Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Techniques > Racking Cane Use
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Old 04-02-2012, 04:11 PM   #1
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Default Racking Cane Use

I've been brewing for over a year, and am nearing the spot where control and proper monitoring are important. So I've been pulling samples more frequently, and racking with an auto-syphon. However, that involves opening my lid to pull those samples. This exposes my beer to greater risk of infection. I own a racking cane, but haven't tried to use it. Something about it escapes me. How do you start the feed process? Do you hook an auto-siphon to the end of the cane with hose in and hose out? Is there some magic gravity procedure? Thanks.

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Old 04-02-2012, 04:42 PM   #2
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If you just want to take a sample, use a turkey baster. You only have the open the lid a couple inches and can dip just the tip of the baster into the beer without disturbing it.

If you want to rack the beer, use the racking wand with the auto-siphon.

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Old 04-02-2012, 04:47 PM   #3
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Not very magical unfortunately, but gravity is involved. I don't own an auto siphon, so I have used a racking cane for 1.5 years now. Fill it 1/2 to 2/3 full of no-rinse sanitizer (I use StarSan solution). I find a turkey baster works best to fill it from my 1 gallon jug-o-sanitizer.

Place the rigid cane in the vessel to be transferred from. Raise the floppy end until the sanitizer comes within an inch or two of the top of the rigid cane and plug the dry end with your thumb. Keeping it plugged, drop it down to the level of your empty vessel.

At this point I unplug the end. Gravity forces the sanitizer to drop, which creates the vacuum to start the transfer. I usually catch the sanitizer in a bowl until the beer starts to flow. Cheers!
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Old 04-02-2012, 05:19 PM   #4
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Here's my method:
Sanitize cane, tube, and hands. Have the anti-sediment cup on the end of the racking cane. Attach tube to racking cane. Hold racking cane and tubing with the open ends up – both together at the same elevation. Pour Star-San into end of tube, moving tube and cane as needed until cane and tube are completely filled, with no air bubbles. Put thumb over end of tube. Gently turn over the racking cane and lower it into the full bucket. Lower the end of the tube to a small pan. Take thumb off the end of the tube – the siphon will start. Siphon the Star-San into the pan. When beer gets to the end, put thumb over the tube again. Move end of tube to bottling bucket. Remove thumb. Siphon will re-start.
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Old 04-02-2012, 05:26 PM   #5
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A refractometer ($30 on ebay) works for gravity readings before and after fermentation - after takes a calculator tool to arrive at the gravity. Refractometers use a very small sample. The best sampling tool I've found is the clear plastic part of a spring tip bottle filler - though you could probably use your racking cane the same way:


It's easy to sanitize, long enough and even fits though the airlock holes in a bucket. Submerge it, put your thumb over the end and pull out the sample to transfer to a small bowl.

Pipettes are never long enough and hard to dry. The sample is so small I believe the left-over sanitizer in the pipette bulb can dilute the sample.

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