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My current brew is a hard ginger beer, calling for a pound of grated ginger in my 3 gallon primary. Fermentation is slowing and unfortunately a lot of that ginger remains unsettled--the bottom 3" of the fermenter is a very loose mix of the ginger, beer, and trub.

When it comes time to rack the beer I'll need to strain out the ginger, but unlike the usual trub I'll need a different technique to getting most of the beer our without bringing along all the grated ginger. Since the ginger isn't compacted to the bottom of the fermenter it's much easier to stir up and is mixed with about 20% of the overall batch--so just keeping the cane above the sediment won't work.

Is there a tool or technique that I can use which will let me rack the beer over and leave all the sediment behind?

  • I don't have any idea if this would work, but maybe try gelatin in the primary. – Graham Jan 28 '15 at 14:48
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What about some cheesecloth or butter-muslin tied around the end of your racking cane that will go in the primary? You could easily sanitize it by boiling or soaking in your choice of no-rinse sanitizer. Using some similar filter on the other end of the racking tube could work too, but I'd be worried about oxidation.

You should probably rack the clear beer off first, then plunge the cane into the sediment to get what's left in there. If the ginger's not grated too fine and there isn't too much trub in there I would think you could get a good deal of beer out while leaving most of the undesirables behind. If it gets too jammed, just shake it around a bit and that should free it up.

Alternately if you can wait a bit longer in primary it should settle out better. I hear racking is overrated, anyway..

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The following is pure imagineering. I have never been in the situation you are describing, but thinking about hard ginger-beer, I may have to change that pretty soon. Take this with a grain of salt and other members, please pipe in if necessary.

Given the quantity of suspended particles which you are talking about, you might have better luck pouring the last of your primary's contents down through some cheese cloth rather than trying to siphon up through a cheese cloth filter. I can just imagine that a filtered siphon would get clogged almost constantly.

Rack off as much clear beer as you can, directly into your secondary. Then take a sterile pot or big mouthed container and cover the opening with several layers of almost taught sterilized cheese cloth (with paper coffee filters between each layer). Duct tape the cheese cloth in place around the edges because all that ginger pulp will be heavy enough to move it otherwise.

Then carefully tip your 3 gallon primary, pouring the remainder of your "dirty" ginger beer through the cheese cloth filter and into the sterile container below. If you don't already have a fitted harness, you may want to duct tape some towels to your carboy to make it easier to hold onto during the tipping.

If even this bigger filter gets clogged with all the pulp, use a spoon to clear it away, then continue.

Once you have filtered all of your primary, add the cleaned contents of the container to your secondary and continue with your conditioning process.

  • This is pretty much what I'd been thinking, but I'm hesitant to pour it through a sieve/cloth since that'll likely aerate it quite a bit – STW Jan 27 '15 at 23:12
  • Valid point and a definite issue with the technique I described. If you happen to have a source of CO2, you could possibly fill the sterile container with the innert gas before installing the filter top. That might help. – Henry Taylor Jan 27 '15 at 23:58
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    Alternatively, if you have a sterile length of garden hose (or any hose that is too big to clog up) you could lay the cheese cloth layers in the bottom of the sterile vessel, with excess chees cloth hanging over on all sides. Then siphon in your dirty beer with the big siphon on top of the cheese cloth. Then by lifting the cheese cloth and trub out of the pot and letting it drain, the filtering could get done without excessive aeriation. – Henry Taylor Jan 28 '15 at 0:03
  • I think you hit the nail on the head, I'll find a bucket to borrow and rack the beer and ginger bits onto sanitized cloth. Maybe next time I'll try doing primary with the cloth in place – STW Jan 28 '15 at 1:44
  • Glad I could help. Now that you've got me interested in a new brew, I think I'm going to try a boil in the bag approach, sewing up the ginger in a satchel of cheese cloth right from the start. Thanks for the inspiration for next weeks brew! – Henry Taylor Jan 28 '15 at 3:34
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You might want to try a "Cold Crash" first too. Depending on your situation, if you can get your carboy to a location where it is very cold and let it sit over night, you might get it to settle a little more. Put it in a location where you don't have to move it before racking.(Garage?) Not sure if your bottling, but if you are, you might do it in two separate sessions, first bottle all the good beer that has no risk of getting sediment, then bottle the rest and mark it as such. This you can just set aside for yourself. BTW, I would be concerned about any filtration method where Oxygen that might come in contact with the beer.

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