Brewery build pt 4: fermentation and kegging

As I haven’t quite received all my equipment for wort creation just yet, I’m going to skip ahead to discuss fermentation and kegging with my new brewery. When I sold my last brewery, my conical fermentor went with it. With my new brewery having a slightly larger batch size capacity I felt it would no longer be suitable for my purposes. While I expect at some point in the future I will own another, albeit larger, conical fermentor, for now I have to do something a bit more economical. You see, all of the tri clamp fittings I equipped my new brewery with made pretty quick work of my budget…

The solution I’ve come up with is to return to using 15.5 gallon sanke kegs for my fermentations, as I used before I owned a conical. When I brew larger batches on my new system I’ll have to use a carboy for the extra volume likely, but this affords me the opportunity to experiment with different yeast and such, so I’m not complaining!

I decided I needed to take my sanke keg fermentation to the next level. The “neck” of a sanke keg is exactly the same size of a 2″ tri clamp fitting… you see where I’m going with this?

 

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I have used a reducing cap to go from the 2″ tri clamp keg neck, to a 1.5″ tri clamp tee. When fermentation is taking place, one side of this tee will be capped while the other will be connected to a blow off tube (as seen above). When I go to dry hop or add some funky organisms to the beer I will just loosen the 2″ tri clamp and remove the whole assembly, do my thing, and reinstall.

For racking into kegs, I have the following set up:

 

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The racking tube depth is adjustable with a compression fitting that has been bored through, and equipped with replaceable silicone o-rings. This way, I don’t need to draw beer from the very bottom of the keg where all of the sediment has settled, as when I previously used a sanke spear for transferring out of sanke keg fermentors. The racking tube itself is a 1/2″ diameter stainless tube. The large diameter here ensures that none of this equipment will be obstructed by hop debris and such. A connection to my CO2 tank will be made to push beer through the racking tube to finally… this monstrosity:

 

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This is how I’ll fill my kegs. The check valves have been removed from the sanke coupler to turn it into a filling head. I have attached a “beer thread” to tri clamp adapter to the liquid side of the filling head.  With this I have attached a butterfly valve and a sight glass. Depending on what I see through the sight glass I may choose to close the valve to readjust the racking tube while kegging beer (i.e. CO2 bubbles indicate the racking tube is too high, and heavy trub indicates that the racking tube is too low). It should also make transfers for me a lot less messy as it will eliminate nearly all beer loss when I switch between the serving kegs I will be filling.

For a fraction of the cost of a new conical, I think this will keep me quite happy for a while!

 

  5 comments for “Brewery build pt 4: fermentation and kegging

  1. Norm Ryder
    July 31, 2016 at 8:52 am

    Why not add a plastic or stainless bottom to your tube so the fermented wort pulls down rather than up? Normal racking tubes have them rather than the old J bottom.

    • Justin
      August 1, 2016 at 11:31 am

      I’m hoping this will be a non-issue, but if it is that is definitely something I’ll try out..!

  2. Norm Ryder
    August 1, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    Keep up the great work. I wish I still had your drive!

  3. Randy Jackson
    August 27, 2016 at 3:51 am

    How do you clean and inspect the inside of the sanke keg after use? I’ve considered this but I’m afraid that I wouldn’t get all the crud out and risk of infection.

    • August 27, 2016 at 1:34 pm

      Pressure washer works great. Easy to see if they’re clean inside with a flashlight. Try it out!

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