How to Siphon Beer
Posted on March 4, 2010 by mike
Siphoning Wort Into a Fermenter
Siphoning wort into a fermenter can be a really difficult task for people new to brewing beer. Transferring beer or wort is a delicate process because you are now in a temperature zone that you really want to protect from outside bacteria. That means that every time you open your beer up to the air or stick something into the beer you put it at risk of being infected. So one way to minimize this risk is to siphon your beer quickly from one vessel to the next. There are a few different options and some are better than others.
When I first started brewing beer I siphoned by hand. I’m very tight with my money and I didn’t want to add an expense to something if I could do it myself. There is a lot of steps to starting a siphon when compared to other methods.
How To Start A Siphon By Hand
- Fill the siphon hosing with sanitized solution making sure to get all of the air out of it.
- Plug both ends of the siphon hose and proceed to your containers.
- Place your “from” container (the container you want to move liquid from) up higher than the “to” container (the container you are siphoning the beer to). The liquid will stay in the tube as long as you keep your finger on the other end.
- Once that siphon end is in place, unplug the other end of the siphon tube, drain off the clear liquid sanitizer into a cup or something, then plug the siphon hose again.
- Put the end into the container you would like to siphon your wort into and unplug the end.
- Congratulations! You have started a siphon.
I have found this way to be a huge pain in the ass though. If you lose the siphon, and believe me it can happen, you have to pull the siphon hose out and start from scratch again. All the while your beer is exposed and you are creating an opportunity for infection by taking your hose in and out of your beer.
How to Start a Siphon Using a Carboy Cap
This is a pretty cool invention that, in theory works really well. I used these same procedure a couple of times before moving onto something else.
Basically all you have to do is stick your racking cane in the end that your airlock was in. After you get the cane in place you take the white cap off the end and blow into it very lightly. The carbon dioxide layer that sits at the top of the fermenter allows you to easily push your beer out. I was not a big fan of the Carboy Cap.
There are drawbacks though. The first is if you lose your siphon, it is nearly impossible to start a siphon again without having to blow harder than you have ever blown before. Not only does it really not work, but you are now blowing your mouth bacteria into your brew. Another draw back is that these caps don’t fit all fermenters. They only fit carboys and only certain tops, so it isn’t guaranteed it will work. Last but not least, if you forget to use that as your top when you pitch your yeast and put your carboy a way for 2 weeks, you are stuck without this option and forced to manually do it.
How to Start a Siphon with an Auto Siphon
Starting a Siphon with an Auto Siphon is extremely easy to do and has become my favorite piece of equipment. They are cheap, don’t get me wrong, it could easily break if not taken care of, but they are cheap as well. So replacement isn’t going to break the bank. As you can see in the video, you basically sanitize, pull the end up half way, place it in the wort, and pump. It is that easy. If you lose your siphon, you just adjust and pump again. Your siphon is started that easily.
I highly recommend starting your siphons with an Auto Siphon. It will save you time and minimize the amount of time your beer is exposed to organic yeasts and bacteria.
Do you use one of these methods and find it to work better than the other? I’d love to hear your methods. I know there are more than just these 3, but these are the most straight forward and the most common. So what is your method?