Advice on upgrading fermentation method - pressurised? Temperature controlled? Both? Neither?

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I started out back in the stone age brewing in a bucket, with the lid sitting loosely on top. After some years I moved to a plastic bin with an airlock, and then more years later to a stainless steel bin with an airlock, gasket and clamps. No pressure, and the only temperature control is using a room that has a fairly constant 18-21 degree ambient temperature. And I have almost always been fairly happy with the results, and sometimes delighted.

I have always racked beer into a bottling bucket before bottling.

I used to bottle (until quite recently) by pouring beer through the tap in bottling bucket into a jug, and then transferring from the jug into bottle using a funnel.

Then I moved to using a syphon and a bottling wand, thinking less risk of oxidation.

Since following along in this forum, it has started to feel like almost everyone ferments either under pressure, or with temperature control. I realise that this isn't the case, but it often feels that way. Which has led me to think, is it time to take another step?

2 routes seem to be open. Either temperature controlled fermentation (with heater/cooler), or pressurised fermentation (eg with Brewtools miniuni).

I'm happy with my beer, I haven't actually noticed any off flavours, but I am always interested in trying to improve.

I don't really have the room or desire to have a fridge, and I very rarely brew lager (probably because it never comes out as well as any of my other beers).

From reading posts on here, it looks like both pressurised and temperature controlled fermentations are designed to reduce the risk of off flavours. Which route would you recommend? Since I much prefer stainless steel vessels, I am looking at £500-plus either way, which I wouldn't mind at all if I thought it was going to be worth it.

I have a nagging doubt that, particularly with pressurised fermentation, it is more of a fashion than anything else, but I would be delighted to be told otherwise. Would going down one of these routes be likely to convert some of my 'fairly happy' brews into 'delighted' ones?

Thanks for any comments you have. Cheers!
 
Temp control is good. Water treatment is a good step. Pressure fermentation imo is only really for lager. So it depends of what you brew, but your ambient fermentation temperature of 18-21 suggests not, just ale 😁

Edit... Typo with 'not ale'
 
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Temp control is good. Water treatment is a good step. Pressure fermentation imo is only really for lager. So it depends of what you brew, but ambient fermentation temperature of 18-21 suggests not ale.
Thanks. I've been treating water for a long time, so far the single biggest improvement I've made.

I mostly make hoppy pale ales, and stouts.
 
If your room is stable at 18-21 degrees, you already have temperature control, and it's in the perfect range for fermenting ales.

Unless you want to ferment cooler than that (basically lager) you don't need cooling. If you really want to play with temperature control, you can do it very cheaply with a simple heating belt. If you want to get more fancy, get an inkbird and plug the heating belt into that. Bingo. Accurate temperature control.

But unless you are going to ferment into the high 20s or 30s, you won't notice much, if any, difference from your beers. You're already in the sweet spot of good ale fermentation.

Pressure fermentation is odd in my mind. Ok, if you can get lager style beers without the cold fermenting then I can see the benefit. But pressure fermenting setups are more expensive than a fermentation fridge (or fermenting in the garage) so I don't honestly see the benefit - I think it's a fad.

I'm short, personally I wouldn't get either. But if you want to play with new toys, by all means get the one that sound like the most fun to play with.
 
Being able to cold crash is another reason to have a temperature controlled fridge, I can also brew what I like in my shed over winter.
Otherwise I'm still relatively stone age, 8 gallon pan on a stove.
Pressure fermentation just seems like a bit of a hassle for me, but I'm not brewing massively hopped NEIPA's.
 
Thanks for the replies, appreciated.

The remaining thing that still attracts me to a unitank is the ability to serve directly from the fermenter. No racking, no bottling. OK the unitank wouldn't be available to ferment another brew for a while, would need to carry on fermenting as now for maybe 2 out of 3 brews, but...
 
Thanks for the replies, appreciated.

The remaining thing that still attracts me to a unitank is the ability to serve directly from the fermenter. No racking, no bottling. OK the unitank wouldn't be available to ferment another brew for a while, would need to carry on fermenting as now for maybe 2 out of 3 brews, but...
Serving from the FV requires temperature control, though. Unless you like room temperature beer.
 
You are doing all the right things. You can tweak there and the rest, but spending a lot of money won't give you much bang for your buck.
 
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Thanks for the replies, appreciated.

The remaining thing that still attracts me to a unitank is the ability to serve directly from the fermenter. No racking, no bottling. OK the unitank wouldn't be available to ferment another brew for a while, would need to carry on fermenting as now for maybe 2 out of 3 brews, but...
I ferment under pressure in then serve from corny kegs each with a floating dip tube. I have a selection of 19 and 38 litre kegs. The 19 litre are common and reasonably inexpensive to buy so I have several and can fit them in a larder fridge, if necessary. It works for me.
 
You can get an All Rounder or an Apollo fermenter + spunding valve for less than £100 and keep an eye out for a cheap/free larder fridge and get an inkbird and tube heater, then you have the capability for temp control and pressure fermentation for way less than the cost of a Brewtools mini.
I use an all rounder, most of the time I’m not doing pressure ferments, I just let it build up pressure to 5psi or so at the end of fermentation to aid cold crashing and closed transfers to a keg.
 
You can get an All Rounder or an Apollo fermenter + spunding valve for less than £100 and keep an eye out for a cheap/free larder fridge and get an inkbird and tube heater, then you have the capability for temp control and pressure fermentation for way less than the cost of a Brewtools mini.
Thanks. Yes I could, but I'm afraid I just don't enjoy using plastic equipment as much as stainless steel. Daft I know, but there we are.

Kegging or serving direct from FV (such as miniuni) wouldn't work for me, since the beer would be at room temperature (thanks Sadfield for pointing this out!). To avoid that I would have to get a fridge. I don't really want to do that, and if I did the only place I could put it would be in the shed, and I don't want to traipse out to the shed whenever I want a beer.

The temperature thing means I need to stick with bottling. If I went to pressurised fermenting I would have to go counterpressure or beer gun - more expense and complication.

Must confess I am a bit surprised that there haven't been more people espousing the benefits of pressurised fermentation; maybe it is less popular than I thought. But the comments here have helped me to the conclusion that I should just tweak what I am doing now.

So I have bought a £1.50 G clamp for my syphon, and I am going to try bottling via syphon directly from FV, instead of racking first. Cuts oxidation risk a little bit, I guess. Also I am going to try a bouncer filter, in case cutting out the racking introduces a bit more crud into bottle. We'll see.

Thanks for the comments, really appreciated!

Cheers
 
Thanks. Yes I could, but I'm afraid I just don't enjoy using plastic equipment as much as stainless steel. Daft I know, but there we are.

Kegging or serving direct from FV (such as miniuni) wouldn't work for me, since the beer would be at room temperature (thanks Sadfield for pointing this out!). To avoid that I would have to get a fridge. I don't really want to do that, and if I did the only place I could put it would be in the shed, and I don't want to traipse out to the shed whenever I want a beer.

The temperature thing means I need to stick with bottling. If I went to pressurised fermenting I would have to go counterpressure or beer gun - more expense and complication.

Must confess I am a bit surprised that there haven't been more people espousing the benefits of pressurised fermentation; maybe it is less popular than I thought. But the comments here have helped me to the conclusion that I should just tweak what I am doing now.

So I have bought a £1.50 G clamp for my syphon, and I am going to try bottling via syphon directly from FV, instead of racking first. Cuts oxidation risk a little bit, I guess. Also I am going to try a bouncer filter, in case cutting out the racking introduces a bit more crud into bottle. We'll see.

Thanks for the comments, really appreciated!

Cheers
I don't think oxidation is such a big thing when there is still yeast in suspension (as they will happily gobble it all up) but I've never really understood racking. Especially now when I ferment in the same vessel I used for the boil. I've never racked.

G-clamp though, I think I have at least two of those but I've never got them to hold firmly enough and end up (like I do when soldering) wishing for a third arm when bottling - One to hold the siphon in the beer just above the trub, one to hold the bottle and one for the dispensing end of the siphon. If your G-clamp works I'd like details athumb.. .
 
Must confess I am a bit surprised that there haven't been more people espousing the benefits of pressurised fermentation; maybe it is less popular than I thought. But the comments here have helped me to the conclusion that I should just tweak what I am doing now.

Fundamentally increasing pressure and lowing temperature do the same thing, in increasing the levels of CO2 in solution. CO2 in solution during fermentation inhibits ester formation. Most of the year in the UK high temperature isn't a problem, fridges with heaters are more popular as it's more a case of levelling slight peaks and troughs. Also, British ales have a stronger ester profile than Lagers and US styles, making increasing esters is desirable.

As for a tweak to reduce oxidation, whilst still having the benefit of batch priming beer in a bottling vessel. You could use the CO2 from fermentation to purge your bottling vessel. Basically, putting the bottling bucket before your airlock when fermenting(A), then when transferring via gravity create a closed loop swapping liquid and CO2 in each vessel (B to C).

6ac11b8c8e0193fb4d39712ebdad1f89.jpg
 
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But the comments here have helped me to the conclusion that I should just tweak what I am doing now.

Bottle in the crate.
Get a zevro sugar dispenser, to dose the bottles. 1 second per bottle.
Get a party tap. Gas pipe extension, on oversize syphon hose.
20 second fill.
Cap in crate with a rubber mallet.
Easy and quick.
 
Fundamentally increasing pressure and lowing temperature do the same thing, in increasing the levels of CO2 in solution. CO2 in solution during fermentation inhibits ester formation. Most of the year in the UK high temperature isn't a problem, fridges with heaters are more popular as it's more a case of levelling slight peaks and troughs. Also, British ales have a stronger ester profile than Lagers and US styles, making increasing esters is desirable.

As for a tweak to reduce oxidation, whilst still having the benefit of batch priming beer in a bottling vessel. You could use the CO2 from fermentation to purge your bottling vessel. Basically, putting the bottling bucket before your airlock when fermenting(A), then when transferring via gravity create a closed loop swapping liquid and CO2 in each vessel (B to C).

View attachment 91287
Thanks for suggestion. Not sure how to make it work, since co2 from current fermenter just escapes through airlock and I don't use co2 canisters. I'm happy to try my planned tweak as it is a minor change. Thanks though.
 
Bottle in the crate.
Get a zevro sugar dispenser, to dose the bottles. 1 second per bottle.
Get a party tap. Gas pipe extension, on oversize syphon hose.
20 second fill.
Cap in crate with a rubber mallet.
Easy and quick.
Hadn't come across the zevro, great idea, but I am planning to inject sugar solution with syringe. Bottling in crate.
Party tap, gas pipe extension? Losing me. I dont have co2.
I enjoy capping with my bench capper so I dont intend to change that.
The biggest hassle with bottling is sanitising them first!
Thanks.
 

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