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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2004 * January 9, 2004 * My Ranco let me down......or did it? < Previous Next >

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JOHN K. LEE (206.66.239.111)
Posted on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 06:41 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hey guys,
-I was taste-testing my first AG last night...OOH it is sooo sooo good, I'm a little biased of course, I made it. I thought it still could use a little more carbonation though and wouldn't you know it I ran out of CO2 after my 3rd glass. That's OK, I'll just pick some up tommorrow, I said. I need to save it anyway, I'm taking it to Texas this weekend. I went to the CO2 store at lunch today and picked up a bottle. Those cylinders get COLD!! I took it home and hooked it up at 10psi. When I went to shake the keg it was frozen! UH OH! My Ranco is set on 34. Just wondering if the cold, cold, I mean cold CO2 could have frozen my beer? In that case bad move on my part. Or has anyone had any problems with your Ranco controller. I guess it could be off a little, huh? Sorry that was a long spill for my ultimate question. I'm pretty sure the beer will be OK, But I'm worried about it's carbonation that it had. Will it be alright?
 

Denny Conn (63.114.138.2)
Posted on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 06:44 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

It's definitely not from the CO2.
 

JOHN K. LEE (206.66.239.111)
Posted on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 06:57 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I turned my fridge up to 40, I hope it's thawed enough to test it tonight when I get home.
-J.K.L.
 

Kelvin Kundert (142.179.221.197)
Posted on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 09:13 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I've noticed that my serving/primary lager fermenting freezer has slightly different temperatures in it, so depending upon where I place my temperature probe, the controller works differently. How I place my kegs within the freezer changes the readings a little as well.

You might also check the temperature differential on the controller too. I have mine set to 48°F with a 4°F differential, meaning that the controller turns the freezer on when the temperature reaches 52°F & keeps it on until it reaches just below 48°F.
 

JOHN K. LEE (206.66.239.111)
Posted on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 09:58 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Well guys, what's funny is it's been in the fridge since Sunday. It's been set at the same temp, and I've had a taste everyday except Monday. The fridge is inside the house and today was actually warmer than it has been in a couple of days. That's why I thought it could of been the CO2. I'm still not ruling it out. I wonder how cold that stuff is coming out of the tank into the bottle? I can't hardly stand to touch the bottle it's so cold.
-J.K.L.
 

JOHN K. LEE (206.66.239.111)
Posted on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 10:00 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Well guys, what's funny is it's been in the fridge since Sunday. It's been set at the same temp, and I've had a taste everyday except Monday. The fridge is inside the house and today was actually warmer than it has been in a couple of days. That's why I thought it could of been the CO2. I'm still not ruling it out. I wonder how cold that stuff is coming out of the tank into the bottle? I can't hardly stand to touch the bottle it's so cold.
-J.K.L.
 

Jake Virnig (130.76.32.145)
Posted on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 10:02 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I don't have a control in my fridge, it's entirely possibly that your controller failed. However I have experienced frozen beer when I changed CO2 tanks. They were around 34-35 deg. or so, and for whatever reason I decided that I should purge the keg again. I pulled the valve at the top, instant beer slushy. I've seen the same thing opening cans that are near freezing. Not sure if this was the case with yours, just thought I'd share.

Jake
 

Vance Barnes (69.15.38.210)
Posted on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 10:31 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Was the keg near th eback of the fridge where the cold air from the freezer exits into the fridge part? I've frozen kegs and dip tubes on kegs this way when the temp in the fridge was only 40! Happens pretty regulary when I try to squeeze 4 kegs into my serving fridge with other bottles in there too. Never have had it happen in my lagering fridge which never has more than 2 kegs and is set to 31 or 32. I haven't built a shelf in my lagering fridge so there is the sloped area in the back that prevents the kegs getting close to the freezer vent.
 

JOHN K. LEE (206.66.239.111)
Posted on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 10:37 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Actually it's about in the center of the fridge. I'm not real sure where the cold air comes in though. I just figured if it was going to freeze it would have a cpuple days ago.
-J.K.L.
 

Brandon Dachel (216.177.117.110)
Posted on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 10:56 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

> or so, and for whatever reason I decided that I
> should purge the keg again. I pulled the valve
> at the top, instant beer slushy.

Ah, yes. Thermodynamics must be obeyed. Open the valve, release a bunch of pressure, temperature drops, instant slush. Leave beer (or soda) outside when it's below zero and you'll see the same thing. Open a can - start pouring and suddenly it's all frozen.
 

Bill Aimonetti (143.183.121.1)
Posted on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 11:35 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Be careful that the beer is thawed all the way and remixed before dispensing. I had a frozen & thawed Hefe once that I took to a party. It got sucked down and blew quickly. When I changed it out the corny had a bunch of ice left in it. The partygoers had a big buzz from only a couple pints of hefe-ice. As for root cause the thermocouple position plays a big role. Make sure it is secured deep in the chamber.
 

Kent Fletcher (206.170.107.30)
Posted on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 05:55 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The Ranco uses a thermistor sensor (not a thermocouple). To help prevent this from happening again strap the sensor to the outside of the cornie, preferably with a piece of foam insulation over the sensor and under the strap. I use a small woodworking strap clamp, but a bungie or similar elastic strap would work just as well. Also, make sure your controller is set to cooling, don't laugh! It's fairly easy to accidentally switch it to heat. If it gets bumped to heat and the sensed temp is less than the setpoint, it will run the compressor forever, because of course it will never "warm up" to the heat setpoint.

If the keg is close to freezing temp and you start drawing beer, it will freeze. If it's that cold AND at 5 psi or less, the lid can lose seal and then the pressure goes to zero and the beer freezes.
 

Mike Kessenich (165.189.92.23)
Posted on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 01:21 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Kent has a good point about the heat setting. If you don't have another thermometer to check temps, put a glass of water in there and see if it freezes.
 

JOHN K. LEE (206.66.239.111)
Posted on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 01:30 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I went home last night and the beer was fine. So I had 3 glasses just to make sure. Yep, no ice at all. Like I said, being in the fridge for 4 days and no problems at 34 degrees than all of a sudden it freezes. I say It had to be CO2. Thanks for your opinions guys.....P.S. It tasted pretty good after being frozen and at 40 degrees too!
 

Hercules (134.163.253.126)
Posted on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 01:52 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Brandon's right. It's called the Joule-Thomson effect, if I recall correctly. It's a very important consideration in relief-system designs, because if the temperature in the piping drops too low (like below -20 F for A105 carbon steel) the steel becomes brittle and can fail. I have a chart on my wall that shows the temperature drop associated with a given pressure drop for natural gas. (More than you wanted to know, I guess, but all my clients are on vacation and I'm bored as hell.)
 

aquavitae (134.84.195.46)
Posted on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 02:27 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The relevant question is not why your beer froze but why you have the temp set at 34 for serving . Are you also lagering in there?
 

Bill Pierce (24.141.63.119)
Posted on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 03:25 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The phenomenon Brandon and Hercules mention is precisely why a refrigerator works. A compressed liquid is allowed to expand and become a gas, thereby releasing heat and becoming cooler. It accounts for why John's beer froze when the CO2 was suddenly released.
 

JOHN K. LEE (206.66.239.111)
Posted on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 04:11 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Just to clarify why I keep the fridge at 34, it's for carbonating purposes. I've been bringing the keg and CO2 temp down to 34 and pressuring to 14 psi through the liquid side if the keg. Shake once in the morning, once at night for 2 days and "Bamm!" excellent beer. mmmm mmmm good!
-J.K.L.
 

Walt Fischer (24.221.196.114)
Posted on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 07:38 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Id say set that bugger at 40 degrees to avoid that from possibly happening again..;>

Walt
 

Jeff McClain (137.201.242.130)
Posted on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 09:09 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

ditto.

and the location of the thermistor inside the fridge DOES make a pretty big difference. Enough so that at 34'F, you are getting DANGEROUSLY close to slipping into freezing the brew if it is off by much (lower in the chest is better to avoid freezing). This is especially true if you relieve pressure as many here have already stated (like popping the pressure release or simply pulling a draft off the keg, or dropping the pressure in the keg after force carbing it to serve it). Personally, just stick it at 40'F and leave it.

I'll bet you a keg of beer that you can't notice a difference between force carbing at 34'F and 40'F (unless you FREEZE your beer accidently...grin).

-Jeff
 

JOHN K. LEE (206.66.239.111)
Posted on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 09:49 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

HA HA ,Jeffery.....Yeah, my taste-test last night was at 40. It definetly had more flavor at that temp. Thanks for the advice.
-J.K.L.
 

Kent Fletcher (206.170.107.30)
Posted on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 11:19 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Bill, just to stick to the facts of the mechanical refrigeration cycle, the refrigerant absorbs heat by evaporating, it doesn't "release" it.
 

Bill Pierce (24.141.63.119)
Posted on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 11:43 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thank you, Kent, for the more correct explanation from a thermodynamic standpoint.
 

Brandon Dachel (216.177.117.110)
Posted on Saturday, December 20, 2003 - 01:27 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

> the refrigerant absorbs heat by evaporating, it
> doesn't "release" it.

I was not talking about latent heat (evaporation) - I was talking about PV=nRT. As one variable ( or side of the equation) changes the others must as well to balance it. This corresponds to a drop in T.

In the case of beer in a keg if you look at the beer itself, the only thing that changes (appreciably) is the pressure. Therefore, the temperature drops as well.

I don't know specifically about refrigerants but I'm fairly certain (unless you are talking about cooling towers) that the compressor in a refrigerator is what makes the P side of the equation large. Then when its pressure is lowered, it pulls thermal energy in from the surroundings.
 

Joe Sandlin (66.207.81.26)
Posted on Saturday, December 20, 2003 - 10:55 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Kent, I don't understand the reason that you would strap the thermistor to the keg and insulate it from the air. Seems to me that since the 5 gallons of beer is such a big thermal mass, the fridge would go through big temp swings while the keg temp tried to "catch up".

Then again, Physics class was a long time ago...
 

Mike Kessenich (165.189.92.23)
Posted on Monday, December 22, 2003 - 01:25 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I think Joe is right, Your keg would be at constant temps, but you might freeze everything else in the fridge.
 

Kent Fletcher (206.170.107.30)
Posted on Wednesday, December 24, 2003 - 02:30 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Joe, the reason I strap the thermistor to the keg is because I wand to control the temperature of the keg, not the air surrounding it, and to reduce short cycling of the compressor. If the thermistor is only sampling air temp, you'll generally have short cycles, which drastically reduces the life of the unit. Additionally, it may take quite some time (days) to get all of the contents of a 5 or 10 gallon keg down to the setpoint if only going by the temperature of the air.

Also, if you have your kegs in contact with the walls of a converted chest freezer, you can easily freeze your beer, as the evap temp on them is much colder than in a regular domestic fridge.
 

Kent Fletcher (206.170.107.30)
Posted on Wednesday, December 24, 2003 - 02:34 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

A little OT refrigeration discourse:
Brandon, the compressor is only half of the P side of the equation. In mechanical refrigeration the "high side" is separated from the "low side" by the compressor AND the evaporator control (expansion valve, orifice, capillary tube, etc). As high pressure liquid refrigerant enters the relative low pressure of the evaporator, it boils, absorbing heat, which in turn extracts heat from the air and contents of the fridge/freezer. The compressor then adds both pressure and heat, which allows the refrigerant to condense to a liquid again when it passes through the condenser and releases heat to the atmosphere (in the case of a fridge/freezer).

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