to simultaneously manage 2-3 fermentations at a time. My lagering freezer easily holds 8-9 5 gallon kegs, so I am anticipating being able to have 2-3 batches in process at any given time, and reduce the amount of finished beer being stored, so I can focus on having more fresh beer on hand.

Equipment and Materials:

6.5 gallon corny keg:
https://www.williamsbrewing.com/6-GALLO ... P3985.aspx

Spunding Valve:
Here are some instructions for a build similar to what I did: http://because-beer.com/diy-spunding-va ... on-amazon/
Pre-assembled something like this: https://www.morebeer.com/products/ball- ... gauge.html

I would really like to get my hands on something like this:
https://www.hellmann24.de/products/Spun ... /list.html

BrewPi for fermentation temperature monitoring and control:
You can purchase a pre-made BrewPi here: http://www.brewpi.com/
Or build your own (which I did) here: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=466106

Relfectix foam insulation for the insulated fermentation jackets:
http://www.amazon.com/Reflectix/b/ref=b ... =Reflectix

Reptile heater wrap, connected to the “Heat” side of the BrewPi temp relays:
These can be purchased here: http://www.reptilebasics.com/heat-tape
Or buy a FermWrap from a homebrew equipment supplier

Freezer: Maytag 14.8 cu. ft. Chest Freezer (this model is discontinued): http://www.homedepot.com/p/Maytag-14-8- ... F82A590087
See here for more options and ideas: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=377518

Patience: Fine lagers require attention to detail, understanding, fine tuning and working with your fermentation, and patience to let each step complete properly. You will be rewarded with fantastic beer! Establish a consistent pipeline and keep the beer flowing.

Understand your impatience and how to fix it: http://www.wikihow.com/Be-Patient

Re: My Cold Fermentation Process

Posted: Sat May 07, 2016 7:15 am
by Ancient Abbey
Nice, write up Brandon! Except the patience part; I don't think i can do that ;)

Re: My Cold Fermentation Process

Posted: Sat May 07, 2016 8:01 am
by wobdee
Wow, nice setup Brandon! How long on average is your primary fermentation before transferring to secondary? Have you seen any stalls yet with cold ferment?

Re: My Cold Fermentation Process

Posted: Sat May 07, 2016 8:46 am
by Brandon
I've only used this process twice now. It takes about 5-7 days of primary to reach target gravity. I've used WLP802 and Wyeast 2124 so far. First time using 2124 so we'll see. So far both have performed great with this setup.

Re: My Cold Fermentation Process

Posted: Sat May 07, 2016 9:19 am
by wobdee
Quicker than I thought

Re: My Cold Fermentation Process

Posted: Sat May 07, 2016 9:27 am
by Brandon
It was about a week to get to that 1P above final. I pitched this last batch warmer than I wanted. I would expect a typical fermentation to take a little longer if I get pitching temp lower.

Re: My Cold Fermentation Process

Posted: Sat May 07, 2016 4:09 pm
by mchrispen
So... looks like the DIY kit is only about $24 cheaper than a fully prepped and loaded turnkey. Worth it? I assume you built it for a lot cheaper.

Re: My Cold Fermentation Process

Posted: Sat May 07, 2016 4:26 pm
by Brandon

Re: My Cold Fermentation Process

Posted: Sat May 07, 2016 4:31 pm
by mchrispen
Dammit - you guys are costing me $$$! Will see if I can budget up for a couple of them - I love the level of control over my current Rancos.

Re: My Cold Fermentation Process

Posted: Sat May 07, 2016 4:38 pm
by Brandon