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Using kegs for secondary and conditioning

Hello all:

What are the pros and cons to using a corny keg purged with CO2 as a secondary vessel as opposed to using a glass carboy with an airlock? Both would be kept in the same environment, a dark corner of the basement at 65-70 degrees.

If using the keg as a secondary, should some of the beer be drawn off after a couple of weeks to remove any sediments that are still settling after racking from the primary?

If using the keg, does the the secondary phase and conditioning essentially become the same step, being just a difference in semantics?

I’m planning a barleywine and am considering the following: 1) primary fermentation, 2) keg for secondary/conditioning for several months, 3) pressurize keg to carbonate, 4) bottle with beergun, and then 5) age in bottles further until patience runs out.

When I secondary in a corny, or lager in one, I use an airlock. IIRC, 1/2" OD tubing x 3/8" ID fits snugly into the lid after unscrewing the relief valve, and airlock into it.

Some Pros: No ultraviolet light gets in; When time to rack could just push out sediment with co2 instead of racking; small footprint, won’t break

Some Cons: Can’t see when it clears out, some might say surface area/shape

Conditioning and secondary are 2 different things. Secondary with airlock, remove airlock and carb (I go natural, [irrelevant]), cold condition, bottle and/or enjoy.
:cheers:

You could certainly do it that way, although the only real downside i see is that it ties up a keg for awhile. I also keg, but enjoy bottle conditioning because I don’t get to do it often and natural carbonation is super beer geeky. So for me, I bottle condition all big beers, and only keg beers that I know I will drink all of. Ive bottled from the keg before and found it just as tedious and annoying as regular bottling so I don’t bother with it.

I prefer to do this when adding fruit. you can get the fruit flavors with out another fermentataion. it does tie up a keg though but I keep one with no liquid tube in it just for aging. never had any issues

In one instance when I used the corney as a secondary fermenter. it ended up getting clogged
in the out tube. :shock: Guess I still had a lot of gunk in there. I just racked it into another corney
and all was well.

It only happened once, but something to watch for.

Well, “secondary fermentation” as I use the term is just conditioning, with no more fermentation going on. So no airlock is needed. I ferment my ales (in kegs) for 2 weeks and then transfer to a corny for conditioning until a tap is open. If dryhopping in the keg I will use a hop bag. Then chill and carbonate. If moving the keg, I will transfer the beer off the yeast and trub into another corny.

I have never had a blowoff (1/4" or 5/16" vinyl hose connected to the usual gas-in QD, into a container such as a growler) clog on any of my keg fermentations, primary or secondary. (Probably close to 10 years and a hundred beers.) I only use carboys for mead these days.

:cheers:

Do you remove your poppets and pins (QD’s) to ferment in kegs? I tried fermenting in a corny once and it clogged until I removed said items. Made a jumper cable to go from liquid out to liquid out, as to fill from the bottom.

[quote=“Chester3”]When I secondary in a corny, or lager in one, I use an airlock. IIRC, 1/2" OD tubing x 3/8" ID fits snugly into the lid after unscrewing the relief valve, and airlock into it.
:[/quote]

This gets at one of my fundamental questions.

Although we refer to this as “secondary fermentation”, I’m racking the beer from the primary carboy only once fermentation has essentially stopped (stable SG). The beer and yeast still seem to respire some, as evidenced by the positive pressure and occasional bubble from the airlock. Does the beer need to “breath” (or maybe just exhale a little) when in the secondary, thus the need for an airlock?

Or is what I’m calling “secondary fermentation” really just an early conditioning stage that allows for removal of sediments before the final conditioning stage? Does it need to “breath” through an airlock then, and if not, can I just keg it and seal it up with some CO2?

I’m still on the fence between force carbonating then bottling, or priming, re-yeasting and bottling this upcoming barleywine. I usually prime my big Belgians and bottle condition them but sometimes the results are irregular and slow.

[quote=“Tom_B”]

This gets at one of my fundamental questions.

Although we refer to this as “secondary fermentation”, I’m racking the beer from the primary carboy only once fermentation has essentially stopped (stable SG). The beer and yeast still seem to respire some, as evidenced by the positive pressure and occasional bubble from the airlock. Does the beer need to “breath” (or maybe just exhale a little) when in the secondary, thus the need for an airlock?

Or is what I’m calling “secondary fermentation” really just an early conditioning stage that allows for removal of sediments before the final conditioning stage? Does it need to “breath” through an airlock then, and if not, can I just keg it and seal it up with some CO2?

I’m still on the fence between force carbonating then bottling, or priming, re-yeasting and bottling this upcoming barleywine. I usually prime my big Belgians and bottle condition them but sometimes the results are irregular and slow.[/quote]

I have been using secondary for your latter description, more of a conditioning and making darn sure it is ready to keg or bottle. I used to rush the transfer more and did have actual secondary fermentation in the carboy. Now my secondary is just a week or so of final clearing before kegging. Or often until a keg blows and I need to get another in the pipeline.

I have a barleywine that has been conditioning (after primary and secondary) in a closed keg in my basement which is a steady 65-70*. My dilemma is I hate bottling now because of the reasons you describe. I was reminded last night as I opened a bottle that was way over carbonated. Since I don’t plan to polish off a whole keg of barley wine in a month or so, I hate to take up kegerator space or pre kegerator space. So bottling seems like the better answer, but my luck just has not been there.

I did at first, but not lately. I try to leave all of the hops and trub in the kettle. Otherwise I don’t know why yours would and mine don’t. I did try Fermcap, but I wasn’t really impressed with it.
Cheers

I was just about to start a thread about this when I noticed Tom_B had already done it. I’m thinking about using kegs as well for this because they fit better in my chest freezer. If I use only buckets and carboys then I can only get 2 of them in but if I use kegs I can get 4+.

This might be a little off topic, but since a few people have pointed out that using a kegs ties up a perfectly good keg, does anyone have suggestions on other containers that are approximately the same size and shape? It sounds like using a keg isn’t really a problem but if there was a cheaper solution that would be even better.

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