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Just wondering how well you folks strain your wort when transferring to primary.

I brewed my first batch last night and, aside from forgetting to take an OG reading, everything went well. However, I was surprised at the amount of trub in the wort. As I was poring the wort into the fermenter using a cheap strainer, I couldn't help but wonder if I should be taking more care during this step.

I have a typical wire mesh strainer, like you might find at Target, which catches most of the trub but probably lets plenty through as well, that I used last night. I've read somewhere (Palmer?) that you can line it with a couple layers of cheesecloth. I also have a fine mesh strainer (like you might use to strain a consomme or something), but it would probably take upwards of 20-30 minutes to strain 3 gallons of wort through it. I tend to think that the cheap strainer sans cheesecloth is probably fine, especially since I'll rack to a secondary before bottling anyway.

Any thoughts, or accepted 'best practices' for this step? What ill effects could too much trub have in the fermentor?

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Did you add hops directly to the boil? If so, a nylon bag might be in order. But if you used a hop bag, don't worry about the trub in the fermenter... you will leave that behind at bottling. –  Dale Sep 20 '12 at 0:02

3 Answers 3

The strainer alone is fine; no need to get cheesecloth or anything like that. You might look into a "hop spider" or generally any sort of mesh enclosure for either leaf or pellet hops, which will otherwise make straining basically unnecessary. Spend time on the things that matter more: fermentation temperature control, proper yeast pitching rates and wort oxygenation.

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+1 to the hop spider. You can build 2 for under $15, go in on it with a friend: byo.com/build-it-yourself/item/2427-build-a-hop-spider-projects –  mlaramie Jan 26 at 14:37

You might consider skipping the straining and racking to a secondary a few days later instead.

You're putting the cool wort in contact with the strainer. The wort is most vulnerable at that stage: you haven't added the yeast. That means the strainer needs to be cleaned to avoid contamination. Even so many of these house hold strainers are nearly impossible to clean good enough. Plastic buckets carry the risk of developing small scratches that can house contaminants over time, that's why some advocate replacing them over time. So just think of all the nooks and crannies in a house hold strainer.

That's why I recommend just racking to a secondary after a few days if you're concerned about the trub. There is significantly less risk of contamination in doing so. That also gives time for the smaller particles to settle that you aren't going to get out with a house hold strainer anyways.

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Racking to secondary in general is old-school brewing advice that's largely being phased out in favor of 2-4 week primaries now. Racking after just a few days is a bad idea, IMHO, as you risk oxidizing the beer, picking up infections, and stalling out the yeast. Its just not needed. –  Graham Jan 27 at 13:16

In reality, it's not as big a deal as people make it out to be. Get out what you can and don't worry about the rest. You'll rack off of it anyway. In fact, cold break in the fermenter can actually be good for the yeast.

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