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To strain or not to strain that is the question?

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2nd Street Brewery

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How many of you strain/filter your wort when transfering it from the brew pot to the primary fermenter? I always get more sludge then I want no matter how careful I am. I was looking at a large strainer to help but when I asked the guy at my local HBS he said that it would over oxygenate the brew. I know oxygen is bad for fermented material but is neccessary to promote good yeast activity. I don't see where using a strainer is going to do more then just pouring it from one to the other.

Thanks
 

homebrewer_99

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I use a nylon net over the primary.

Lately I've used cheesecloth inside the net. Seems to filter out a bit more, but I also used leaves in conjunction with pellets on my last batches.

I reuse my yeast and have tried to filter the hops out because it adds bitterness. I've also reduced my bittering hops by half in the next batch to compensate for the added bitterness.

I suspect if I used all leaves then it wouldn't be so junky. The problem is finding the hops you want (or have on hand) in leaf form. I know ordering ONLY leaves should solve the problem, but it's mostly based on availability.

I've read that if you use pellets there's no need to filter them out in the primary. I don't think so, especially if you plan on reusing the yeast.
 

Gilbey

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I never have filtered, never really saw the need. I do steep grains and put my hops in muslin bags when I boil (or dry hop), but never filitered....never found the need. I keg my beer, and I find that the first pint off a new keg will have a bit of "stuff" in it, but after one or two it is nearly non-existant.

IMHO if there is a bit of floatsum in a pint it just adds to the character of homebrew ;) .

Gilbey
 

Justin Chomel

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I only strained a couple of times because it didn't work well. The strainer would get clogged and clog up my funnel. I use whole leaf hops with a false bottom on my kettle and the false bottom filters the hops out.

You could go into a carboy, let it settle, syphon off the top into another carboy and pitch.
 

wild

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I do filter one beer now. I never used to and still don't when I brew my standard just for myself but when I brew it for town and state events, I'll filter it for the public. It's a 6-day American Brown from kettle to mug and a quick run through a 1 micron filter really pretties it up for them.

Wild
 

uglygoat

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i wrack out of my kettle into the primary... though after the last debacle resulting in much wailing and nashing of teeth, i am thinking of bolting the weldless sigot on my kettle.... i am worried about the pellet hops cloggin my drain system though.

usually the cooling wort settles all the hop and trub and i aim for about three inches from the bottom of the kettle with my cane... when it gets down to the bottom, i tilt the kettle and syphon out as much as i can without getting too much hops or trub in there.
 

AlaskaAl(e)

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I'm with Gilbey, I don't really filter either. I use a nylon bag for my steeping grains and nylon for my hops. They do a pretty good job keeping all the stuff contained and what little does escape gets taken care of when I rack from primary to secondary. I do get a little bit of yeast sucked up from the keg into the first pitcher or so but it all tastes like beer to me.
 

neldor19

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I use a copper scrubby attached to the intake end of the copper tubing inside my boil keg.It works very well,whatever sneaks through settles out in the primary.Just be carefully the scrubby dont hold the tubing off the bottom of the kettle.The first time I used it I lost almost a gallon of wort because of this.As far as over oxygenating,as long as your wort is below 80 degrees,pouring it through a strainer shouldnt be a problem.Maybe your LHBS guy was reffering to hot side airation.I mean,a lot of homebrewers are injecting pure oxygen into their wort with air stones.I personaly pour my wort back and forth in buckets six times before I pitch.I highly doubt pouring it through a strainer is going to over oxygenate your wort as long as its nice and cool.You can also try whirlpooling.I always whirlpooled my wort before I got my converted boil keg and it worked very well also.
 

Dienekles

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What I do:

Use sanitized mesh strainer, a sanitized spoon, and lightly boiled grain bag (just boil it with your extra water if your doing partial mash in a 3 gallon pot or clean it however you see fit).

Place the large grain bag over the opening of the primary, fasten in place. Pout the majority of the wort directly through the grain bag - when you get to the bottom of pot where the protiens have come to rest:

Use the stainer and spoon to catch all the large pieces of protien(use the spoon to move the protiens around so that they cannot clog the strainer.)

The strainer will remove much of the large particles, and the grain bag will remove the smaller ones.


Unfortunately in all my experiences you still get a large amount of trube in the bottom of the primary - this is unavoidable without more advanced equipment (Ie. more than a bucket lol)

Hope I could help!
 

JacktheKnife

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Hmmm an interesting idea, straining the wort.

I never have used a strainer either, being more worried about sterility than anything. After the secondary ferminter the trub is basically left behind.
Only the white spent yeast cells which cling to the bottom of the bottles necesitate leaving the last 1/3" in the bottle.

JacktheKnife
 

Dienekles

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On the subject of sterility:

With the amount of yeast you are pitching into their ideal habitat (assuming you have a good starter) and the speed at which yeast make the living space inside the fermenter anaerobic (and therefore hostile to most airborn bacteria that spoil beer), sterility may not be as big an issue as you thought.

Its survival of the fittest - the yeast is more fit to compete for resources. Not to mention you are putting a ton of yeast into the wort. So people are a little too paranoid about spoiling their beer; I'm not saying to not take the nessessary precautions to ensure that you will not contaminate your beer. But what I am saying is this:

In my experience a few lapses in sanitation will not ultimately lead to bad beer. Where as over stressing the idea of getting a perfectly sterile environment and leaving large amounts of sanitiser residue on your equipment can lead to off flavors.

Fact: if your sanitising every instrament that comes in contact with your wort after it has cooled, you will not have off flavors - where as leaving your beer in the primary on top of trub Will result in off flavors after the yeast has used up most available maltose and more complex sugars ect. (After about 6 or 7 days it will begin to have an eggy smell).

Oya! Hope I could help.
 

vtfan99

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Sterile is not the same thing as sanitary. Using the words interchangeably may cause some confusion. What we're striving for in homebrewing is sanitary. Sterilization is nearly impossible unless you are in a controlled environment such as a lab.
 

tnlandsailor

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Dienekles said:
In my experience a few lapses in sanitation will not ultimately lead to bad beer. Where as over stressing the idea of getting a perfectly sterile environment and leaving large amounts of sanitiser residue on your equipment can lead to off flavors.
In my experience, I've tasted way too much bad homebrew not to take sanitation obsessively right after the boil. Perhaps if you brew a lot of Belgian beers, a little spoilage goes undetected, but for everything else, it matters. Yes, yeast are hearty and quick to set up shop in wort, yes, they soon outcompete other spoiling wild yeast and bacteria, but that doesn't mean you can't taste it. I would much rather have a few tablespoons of sanitizer in my beer than a few colonies of wild yeast. The whole issue of being able to taste a few parts per million of sanitizer in your beer is laughable. Who leaves a quart of sanitizer in their carboy and then siphons wort into it?

Dienekles said:
...where as leaving your beer in the primary on top of trub Will result in off flavors after the yeast has used up most available maltose and more complex sugars ect. (After about 6 or 7 days it will begin to have an eggy smell).
This has already been debated to death, but I still stand my ground. But before I rant, it's worth noting (getting back to the original subject of this thread) that I do strain my wort going into the primary. The only thing that makes it into the primary is cold break (I use a counter flow chiller). I'll be happy to share my straining methods with anyone who is interested. But.....

I have quit racking to a secondary. I routinely leave beer, even light styles like Cream Ale, in the primary for up to 4 weeks, sometimes as long as 5 weeks. The whole issue of leaving your wort on the trub and it getting off flavors just doesn't hold water in my book. In fact, I entered the same American IPA in 2 competions and recieved scores of 47.5 and 47. This IPA sat in the primary for 4 weeks. A Cream Ale scored 40+ in both as well. The Cream Ale spent the same 4 weeks in the primary. Perhaps straining hops is more important than we think.

Sanitation is your friend. Let down your guard and you will regret it.

Prosit!
 

Dienekles

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Tu Che!

I take sanitation very seriously. The longer I brew the more seriously I take it. I was just attempting to stir the waters a bit.

Well I can see how a Cream Ale or an IPA might mask the off flavors associated with leaving a beer on the trub too long.

If they are being ranked highly in competition then they must be good beer! Congratulations, you can defy science my boy! I wonder why the yeast never resorted to eating trub in your beers. What yeast were you using? :confused:
 

tnlandsailor

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Dienekles said:
Well I can see how a Cream Ale or an IPA might mask the off flavors associated with leaving a beer on the trub too long.
Cream Ale masking off flavors? :confused: There's nothing in there to mask anything. No hops to speak of, no huge flavors to hide behind. Just a very light ale with a touch of corny sweetness. It's like brewing naked. Even small flaws stand out like Bill Gates in a mosh pit.

Dienekles said:
...you can defy science my boy! I wonder why the yeast never resorted to eating trub in your beers. What yeast were you using?
I'm not a chemist, but I don't think yeast ever resort to cannibalism. They do eventually die and decompose (autolysis), but that usually takes months. I think that cold break acts as a nutrient early on in fermentation. Other than yeast and cold break, there's nothing else in there to eat but sugar. The specific strain was Wyeast 1056. Not sure about defying science, I've yet to see the science that says trub causes off flavors. Perhaps it's only the hop trub that causes off flavors? Another argument for straining the wort into the primary.

At least we agree on sanitation.

Prosit!
 

Dienekles

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Hmm, 1056 huh? Thats a fairly run of the mill yeast. Well I'm stumped.

Undoubtedly though, straining is worth the risk, if to do nothing more than save you a half gallon or so of beer that might have been trapped when it came time to transfer to a secondary.
 

cygnus128

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tnlandsailor said:
I think that cold break acts as a nutrient early on in fermentation. Other than yeast and cold break, there's nothing else in there to eat but sugar.
I thought that cold break (like hot break) served to settle proteins out of the wort thus aiding clarity. I don't think that yeast can use these proteins as nutrients but hey, I am really a novice at all of this so I could certainly be wrong...
 
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2nd Street Brewery

2nd Street Brewery

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Guys, thanks for all the input. I will be looking for someway of straining my wort as it goes into the primary. I don't yet have a wort chiller so I bring it down to pitching temp by setting the primary in a tub of ice water and mixing the 2.5 to 3 gals of wort with the balance of cool water. I may try HB99s method of stretching nylon mesh across the top of the primary since all the strainers I've seen out there are kind of pricy($18-25).
 

cygnus128

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2nd Street Brewery said:
Guys, thanks for all the input. I will be looking for someway of straining my wort as it goes into the primary. I don't yet have a wort chiller so I bring it down to pitching temp by setting the primary in a tub of ice water and mixing the 2.5 to 3 gals of wort with the balance of cool water. I may try HB99s method of stretching nylon mesh across the top of the primary since all the strainers I've seen out there are kind of pricy($18-25).
What are you using to get the wort into the fermenter? If you ferment in a carboy then just get a cheap funnel into which you can place a stainless steel kitchen strainer (shouldn't be nearly that expensive). You will of course need to sanatize both the funnel and the strainer first. If you use a plastic fermenter you can just skip the funnel. Most kitchen strainers have a long handle and a little hook to allow them to sit across the mouth of a container.

I highly recommend siphoning your wort into the fermenter if you strain. It will give you better control over the flow of wort through whatever you use to strain allowing you to stop the flow if the filter becomes clogged or backed up. Might be a little slower than pouring but definitely worth the extra time spent.
 
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2nd Street Brewery

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I am just pouring from brewpot to plastic bucket. Most kitchen strainers are only about 4 ins across, I was looking at 8 to 10 in diameter ones. My HBS has a 10" one for the low $20s and Austin HBS online has an 8" for $18. Knowing what a slob I am I know I'll miss the little one :D
 

El Pistolero

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Dienekles said:
I wonder why the yeast never resorted to eating trub in your beers. What yeast were you using? :confused:
Gentlemen, please excuse the ignorance of a complete newbie, but I thought that the trub was at (or moving towards) the bottom, and with ale yeast anyway, the active yeasties were at (or towards) the top? How could ale yeasts eat trub? :confused:
 

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El Pistolero said:
Gentlemen, please excuse the ignorance of a complete newbie, but I thought that the trub was at (or moving towards) the bottom, and with ale yeast anyway, the active yeasties were at (or towards) the top? How could ale yeasts eat trub? :confused:

What everyone is referring to is "Autolysis", which is described here. Its not the yeast eating the trub...its the yeast dying and rupturing, releasing off flavors into your beer. As John Palmer states "Autolysis is not inevitable, but it is lurking."
 

cygnus128

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El Pistolero said:
Gentlemen, please excuse the ignorance of a complete newbie, but I thought that the trub was at (or moving towards) the bottom, and with ale yeast anyway, the active yeasties were at (or towards) the top? How could ale yeasts eat trub? :confused:
Yeast will never *eat* the trub. The only thing any yeast will eat is fermentable sugar. I think what is being referred to in previous posts is autolysis (yeast death) that can cause off-flavors in your brew. As previously mentioned by tnlandsailor this doesn't begin to occur for weeks after fermentation is complete. This makes racking to a secondary fermenter unneccessary in the simplest case.

There are a few reasons you may want to rack to secondary however. If you are lagering there is a good chance your brew will spend long enough on the yeast for autolysis to begin. I believe there are some styles that use different types of yeast at different times during the process. These types of brews would also probably demand racking to secondary. There are some filtering benefits to using secondary fermentation as well. You leave almost all of the trub behind when you rack to secondary and then rack again when you bottle/keg further reducing the amount of trub that makes it into your finished product. I'm sure there are more reasons as well but those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head.
 

El Pistolero

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vtfan99 said:
What everyone is referring to is "Autolysis", which is described here. Its not the yeast eating the trub...its the yeast dying and rupturing, releasing off flavors into your beer. As John Palmer states "Autolysis is not inevitable, but it is lurking."
Thanks for the clarification...I'd been reading Palmer's site, but hadn't quite gotten that far.

The amount of knowledge available on this forum is just incredible...sometimes I feel like such a grasshopper :(
 

DeRoux's Broux

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some yeast also will/can consume diacetyl when they finish munch'n on all the goodies in the wort. that's why when brewinga lagers, you should do a diacetyl rest at around 62-64 degrees for 2-3 days after fermentation, so they will consume what diacetyl they produced. thus, helping to reduce the butterscoth flavors often found in and desired in certain ales. some yeast strains will consume more diacetyl than others.
 

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I had thought about filtering to a primary myself but was worried that I might filter out something that may be needed in the fermenting process. Anyways it seems like there is a lot of people who cannot find filters that fit or work to strain out the desired "sludge". Since I haven't brewed my first beer yet, I am not familier with what the wort looks like when you transfer it to the primary fermenter. Still I have some suggestions about what you could use to filter with. My Dad is a professional painter, and when he was preparing his sprayer with paint he would first strain the paint with a big cloth (maybe nylon mesh) strainer. The strainer fit over and inside a 5 gallon bucket and he would just transfer the paint from another bucket into the bucket fitted with the strainer. This seems like it would work well for filtering wort. You would first sanitize the strainer by probably boiling it with water, then fit it over your primary fermentor, and pour your wort into the fermenter, I can't imagine why this wouldn't work. You can get the strainers from any paint supply store, probably home depot, lowes or walmart too, I doubt they cost much.
 

DeRoux's Broux

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or, you can just syphon from the brew kettle to your primary. all the hops and cold break in the kettle have done their part already, and are useless in the primary. my brew kettle has a spigot about an 1" of the bottom. i just hook a hose to it, open it up, and drain to my primary. leave all the bittering/flavoring hops behind.......just helps the beer clear........
 

patrck17

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Yeah Broux that seems like the simplest way to go. I need a spigot on my kettle... I wander how hard it would be to drill the steel... probably better if I not mess with it.
 

DeRoux's Broux

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piece of cake. get a 7/8 " bit, and someone who has a drill press. it'll leak the first few times (little trickle) then seal up. it's easier and safer w/ two people.
 

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I realize this thread it a little old, but i thought i would add something. to strain my wort, i just go to the paint department at home depot and buy a 5 gallon paint strainer for like $1, it has an elastic band around the top that fits onto my ferminting bucket. I put the strainer on the bucket pour the wort in, chill it then just pull the strainer out and throw it all in the trash
 

bikebryan

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gijake1 said:
I realize this thread it a little old, but i thought i would add something. to strain my wort, i just go to the paint department at home depot and buy a 5 gallon paint strainer for like $1, it has an elastic band around the top that fits onto my ferminting bucket. I put the strainer on the bucket pour the wort in, chill it then just pull the strainer out and throw it all in the trash
Bad move.

From what I gather in your post, you are straining your hot wort as you pour it into your primary fermenter, then chilling it. This causes hot-side aeration, which is a bad thing. You don't want to aerate your wort until AFTER you chill it.
 

gijake1

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the paint strainer is big enough that it goes to the bottom of the bucket, so its no different than just pouring it into the fermenter. I brewed a batch this weekend and cooled it in the brew pot instead of the fermenter so either way it was cool first.
 

bikebryan

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gijake1 said:
the paint strainer is big enough that it goes to the bottom of the bucket, so its no different than just pouring it into the fermenter. I brewed a batch this weekend and cooled it in the brew pot instead of the fermenter so either way it was cool first.
It doesn't matter how big or small the strainer is, or whether it sits in the bottom of the bucket. if you pour while the wort is hot, you'll get splashing, sloshing and a lot of hot side aeration, which is bad. Once it's cooled, I'd say go for it, but not while the wort is still hot.

Personall, I use an immersion chiller for a rapid cool down, then siphon to primary using my auto-siphon. Most of the solids stay in the kettle thanks to the anti-sediment tip on the auto-siphon; what makes it into the primary is virtually all left behind when I rack from primary to secondary.
 

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