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> Racking Beer with CO2, contributed by flaminio
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post Dec 10 2005, 09:59 PM
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Racking (Pushing) Beer with CO2 FAQ
contributed by flaminio

One of the more laborious parts of homebrewing is racking our beer from primary to secondary, then secondary to either keg or bottling bucket. Lifting 5+ gallons of beer, plus container, above the waist is a strain even for modestly fit homebrewers. Add to that the use of glass containers, which are not only heavy, but are also sensitive to breaking. Breaking a full glass carboy can be quite the disaster with great potential for injury and strain to relations with others sharing your living space. Oh yeah, and also the loss of a precious batch of beer. Racking our beer also introduces oxygen and offers another chance for contamination. Then there's the issue of the siphon. Suck, blow, AutoSiphon, voodoo priming procedures -- all have shortcomings and can try the patience of any homebrewer.

Could there possibly be a solution to fix all these problems? No, it's not finding an assistant brewer who can work in a vacuum. It's pushing your beer with CO2.

To rack with CO2, your beer needs to be in a carboy or keg. The idea is to place one container next to the other, put the originating container under CO2 pressure, and then push the beer into the destination container. The results are no lifting, less disturbing of the sediment, and limited oxygen pickup along the way. The most ideal environment is to rack into a keg, which has been purged of oxygen, but another carboy will work too.

For our example, we'll go from a carboy primary to a carboy secondary. First stick the racking cane w/ hose through the larger, center nipple of the carboy cap. Take the CO2 line with a barbed swivel nut, and connect the 1/4 flare to barb fitting. Then place the barbed end of the CO2 line into the second nipple on the cap. Finally place the cap on the carboy. Place the hose into the destination carboy and we're ready to go. I suggest just using about 2 psi to rack the beer.

You don't have to worry about pressurizing the originating carboy and it breaking because the cap will slip off if the pressure builds too high. Ideally, you'll want to prop something like two carboy wedges to tilt the originating carboy on edge, thus getting the most beer w/least amount of sediment. If you don't want to use as much CO2, you can elevate the originating carboy and use CO2 to just get a siphon started. That of course isn't as cool, but it's still cool nonetheless.

Parts List
Carboy Cap (Orange = 3, 5, 6 gal carboys, purple/red or yellow = 6.5 gallon)- - $2.50-$3.00 (LHBS)
Racking Cane (plastic works fine)- - $2.50 (LHBS)
3/8" Vinyl Hose
Barbed Swivel Nut 5/16" barb to 1/4" FFL -- $3.25 (LHBS)
1/4'' Male Flare x 5/16'' Barb -- (Beer, Beer, & More Beer #KEG620 or McMaster-Carr 10x pack #5346K74)

Flare to Barb Fitting
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