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Old 08-02-2012, 08:31 PM   #1
thefingolfin
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Default Advice on building a Burton Union system

Hey everyone,

I have been brewing for a few months now, with a couple batches of EdWorts apfelwein under my belt. I had the good fortune of getting four 5 gallon glass carboys off of Craigslist for $20, which are great for using as primary fermenters for things like apfelwein or skeeter pee, but as I'm moving to brewing beer soon, I'd like to also use them for the primary on a batch of beer.

The use of a Burton Union system, such as this one, seems to be a solution to this problem, but I'm a little leery to build it because of the possibility of there being clogging in the tubes and the system exploding.

Does anyone have experience with a burton union system or even blow off tubes, and does using this system with 5 gallon batches seem like a good idea?

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Old 08-02-2012, 11:34 PM   #2
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All you need is a nylon tube that fits in the drilled bung hanging for a few feet into sterile water. The barm will not clog up the tube. The only annoying thing is cleaning the tube later on, and, during the fermentation, making sure everything stays dry on the outside of the ferment vessel near the bung, as this is an excellent way to get an infection. I have been systematically wrapping saran wrap about the plug after pitching for the first week, especially when using the rubber stopper which sometimes slide out when getting wet. (The 'universal' stoppers are better)

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Old 08-03-2012, 11:36 AM   #3
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I can't say i have much experience, I've only used 5 gal carboys for secondaries.
Seems like there's little risk of anything exploding with things being able to recirculate.
The BYO article seems to be well written.
I'm now interested to know if I could set up one of these for yeast harvesting and keep the flow of fresh yeast into my kitchen going. (My wife makes pizza dough with the stuff)

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Old 11-02-2012, 07:20 PM   #4
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Every Burton system video I've seen shows foamy blowoff going into the Union, but the BYO article seems to indicate the tube from Carboy to "union" should be in the wort itself, pushing liquid and not krausen.

Can anyone clarify this for me?

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Old 11-02-2012, 10:52 PM   #5
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the Burton union blow off system is for collecting yeast keausen while feermenting. Mqny of us use this method. But they collect yewast krausen to innoculate a later batch.
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Old 11-03-2012, 01:20 AM   #6
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Sure, I understand that is how the oak barrel Burton Union worked, but the 3rd paragraph from the bottom of the BYO Article states:

"However there is one key design concept that should be followed in order to make things work: the positioning of the racking cane. The racking cane must dip below the wort in the fermenter in order for the Burton Union to work efficiently. The reason for this is because when the pressure from the CO2 in the fermenter builds up, the kräusen is pushed up toward the top of the carboy. Positioning the bottom of the racking cane below the wort level allows it to act as a simple check valve."

Seems like it would facilitate easy yeast harvesting by pushing up fermenting wort, allowing yeast to settle out, and the beer to flow back into the carboy, but as you said the original Burton system simply pushed the krausen.

I was just wondering if anyone had tried it at home, and how they used it.

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Old 11-03-2012, 02:51 AM   #7
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Sounds like you are trying to make it difficult from the start.

Brew a batch, and split it into two fermenters. When kraeusen falls, rack one into the other fermenter and leave it to settle.

OR .... rack both into another fermenter (secondary), but ensure you don't do this too early.

Only half filling a primary fermenter is not a problem. CO2 from fermentation will displace and O2.

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Old 11-03-2012, 05:36 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Calder View Post
Sounds like you are trying to make it difficult from the start.

Brew a batch, and split it into two fermenters. When kraeusen falls, rack one into the other fermenter and leave it to settle.

OR .... rack both into another fermenter (secondary), but ensure you don't do this too early.

Only half filling a primary fermenter is not a problem. CO2 from fermentation will displace and O2.
OR .... I could try to build and use a Union-like device to see what it does and how it affects the flavor of my beer for only about $25 in parts.
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