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Non-sealed fermenter

What problems do you guys foresee with fermenting in a stainless steel kettle with the lid on top, with maybe a 5lb weight on the lid? I would want to do this for ales and lagers alike. Could I feasibly let the beer ferment for 5-7 days, then transfer to a secondary keg to sit at room temp for another week or so?

Comments, concerns, etc, are appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

I’ve been doing this for quite some time using a Cool Brewing Bag and 2L bottles.

Use both plastics buckets and my boil kettle.

I haven’t found a need to put a weight on the lid nor securely push the plastic bucket lids down.

No problems what-so-ever.

Saves me from messing around with blowoff tubes and airlocks, etc…

Most of my beers stay that way for about 4 - 6 weeks.

Might get some funky or sour flavors, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Plenty of commercial breweries do open-top fermentation to grab a little wild yeast and bacteria. Of course you could end up with some very nasty batches too.

Why would that be?

Why would that be?[/quote]
Yeah, I’m not sure what he’s getting at. I wouldn’t be doing an open fermentation. It’d be just like setting the lid on top of the bucket for a few days without sealing. Once activity died down I’d rack to secondary (purged keg) to sit for another week at room temp. Of course, I’d make sure to aerate well and pitch plenty of healthy yeast.
Just kind of wondering if this would work for lagers.

Works great for lagers and ales alike.

What I like is to ferment in the boil kettle with the lid on. The stainless steel conducts the cold from the frozen 2L bottles so well that I have to be careful to only add as many as needed otherwise the temperature gets too low.

Haven’t had to worry one bit about sour beers or infections.

[quote=“jd14t”]Works great for lagers and ales alike.

What I like is to ferment in the boil kettle with the lid on. The stainless steel conducts the cold from the frozen 2L bottles so well that I have to be careful to only add as many as needed otherwise the temperature gets too low.

Haven’t had to worry one bit about sour beers or infections.[/quote]

Thanks for you input. Do you just ferment right in the boil kettle without transferring? I did this on a recent hefe and it turned out to be too clean tasting. I expect the opposite. I let it ferment down to about 1.017, then transferred, and it finished at 1.011. Not sure I needed to transfer it that soon though. But it was so easy - just aerate and pitch yeast without having to deal with foam from transferring to fermenter.
I may try this on an oktoberfest this weekend. Hope for the best, expect the worse, I guess.

Absolutely, unless I’m straining the hops out or there’s too much of a burnt ring at the top.

IMHO “clean tasting” wouldn’t necessarily be from fermenting in the BK, but more a product of water, mash, and ferm temp.

Absolutely, unless I’m straining the hops out or there’s too much of a burnt ring at the top.

IMHO “clean tasting” wouldn’t necessarily be from fermenting in the BK, but more a product of water, mash, and ferm temp.[/quote]

Well, I know, but there are studies suggesting that leaving trub behind versus all trub in makes a difference in the “cleanliness” of the final beer, IE with trub produces a cleaner beer… I don’t know if I believe that but, whatevs. So that’s what I meant when I said that.

[quote=“Denny”]

Why would that be?[/quote]

Because a stainless steel kettle is made of metal that’s heated frequently, expands and contracts, regularly has uneven pressure put on it by lifting while extremely hot and is not manufactured to the same standards as an air-tight vessel anyway. If you did have tight tolerances, this wouldn’t work at all since the lid would just pop off.

And because if gas can escape without an airlock, small insects can get in. I’ve seen fruit flies get through comparably tight tolerances before. I’m not saying every batch is going to be exposed to the plague, just that this makes it slightly easier for crap to get in. Doesn’t mean it is going to happen, but you are removing some of the barriers that protect your beer.

I do this in the Winter, but not in the summer. There is a lot more stuff in the air in the Summer. I do not use my kettle, but I use some 6 gallon, rectangle, food grade, lexan containers. They make great beer, but I tend to get infected beer when I use them in the summer. My fermentation space (an upright freezer with temp control) is in the garage so the occasional bug gets in there. I would definitely put the weight on top. I have tried to use my old 5 gallon stainless steel pots for fermentation before, but they have riveted handles. These seem to be a source of infection, even when I steam them. I have not had good beers from them. I have had many good beers from the lexan, but I only use them from November to maybe March (April gets quite hot in Texas), and I don’t let the beer sit in them for more than 10 days. I love them because they are so easy to clean, but I have had a few infected beers with them. Good luck.

I’ve done it, but only in a fermentation chest or in the winter for the reason stated: there are too many airborne nasties in the summer for me to trust it outside of a clean fermentation chest or vessel that will hold some of the CO2 that escapes and provide a safer environment for the unsealed fermentation vessel. Of course YMMV!

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