Conditioning ales in kegs

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by PZ, Nov 9, 2014.

  1. PZ

    PZ Member

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    Hello All,
    I'm finding that nearly all my brews are significantly better by the time I get to the bottom of the keg than they were at the start. I would like to allow more time prior to serving -- say 2-4 weeks -- but have limited space in my kegerator. Does anyone have experience conditioning at room/ferment temps? I'm about to package a batch of Scottish 80/ and am wondering if the recommended long conditioning could be done partially at room temperature. Conditioning at warmer temps might also discourage premature sampling :)

    Thanks in advance, PZ
     
  2. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like a nice problem to have! That 80 shilling must be nice. But if memory serves, it's a bigger beer, up in the 6% range if not in the 7's. That means they just need to age longer. Room temperature accelerates but if you change the process you change the beer! I'd predict with a shorter, warmer aging, the beer might be marginally less clean but you might not even know it. If you have the resources, split a batch. Age one as you currently do, age one at room temp for two weeks, chill the warm one and get a confederate to set up a "triangle test" for you, several groups of three samples where you have to pick out the different one without knowing which is which. If you can't do it reliably, there's no appreciable difference in the beer.

    Cheers!
     
  3. PZ

    PZ Member

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    Thanks for the idea, Nosybear. The triangle test is the right thing to do, but I only have room for two kegs. One is nearly full and the other will be empty by tonight even if I have to put some in a growler. 80 shilling is actually a small beer, even if it is the heaviest in its class. The style guide says 3.9-5.0%. Mine looks to come in at 3.99%. Everyone says it needs to age at least a couple months. I could use my fermentation freezer for conditioning but then I can't brew, at least not until ambient temps fall a few more degrees. There are alternatives, like bottle conditioning some or all of it, but I think I'll save my tolerance for bottling for when I make a wee heavy. Now that's a big beer!
     
  4. GernBlanston

    GernBlanston New Member

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    Maybe time to upgrade? Sometimes you can find a fridge cheap or even free on Craigs list. You don't need any fancy ice makers or digital readouts, just something that gets cold. Side by side refrigerators work the best, as the freezer chamber can be converted to keg space, allowing for 8 to 12 kegs. Room for serving as well as conditioning. All in one unit.
     
  5. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    the only time you would want to condition warm is dry hopping and yes Ive had the same issues, got an extra freezer just for conditioning and I question that decision all the time just because of space but man it helps.

    my kegs are always better 15 to 30 days conditioned at 40 and thats hard to do around here since we drink to fast lol

    so over all better beer :D
     
  6. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I generally condition warm (ales). I find advantages to keeping the yeast as active as possible. That said, when I do German ales, I tend to drop the temperature at least into the 50's for conditioning. The German ale yeast isn't as floculent as the English strains. By "warm" I mean my basement temps, average about 68 degrees during the heat of the summer, 65 in winter. It causes no damage I can see and finishes off the beer quicker. All that said, one should never rely on the calendar to know if a beer's done. Taste and gravity tell the tale, the times given in the recipes are one person's schedule on one person's equipment.
     
  7. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    what I was talking about is after kegged and fermentation is not an issue its only to clear the beer and condition the beer to taste

    just for clarification My process that works for me usually with a high flocculating yeast meaning I don't use Chico strain starts with the normal 7 - 10 day fermentation, pulled off the yeast into a keg then for a 5 to 7 day sit at 36 with carbonation blanket on top only.

    pulling off into a serving keg at this point you can force carb and serve or slow carb in the keezer at about 10 psi and just let it sit for 15 days at least you can drink it but letting it set from 15 to 30 days makes it taste so much better

    not to brag but I'm going too lol but going through this process gave me the best light beer Ive ever had

    http://www.brewersfriend.com/homebrew/r ... ession-ale
     

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  8. PZ

    PZ Member

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    Thanks for all the great advice. I live in NYC in an apartment and feel lucky to have two small chest freezers. As you all must know, the spousal dimension of our great hobby needs to be managed carefully. Perhaps in the future I will be able to swap out my current 2-keg capacity freezer for one that holds four. In the meantime I will have to plan carefully around ambient temperatures -- at 68 I could ferment some styles and use my fermenter for conditioning. Even then I will have to explain the bucket's presence in the utility closet and keep the yeast under control.
     
  9. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    7 or 7.2 cu ft freezer is the smallest freezer and they barely fit ,very snug for 4, its not the width but the depth that matters, I had to dent my 7 cu ft otherwise full kegs get stuck and they do put off quite a bit heat so you have to account for that
     
  10. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Keep SWAMBO happy, PZ! And good luck with the bigger fermenter! Here in Colorado we can get a few degrees of cooling using what I call the Redneck Swamp Cooler. You buy one of those big cable tubs from Wal-Mart, put it in an out of the way but well ventilated place, fill the tub with water until the carboy almost floats. This itself will stabilize the temperature - it's harder to move the temperature of that volume of water and the water will carry any heat the yeast produce away from the carboy much better than air. Then, if you want to cool a bit, put a towel in the water and put a small box fan on it. Even on low, this gets me five degrees off my average basement temperature. It should work even better with kegs - the stainless will conduct the heat away better than my carboys will. Good luck, keep those critters under control and happy brewing!
     
  11. GernBlanston

    GernBlanston New Member

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    Right on. This much is true.
     

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