Monday, May 17, 2010

Brew Gear: Fermtech Auto siphon

So do I dare talk about an auto-siphon? The views on auto-siphons are like watching a day in congress. No matter what level of brewer you are you are going to have to move large volumes of liquid and you hope to do it in a sanitized way.

Thankfully to Oxford English Dictionary's screwup we now all know that a siphon works by gravity, well probably a mix of things but whatever I am not a scientist I just know that I need this liquid in this thing moved into this other thing.

I did not start using an auto siphon until about a year ago. I used to do all my fermenting in a ported 5 gallon better bottle and control my krausen with fermcap-s (review forthcoming). I could attach some hosing to the spout and let basically a gravity induced siphon do the work. I never purchased a glass carboy because of the horror stories of people breaking them and cutting up their flesh real good. I purchased a few more non-ported 6 gallon better bottles for more fermentation room and my 5 gallon better bottles are now used for secondary.

I use the Fermtech auto siphon when racking (transferring) from my primary fermenter to the secondary fermenter. It is a pretty simple process, sanitize the thing with star san stick it in the better bottle, pump the racking cane once or twice, watch your beer start moving through the tubing. The thing has a little tip on the end that allows the suction to start above the yeast/trub line.

So seems pretty simple huh? I know a lot of people that hate them, mostly for the fact that they see them as disposable tools that will only work for a few uses. The problems I see most are the the outer tube has been cracked and its harder to hold a seal, and the gasket on the inner racking tube is garbage and loses its shape after a few uses. After about a year of use I have not seen these problems with mine. I would ask the haters if they are storing it properly, the best way would be to let them air dry and store in three separate pieces.

I think it is one of those tools that every brewer should have. It beats having to risk infection from anyone of the thousands of bacteria that live in your mouth. If you need to transfer this is probably the easiest and simplest way (unless you have a ported carboy). I would probably recommend this over the ported better bottles for the mere fact that those things are quite pricey, the carboy is probably around $25 and the actual spout somewhere around $40, the auto siphon will usually run around $10 at your local homebrew store with another extra buck for the tubing.

If mine ever starts to fail I will come back and post that, but at a year of use for 10 bucks I would go and buy another one.

Here's is a great post over at Mike's Brew Review discussing the 3 different ways to siphon beer.

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