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I am currently fermenting a blonde ale, and I was thinking of adding strawberries after primary fermentation. However I don't want a full batch of stawberry ale, so I plan to rack only half of the 5 gallon batch onto strawberries.

I have another 5 gallon carboy that I can use, but am I risking significant oxidation by having half the carboy full of air? Is there anything else I can do? Should I buy a couple 1 gallon growlers? Other options?

Thanks!

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2 Answers 2

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When you add fruit like that, it's probably a good idea to do so when it's actively fermenting. So I will presume that's the stage you are in, or that you will add something fermentable to get there.

Racking half of your actively fermenting batch into an empty carboy will probably not oxygenate to a level where you should be concerned because there will be a layer of CO2 formed between your beer and the air (CO2 being heavier than air). If you want to be extra careful, you could go to the bike store and pick-up one of those tire fillers, and use that to purge the vessel of oxygen.

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Actually I thought you were supposed to rack to secondary after the the primary was pretty much done, and that the strawberries might add a little more sugar for fermentation. Sounds like I should do some more research. –  user2101 Apr 16 '12 at 23:11
    
The strawberries will indeed add sugar which will kick up fermentation again. If you aren't adding too much fruit (less than 2lb say), then you prob should rack at the very end of primary, as Dale suggests, to ensure that the final 10-20% of fermentation, plus the new fermentation from the berries, adds enough C02 to push the bulk of the oxygen out. If you are adding several pounds of fruit, then you are probably fine just letting primary fermentation finishing completely, as the heavy fruit will generate more than enough C02 to protect you. –  Graham Apr 17 '12 at 17:00

Look into one of those Portable CO2 Carttridge Chargers (if you don't already have a CO2 system for kegging). Something like http://stores.kegconnection.com/Detail.bok?no=4 will work great.

"Spray" the CO2 down into the carboy gently over some time and it should displace the O2 in the carboy. You can also use the same method to push the beer from one carboy to the other via one of those orange caps.

As Graham said in another comment, for the fruited beer, you're probably fine as the yeast will ferment the sugars in the fruit and blow the oxygen out fairly quickly (there WILL be some staling/oxygenation but it should be relatively minor)

Also, 1 gallon growlers will also work brilliantly.

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