An auto siphon is a very inexpensive yet highly valuable home brewing tool that vastly improves the speed of getting your beer from either your primary fermenter to secondary fermenter, or getting your beer straight into your bottles.
If you've bought a complete home brewing kit, chances are the kit came with a racking cane and some plastic tubing. This setup requires the sometimes difficult, and sometimes humiliating task of sucking the tube to initiate the siphoning of the beer.
To be honest, I've never tried that approach. It looks painfully pornographic and may even have a tendency to stimulate some deeply rooted insecurities.
An auto siphon however will almost immediately get your siphon going with just a couple of pumps, which create a quick air vacuum within the tube and get the brew up into the tube and down into your secondary fermenter or bottles much, much quicker.
Once you get the siphon flowing, it's just a matter of waiting. The bigger half inch automatic siphon is the better choice for racking into your secondary fermenter, while the three eights is better suited for bottling. Both will do the trick just fine, it's really just a matter of the timing: the half inch is going to go much faster.
Better homebrewing kits are going to include the upgrade auto siphon. The Gold Complete Beer Equipment Kit (K6+) plus with 6 Gallon Glass Carboy with Auto Siphon will include it, and that means it will come with the accompanying tube. Getting it right at the beginning with the kit will probably save you initial frustration both in the brewing process, and having to spend time looking to get another siphon online.
In addition, getting the proper size siphon clamp will help you keep your siphon on your carboy, freeing up a hand and keeping the siphon steadily over the sediment.
One final thing to consider is that when connecting the tube to the siphon, run it under hot water to get the tube warmed up so it fits more smoothly over the siphon. Without this little step, the tube fits too snugly over the siphon and may become very difficult to connect.
Ultimately, I would recommend either getting the upgraded kit from the beginning, or getting the exact kit you want and purchasing the auto-siphon right along with it, making sure you have all the properly sized tubes and clamps as necessary.
Don't get caught on your knees sucking on a racking cane - leave that to the crackheads. You're a craft beer aficionado and true home brewer, enjoy your life status and elevate your homebrewing experience.
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