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Under the Microscope: Fermentation Under Pressure

A method known to the largest lager brewers and many homebrewers remains relatively rare at small breweries—pressure fermentation. When properly applied, it can be an effective way to trim tank time and control the quality of cleaner-fermenting beers.

Don Tse Jun 26, 2023 - 12 min read

Under the Microscope: Fermentation Under Pressure Primary Image

A spunding valve at Chuckanut Brewery in Washington state. Photo: Joe Stange.

Advocates for open fermentation point to how it encourages pleasant esters and sustains yeast health when not subject to CO2 or excessive hydrostatic pressure in the tank. Yet there is another approach that has its supporters, and in concept it’s almost diametrically opposed: subjecting primary fermentation to CO2 pressure to produce cleaner beers, faster.

First things first: You need a tank that can handle the pressure.

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Don Tse is an internationally recognized beer writer and beer judge, working from his home base in the middle of North America’s barley belt.