Best tubing for beer lines

Tuesday, August 2, 2022
There are many kinds of tubes in the world.
London's Tube.

'The Tube'.

A water tube.



Nasogastric tubes.

Most of those have their place in the world but when making beer, the only tube that matters is beer line tubing.

And if you want your beer to be the best beer it can be, then having quality tubing for your beer lines is just as important as sanitization, good hops, and great brewing practices.

beer line tubing for transfering beer

Why you should consider using beer tubes!

Have you ever transferred beer?

Did you ever try and pour a massive load of wort into a secondary?

Did you ever spill it?

Get burned by the hot water?

Have you ever siphoned beer?

Ever cooled a beer wort?

Every time you buy a piece of brewing equipment that uses tubing you are making a call about your beer. Different tubing does different jobs so bear in mind, a single piece of tubing is not the 'one tube to bind them all'.

What's the deal with vinyl tubing for brewing? 

Vinyl tubing is cheap, widely available and excellent for transferring beer from a keg via a jockey box.

It is not suited for high temperatures so it arguably shouldn't be used for transferring hot wort for example.

Some pundits believe that hot tubing can leach into beer, tainting the beer's flavor, or worse adding harmful chemical residue to the beer. I'd take that with a grain of salt but certainly, hot water or wort can damage your tubing so we say use vinyl for transferring beer.

Many beer lines come with screw clamps already attached that will connect to your faucet. You can also get reinforced lining for your tubes - it makes the hose stiffer and more difficult to use, but that might be just what you need.

best tubing for beer lines home brew kegging systems

What is the best silicon tubing for transferring hot wort? 

silicon beer wort transfer lines
Using silicone tubing to transfer hot wort is hands down your best option because it will not melt or change shape as standard vinyl tubing can do. It is also non-toxic.

When transferring wort or a hot sparge, you should always consider using a tube that has been rated for high temperatures like silicone.

Silicone can handle temperatures up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit which makes it quite ideal for transferring hot liquids.

This is the reason why silicon bakeware is so popular - it's light, easy to clean and can withstand the heat pressures of your home oven.

If you do not want to use silicone, then any tubing that's manufactured as 'thermoplastic' will also do the job.

Vinyl tubing that is used with hot water has the potential to leach from itself into your beer, possibly tainting it.

Silicon will not curl up like vinyl hosing can.

What is the best tubing to connect to a wort chiller?

Wort chillers are great for reducing the temperature of the hot beer wort quickly and efficiently so you can get on with pitching the yeast so you can get your beer fermenting.

Most wort chillers will connect the copper or steel end to standard vinyl tubing which then has an attachment that connects to the water supply, often a faucet.

What should I use for 'blow off' tubing?

If your wort has a tendency to expand into a messy foam out the top of your carboy (beware the krausen!) then you may want to use a blowoff tube in place of the standard carboy airlock.

The tubing can then release the foam into a bottle, bucket or whatever to contain the krausen.

We suggest if you have brewing conditions where this has happened more than once, you may wish to consider grabbing some tubing from Amazon!

You can use whatever kind of tubing you want but be sure to get a suitable thick pipe, nothing too narrow as that will work against you as the krausen will not be able to blow out tubing. Some users prefer to use steel tubing.

Taking care of your tube lines (gotta keep 'em clean)

Your beer lines will naturally over time become filthy due to beer residue, yeast and goodness knows what else finds its way into the tubes. 

Crucially, a build-up of calcium oxalate can occur - 'beer stone' as it is known can be a real pain to remove. In fact, if you get beer stone in your lines, we'd recommend you best simply replace them.

If that occurs your beer could become tainted as it flows through, ruining the drinking experience. 

So keep your lines clean!

How do you do this?

If you are a simple homebrewer, a handy solution is to soak your beer lines in a cleaning solution. And for this, we recommend our go-to product, sodium percarbonate. It's cheap, breaks down in the water and won't leave a bad taste residue. 

Once you have soaked your tubes in a bucket for say an hour, drain the cleaning solution and then rinse with fresh water. Re-attach your tubing and you are good to pour your delicious beer!

Other ideas about tubes to ponder...

Exploring Material Choices: Beyond Vinyl and Silicone

While vinyl and silicone are two of the most common materials used in beer line tubing, there are other options available that each come with their own sets of pros and cons. Polyethylene tubing, for instance, offers a balance between flexibility and rigidity, making it a suitable choice for various applications in the brewing process. There's also thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) tubing, which combines the properties of rubber and plastic for a highly durable yet flexible solution.

The choice of material often depends on its compatibility with the beer, pressure requirements, and temperature stability. It's essential to match the tubing material to your specific brewing needs to ensure optimum performance.

Color-Coded Tubing for Streamlined Brewing Operations

For those who are delving into more complex brewing setups or managing multiple beer types, color-coded tubing can be a valuable addition to your toolkit. Utilizing different colors for different beer types or stages of the brewing process can eliminate confusion and reduce the risk of cross-contamination. Imagine trying to operate a brewery or even a complicated homebrew setup without a clear indication of what each tube is doing; color-coded tubing offers a simple yet effective solution to this challenge.
The Impact of Tube Diameter on Brewing Efficiency

It's not just the material of the tubing that matters; the diameter also plays a critical role in your brewing process. A tube with a smaller diameter may restrict flow, affecting the quality and speed of your operations. On the other hand, a tube with a larger diameter might not provide enough resistance, which could affect the quality of the final product. The trick is to find a balance between the two, and that sweet spot can be elusive.

Innovations in Beer Line Technology: Self-Cleaning Systems

Cutting-edge advancements in brewing technology have led to the introduction of self-cleaning beer line systems. These setups include built-in cleaning mechanisms that circulate cleaning solutions through the tubes at designated intervals. While these are mainly seen in industrial brewing settings, scaled-down versions are beginning to appear for the homebrew market. They provide a convenient alternative to manual cleaning, although they come with a higher initial cost.

Extending the Lifespan of Your Tubing: Maintenance Best Practices

Even the best tubing won't last forever, but with proper care and maintenance, you can significantly extend its lifespan. This involves more than just keeping them clean; it also means regularly inspecting your tubing for signs of wear and tear, such as cracks or deformities. If you spot these early, you can replace the tubing before it causes more significant issues like contamination or leakage. Preventative maintenance is a proactive way to ensure the quality of your beer while reducing long-term costs.

The Psychological Impact of Tubing Choices on Beer Connoisseurs

The selection of tubing can also impact the psychological perception of your brew. Transparent tubing allows for the beer's color to shine through, potentially enhancing the drinking experience, while opaque tubing adds an element of mystery. Some argue that the visuals provided by transparent tubes add to the craft beer experience, giving drinkers a glimpse into the brewing process itself.

Through this exploration, one can appreciate that the world of beer line tubing is far from a one-size-fits-all endeavor. From material choices and tube diameters to advanced self-cleaning systems and psychological aspects, the tubing you choose can influence not just the quality of your beer but the entire brewing experience.


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