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Home Brewing and Oxygen

Purging Kegs With CO2 From A Fermenter

Purging Kegs With CO2 From A Fermenter

Home Brewing and Oxygen

Recently one of the things I have been focusing on with my beer making is fermentation practices. For a while now I have been using a temperature controlled fermentation chamber and yeast starters to make sure that I had sufficient quantities of yeast and an ideal environment for the yeast to ferment in. That being said, I have been pretty relaxed when it comes to oxygen levels and have been working on making progress in that area.

Just some basic information on oxygen and home beer brewing. At certain points in the beer brewing / beer fermentation process, oxygen can be either your best friend or your worst enemy and it is important to know when to add and when to avoid it.  Thankfully it is pretty easy to keep track of! The only time that you want to introduce oxygen to your beer is post boil and once the wort has cooled down and you are preparing to pitch your yeast. The reason for this is that yeast requires oxygen for healthy propagation. “Yeast use oxygen for cell membrane synthesis.  Without oxygen, cell growth will be extremely limited.  Yeast can only produce sterols and certain unsaturated fatty acids necessary for cell growth in the presence of oxygen. Inadequate oxygenation will lead to inadequate yeast growth.  Inadequate yeast growth can cause poor attenuation, inconsistent or long fermentations, production of undesirable flavor and aroma compounds, and produces yeast that are not fit for harvesting and re-pitching.” – Wyeast Labs. During the boil process, much of the oxygen is stripped away from the wort, so it is good practice to reintroduce oxygen back into the wort. There are several ways to accomplish this but the key is to do it in a sanitary way. Many brewers will rapidly stir the wort or swish it around in the fermenter and others will pump pure oxygen into the fermenter with a diffuser stone.  In my setup I keep the yeast oxygenation / aeration process pretty simple and meet in the middle. I use an aquarium pump with a stainless steel diffuser for about 15 minutes once I have transferred my wort to the fermenter.  It has an inline HEPA filter to make sure I am not blowing a bunch of dust or wild yeast into my wort. I also pitch the yeast at  the same time. You can pickup at yeast aeration kit from MoreBeer.com for about $35.


Yeast aeration

Yeast aeration

Once you have aerated your wort and begun the fermentation process you will want to do everything you can to avoid introducing oxygen into your beer.  Thankfully, the yeast will help you with this process.  As the yeast consumes the oxygen to replicate itself and converts the sugar in your beer, it is creating two main byproducts which are alcohol and CO2.  The creation of the CO2 will help purge any residual oxygen from the fermenter.  The next step is doing your best to avoid introducing oxygen to your beer when it comes time to transfer your beer to the keg. The most common way to do so is to purge your keg with CO2  from a CO2 tank and then push your beer from the fermenter with CO2 from a CO2 tank. In my setup the only thing that I do differently is that I use the CO2 being expelled from my fermenter during active fermentation to purge my keg.  You can view the setup in the photo at the top of this article to get a visual, but basically I am diverting the CO2 to the keg as opposed to pushing it the a flask filled with sanitizer. I user mini stainless steel ball lock valves that I picked up here from Amazon.  For the final step, I push CO2 into my fermenter to build about 3 PSI of pressure and move the fermented beer from the fermenter to the keg as shown in the following image.

Beer Fermentation

Beer Fermentation

Battle Hammer Viking IPA & Kviek Yeast

Kviek Yeast
Perhaps  the biggest brewing trend of 2019 has been the explosion in popularity of Kveik (pronounced Ki-Vike) yeast. Kveik is a group of Norwegian yeast strains that were previously best known for their use in Norwegian farmhouse brewing. Kviek yeast has been used in brewing for over 400 years now, but recently has seen a resurgence in popularity because of some of its unique properties.

So what is so special about Kviek? Primarily it boils down to temperature! Unlike typical ale yeast, which ferments best around 68F, Kviek yeast strains ferment well up to temperatures of 100°F (a temperature that would kill most lager or ale yeast strains).  In fact, the sweet spot for Kviek yeast strains is between 70°F and 95°F  and at high temperatures it imparts little noticeable difference in ester production. The ideal fermentation temperature for a lager is typically between 45F and 60F ; for an ale it is 68F and 72F.  Unlike Kviek, most lager and ale yeast strains produce undesirable off flavors / esters once they exceed their optimal fermentation temperature ranges. If a home brewer does not have the ability to control their fermentation temperature this often times translates to sub par beer.

The high fermentation temperature range of Kviek yeasts has another big benefit, SPEED! You know how cold blooded animals like snakes and lizards move slower when it is cold outside and faster when it is hot? Well yeast works the same way.  When the temperature is high, yeast gets super charged.  It is the reason why lagers ferment so much slower than ales. Using Kviek yeast is kinda like trading in your old 2007 Dodge Caravan for a 2020 Porsche GT2 with a carbon fiber spoiler, reduced weight seats and upgraded suspension package.

Not wanting to drive a Minivan any longer, I figured I would give Kviek a shot and see what all the hype was about.


Kviek Yeast Fermentation TemperaturesTEMP: 65–100F (18–38C) FLOCCULATION: MEDIUM-HIGH ATTENUATION: 75–85% ALCOHOL TOLERANCE: 10% Norwegian Voss Kveik Strain. Highly versatile, can be used in a wide variety of beer styles. A traditional Norwegian Kveik strain that has an extremely wide fermentation temperature range. This strain has been traditionally used in Norwegian farmhouse style beers however, due to it’s fermentation temp range can be used in a variety of beers from pseudo lagers, Belgian inspired, and hop forward beers. The possibilities seem endless when fermenting with Loki. On the cool end of the range Loki is super clean; producing little to no esters. On the high end of the fermentation range, 85-95F, it tends to produce a huge fruit ester profile.

Home Brewing with Kviek Yeast

To take full advantage of the Kviek fermentation benefits, I purchased a dual stage temperature controller and an “always on” heating pad for my fermentation chamber (converted chest freezer).  Keep in mind that as yeast ferments it is releasing a bunch of energy as it replicates, digests sugar, pees out alcohol and burps out CO2. In the image at the top of this article, you can see that I set my fermentation temp to 86F and the yeast brought the temperature all the way up to 90.1F during primary fermentation. It is advised that you make sure you keep that in mind as you set your desired fermentation temperature into your temp controller if you happen to use one.

For my first Kviek batch, I fermented a Double IPA and used the Imperial Loki Kviek yeast strain. Here is some of Imperials information on it:

Imperial Loki Kviek Yeast

Norwegian Voss Kveik Strain that can be used in a wide variety of beer styles. A traditional Norwegian Kveik strain that has an extremely wide fermentation temperature range. This strain has been traditionally used in Norwegian farmhouse style beers however, due to it’s fermentation temp range can be used in a variety of beers from pseudo lagers, Belgian inspired, and hop forward beers. The possibilities seem endless when fermenting with Loki. On the cool end of the range Loki is super clean; producing little to no esters. On the high end of the fermentation range, 85-95F, it tends to produce a huge fruit ester profile.

I created a yeast starter with the Kviek yeast the night before. The brew day went well with no mishaps. I pitched the wort, placed the fermenter in the fermentation chamber and checked in on it periodically.   The fermenter was already bubbling after just a few hours. I had never seen fermentation begin so rapidly. Primary fermentation concluded in just 3 days which was incredibly fast for a beer with an approximate ABV of 8.5%.  I dry hopped the beer for 3 additional days and then cold crashed for 2 days at 45F. My highest fermentation temperature reached was 91F.


Battle Hammer - Viking IPA with Kviek Yeast

Battle Hammer – Viking IPA with Kviek Yeast

I named my first Kviek beer Battle Hammer – Viking Double IPA. It is extremely hoppy, but with a name like Battle Hammer, I figured it needed to be. I had only let the beer condition in the keg for about a week and at this point it is still a little cloudy;  I am hoping it will clear a bit over the next couple of weeks. The beer tastes fantastic; very clean and with no off flavors that might have come from the yeast. I was unable to taste any noticeable difference between brewing with this Kviek Loki yeast to when I had brewed this same beer in the past with a Wyeast 1056 American Ale yeast strain. The beer came out great, my only change would be to perhaps swap out some of my old school hops for some Citra to brighten the hop profile a bit.

To celebrate the beer, I had created a tap handle inspired by it’s Norwegian heritage.

Norwegian IPA - Battle Hammer - Kviek Yeast

Norwegian IPA – Battle Hammer – Kviek Yeast – Tap Handle Being Welded


Norwegian IPA - Battle Hammer - Kviek Yeast - Finished Tape Handle

Norwegian IPA – Battle Hammer – Kviek Yeast – Finished Tape Handle

The runes on the tap handle read “IPA” or at least that is what the Google tells me.

I already have another Kviek fermented beer in the works. For this batch I am using the Omega Kviek Hornidal strain. It is going to be a Coconut Milkshake Hazy IPA.  I am hoping that some of the tropical not from them Hornindal Kviek strain take hold in the beer. The hop profile of this beer is far more subtle than my Battle Hammer Viking IPA, so the yeast should have a greater impact on the flavor of this beer.  Here is some information on the Kviek yeast stains put out by Omega.


HotHead is Norwegian in origin from the Stranda Kveik. The famous Lars of Larsblog collected it in Norway and then sent it away for isolation. This isolate has a uniquely pleasant fruitiness and an absurdly wide fermentation range, and ferments clean across the entire range. This is great for brewers who want to be energy efficient with temperature control, or who lack temp control in warm climates. It maintains a stable ester profile, and we advocate it’s be used for hoppy American ales.

Attributes:  Med-High Flocculation, 75-85% Attenuation, : 72-98° F Temp Range, 11% ABV Alcohol Tolerance

HotHead Kviek Yeast can be purchased here for $8.99

Voss Kveik

Voss Kveik is also a Norwegian farmhouse strain from the Gjernes farmhouse which is new to US brewers. It maintains character over a broad temperature range with subtle orange citrus notes that match fruity hops well.

Attributes: Medium Flocculation, 75-82% Attenuation, 62-98° F Temp Range, 12% ABV Alcohol Tolerance

Omega Voss Kviek Yeast can be purchased here for $8.99
Hornindal Kveik

A wonderfully unique Norwegian farmstead Kveik.  Hornindal presents a tropical flavor and aroma of fresh pineapple, mango and tangerine, which complement fruit-forward hops. Add even more dimension to C hops with a high fermentation temperature, intensifying aroma and fermentation speed. Ferments well at 90+° F.

Attributes: High Flocculation, 75-82% Attenuation, 72-98° F Temp Range,  16% ABV Alcohol Tolerance

Omega Hornindal Kviek Yeast can be purchased here for $8.99


West Coast Brewer NEIPA Hazy IPA Version 2

West Coast Brewer NEIPA – Hazy IPA Recipe v2.0

We just finished brewing our most recent batch of beer!  For this one, we took another crack at a Hazy IPA. Hazy IPA’s have quickly become one of my very favorite styles to both brew and consume.  The combination of tropical hops and fruity esters from the yeast end up creating a hoppy fruitiness that is difficult to resists!

Just a word of caution, if you choose to brew this recipe, beware that there is a good deal of oats and wheat in it and depending on your system it could cause sparge and recirculation issues.  I personally experienced that with this batch.  It may be wise to add some rice hulls to the mash to help prevent it from sticking. It did finally clear, but it was a struggle for a little while. I ended up adding an extra gallon of water to the mash to help clear it.

Ss BrewTech Stainless Steel Conical Homebrewing Fermenter

Ss BrewTech Stainless Steel Conical Homebrewing Fermenter

Sanitizing the stainless steel Ss BrewTech conical fermenter. I ended up chopping the feet off of mine and using a flat top so that it fits inside my cest freezer for fermentation. I also traded out the racking arm for More Beer’s Ultimate Racking Arm solution. I am super happy with it and also have a 14 gallon version.


Here is the post boil whirlpool after I added the additional hops in at flame out!  I let it whirlpool for approximately 15 minutes. I added a weldless stainless steel whirlpool arm from More Beer and it has worked out really well for me.  It was easy to install into my kettle and has been completely leek free!


The TrubTrapper Post Boil

The Trub Trapper Post Boil

This is probably my best recent purchase! The Trub Trapper did an incredible job on this batch and really exceeds expectations when I use it in conjunction with a whirlpool process.  It captures 90%+ of the hops and trub so that I can draw in clean wort to my fermentor with out worry!

Here is my West Coast Brewer Hazy IPA v2.0 beer recipe!

If you brew it, please let me know how it turns out for you!

Beer Name:  West Coast Brewer Hazy IPA v2.0
Beer Style: New England IPA / NEIPA / Hazy IPA / Vermont Style IPA
Recipe Type: All Grain
Batch Size: 5 Gallons
Mash Type: Infusion
(60 Min) 150F Mash with recirculation
(10 Min) 169F Mash Out
1 tsp Calcium Chloride
1/2 tsp Gypsum / Calcium Sulfate
Grain Bill:
12 LBS Pale 2 Row US
2 LBS Flaked Oats
2 LBS Flaked Wheat
1 LBS Flaked Malt
1 LBS Honey Malt
1 oz Mosaic – 5 Minutes
2 oz Citra – 5 Minutes
1 oz Mandarina Bavaria – 5 Minutes
1 oz Citra – 0 Minutes – Whirlpool for 15 Minutes
1 oz Mosaic – 0 Minutes – Whirlpool for 15 Minutes
Yeast: London Ale III Wyeast  #1318
Fermentation:2 Week Primary @ 72F
– I ferment this at a slightly higher that usual temperature to increased ester production
and to create a more active fermentation)
On day 3 of active fermentation make the following hop additions
2 oz Mandarina Bavaria
On day 7 of fermentation make the following hop additions
2 oz Mandarina Bavaria
2 oz Citra
Once fermentation has completed or on day 10, cold crash and transfer to keg or bottle.

Reusing beer yeast and how to harvest and clean your beer yeast.

Reusing and harvesting beer yeast

Reusing and harvesting beer yeast

While cleaning out your fermenter have you ever wondered if you could reuse the yeast that has collected on the bottom?  The answer is yes, you certainly can!  You can actually often reuses your yeast 4 or 5 times with out the likelihood of having any ill effects from mutations or high quantities of alternate yeast strains impacting the flavor of your beer.  Yeast isn’t cheap at around $7-$10 for a vial of the good stuff, so you might as well get your moneys worth!


Here are some basic things to consider when reusing your home brewing yeast.  

It is best to reuse the yeast as soon as possible.  You will probably want to consider discarding it after approximately 6 months.  If you are pitching the yeast more than 30 days after harvesting it from your fermenter, I would recommend creating a starter with it to help insure viability.


Only reuse your yeast 4-5 times.  Each time you reuse the yeast, mutations will occur and the probability of alternate yeast strains impacting the flavor of your beer will increase.


Do not reuse the yeast if the ABV of the beer that you harvested it from exceeds 6.5%.  High alcohol levels weaken and destroy your yeast.


Do not reuse yeast from a heavily hopped beer.  Like with alcohol, an over abundance of hops (from a dry hopped IPA for instance) will diminish the longevity and potency of your yeast.


Do your best to avoid harvesting the trub along with your yeast.  This is most easy accomplished via a conical fermenter. It is also possible transfer the yeast slurry and then rinse and decant your yeast with sanitized water to separate it from the trub.


Harvesting Beer Yeast

Harvesting Beer Yeast


Yeast should be stored at approximately 36 F in a sanitized vessel.  Keep in mind that even at that temperature the yeast may still be active and can create CO2.  So beware as your container may explode if too much fermentable sugar remained behind in your harvested yeast solution and the vessel is unable to vent the pressure.


If you are interested in purchasing a conical fermenter or yeast harvesting cylinder; many options can be found here:

Conical Fermenters and Yeast Harvesting

Active Beer Yeast Video – 400x Magnification

The following video shows American Wheat Ale yeast in active fermentation. The yeast was taken from the krausen of a beer that had been fermenting for a week. If you expand the video to fullscreen and look closely at the 400x magnification segment of the video, you will see yeast activity where small black specs are moving around inside of the yeast cell walls.

The video continues on to show the yeast at 100x and 40x magnification to give you an idea of just how many yeast cells there are on such a small glass slide. An active 5 gallon beer fermentation should have well over 10 billion active yeast cells during primary fermentation.


Video showing active yeast during fermentation:


Here is a still shot of the yeast at 400x magnification:

Active Beer Yeast at 400x Magnification

Active beer yeast at 400x magnification shown under a microscope.


Brewing yeast strains are unicellular fungi that convert simple sugars into approximately equal parts of alcohol and carbon dioxide during the fermentation process. There are two main types of beer yeast varieties: saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is a top fermenting ale yeast, and saccharomyces pastorianusis, a bottom fermenting lager yeast.




A wide selection of home brewing ale and lager yeast can be found here:

Home Brewing Yeast



Below is an image of a fermenting Flanders Red Ale style beer in two glass carboys with a flask of yeast in front of them:

Yeast and Fermenting Beer

Yeast and Fermenting Beer

Top Fermentation

Top fermentation, or top fermenting, describes the tendency of ale yeast cells to conduct the majority of fermentation on the surface of the fermentation vessel as opposed to the bottom, as is common with lager yeast. Top fermenting ale yeast is typically fermented at a temperature range between 65° F and 75° F; the lower the temperature, the slower the fermentation is carried out.


Excessive fermentation temperatures have been known to generate off flavors in beer, and that is why a temperature range of 65° F to 75° F is typically recommended. When a top fermenting ale is most active, a thick head of foam known as a krausen forms on the top of the fermentation vessel and will subside as the fermentation draws to an end. The length of fermentation is dependent on the health of the yeast, the original gravity of the wort, the temperature of the fermentation and the amount of yeast pitched, but typically takes anywhere from one week to three weeks for the majority of fermentation activity to complete.  A secondary fermentation is oftentimes conducted so that any remaining fermentable sugars can be converted to alcohol, and the beer can condition and allow the yeast to precipitate to the bottom of the fermenter in preparation for bottling or kegging.


Below is a photo of a top fermenting ale that was recently transferred to a secondary fermentation carboy.

Top Fermenting Ale - Beer

Top Fermenting Ale – Beer


Beer sediment is the collection of solids that fall out suspension of a fermenting or conditioning beer. Sediment is mostly comprised of yeast, grain solids, hop solids, and adjunct solids. As the beer ferments or conditions, the dense solids fall and settle to the floor of a fermenter, conditioning vessel, or bottle, in the case of a bottle conditioned beer. The sediment is typically discarded, but if the yeast is still healthy, it may be recycled from the sediment to be used to ferment future beers.


Pitching or yeast pitching is the term used for when a brewer adds yeast to the cooled wort to begin the fermentation process. Yeast should be pitched to the wort as quickly as possible to diminish the possibility of wild yeast strains or bacteria taking control of the sweet wort before your selected yeast has the opportunity to. Additionally, your pitched yeast should be as close to the same temperature as the wort that you are adding it to in order to avoid shocking the yeast and to help the yeast acclimate as quickly as possible and lower yeast lag time. It is critical that your wort is in an appropriate temperature range for the yeast to be able to survive and thrive; for most ales that temperature range is between 65° and 80° F for pitching, but you should always consult your yeast’s packing for the specific temperature range of the variety you are using.


Cooled wort being aerated, just prior to having the yeast pitched.

Yeast Pitching and Aeration just prior to fermentation

Yeast pitching and aeration just prior to fermentation.

Lag Phase

The lag phase is the period of time in which yeast adapts to the new fermentation environment and undergoes significant reproduction.  Depending on the state of the yeast (reactivated, chilled, or dried), health of the yeast cells, variety of yeast, amount of dissolved oxygen available in the wort, temperature of the wort, and amount of available fermentable sugars, the lag phase may last anywhere from 2 to 24 hours. The lag phase begins as soon as the yeast is introduced into the wort and very little CO2 or alcohol is produced while it is active.


The shorter the lag time, the better, so that the desired yeast has a chance to take control of the wort before unwanted bacteria or wild yeast strains do.There are several ways to decrease your lag time, including:

  • Creating a yeast starter
  • Rehydrating dried yeast
  • Keeping your yeast and wort at the correct temperature when pitching the yeast and continuing to monitor temperature until the lag phase has ended.
  • Well-aerating your wort so that the yeast will have enough oxygen available.
  • Pitching enough yeast for the gravity of your wort.




Beer phenols are chemical compounds, similar in structure to alcohols, that are generated by yeast during fermentation. In certain styles of beer, such as Bavarian hefeweizens and wit beers, phenol flavors such as bubblegum, banana and clove are considered desirable; but in other styles they are considered to be an off flavor or flaw. Causes of unwanted phenols include wild yeast or bacteria, chlorine, and excess sanitizer.

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