Siphoning beer, racking it, or transferring it. Whatever you want to call it, we're talking about moving beer from one container to another after it's been cooled and put into the fermentor. At this point, we don't want to add bugs or oxygen, so pouring is not an option. So how do we do it? This post shows three different methods.
One thing is for sure – I have too much homebrewing equipment. Or, is that even possible?
Either way, I dug into my stash to show how these three different siphoning tools work.
1. Hose and Racking Cane
This is the way most of us got started. The hose and racking canes are very common with starter homebrew kits. They are simple and last a long time, but getting the siphon started isn't as easy as the other options. There are 3 main ways I know of to starting a siphon with the racking cane:
- Suck on the end of the hose. I don't recommend this. Even if you gargle a bottle of vodka you risk contaminating your homebrew. Just keep that dirty mouth away from your precious beer.
- Fill the hose with water (or preferably sanitizer) and then drain it into a separate container. The liquid will pull the beer behind it, at which point you can plug the hose and move it to your bottling bucket or fermentor. This method works well, but definitely takes some practice to make a clean switch.
- I didn't show this method, but some people use a turkey baster to start the siphon. Squeeze the baster, stick it in the end of the hose, release, and it will pull beer through. Just make sure the turkey baster is sanitized.
- Cheapest option
- More difficult to start the siphon than other options
You can buy the hose and racking cane at MoreBeer here.
2. Sterile Siphon Starter
A recent gadget to my arsenal, the sterile siphon starter is a mouthful to say but a handy piece of equipment. It works by fitting the orange cap over the neck of a carboy which forms an airtight seal. You then blow air for a few seconds through the sterile filter. The pressure inside the carboy forces the liquid out through the racking cane and voilà, your siphon is started.
- Easy to use and virtually dummy proof
- You can adjust the racking cane to any level and it will stay in place without you holding it
- Not one size fits all. There is a size for a 5 and 6 gallon carboy, and another for a 6.5 gallon carboy. If you have multiple sizes, like I do, you will need two attachments.
- Doesn't work on buckets or kettles
You can buy the sterile siphon starter here.
The autosiphon, aka The Easy Siphon, is my favorite way to transfer beer. It only takes a quick pump or two to start the siphon. It is also easy to get started when there is not much liquid left in the fermentor.
- Easiest way to siphon
- BONUS FEATURE: The outer container can be used by itself to take beer samples from a fermentor, similar to a wine thief.
- More parts, more to break
- Expensive and doesn't include tubing
You can buy the autosiphon here.
How do you siphon your beer?