Starting the siphon:
We get asked this question all the time, and for those without an auto-siphon it takes a bit of practice to get right. You might be tempted to just suck on the end of the flex tubing to start the siphon but this introduces a plethora of bacteria to your beer right before fermentation, nearly guaranteeing you'll have contaminated beer. Here's how we like to get the beer flowing without any contamination:
- Hoist your beer onto a counter or table top.
- Place your receiving container (secondary fermenter or bottling bucket) on the ground nearby.
- In a sanitizer bath, submerge your flexible tubing.
- Work all the air bubbles out of the tubing so that it's completely full of sanitizer.
- Once all the air is out of the tube, allow to sit for 1 - 2 minutes while the sanitizer kills all bacteria.
- Next, attach your sanitized racking cane to the tubing.
- Using your hose clamp, close the other end of the tubing
- Submerge the racking cane in the beer.
- Place the clamped end of the tube over your sink (or any waste water receptacle).
- Release the clamp, and allow the liquid to flow until a little bit of beer escapes the tube.
- Clamp the tube shut.
- Move over to your receiving container, and release the clamp again.
There you have it! You'll have your beer flowing in just a few minutes, and best of all, you'll know that no foreign contaminants have entered into the mix.
Getting Started: Aim to Succeed
When you have decided to dedicate your free time to brewing beer, you want to make sure you are working efficiently. Here are a 5 easy ways to make sure your brew day goes off without a hitch, and that you enjoy success as a home brewer.
1. Read the recipe and instructions before you start
Beer is a mixture of 4 simple ingredients: water, malt, hops, and yeast. For each of these basic ingredients, one can find a multitude of variations which allow for hundreds of thousands of different recipes to be created. Yet in the end, they all can be considered a type of beer. During the boil, the water, malt and hops are combined to form what brewers refer to as "wort." Pronounced "wert," wort is simply a fancy word for unfermented beer. It is the sweet liquid that contains all the sugars that will fuel the yeast on in the process. However, there is another hidden advantage to boiling the wort: sanitation.
2. Make time to make beer
Nothing is more frustrating than trying to rush your way to good beer. It's simply a recipe for disaster. You'll find that when there is less pressure to get through each step as quickly as possible, you will have more time to learn from the process and perfect your method. The more you brew, the more easily you'll be able to perform all of the required tasks called for in the instructions. There's no need to rush into this level of efficiency however. Set aside extra time, grab a six-pack, and let each step soak in to make your brewing life a bit easier.
3. Sanitation, sanitation, sanitation!
Foul tasting beer never won a gold medal. Skimping on sanitation will only cause frustration and the dreaded bitter beer face (if not an upset stomach). Pay special attention to the instructions for your sanitizer and follow them exactly. Most sanitizers require at least a minute to do their job properly, but some require more time. When in doubt, allow more time or contact us for assistance.
4. Good company makes good beer
You can't put a value on the helping hands of a friend while you brew. Especially on your first batches, there are some moments you just can't predict. Having some help can prove invaluable. Besides providing help in those tough moments, you'll get to share the experience. Just don't forget to bring enough beer for two!
5. Use your resources and avoid stress
Brewing beer should be a fun, productive hobby. If you find that you're stressing out during the process, it's likely that you're over-thinking a step. With so many friendly and knowledgeable brewers available online, plus our year round support, there are plenty of ways to get help every step of the way. Remember: humans have been brewing beer for thousands of years. If at any point you think you might mess up your beer, just take a moment to think. If you can't figure out what to do, or think you've made a mistake, contact someone who can help. This step may just be the most important, because without an open community of home brewers, this hobby may well have died off many years ago.
Avoiding oxidation while kegging
You've kegged your favorite beer for the first time; it's chilled down, carbonated and ready to serve. You pour a glass and to your dismay, you taste the tell-tale signs of oxidation. Here's 2 ways to avoid that dreaded result.
1. Purge the keg
Many homebrewers don't like to use CO2 if they don't have to. Whether you're frugal, lazy, or both, you'll still agree that stale beer is not good! Purging is a simple step to perform and in the grand scheme of things costs very little to do. Don't sell yourself short and purge your keg before filling it with beer. Purging is simple. Sanitize your keg as normal, and then attach the lid & CO2 gas fitting. Open the valve and allow a burst of gas to flow into the keg. Close the valve and then release the pressure using the pressure release valve. Repeat this procedure 3 more times. Each time, oxygen will be pushed out of the keg leaving you with a CO2 rich environment inside the keg. After the final blast, leave close until you're ready to fill.
2. Pressurized transfer
The pressurized transfer method goes a step beyond purging. In this method, you purge the keg, leaving the keg sealed after the final blast. Once you're ready to fill, rather than opening the keg, the CO2 cylinder is instead attached to your carboy utilizing a carboy cap and some joining clamps. In the second hole of the carboy cap, a racking cane is inserted such that the tip reached nearly to the bottom. Flexible tubing is attached to the racking cane, again using clamps. The other end is then attached to the beverage fitting on the keg using a ball lock or pin lock connector. As you carefully apply pressure to the headspace of the carboy, beer is pushed into the racking cane and down into the keg. If using this method, it is advised not to attempt to push the beer "uphill." That is, place the carboy up high, and use gravity to your advantage. Once the beer is flowing, simply open the pressure release valve on the keg to allow the beer to continue to flow.