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Who says you can't top crop from a carboy?!

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Comment by Sam Scott on January 7, 2009 at 1:31am
I've been meaning to do this for quite a while now but just hadn't gotten to it until now. Tonight I was cleaning up some equipment and just happened to discover a 6.5 gallon carboy hood fits nice and snug on a 1000ml Erlenmeyer flask. My hefeweizen was in the basement at high krausen so I grabbed a stainless racking cane and some tubing I had laying around and went to work. Cut the racking cane and sanitized everything. Worked like a charm!

I left the racking cane long enough to dip into the beer slightly. This lets me grab some of the fermenting beer which you can see in the flask at the end of the video.

I had all the equipment on hand but if you had to go out and buy everything it should be less than $30.

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Comment by Jeff Louella on January 7, 2009 at 7:40am
I've seen videos where people spoon it out of the buckets, but since I ferment in carboys I never thought I could do that. Wow. Very cool idea.
Comment by Bill Schools on January 7, 2009 at 12:10pm
That worker well. I pumped trub from the bottom of a carboy and made a starter. That`s another way of harvesting yeast.
Comment by Brother Benny (aka Carl) on January 13, 2009 at 12:07pm
Hey Sam, you are about one length of tubing away from a Burton Union system there! Nice Job!
Comment by Christian Mosebach on February 11, 2009 at 10:14pm
So I just sent James, from Basic Brewing Radio, a link to this page so that he could see how Sam top crops his yeast. James just did a video podcast on re-using yeast, and I felt compelled that he should see this system and maybe share with his viewers.
Comment by Sam Scott on February 12, 2009 at 10:50am
Since I've posted this video, I've found a few items on the Net where other home brewers have used similar techniques. It's just a controlled blow-off into a sanitized container. Some have even setup what's akin to a Burton Union. Instead of pitching yeast from a starter, they blow the yeast off a batch at high krausen into another fermenter full of new wort. I actually could have done this in the video posted here. Instead of going into the flask, I could have blown off into the second carboy sitting there. (Brother Benny alluded to this.)

I've also talked to Jamil Zainasheff about this setup. He 's done it before with a slight modification.... He hooked up his CO2 tank to the 2nd hole on the fermenter's cap. This way he didn't have to rely on the pressure from the fermentation to push the yeast into the flask. He just opened the regulator a little on the CO2 tank and was able to use the racking cane like a vacuum. He also mentioned that he doesn't bother anymore. He doesn't brew often enough to make it worth while and also feels that the quality of the yeast from his starters is just as good.

On the other hand, 2009 Sam Adam's Long Shot winner Mike McDole, swears by top cropped yeast. Claims it has almost supernatural fermenting powers. :)

At any rate, I just wanted to present it here as another tool we can use in our brewing.
Comment by Sam Scott on February 12, 2009 at 12:59pm
Whoops... my understanding of a Burton Union was incorrect. In a Burton Union, the blow-off would enter a container (or trough) and any excess beer would be returned to the original fermenter. Essentially separating the solids from the liquid.

By the way, I just learned a new word... barm. :)
Comment by Sam Scott on February 12, 2009 at 2:10pm
Okay, for my next project... I think I'm going to build a Burton Union type device so I can do a primary ferment in a 5 gallon corny keg. I've always wanted to ferment in a corny but they're just not big enough to do a 5 gallon batch. I think it might work with such a device.

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