Thanks Gordon for the advice… and I agree, as siphon is really a simple thing… that is why I was able to come up with a few different ways of siphoning, without much thought. The “water and thumb method” was not hard, but I was having issues controlling my hose when moving it between the sanitizer and the beer. (I hate it when that happens ) and I was bumping it against things, and possibly creating contamination issues. A change in my setup would have made the “thumb” method easier, but that is when I found the turkey baseter, it seemed easier than rebuilding the shelves.
As for reduced carbonation in my bottles, I was seeing a trend toward “flatter” beer over time. It never got really flat, but while the initial bottles, just after bottling, would give a very large head an inch or so and then die down, as the bottles got older, the head would reduce to just a thin (quarter inchish), but persistent layer. Since I have seen similar effects in older commercial versions, I figured the effect was just age reducing either the head forming components, or a reduction of nucleation sites. (and it still may be)
What got me thinking along the track of cap seals, however, was when I dumped some beer that was 3 to 5 years old, and their head was definitely more pronounced than the 3 month old versions of what I had on the shelf. They were different batches, but very similar recipies, and while my brewing practices have evolved greatly between batches, I could not think of any process change that should result in a change like what I had seen. So the balloon test was attempted.
The caps may not be the only issue, but I have a new batch just about ready to bottle, and I have a variety of caps and a new capper. After capping five bottles of each cap (three different types of caps) with both bottle cappers, I should have a decent batch to figure out if the caps or the capper is the issue.
I also agree with the cold storage. I have done some side by side testing of beer aged cold and aged warm (some of the dumpings were left over from that experiment), and the beers aged colder (fridge temps) did not show age nearly as bad as those stored in my 68F basement.
As for the hot side aeration thoughts from Jalynn2… that may be something to consider. However, the process on the hot side has not changed for me over time, so while I may have hot side issues, they should be consistent over time given a consistent hot-side process. (In my thinking) It is possible that I have changed something on the cold side, that in conjunction with hot side practices, may result in faster staling, but I would need to read a bit more on the topic to make an informed comments.
Thanks everyone for the help