Well ... I'm 0 for 2 on pressure transfers.
The first failure (Pressure Fermentation (sort of) Fail) was really a bone-headed mistake. Really I wasn't paying attention to what I was doing.
My second failure doesn't make much sense to me. I know how I'm going to adjust next time, but I'm not sure why this time was as bad as it was.
Anyway ... I brewed No Drums Jack Black Lager (Batch 331) on March 26th. Fermentation started off great. I was seeing signs of fermentation very quickly.
This time I set the spunding pressure to 20psi. I think this was my mistake. I should have had a lower pressure so carbonation wasn't so high during the eventual transfer.
It was only 4 days before my Tilt said I was at terminal gravity. Honestly, everything was going great.
The beer was even fairly clear ... I decided to keg one week after brew day.
I got the fermentor upstairs into my kitchen to let it settle a bit before transfer. I prepared the keg as always.
I made sure I understood which post to connect the liquid transfer tube to. I double and triple checked that I did this right.
I released the PRV on the keg, and then attached the tube to the keg. Finally, I connected to the ferementor.
And ... it appeared that the beer was going to start moving ... but no ...
Some foam moved from the beer into the keg, but the flow stopped almost immediately.
This is mystifying to me. According to the spunding valve there was 20psi in the fermentor. If anything I should have gotten a huge amount of beer moving too quickly.
I'm not sure if the floating dip tube was clogged. I think even if it was ... the 20 psi should have been enough to overcome anything that might have been clogging up the tube.
I tried disconnecting / reconnecting the transfer tube. Every time I did, there was a little foam that moved and then stopped.
I tried opening the keg and removing the ball lock from the keg side ... going in through the top. This didn't work.
Finally, I decided to release the fermentor pressure and just do an old-style gravity / auto siphon transfer.
And this is where I should have stopped ...
Releasing the pressure caused the beer to foam up and the trub from the bottom came up into solution.
I should have let the beer sit another couple days to let everything settle into place, and just called the small amount I had in the keg already a loss.
But ... I went for it.
Eventually I got the keg filled, but had a ton of crud that had to make its way out before I got any sort of decent pour.
The beer turned out pretty good once the trub settled and the bottom layer out. I probably ended up closer to 4 gallons than 5 of drinkable beer.
But ... I guess it was a learning experience.
So ... going forward ... I'm going to keep my fermentation pressure closer to 15 psi, and probably let it fall to closer to 10 by the time I transfer. I'm not sure why I got so little beer to move. I think the amount of CO2 I had in solution had something to do with it.
Next time ... if I have transfer problems again where I end up pushing trub up into the beer, I'll stop and let things settle again.
I might have to figure out how to cold-crash my beer before kegging.
We'll see if that fixes all my pressure transfer problems. I sure hope so. At this point I'm not sure this fancy pressure capable fermentor is worth it.
But, so far both the beers I've made in this fermentor are excellent tasting. I'm just having to work harder to keg the beer than I think I should have to work.
Stay tuned on Sheppy's Blog: Pressure Fermentation to see how things turn out next time.
Other than that, you'll just have to stay tuned to see what happens.
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