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Using the Primary Tap

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tagz

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I'm curious about using the tap located at the bottom of many primary fermenters. I used it for SG readings on my last batch but was curious about two things:

- If I use it for transferring to secondary, is it going to suck too much of the yeast cake off the bottom? It's located a couple of inches up but I would think that the flow of wort would start sucking a bunch of the cake with it. When I used it to take SG, they were pretty cloudy and yeast filled.

- Second, is it a contamination risk to use the tap? Each time I took a SG, I swabbed the inside of the tap with some rubbing alcohol on a Q-tip, and that seemed to do the trick, but I'm worried about yeast filled wort that hangs around in there souring and waiting for me to transfer to secondary so that it can infect my batch!

It seems that it would be less risk and hassle to use but I want to make sure its good practice first! Thanks for the input.
 

david_42

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I keg from the fermenter tap. What I'll do is run the beer into a 2L soda bottle until it is clear, then put the rest in the keg. The trub tends to form a small stable sinkhole after a pint or two runs. I force carbonate the soda bottle & chill it. Most of the trub settles out in a couple days.

I've never had a contamination problem. A nipple brush (think baby bottle, swine!) is just the right size for cleaning the inside of the tap. And don't forget to clean & sanitize the outside.
 

malkore

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i never used tap'd buckets for primary, only for bottling. mainly because I don't want to mess with having to sanitize it before putting the wort in there, and sanitizing again from the outside-in every time I wanna use the spigot.
 

Bob

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tagz said:
I'm curious about using the tap located at the bottom of many primary fermenters. I used it for SG readings on my last batch but was curious about two things:

- If I use it for transferring to secondary, is it going to suck too much of the yeast cake off the bottom? It's located a couple of inches up but I would think that the flow of wort would start sucking a bunch of the cake with it. When I used it to take SG, they were pretty cloudy and yeast filled.
Depends on which yeast you use, how flocculent your yeast, and how long it's in the primary. You will draw off some sediment in the beginning, but if you've a nice firm sediment, what david_42 describes will occur. This is one of the reasons why I configure my batches for 5.5 gallons in the primary - to get ahead of this loss.

- Second, is it a contamination risk to use the tap? Each time I took a SG, I swabbed the inside of the tap with some rubbing alcohol on a Q-tip, and that seemed to do the trick, but I'm worried about yeast filled wort that hangs around in there souring and waiting for me to transfer to secondary so that it can infect my batch! It seems that it would be less risk and hassle to use but I want to make sure its good practice first! Thanks for the input.
Sure it's a contamination risk. So is a racking cane, wine thief, or turkey baster. The only sure way to avoid contamination is to not muck about in the fermenter; pitch your yeast, close it up, and ignore it until it's done. But, like you, I like to follow my fermentation with a hydrometer, taking samples after the initial furious fermentation activity ceases. I'd rather take my sample from the drain cock than open the lid, remove the sample, replace the lid, etc.

A hand-held spray bottle is less than $5 at Home Depot, and will hold enough sanitizer to last for weeks. I use good old bleach solution in mine, and I've never had a problem just spraying out the tap. Removes the gunk nicely. Note: Spray the tap before and after taking the sample!

I have never, ever had a contamination issue from this (or any other) cause. The only way to ensure your fermentation is going according to plan is to follow the gravity, and that means taking the gravities. I plot mine on a piece of graph paper daily during primary - that's what we can safely call "anal overkill" - so I can see what's going on, as well as taste the beer throughout the fermentation cycle.

Cheers,

Bob
 

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