Closed-system transfer from fermentor to keg

I learned this technique from a site that Dean Palmer, who used to post here occasionally, used to run, and thought I’d share since it’s really worked well for me and I haven’t heard of others doing anything similar.

Some background…I’ve always been bugged by transfers, the risk of oxidation, siphon woes, and so on. So when I saw this idea, I thought it looked really cool. There are a few different flavors of how to do it depending on the primary and other details, but they all revolve around using CO2 to push beer from the fermentor into the keg.

In my version, I use a plastic fermentor and a lid with 2 holes–one for CO2 in, and one for liquid out. I stick a hose from my regulator in the gas in hole and insert a racking cane connected via a hose to the keg in the other, and after purging the keg, connect the gas to the fermentor and, starting with the regulator turned all the way off, very slowly increase pressure just until the beer starts flowing. There are plenty of nuances and lessons learned (I’ll be happy to share step by step if anyone’s interested), but in general it works really well and exposes the finished beer to as little contamination or oxidation risk as I can imagine.

Anyone else do anything similar?

I have thought about doing the same except from carboy to bottling bucket. With a siphon the tip needs to stay in the beer or air gets sucked into the siphon. Using CO2 to push the beer it would be easier to bring the tip of the racking cane down to the yeast/trub layer without the risk of air entering the cane.

Had to think about what you’re saying for a bit, but I think I got it. It would indeed save you from having to restart your siphon if the racking cane came out of the beer in the “from” vessel.

Consider using a fermenter with a spigot at the bottom.

Attach a liquid disconnect to one end of a piece of hose and push the other end of the hose onto the spigot - you may need a short piece of a different diameter hose to adapt the spigot to the hose with the liquid disconnect.

Purge a keg with CO2, release the pressure, attach the liquid disconnect to the keg, attach the free end of the hose to the spigot, and turn on the spigot. You’ll need to release pressure from the keg as it fills.

You will get a bit of sediment from the fermenter initially; if that bothers you, fill your hydrometer with the first few ounces and get a final gravity and a taste test before you attach the hose to the spigot.

I did just that a few times, fermenting in a bucket with spigot, and around that time I lost a couple batches to what I’m sure was infection from the plastic spigot. Never thought about it much before then, but I found that you need to take a spigot apart to get it fully cleaned and sanitized. Maybe that’s old news for others, but also found that the spigot leaked after it was reassembled.

Ever since then I’ve been really queasy about spigots, especially in cases where the wort is in contact with it before fermentation gets going.

So, long story short, I prefer the method I outlined abpve, as it avoids that risk. Also, while I’m sure the risk of oxidation in the “from” vessel is pretty much zero either way, you do have CO2 filling the headspace if you push it with gas, which is a little more elegant:sunglasses:.

Yep, I should have mentioned that you should remove, take-apart and clean the spigot frequently. Also, spray the spigot inside and out after taking samples.

I’ve heard several people mention that their spigots have leaked. I’ve been fortunate to have never had one leak in twenty-five years of brewing. I attribute that to clean living - - and blind luck. I suspect some leaks are caused by over-tightening the spigot and causing the o-ring to creep and twist. Some people also put the o-ring on the inside; that lets beer seep between the threads and the nut.