A debate has raged on Discord now, whether oxygen free transfers are possible, and if so are they feasible for the homebrewer considering the shortage of CO2. As a well known fact, beers brewed on the homebrew scale face more exposure to oxygen because of plastic containers, exposure during fermentation, transfers to secondary and generally techniques that are more relaxed than professional brewers. A well known author described oxygen tainted beer as cardboard, or stale flavored, and at a recent Homebrew con- described oxygen as a rampant catalyst that starts a chain reaction of off flavors during storage. Any homebrewer knows the effect on hops, and beers that have been stored too long, or improperly.
From the beginning though, what if the beer was protected from oxygen? Our Club has come up with several solutions to combat oxygen especially during the transfers. Mad Scientist of MASH Tommy had an idea to use two kegs, one with a fermenting wort and the other a cleaned purged corny keg connected with a ball lock. The idea was the fermenting wort would produce CO2 which would be stored in the empty keg, fermenting under pressure has its benefits and the final beer was already carbonated because the stored gas was used to pressurize the beer. What a great idea, conserving CO2. In practice, Tommy showed the club on Discord how two kegs another method, where two kegs were connected to the liquid out, and liquid out sides, and on the beer full side pressure was added. The beer cleanly moved between the kegs, reducing oxygen exposure of the beer.
I, Blake the Mad Scientist, showed how an aged lambic can be safely transferred from a glass carboy to a corny keg under pressure. By using a orange siphon cap, and detaching the grey nozzle of the CO2 hose, I clamped off the tube onto the orange siphon cap with a metal tie, sanitized a wracking cane in the other end of the cap and added 2-5 lbs of pressure. The uncarbonated lambic moved out of the glass carboy into the purged keg. Success, what happened was gravity and the pressure of the CO2 moved the wort while also maintaining downward pressure on the glass carboy. Truly an innovation.
Despite the success, another member disagreed that it was not truly oxygen free, which is true but every little bit helps.
What was interesting, was this relates to 5 things we agree homebrewers can do to improve your beer. 1) Reduce/Oxygen free 2) Temperature control during fermentation 3) Yeast health – pitch a healthy starter 4) use good water (reverse osmosis or filtered water) and 5) Wait until after the boil to have a homebrew.