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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Techniques > how to be good at racking
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Old 06-21-2012, 12:33 AM   #1
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Default how to be good at racking

i'm embarking on my 5th brew, but so far i've only racked to the bottling bucket once. my technique is lacking finesse based on my initial efforts using an autosiphon, and i'm hoping some experienced brewers could give me a few tips.

the first time i racked from primary to the bottling bucket, and the carboy was in a milk crate that was in a water bath ... so i couldn't really see what was going on down below. next time i plan on at least moving the carboy in the milk crate out of the water bath to a counter nearby. that should help a little.

the trouble i had the first time was that i couldn't really see where the tip of my autosiphon was, resulting in some stirred up trub. even still, with a dark beer you're never going to see the tip of the racking cane anyway, so please, what racking advice hast thou?

make some general measurements on the outside of the racking cane that indicate a stopping point for insertion?

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Old 06-21-2012, 01:18 AM   #2
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get a good height difference between the two vessels

you can get an idea how far in your racking cane is by how much is left above the beer line - no need to see inside

start about 1/2 down, you know the trub won't be that high, slowly move it down as the fill line goes down. gently tip to one side as you get close to the bottom to put the beer on one side to minimize leftover waste

this is a great little clip to help keep the tip above the trub:
http://www.austinhomebrew.com/produc...ducts_id=12501

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Old 06-21-2012, 02:31 PM   #3
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Keep your carboy/bucket with the beer in it at counter height for the duration. Do not move it; let it be. When the beer is done, rack from counter height with your auto-siphon to the bottling bucket at floor or table level. Let gravity do the work, avoid agitation, and you should have a supremely clear beer... especially if you wrap the racking cane with a nylon mesh bag to avoid sucking up any trub.

The biggest mistake people make prior to racking (IMO) is to move the carboy from place to place, which stirs up the trub. Even gentle moving will stir up some sediment. You can completely avoid cold-crashing, or using gelatin, etc. by taking care not to move the carboy at all for at least a week. When you rustle/shake it up.. even slightly, you're negating any steps you took to clear up your beer. Time and gravity are your best friend.

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Old 06-21-2012, 02:43 PM   #4
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I move my fermenters from the swamp cooler to my kitchen counter 24 hours before I plan to rack, so it will have plenty of time to settle back out. I move it very gently, so I don't stir up the trub much. I don't worry about the beer warming up over that 24 hour period, since the fermentation is finished. Once it's finished the higher temp won't cause any off flavors. I don't cold crash, since I don't have the ability. I've never used gelatin, but I do use Whirlfloc in the boil. My beers are always very clear once they're ready to consume. Some have a thicker layer of yeast on the bottom of the bottle than others do, but I don't really care. I just make sure I don't pour it into my glass...

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Old 06-21-2012, 02:50 PM   #5
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You need a clip as mentioned above. Stick your autosiphon in 1/2 way, get 'er started, then slowly push it down until you see a bit of trub come through, and STOP. Just leave it, and after a couple seconds it'll go clear again. Then when it gets near the bottom you can pull it back up about 5mm and tip the fermenter a bit to get those last few ounces.

I find leaving it in primary for a month helps to get a nice, tight yeast cake. Putting it somewhere cold for a couple days prior helps as well. I have whirlfloc, but I forget to use it all the time. Still get clear beer.

You'll get better with time - just keep making beer!

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Old 06-21-2012, 03:10 PM   #6
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Lots of good tips here. I'll just add that I like to wrap my auto siphon in panty hose to help filter. This is especially useful when dry hopping.

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Old 06-21-2012, 07:31 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slarkin712 View Post
Lots of good tips here. I'll just add that I like to wrap my auto siphon in panty hose to help filter. This is especially useful when dry hopping.
Next time you do this, put it back in the drawer. Hilarity ensues when the old lady goes to put 'em back on.
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Old 06-21-2012, 07:37 PM   #8
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While using a clip certainly makes things easier, you don't need one. I have one somewhere. I almost never use it, though, because I always forget about it, and by the time I remember I'm already halfway through racking. I just keep my hand steadied against the rim of fermenter when I'm holding the racking cane in place.

As said, slowly moving the cane down as you go, and tilting the fermenter as you get down < 1 gallon make a huge difference for a clean transfer.



I used to use the autosiphon, but a while back it developed some kind of mold or crud on the inside that I was unable to get cleaned out, so I just threw it away and bought a stainless steel racking cane. It did last me a good 3-4 years, though.

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Old 06-21-2012, 07:49 PM   #9
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I just made a clip for mine. I really like using the clip, because I can sanitize bottles while the beer is racking over on its own..

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Old 06-21-2012, 07:55 PM   #10
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I usually lower the siphon until i see sediment making it's way through the cane. A strip of blue painter's tape holds it from that point on.

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