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I Brew In a Bag and do no-chill, space and time are limited.

I just bought some kegging equipment and while looking at the Pico Brew project I noticed that one option in using their equipment is to dispense directly from the keg used from brewing and fermenting (step 6).

I figure I could save a lot of time in my own process by:

  • Transfering my hot wort directly from the boil kettle to the keg, using the keg itself as my 'no chill' container

  • Fermenting in the keg letting the air come out from one of the valves (I do not need to see bubbles, but I guess I'll need to find a way to depress the ball locks so the air comes out)

  • Force carbonating directly on that keg after fermentation

  • Chilling and dispensing, dumping the first few pints of yeast/slurry. My loss may even diminish!

One single vessel, no transfers, no need to sanitize anything.

The only downside I see is the possibility of having the keg lines clogged with yeast and some extra work cleaning the krausen formed during fermentation after the keg is empty (dried out and likely stuck, a good soak in PBW should take care of it?)

Anyone has any experience on this? Any other downsides I have not identified?

5

I would give it a try. I have done this with a Sanke keg several times. Couple thoughts: - If it is an old Pepsi corny, you may be able to unscrew the pressure relief valve, remove, use an air lock or blow off tube. - Once activity has slowed, (Like only a few points above terminal gravity) replace the pressure relief valve and let it naturally carbonate. As mentioned above, you might look into a spunding valve. - You can also cut maybe a half inch off you dip tube in order to leave yeast and trub behind. I would try it once before cutting though. I was surprised when using the Sanke how little yeast I actually sucked up. Only maybe one pint before it was clear enough to drink. - A good whirlpool with a nice long rest is a must to leave hop material behind in the brew kettle.

  • 1
    You could just use a gas-in quick disconnect to do the job of blowoff/airlock. I've tryed both using like this and also removing the gas post and clamping a hose directly to the keg thread. Both work ok. And about cutting the diptube, I don't do this on mine, when transfering I just dump a little first flow and its ok to go, but I don't know if it will work like that if you drink directly from fermentor, maybe the time between pints will put more yeast in the way and it would be a good idea to cut it. – jards Jan 28 '15 at 12:31
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    Trying it a the moment, my corny kegs are made in Italy and apparently are from a 'safer design', the gas and liquid valves have slightly different shapes, which mean one quick disconnect will only fit were it meant to (either gas or liquid). Also, my gas valve probably have some protection against beer going back into the co2 bottle, I couldn't use it as blowoff, it simply kept the pressure in the keg exactly as if it wasn't there (and I had to carefully bleed the CO2 via the pressure relief valve when I realized that). Now I'm bleeding manually every few hours. Spunding valve is on the way.. – Cleber Goncalves Feb 2 '15 at 9:15
4

Hop residue will be a problem. Even if you use pellet hops, you will get clogs in the dip tube or valves when trying to purge the trub from the bottom of the keg. I know this from a disastrous keg-hopping experiment.

You'll want to exclude hops when transferring the hot wort to the keg.

  • Did you use a hop bag or keg dry-hopping is just a no-no? – Cleber Goncalves Jan 26 '15 at 8:05
  • Given that most of the trub residue will stay in the kettle after the whirlpool and transfer, unless I have a very tick yeast layer, I suppose clogging can be avoided – Cleber Goncalves Jan 26 '15 at 8:08
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Cleber, I'm trying things very close to what you're thinking. I'm no chilling, fermenting, and serving on kegs. But I think an extra keg could be a good thing. If you have one, I think it is useful to transfer from the no-chill to the fermentor to aerate your wort. I'm doing this over pressure to ensure air contact. Otherwise you can aerate another way and stay with just one keg. After fermenting I think it is useful to transfer to another keg to make easier to clean the krausen and to let the yeast/trub away. Tobias's advice is very nice, and my protocol to avoid clogging is a good whirpool, waiting a longer time than I was used to wait when using chiller to ensure the thing really settle down. After that I transfer to the kegs, wait the temperature drops, transfer to another keg removing the first ounces to let the break material out, ferment, transfer to the first keg, and drink.

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    I'm also using a spunding valve and avoiding the carbonation time, the beer is already done when ferment is done, all I have to do is transfer keg-to-keg. – jards Jan 23 '15 at 18:39
  • This sounds like a working system. Have you tried dry hopping? – Cleber Goncalves Jan 26 '15 at 8:10
  • Yes, my last batch was the first time I've dry hopped in the keg, and also the first time I've used hop bags. Just put the bag in the serving keg before the last transfering, everything worked fine. – jards Jan 26 '15 at 10:30
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For fermenting, I just remove the gas-in keg post, fit a 1/2" hose onto the screw fitting, clamp it, and stick the other end of the hose in a glass filled with starsan. When fermentation's done, I replace the gas-in post and push to another (purged) keg. My fermentation keg's dip tube is a couple inches shorter than a regular one - that's how I avoid transferring most of the gunk.

If you want to do it all in one keg...follow the above, BUT: when primary fermentation is complete, add your priming sugar syrup, disconnect the blowoff tube, and replace your keg lid with one to which you've specially installed a spunding valve. Set your spunding valve pressure limit as desired (remember 2-2.5 volumes of CO2 at room temperature is much higher pressure than at serving temperature) and let the yeast do their thing again.

After a week or two, refrigerate the keg, attach your liquid-out post, and serve.

1

I have a Picobrew Zymatic and tried following their instructions for the first few brews. The results were rather disappointing. Since I know the people at Picobrew, I talked to them about it. It seems that the method is a kinda beginner's least possible effort method, rather than something they specifically recommend or that anyone there does. I went back to fermenting in buckets after brewing in the Zymatic and got much better results. So the bottom line is that you can certainly do what you propose, but you'll likely get better results if you don't.

  • What where the issues you found? Too much yeast in the beer? – Cleber Goncalves May 15 '15 at 21:05
  • If you don't cut at least an inch off the keg diptube it will clog. And every time you move the keg you stir up the huge amount of yeast and trub in it. – Denny Conn May 16 '15 at 14:56

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