Can of 'Portable Oxygen', to aid yeast?

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by pazu, Jul 23, 2013.

  1. pazu

    pazu New Member

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    Hi

    I have found beer brewing to be a forgiving and rewarding undertaking. I have had many successes though I understand little of what I am doing, have many blind spots and just enough luck to compensate.

    Could I please get thoughts on the following experiment? I searched the forum but found no reference to this having been tried and I have not yet undertaken it; I thought it might be wise to run the idea by more experienced brewers first.

    Small cans of pressurized oxygen, such as 'Just Oxygen' and 'Boost Oxygen,' are available, said to contain 8 Liters of oxygen over 70 metered deliveries. The relatively economical cans are said to be 80% or better oxygen gas content.

    If one desired to increase available oxygen at pitching, to aid in yeast health, a can could be repeatedly discharged into the mix, over a short timeframe, pushing out the air and outgassing with oxygen from the can. It would not be difficult to discharge the can's gas directly into the liquid, bubbling through it first, then displacing the initial air and, as it began to develop, the CO2. By putting the can into a plastic bag, and taping the open end of the bag around a length of tubing run into the mix, the can could be discharged, then the gas would travel through the hose and on into the mixture. It could be combined with agitation (tennis ball under the carboy) to infuse more oxygen into the mix. This could be repeated at the beginning of the fermentation, but terminated at some point early on so as not to 'over-oxgenate.'

    Considering the evident relevance of both beer and these oxygen cans to the sport of Football, I should think that these two might have crossed paths before. Thanks for any thoughts on the matter. :)
     
  2. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    Yes, brewers do a similar thing all the time!

    You need food grade O2, the O2 regulator, hose, and an aeration stone, like the following kit:
    http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/brew ... n-kit.html


    I used to do this, but have found sharking vigorously when draining into the primary is working fine for me. One less thing to sanitize and clean up on brew day.
     
  3. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    I went round and round for years trying to find the best way to ferment and wound up just pouring from bucket to bucket about 4 times works better than I thought, found a study somewhere on the Internet that compared different ways to oxygenate the wort and I think the conclusion was most all ways had close to identical results
     
  4. pazu

    pazu New Member

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    Thank you Larrybrewer and Quality Home Brew for sharing your experience.

    I am going to try it. The $7 investment in a can of personal oxygen, fits the budget. I'm trying to experiment with 02 to see if I can increase my alcohol content without having to buy/store more expensive gear to try it. And the lowest cost, easiest way to get ahold of oxygen apart from electrolysis, seems to be the cans of personal 02.

    I suppose that since CO2 is heavier than O2, as soon as the yeast begin generating C02, that C02 will form a layer on the plane of the surface of the wort, insulating the wort and yeast from any remaining 02 in the head space. 02, 02 everywhere but not a drop for yeast to drink. So once the 02 bubbles through the mix it is lost unless I get get it back in there in a recirculation. The only safe way I can think of to do that, would be to use two carboys. Try visualizing this - with a large controlled headspace above both carboys in the form of trash bags taped around the necks, and tubing going from the head space of each, out down and into the wort of the other, and one of these bags full of O2, in an otherwise sealed or sealable system, I could simply squeeze the full trash bag thus pumping 02 from the full bag, through the wort of the other carboy, bubbling out into the other trash bag to be recovered. The 02 passes through that wort in the process, and then the other trash bag is squeezed, re-using the 02, sending it back through the first carboy's wort and returning into the first trash bag. I could keep doing that until I'm at temp then pitch, airlock & hope for the best.

    I suppose it fun to visualize as a potential solution, but is this 02 really going to help out the yeast more than just shaking or pouring it back & forth... I read that 8ppm is the max that can be achieved in the shaking way.

    What I am trying to do in this case is to get the most work out of the yeast. I was hoping to get a few percent higher alcohol content/more efficient sugars utilization.

    I wonder also, can anyone answer this for me, is there a way to use hydrogen peroxide to oxygenate wort?

    Thanks!
     
  5. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Uh, hydrogen peroxide? Granted it breaks down into oxygen and water.... I get great results, strong fermentation and very dry beers using the airstone and an aquarium pump - normal air. Oxygen may get you another point or two of alcohol but that's not why I'd use it - I'd use it if I wanted a dryer, cleaner beer (although I have yet to make a beer that I think pure oxygen would have improved). Or to shorten oxygenation time. But not to increase the alcohol level.
     
  6. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    I would not mess around with pure oxygen in garbage bags. You really need to read up on safety with compressed gases. You could easily poison yourself if you are not careful. I also think you are over thinking this. Just shake the container and you'll get all the O2 you need to make the yeast happy.

    O2 dissolves in solution. This can be done as Noseybear pointed out, by bubbling direct O2, or using an aquarium pump and air. You won't get more alcohol, just a faster fermentation, but you may not even notice the difference. Here's a detailed article on the subject:
    http://byo.com/stories/item/1894-aerati ... techniques


    I would NOT add hydrogen preoxide, could lead to off flavors, hurt the yeast, etc.
     
  7. pazu

    pazu New Member

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    I understand that hydrogen peroxide should not be added to the wort, I was rather wondering why. I think it is because it has to react first in order to release the oxygen and hydrogen, and I don't think the hydrogen would do the wort any good.

    Avoiding the risk of pure 02, not to mention the cost expense, storage and safety considerations of high volumes of pressurized oxidizer and gear, is why I became curious about the small, lower-grade 'recreational' oxygen cans.

    The trash bag scenario involves low grade 02 at atmospheric pressure. The entire can is said to be 8 liters expended at atmo, that's about 1/6th of a trash bag's worth of 80% 02 in a whole can's worth. I'm not talking about the pressure-regulated pure med grade O2 that you're thinking of. Outdoors in a controlled environment without a fuel source or a source of ignition, there might be some as-yet unforeseen risk, but since there's a better way anyhow, the trash bag scenario can remain a difficult to execute and theoretical undertaking. That was basically an analogy to help visualize a sealed atmospheric pressure gas transfer back and forth through liquids in two storage vessels.

    Simply dispensing the can into the wort liquid as it is transferred, would be enough to supercharge the liquid with oxygen. Just spritzing it at the liquid pouring into the funnel, would do it. I can picture several safe ways of passing the pouring liquid not through air but instead completely through an oxygen gas bath (outdoors, etc.) as well - that would surely amp the o2 level with minimal expense and difficulty. And minimum waste of o2 as well.

    Now there are many risks associated with beer making, that is a fact that we are all well aware of. And many brewing techniques that I do avoid due to overall risk, including 02. Personally I've found the most risky bit to be, washing and sanitizing the flimsy hydrometers. Ridiculous. It is up to all of us as individuals to approach the process methodically and responsibly & in a controlled environment, and to do any experimentation further out, in an absolutely sure and controlled manner. I can assure you that I do this; there will be no Darwin award issued with my name on it.

    Thank you all for helping to answer my question, and aid me in better understanding approaches toward oxygenating the wort!
     
  8. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    You are welcome, and very glad you won't be in the running for a Darwin award! :lol:
     
  9. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    just searching google I found this interesting

    http://woodlandbrew.blogspot.com/2013/0 ... -make.html

    personally I'm thinking that yeast cells are similar to human cells in the sense that we need oxygen to breath or stay awake or healthy but too much and we get drunk/high and worthless. If yeast use oxygen the same way or similar why wouldn't the same happen ? too little is bad but too much could be just as bad, the only thing that you could benefit is to keep yeast from going dormant later after they use up the oxygen in the vessel ..But to stay alive just like us they need food, so having enough oxygen but not enough food won't do any good either so to get more alcohol you need both but not too much and at the right time, hope to hear any results in your quest ....good luck :)
     
  10. pazu

    pazu New Member

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    Appreciating that Woodland link, thanks! I agree with your drawing correlation to human cells and cell growth.

    Yes it's precisely why I want the 02, sterol production leading to substantive robust cell wall growth, foundation for sound healthy yeast. I know that the yeast must have sufficient sterols in order to reproduce and that requires oxygen. I think they can only reproduce 3 times in an 8ppm oxygen solution, I was just hoping to ensure that this reproduction does indeed occur. I'm not too concerned about off flavors but I have a few days more that I can research before it's go time.

    But there is so much going on in the ferment, so many factors at play. I think that there are other, not completely understood effects of oxygenation of the wort, on yeast and beer, apart from off flavors and that's a big draw, sort of a frontier, for me at least. Yeast, astonishes, like the Midi-chlorians of Star Wars' the Force, who were those little living organisms with I suppose some sort of group consciousness, living symbiotically in cells, manifesting weird powers in the Star Wars universe… Not too hard to draw parallels to the mighty universe of real-world yeasts.

    According to that article, even high gravity beer sugars don't reach saturation point so that's not much of a factor in o2 absorption, good to know.

    There are a lot of balances to get right and I do not know them all. But I'm not too picky. Gonna be deliberate about it, take notes & we'll see what happens. I'm working from a basic Pale Ale kit, hope that doesn't seem too much of a cop-out, it is really considering what I've already done but trying not to get too many experiments going at the same time in this beer. I have yet to research it fully, but want to add some wild berries and fruit from nearby patches, pushing density up a bit and giving the yeast something interesting for them to do with all that oxygen. And also introduce some territorial uniqueness that I want to try to get into the beer. Not sure how likely I am to get off flavors by adding fruit like that, yet. For instance I've got a blackberry patch nearby, it's not quite there yet but not hard to pull gallons of berries out of there in a short period of time. Lots of blueberries and raspberries as well.

    Thanks for the interest and support, I have a lot of forum reading to catch up on, so looking forward to this particular batch, fun to pull the pieces & ideas together and then go for it! First batch in awhile, for me.
     
  11. pazu

    pazu New Member

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  12. Foster82

    Foster82 New Member

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    If you are shooting for a higher FG, a healthy pitch rate is the only way to go, along with aeration at the start which vigorously shaking the caryboy for 45 sec will do the trick.

    I believe the OP and many others may be missing a critical aspect of how yeast perform. 1st most of us realize that yeast need oxygen to reproduce, now this can come from stored O2 (dry yeast already have a small amount stored up), and 02 in the wort. Now here is were it gets tricky. While yeast have 02 to work with, they reproduce and break down sugars, but they are not producing alcohol. With the 02 they are working aerobically and completely metabolizing the sugar producing CO2 and Water. Once they have utilized all the 02 and start to work anaerobically, they only partially metabolize the sugar producing CO2 and Alcohol.

    So if you continually introduce O2 into the carboy, you may well drop the FG by a few points, but the overall alcohol content my actually be reduced.

    You would be better off to pitch high and ensure your starter is well oxygenated prior to pitching.
     
  13. pazu

    pazu New Member

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    So a starter yeast batch then, I'll have to get that gear. Lots for me to learn I guess. My brew day is put off anyhow, hole in the boiling pot.

    The adding oxygen with the can thing, appeals mostly because it's an easy way to try to up the ppm of O2 for maximum successive yeast generations in the ferment.

    Here is my latest intention :) Open to suggestions please, it is a work in progress.

    I did put my tentative 'recipe' into the beer calculator here, the color, IBU had exclamation points. Color doesn't much matter to me, but the 2 lbs. of natural cane sugar I'm using to extend is a little dark so that might help.

    About the yeast, my working understanding is that yeast go through multiple generations during the fermentation, so some 1st generation yeast are done gearing up and into generating alcohol, while other 2nd generation & maybe 3rd generation yeast are still consuming 02 making sterol & building up. But, aeration can never be more than 8ppm oxygen no matter how you do it, unless a higher oxygen content aeration artificially occurs by introducing it directly such as I want to.

    There can only be 3 reproduction cycles of yeast, in an 8ppm oxygen solution, best case scenario, from what I've read. 3 cycles then whatever sugar may be left, remains. Unless, you actually have say 10 or 12ppm oxygen instead of 8. This is what I wanted to go for. Now, we are into the 4th reproduction cycle of yeast and maybe beyond. Could be wrong, it's based on internet reading not experience and there do seem to be differing views on sugars, the relative value of inverting sugar, for instance and the question "adding extra plain sugar - method or mistake" in adding to beer at all. The numbers I don't know, but a 4th cycle would be quite the population explosion of yeast. If, everything else in the environment were perfectly staged.

    Could these 4th generation become mutant yeast, causing more off-flavor than they are worth? Will the O2 cause off flavors? That's what I'll find out. I'm not raising the alcohol content that significantly. I'm going over the "10% rule" of adding plain sugar, but also adding water, and inverting all of the added sugar.

    The idea of my batch attempt, is to extend an extract light ale wort from 5.5 gallons to 6.5, also adding 2 pounds of invert sugar and attempting to oxygenate before pitching. The yeast will stress less with the invert sugars already broken out so maybe that will help avoid off flavors and be easy to consume for the first yeast generations, the later generations will have to deal with the more complicated sugars but the oxygen, if it works, should provide for those generations gearing up strong cell walls to do it and endure the alcohol level, breaking down the most sugars, getting the beer dryer and pushing the alcohol content up.

    I would like to hear recommendations as to how I might alter the plan for greater success though I do want to take on the 'risk' of oxygenating the pre-ferment. If when I get to it, it's obviously too much work I'll just skip it and agitate normally.

    I am going for a 6 gallon batch of 5% alcohol content, relatively mild character beer, basically. It does not need to be hoppy but I want dry over malty.

    Time to look into yeast starter, thanks for the tip. If I use enough yeast to start with, the 'oxygen experiment' will be a sure success! I can brag about my "O2 beer" when really, I just used the correct amount of yeast :)
     
  14. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    The exclamation points are showing up if your recipe doesn't match the style parameters, but it is up to you if you want to follow the style to the letter.

    2 pounds of sugar in a 6 gallon batch is a lot, and will thin out the flavor and body considerably. That much sugar would be a lot even for an imperial IPA. I think you'd be better off with half, or even a quarter of that amount of sugar. There is no substitute in beer for real grains. You could try flaked corn or flaked rice to thin it some if that is really what you are shooting for.

    As for the yeast generations, I would not worry about mutants forming during fermentation. I think most brewers consider the generation to be the total number of batches that yeast has fermented. So if you recycle the yeast through 3 batches, it would then be 4th generation.

    Pitch at the pro rate and control temperatures and the beer will turn out great. All you need is a stir plate and a 1 gallon jug or flask. Even the stir plate is optional if you shake it every now and then.
     
  15. Foster82

    Foster82 New Member

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    First take Larry's advice and you will not go wrong. Then at 5% alcohol your are not going to over stress any yeast strain. As far as generations there is no concerns there as they can reproduce hundreds of times. Like Larry said you are thinking of the number batches a particularly batch of yeast have fermented out. I for one farm my yeast; meaning and all my starters begin life as colony the size of a pin head (about 100,000 cells) and are built up to my pitch rate (about 238 billion cells).

    Next if you are going for a really dry beer, yeast may not give you what you are looking for. The dryness of a beer is partly impacted by the amount of fermentable sugar in the wort, and under normally brewing conditions yeast will only use between 70% and 80%. Yes the heath and particular yeast strain does have a play in this, but it is also largely impacted by the malting process and grains used.

    My advice would be to pick a basic recipe and focus on perfecting your technique.
     
  16. pazu

    pazu New Member

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    Thank you sir for the focused suggestions. Understood now, what is meant by 'generations' in the beer-making vernacular.

    About the sugar, the kit was intended to brew a 5 gallon batch, and has 4lbs of ultra light malt, 2lbs of rice sugar already. It is the "American Lite" from Morebeer. So I want to add 2 lbs. sugar, but also add another gallon of water.

    Options I have right now, I have a 3.3 lb. can of light malt extract on the shelf that's at least 6 years old. So I can throw that away & forget it, that's one option :(

    According to the beer calculator, I need that 2 lbs or close to it, to get to 5%.

    I believe you when you state that there's no substitute for real grains, but I have the extract in it so it's not completely without grains.

    To stay with the kit's ratio of water to sugars, I would add 1.2 lbs. of sugar not 2 lbs, but that won't get me to 5%! Not with 6 gallon.

    I'm not looking to try to thin the beer, but not looking for sweet or thick beer. Looking for beer that is inexpensive, that doesn't try to prove any particular point.

    The pro rate of pitching was a turn-off to me, only because of the expense involved, more sugars and sanitizing, only to be discarded with just the yeast kept. I thought I could get to the same place with O2 & time but you guys are getting it through to me that it's the only way to be sure. Sadly there is a justification price point, I don't mind buying 1-time equipment but the resultant beer has to come in at <.50 a bottle in regard to expendables apart from energy & sanitation cost. How to get there... I could go to the LHBS & arbitrarily buy some sprouted toasted grain to make up the difference, and just use 8 ounces or a pound of invert sugar?

    I don't really understand what thinning flavor and body would be like as a taste experience, is there a common beer that has these characteristics, so that I could better understand? Surely it won't end up as 'skeeter pee?'
     
  17. pazu

    pazu New Member

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    Wow I see you are talking from experience Foster82 as is LarryBrewer, I appreciate your taking the time to lay out the situation for me.

    I do want to use up as much of the sugar in the wort as possible, I thought to try the path of bumping up O2 as my way to get more of the sugars utilized.

    Is recipe brewing, less expensive than kit brewing? I got the impression it was more expensive. Expense is what pushes me toward basic sugars, inexpensive kits and 1-shot yeast. I don't know if I will brew frequently enough to keep a yeast starter viable. Looking for a plain, cheap alternative to water, I suppose. I might end up brewing alcoholic fruit juice, simply because those sugars are the least expensive and available right now in the wild.

    Maybe I should just buy a second American Ale kit, and just make that, using the first kit for starter & leftovers.

    Dry, to me just says less alcohol. And body says leftover sugars. Wish I had an idea of what this beer that I want to make, would actually taste like. Dry & without body, surely it wouldn't just taste like unsatisfying, watered down beer, at 5%?

    Thanks for the patience, I am trying to get my mind around all of this. If I target success with simplicity and 100% knowns though, I will lose interest entirely.

    I have worked with grains a few times before, but want to go through the process with a kit once before I get back into that. I've not brewed in 6 years.

    Thanks again for trying to steer me in the right direction, I am starting to get it. Maybe .50/bottle, strong beer is just not possible.
     
  18. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    You could buy some DME or LME to pad it up some, but American Lite is supposed to be pretty simple. The nice thing about low OG beers is they require less yeast to hit the same pitch rate.

    With home brewing, like anything, you get what you pay for in terms of ingredients. One brewer on this site was looking into to mashing feed corn to get the price as low as possible. That is a venerable quest, but when starting out, I'd focus on top quality ingredients and time tested recipes so the resulting beer blows you away with how good it is. Honestly, I think most brewers are trying to get their home brew quality as high as possible, and feel spending a little more on ingredients to get it right is well worth it.

    To save money - reptich yeast, brew all grain, and buy hops in bulk (or grown your own). Then the price per bottle really starts to drop. The equipment necessary can all be found used at reasonable prices if you are patient and diligent.

    Kits will always be more expensive, since you are paying for convenience. Per gravity point extracts are also more expensive than all grain brewing since the work of mashing was done for you with the extract.
     
  19. pazu

    pazu New Member

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    This from Wyeast Labs site is interesting discussion of oxygenation. They mention filling the head space of the carboy with oxygen, then shake aerating.
    http://www.wyeastlab.com/hb_oxygenation.cfm
    Seems easy & worth the try for a low risk shot at a big bump up in O2. I can blast a shot into the starter as well. 6.5 gallon carboy, I suppose brewing 6 gallons in it would be too much, there would not be much headspace for foam or aerating. Maybe a defoaming agent would let me get away with 6G? The batch should probably be 5.5 gallon. Had thought to use a 7 gallon brew pail but can't agitate that.

    I like the idea of padding with malt grain, and malt grain is not very expensive. Debating how to go about it, fun to ponder! Ordered some things for yeast starter making as well. Getting there.

    Is a 12,000 btu gas burner, enough to boil 6.5 gallons of wort, anybody know by chance?
     
  20. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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