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I'm looking for some feedback on using a Corny Keg as a secondary fermenter. Is it necessary to rig up an airlock or can I simply seal the keg and allow the appropriate time for aging? I'm concerned about fermentation gasses (those other than CO2) not being properly vented. I've only tried this method once with a lager yeast that was producing some sulfur smell. I primary fermented for 2 weeks then transferred to a Corny. End result was a beer that had a hint of sulfur in the aftertaste. Any feedback would be appreciated. 

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Hmm, I've never done this myself, but I'm very curious about the feedback you (hopefully) get :)
I ferment in 10 gallon corny kegs. I cut off 2 inches on the dip tube so it is above the yeast cake. I built an AirLock for the keg. Check that out here.

Once fermentation is complete (5-10 days), I cold crash the yeast out. I think transfer from primary into my serving keg that has been flushed with CO2.

Depending on what I am doing with the beer, I either throw it into the fridge and force carb it. If I am going to age it for a while, I will throw my priming sugar into the keg and let it self carb and age for how ever long I age it.

You don't need to cold crash the beer if you don't have a fridge. Once in the keg and with the keg in your kegerator, the yeast will drop to the bottom. You may get a couple cloudy pints at first, but that will clear up.

You shouldn't get any sulfur in the beer. Brewers have been bottle and keg conditioning beers since the beginning of time. The Sulfur is usually from the yeast variety. Sometimes it lasts a little longer. Aging the beer will usually scrub that out. If it doesn't go away, you may have a bacterial infection. If it is happening in several beers, you may have infected equipment.
Hi Jeff,

I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my question. This site is a great resource! I like your method of fermentation. I actually follow a similar method myself however, I don't yet employ 10 gallon corny kegs. Would you mind clarifying what you mean by "aging beer will scrub" the sulfur out? I've heard this before and I'm still a little confused on where the sulfur goes. If the keg is sealed, where can it go other than in the beer? I've only had a sulfury taste in one batch of beer that I made so I know my equipment is good. With the bad batch, I used a burton ale yeast and then conditioned it in a closed container. That strain of yeast is known to produce some sulfur byproducts during fermentation. My thoughts were that the sulfur gas would not be able to escape if I sealed up the carboy. I'm also concerned about damaging the yeast at higher pressures that may occur in a sealed secondary. White Labs informed me that pressures above 20 psi will damage the yeast strain. Maybe I'm looking too far into the situation. I know that brewers have been conditioning in closed containers for 1000's of years. Idealistically, I'd like to seal my secondary fermenters and store them for proper aging without having to worry about any unwanted dissolved gases or damage from over carbonation. However, at this point I haven't found a convincing argument.

As always the club members input is appreciated.


Joe V.
Typically, the sulfur smell should dissipate over time. Usually after my 2 weeks of fermentation all sulfur smell is got. If you throw it into a get and just seal it with enough CO2 (a couple PSI), the beer should be done fermenting and shouldn't carbonate any more. 20 PSI is pretty high. A typical beer is around 10-15 PSI. Soda is around 30 PSI.

For a while I was using a "brite tank" keg. I cut off an inch on the dip tube and would age in there. then pump from keg to keg. You lose a little beer that way, but you would leave a lot of the yeast behind. I am thinking the sulfur is from that same yeast, so getting it off the yeast will be beneficial. Then the lagering process (aging cold) should also help minimize the noticeable sulfur odor.

In wine, sulfur is a big issue. I've read about copper helping. People have thrown pennies in their wine or short cut pieces of copper pipe. If it still sticks around, there are products out there that can help. Most of them are "for wine" but work well in beer.
Joe, I too am interested in your question. As I understand it, you already do the primary fermentation in a corny with a proper vent/airlock. Now you're wondering which way is the best way to do the secondary fermentation in a corny: either VENTED or SEALED.

As you stated, Venting would have advantages of not risking killing yeast (due to pressure building up >20#), and a seal-it-and-forget-it mentality instead of monitoring an airlock or blow-off tube (not to mention the associated risks for contamination if not maintained). And you're wondering if sealing the secondary fermenter (corny) can trap gases that would better off vented.

Can anyone provide more input for preferred methods of conditioning beer in the secondary fermenter (corny), with or without an airlock/vent?

Once fermentation is done and you move to a secondary vessel, there is really no fermentation going on. So whether you move to a keg vented or not, you will not have any pressure issues. That is unless you add anything to that secondary vessel that contains sugar. Unless you are using Brettanomyces or have an infection of some sort.

A typical fermentation should be over with in 10 days. After that, the standard beer yeast have used up all the sugar that they could breakdown and eat. Moving to secondary is more for clarifying and conditioning. Very little CO2 (if any) is being produced.
































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