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I have a cider in the fermenter that has been there for almost two months. I am ready to bottle it now but during the half way point I took a sample out of the spigot to check the FG reading.

My question is what is the best way to clean the spigot before bottling, and I guess do I need to clean it?

My cleaning solution is a mixture of Tri Sodium Phosphate to clean then I use sodium metabisulphate to sterilize the equipment.

The cleaning solution requires hot water then soaked in the solution then rinse with hot water then sterilize. Its not going to be easy to do this on a spigot so what are some easier (but still thorough) ways of cleaning it.

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3 Answers 3

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If you don't want to rack to another vessel, then you can spray with warm OxiClean (or similar oxygen-based cleaner) or PBW (Powdered Brewery Wash - an alkali cleaner). Leave for a couple of hours and then spray with water. This will take away the residue. You can then spray with more OxiClean - in the recommended dosage it does in fact sanitize - I used to sanitize bottles with it, or you can spray with a solution of sodium metabisulphite.

Cider is usually quite acidic so the risk of contamination from bacteria is quite low, but wild yeasts are still an issue.

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I think I will mark this one as the answer for now as I think it answers my question better (even though I am contemplating your other option). Could you please explain what PBW stands for? –  WillNZ Nov 8 '13 at 21:46
    
Glad to help. Clarified my answer on PBW. –  mdma Nov 8 '13 at 22:16
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But really, you have a fair amount of leeway with cider - even if you just spray the spigot with water, clean out with a paper towel, and then clean with sodium metabisulphite, and then drain a little cider to flush away any gunk and nasties, that will be good enough. –  mdma Nov 8 '13 at 23:57
    
Good to know. I have some sodium metabisulphite in a spray bottle so I will give it a few sprays throughout the day to soften/loosen any nasty's and as you say flush out the spigot before I bottle. Cheers –  WillNZ Nov 9 '13 at 2:23
    
@mdma What would you recommend for a beer brewer who wants to use the spigot to take periodic samples from the fermenter, and then rack from the spigot to the bottling bucket? It seems that the spigot has the advantage of not allowing oxygen into the fermenter, but sanitization is a concern at racking. –  Chino Brews Nov 9 '13 at 5:43

You should probably just rack to a second sanitary bucket, especially if you plan to add additional sugar to the cider for carbonation.

Ideally, you use a separate bucket with a spigot to which you can then attach a "bottling wand". This allows you to fill the bottle from the bottom upwards, which significantly reduces the amount of oxygen that is absorbed in the cider. Also, the wand only fills when you push the base of the bottle against it, so is much more convenient than using a siphon, or opening/closing a tap.

Bottling wand

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Also, just an (unrelated) FYI, that racking cane fits very well on the end of a picnic tap for kegs, making filling growlers for the day's festivities mind-boggling easy. Wouldn't recommend for long term storage since you can't flush with CO2, but for immediate consumption, works like a charm. –  Scott Nov 8 '13 at 0:50
    
Yes it works well, I do that when I have to take some beer to a party, if I'm not taking the whole keg. –  mdma Nov 8 '13 at 14:26
    
Oh great! Another toy I need to get for this hobby! ;) –  object88 Nov 8 '13 at 18:10
    
I do already have a bottling wand that I use. I think they are great. @object88 if you don't have one I recommend getting one. I wasn't planning on carbonating many of the brews so hadn't planned to rack to a secondary. All I have is another fermenter to put it in. Is it worth it? –  WillNZ Nov 8 '13 at 21:31

I quit using spigots because of the difficulty in cleaning them and the lack of necessity. You can use a wine thief for samples, and an auto-siphon works great for bottling (with the cane mdma mentioned). Also, spigots are too high, especially if the trub is low. I've seen all kinds of crazy bent tubes, etc, or tipping buckets to get at the wort, but an auto-siphon is perfect, it will dig a hole in deep trub and you won't get much trub after the initial draw. If you have super low trub, take off the plastic filter and it will get at nearly all the wort. If you aren't carbonating, then you can do that directly in the primary. But as mdma said, you really want to rack to another vessel (heck, even just sanitize your boil kettle if you only have one fermenter) before adding the sugar or you will have to kick up trub to stir it.

Using metabisulfite to sanitize is expensive compared with star-san or iodophor.

(Do you use must/lees for cider instead of wort/trub?)

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When using an auto syphon how does it stay in place without kicking up more of the trub? I normally tip the bucket slightly to get to the bottom to be honest. The syphon I have at the moment is just a long hose. Is there something more specific I need? I do have the bottling wand that can attach to it. –  WillNZ Nov 12 '13 at 22:59
    
Re metabisulfite, starsan it has not long been imported in my country so I have only have used metabisulfite. I will convert at some stage but am happy with what I am using at the moment. I need to do more research before I commit. –  WillNZ Nov 12 '13 at 23:05
    
@WillNZ, the autosiphon won't kick up any more trub if it is reasonably compact. Fluffy trub may kick up a bit at the very end. Yes, an autosiphon is different. Just google it. They come in 1/2" and 3/8". You attach your hose to the autosiphon. If it has to be imported, powdered metabisulfite is probably cheaper, since star-san/iodophor is in liquid form. –  Wyrmwood Nov 13 '13 at 2:24

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