Pressure transfer from carboy to keg worth it?

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RyPA

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I bought equipment to brew using extract 5 or so years ago and successfully brewed 3 or 4 batches of beer. I haven't brewed in a 3-4 years and decided to dust off the equipment and brew again, going all-grain. I just got my mash tun situated and am trying to figure out if it's worth investing ~$50 in equipment to pressure transfer the fermented beer from carboy to my corny keg using co2. I used an auto siphon for my batches in the past. My extract beers were not great, and am not sure if its due to oxidization, or if extract beer is just not great. How do you guys rack from carboy to keg? Is it really that risky to just use an auto siphon?

Thanks
 

Brüverine

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As long as you purge the keg, ensure a good seal where the hose connects to the autosiphon (I am about to start using a hose clamp even, to ensure no bubbles form), and make sure the bottom of the hose is resting on the bottom of the keg you will be fine.

If you have the $50 and the prospect of you having a meh beer due to oxidation can be eliminated by performing this step, then absolutely worth it - just not necessary.

In either scenario, make sure you are practicing it beforehand and comfortable doing so. A master racker would always beat out someone performing a poor "closed" transfer due to a process error.
 

jdauria

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Necessary no. Want to eliminate 99.9% chances of oxidation, then definitely. I close transfer using this...https://www.brewhardware.com/product_p/ptrcarboypremium.htm I brew a lot of lagers and would hate to do open transfer, then lager the keg for several months only to find out I wasted all that time if beer is oxidized.
 

IslandLizard

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My extract beers were not great, and am not sure if its due to oxidization, or if extract beer is just not great.
Depends on the freshness of the extracts and what kind of extract they are. "Cans" of Liquid Malt Extract (LME) could have been in a warehouse or on a store's shelf for months, even years, being old and stale, and indeed, oxidized. LME poured fresh at your homebrew store can be fresh as can be, just check the date on the plastic barrel.

Stored Dry Malt Extract (DME) fares much better with time, since it's a dry powder.

Now you're going to brew all-grain, those extract age variables are gone. You should get better beer from it. So yes, you try to prevent oxygen pick up once fermentation has started, all the way through packaging. The hoppier the beer the more sensitive they are to oxidation.

Are those plastic or glass carboys?
Glass carboys should NOT be pressurized, they can break/explode even at a pressure as low as 1.5 psi. Use gravity instead.
The plastic ones (Better Bottles, and such) can be pressurized a little maybe up to 3-6 psi. It doesn't take much to push the beer out, and once it starts to flow, gravity can do the rest.

With carboys using a racking cane and a carboy cap (the colored plastic ones that have 2 "teats") you can easily do closed transfers.
Get a stainless racking cane, they'll last a lifetime.

I would not use an auto siphon, they tend to suck air.
Now you could repurpose the cane from the center as a racking cane. Just saw off the very bottom with the rubber plunger, and smooth (file, sand, polish) the cut nicely, so it can be cleaned and sanitized.

The kegs...
You want to do a "100% liquid prepurge" on those before you transfer the beer. Or use CO2 from your fermentation to flush/purge it completely.
The essence is: the lid remains on until the next cleaning!
You fill the keg through the liquid out post, with the PRV open or a open QD on the gas post to vent. You can route the CO2 from the keg back into your fermenter, and voila, a closed transfer.
 

Bobby_M

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People will debate this and say that careful open siphon transfer is fine. The fact is, the beer is taking on oxygen in that process and there are several factors that affect whether it matters. The beer style matters, as does the length of storage, the temp of the storage. Then there's the question about the consumers of that beer and their ability to detect oxidation defects. Once you train yourself to recognize oxidation/staling, you tend to be plagued by it in many home brews. I would say it's decidedly worth it to instantly improve your beer. If you're not immediately convinced of the improvement, take some pride in knowing that each incremental improvement may be just under your perception threshold but they all add up to a more general improvement that you will eventually notice.
 

IslandLizard

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Here's another, recent thread on this very topic:

I'd still be very careful pressurizing a glass carboy.
Now that carboy cap over the neck will easily pop off when pressure increases beyond a certain point, as long as it isn't strapped or tied down.
 

hotbeer

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You don't have to pressurize the sending vessel. You can depressurize the receiving vessel with a suction pump. Still need to worry about O2 or air mixing with the beer.

But at lower pressures, will it be as much? How much is too much?
 

storytyme

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Closed transfer for sure. A bit of money and time but once your process is in place it is easier and better beer because of it.
 

Jim R

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It is definitely worth doing closed transfers to reduce oxidation (especially with hoppy beers). If I was going to go to this step though, I would spend a little extra money and get a pressure capable fermenter instead of a glass carboy. You can get a Fermzilla All Rounder for $50 ( or something similar) that is made and designed for safe pressure fermentation and transfers.
 
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