To Syphon or Not To Syphon ?

I made a good few successful homebrews last year which were appreciated by the whole family.

I made them in one fermenting vessel and when it came the time to bottle, I just attached my little bottler and commenced filling my 1ltr bottles. However, when I came to pour, I was losing quite a bit of my beer due to the sediment rising up to the top of the bottle. Out of my 1 litre bottles [1.76 pints], I think I was only getting approx 1.5 pints !! I'd like to rectify this for next time.

My question therefore is...... Should I syphon from the original vessel into a 2nd vessel before I actually bottle the beer? I always thought the secondary fermentation required to have sediment in the bottles when the priming sugar was added to allow it to carbonate. Surely if I transfer from one vessel to another, there won't be enough sediment for it to carbonate in the bottles?

Any advice on improving my technique [Good or bad] would be greatly appreciated.

Kind Regards,


  • HBO_StaffHBO_Staff Administrator Posts: 2,115
    edited January 2022
    Hey TrevTheBev, great news your brews have been well received by the family, losing some of the brew from each bottle is not great though as it is too good to waste any. It may be that with the larger bottles, when you tip them up to pour it is allowing sediment to get more easily disturbed and clouds the brew, but the good news is there are a few things you can do to reduce this.

    As you say you do need some suspended yeast in the liquid to work on the priming drops/sugar and create the secondary fermentation and carbonation in the bottles, but you can reduce the amount of suspended yeast in the brew before bottling - leaving some in the brew to carbonate but removing the bulk of it - this can increase the carbonation time though. Using a second vessel will do this, or using finings before bottling will settle it out too.

    You might consider a yeast upgrade, some yeasts are much better at compacting the sediment in the bottles, so as you pour the brew into glasses the sediment is not as disturbed and it stays in the base of the bottles.

    If you are not emptying the bottles in one smooth go, and have to stand it back up half full, this will also stir up the sediment, so ideally try to pour out all in one go if possible, often smaller 500ml bottles help with this as they are just under a pint.

    A guide to reducing sediment and clearing the brew is here on this link if of any interest:
  • TrevTheBevTrevTheBev Member Posts: 13
    Hi HBO_Staff,

    Many thanks for your advice to my query of syphoning. You have given me a good couple of pointers to think about. I normally try and pour the whole 1 litre bottle at once into 2 pint glasses but admittedly, I do get a good bit of sediment when I try and balance the bottle whilst stretching for my second empty pint.
    I think I'll firstly try and use finings in the one vessel before I try to syphon from one to another as I've since heard that airborne germs could get into the second vessel which could spoil the brew. I've also heard that I could possibly use gelatine as finings as well so this will all be a learning curve for me. Is this correct?
    You mention using a higher quality yeast when starting the brew. Do you have any particular yeasts in mind or are they pretty much the same?

  • HBO_StaffHBO_Staff Administrator Posts: 2,115
    Yeasts can really vary and some are designed to help form a compact sediment and can make a big difference, ones such as this are worth trying and see if that helps:

    Having the sediment well compacted can stop the yeast getting stirred up whilst pouring.

    Using a second vessel is a technique people use but can have the risk of contamination, a brew is helped to be protected by forming a blanket of CO2 above the liquid as it ferments, once the fermentation is complete if you transfer the brew then there is not the same barrier over the liquid helping to protect it anymore. A solution can be to leave the brew in the first fermenter for a couple more days after the fermentation has completed to allow more sediment to settle, if the fermenter is sealed (with an airlock) then it is fairly well protected, however you don't want to leave a brew on the settled dead yeast for too long as it can impart off flavours, a couple of days is usually fine though.

    We would recommend to use a specific beer fining for clearing a brew, most are not suitable for vegans etc, although this one is:

    This fining below is a popular one, it can be added to the vessel 2 days before bottling, and then carbonation will usually take 2 to 3 weeks:
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