Air bubbles in siphon

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by eggieeddie, Oct 31, 2018.

  1. eggieeddie

    eggieeddie Initiate (33) Oct 4, 2018 New York

    I searched the first 5 pages and couldn’t see an answer to this, so apologies if this is a question commonly asked/answered.

    I’m currently fermenting my first beer, a NE style IIPA. Everything has gone great, my gravity is looking fantastic but I just encountered this problem siphoning from my primary to secondary.

    Used one of those “magic” auto siphons and about 2/3 of the way in noticed a load of bubbles in the tube. Of course I panicked, having heard bad things about introducing oxygen, and desperately tried to get the siphon working. Needless to say I didn’t, just created more bubbles, so gave up with it. Unfortunately my primary didn’t have a side spigot so I gingerly poured the remainder (1/3-1/4) of liquid directly from the primary to secondary, put the lid on and stuffed the airlock in place.

    Am I fucked? Will this beer be awful? I’m due to dry hop again in 10 days or so, so in the meantime is there something I can do? Should I add more yeast?

    Any advice would be very warmly received.

  2. minderbender

    minderbender Initiate (196) Jan 18, 2009 New York

    Look this isn't ideal, but I don't think the beer is ruined.

    The bubbles were probably not a big deal. When I see a bubble, I generally squeeze the siphon to dislodge it. When you think about the amount of oxygen in a bubble, it's just not enough to worry about (especially if, as is possible, it was a bubble of carbon dioxide coming out of solution). Note that it's different if it's a stream of bubbles coming into the beer through a loose-fitting siphon or something. That would be a real concern. A stray bubble would not be, in my view.

    Pouring into secondary was actually probably a bigger issue. Although in all honesty, doing a secondary at all is questionable with this style of beer. The common advice on this forum would be to do your dry-hopping in primary and rack straight from there to the bottling bucket or keg.

    I honestly don't know what to advise at this point. I guess you could add a little sugar to try to reduce the oxygen exposure. But maybe the more important thing is to get the beer packaged and consumed as quickly as possible. I wouldn't wait 10 days to dry hop again. Dry hop now and get it packaged.

    As for adding yeast, that's unnecessary. There's plenty of yeast in suspension.
  3. GormBrewhouse

    GormBrewhouse Disciple (398) Jun 24, 2015 Vermont

    Your beer will not be ruined. Finish whatever you have planned for DH, bottle and drink.
    LuskusDelph likes this.
  4. billandsuz

    billandsuz Disciple (372) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    Sometimes those bubbles are CO2 bubbles, because fermented beer will have significant CO2 in solution even prior to carbonation.

    If you do everything you are supposed to and avoid splashing your beer will thank you later. It is one of those struggles for new brewers but it is actually one of the easier tasks to master. Get a plan in place and stick to it.

    As for adding sugar to minimize oxygenation, unfortunately it does not quite work that way. The result of oxygen exposure to fermented beer is stale beer, and once that occurs the damage is mostly done. New yeast introduced into fermented beer are looking for food, which has already been consumed. They will look for oxygen, which may be present, but is not much use in reversing the staling. And it is quite difficult to get the introduced yeast to do much of anything in fact, because beer is not like wort... they will consume the priming sugar but they ain't happy about it either.

  5. Brewday

    Brewday Initiate (121) Dec 25, 2015 New York

    Had this happen a few times then i tossed the fat part.That rubber seal wears out or won't work right if you pump at a angle. You could just use the cane and suck on the hose to create vacuum. Put the cane in a strainer bag to keep junk out. If your worried about infections drink some vodka before you start.:stuck_out_tongue:
    GormBrewhouse likes this.
  6. riptorn

    riptorn Initiate (109) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina

    Had a similar experience during my most recent transfer from primary to bottling bucket. Inspection of the auto-siphon revealed a flat spot on the plungers rubber seal, probably from storing it on its side and not in the barrel.

    I did a seat o’ the pants test by running a little hot water over the seal and reinserting in the barrel. Condensation built up in the barrel and, after sliding the plunger in/out, it was obvious that the flat spot was not contacting the barrel, suggesting to me that air could get past it during transfer.

    In hopes of returning the seal closer to its intended shape and pliability, I heated up a small pot of water to boiling and swished the plunger w/seal in it for less than a minute.
    Reran the test; the seal contacts the barrel all the way around.

    I’m reasonably confident this particular issue is resolved (there might be others). Should know in a few days when transferring another batch to the bottling bucket. I'll do the ‘re-pliability’ thing again, immediately before starting the transfer.

    Edited to add: Inspect your barrel for cracks or other compromises and make sure the tubing fits snugly on the cane, clamping if warranted.
    #6 riptorn, Oct 31, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2018
    PapaGoose03 likes this.
  7. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (734) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    ...or better yet, trash all siphons and drain from a primary spigot with hose to next vessel (keg, bottling bucket, etc.)
    GormBrewhouse and billandsuz like this.
  8. meatst1ck

    meatst1ck Initiate (67) Feb 22, 2015 Pennsylvania

    Out of curiosity, do you ever have issues with your primary spigot getting clogged? Or is it a pain to clean it after a primary ferment? I've always wanted to go the "primary spigot route," but have been discouraged due to concerns of it being more of a pain than its worth. Additionally, have you ever had issues with long-term aging (sours for instance) in a fermenter w/ spigot?
  9. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (734) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    1. No
    2. No
    3. Yes, but spigot or not, I would not long-term age a sour in a bucket. Carboys or even small barrels work better.

    Spigots do need to be cleaned, but the key is to clean/rinse them promptly like anything else. Check them for tightness and integrity each use. Install them a little higher than normal if you don't strain your wort or use massive a massive amount of hops...otherwise toss the first 1/2 pint and soldier on. :slight_smile: cheers

    fwiw: putting spigots on my fermenters was the best homebrewing move I've made (along with kegging)
    GormBrewhouse likes this.
  10. billandsuz

    billandsuz Disciple (372) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    Long term should preferably be in glass or keg, so not a spigot issue. Plastic buckets are oxygen permeable, and for long term it is an issue best avoided.
    LuskusDelph and GormBrewhouse like this.
  11. meatst1ck

    meatst1ck Initiate (67) Feb 22, 2015 Pennsylvania

    Oh I totally hear you both on not aging in buckets. Sorry I should have specified, but I was referring to spigots on PET carboys and how I've imagined that those could be a pain. I've been throwing around the idea of putting in a spigot on my PET carboys as one more way to reduce oxygenation, but installing and removing them to clean and then re-install just seems like more trouble than its worth.

    I can totally see fermenting in a plastic bucket with a spigot for transferring to the next vessel being really ideal for primary fermentation alone though.
  12. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,476) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania

    Or better yet, use a conical and push with CO2 to a sealed (but spunded) O2 free keg.
  13. riptorn

    riptorn Initiate (109) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina

    This device might help with that.
    GreenKrusty101 and meatst1ck like this.
  14. GormBrewhouse

    GormBrewhouse Disciple (398) Jun 24, 2015 Vermont

    i got one of the PET fermentors with a high spikot and love it. they clean easy
    meatst1ck likes this.
  15. riptorn

    riptorn Initiate (109) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina

    How high are they installed, from bottom of the carboy to the center of the spigot?
  16. eggieeddie

    eggieeddie Initiate (33) Oct 4, 2018 New York

    Thanks for all the info but perhaps I wasn’t clear, there were lots of bubbles - many many bubbles in the siphon and all over the place as I tried to get the damnable thing working. I’ll never use that crappy thing again - will only drain via bucket spigot in the future.

    It is what it is, so I may do final dry hop now and see about bottling over the weekend. Hopefully it’s not ruined - I’ll check back in and let y’all know how it turns out.
  17. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (734) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    3" is about normal, so I'd go 3.5 or 4"
    (Personally I'd keep at 3" and strain)
    riptorn and GormBrewhouse like this.
  18. GormBrewhouse

    GormBrewhouse Disciple (398) Jun 24, 2015 Vermont

    Like Mr Krusty says around 3 inch. Really not enough if you use a lot of hops or lots of fruit, but perfict for standard beers and even imperials. Easy enough t tip the fermenter if your trub is packed down hard.
    riptorn likes this.
  19. GormBrewhouse

    GormBrewhouse Disciple (398) Jun 24, 2015 Vermont

    Tighten the hose clamp if you have one. Otherwise you may have a cracked cane. If so, buy another, they are cheap
  20. Tebuken

    Tebuken Aspirant (289) Jun 6, 2009 Argentina

    Next time you come across with this issue I recommend you to bottle right away to carb your beer up, this way the oxygen you might have introduced will be consumed by the yeast remaining in your beer as soon as possible preventing stale flavors. Then you can let your bottled and carbed beer age at cool temp .
  21. Mr_Kreusen

    Mr_Kreusen Initiate (31) Oct 4, 2015 Massachusetts

    When I use an auto-siphon, after the first long pump to get it started, there are sometimes bubbles up near the top of the tubing. This is fixable by raising the racking cane about 3" and giving two more rapid pumps. Those bubbles seem to pass through the tubing and are gone.