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Old 01-25-2012, 06:53 AM   #1
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Default Beating a dead horse..secondary or not?

I read on here al the time and enjoy a debate anyway so here goes. I KNOW conventional wisdom is that a secondary is a waste of time and unnecessary. I read that the beers are actually more clear with a long primary and no secondary. I am having more and more difficulty buying into that due to a couple of things.

#1 the picture revvy has shown of his bottling bucket in comparison to mine after bottling ( We both employ the same bottling technique but I secondary and he doesn't.) His pic shows quite a bit of trub in the bottom of the bucket post bottling...mine is clean as a whistle.In his defense he intentionally picks up some trub when racking.

#2 are a couple of pics I took tonight of the bottom of my secondary after racking to the bottling bucket. This is after one solid month in Primary under temp controlled conditions then racking to secondary and 4 days of cold crashing. Look at the gunk in the bottom that would have been in my beer had I bottled straight from the primary.






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Old 01-25-2012, 07:00 AM   #2
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Why couldn't you cold crash in primary instead of adding the racking step?

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Old 01-25-2012, 07:38 AM   #3
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Why couldn't you cold crash in primary instead of adding the racking step?
I am sure you could but I THINK the argument is that simply a long primary works the same.
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Old 01-25-2012, 01:47 PM   #4
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I KNOW conventional wisdom is that a secondary is a waste of time and unnecessary.
It is only a waste of time for those who like the flavors you get from leaving the beer on a lot of yeast for a long time. Somewhere along the line, that finding that leaving your beers in primary for a longer time WILL NOT HARM YOUR BEER, got twisted into you MUST leave your beer in primary. This is totally inaccurate.

For most of the styles of beers I brew, I do not want these flavors in my beer. Most of my beers are in a keg within 2 weeks where they age (secondary) for a couple more weeks before carbonating.
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Old 01-25-2012, 02:10 PM   #5
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I am sure you could but I THINK the argument is that simply a long primary works the same.
Cold crashing works better than transferring to a secondary. When you cold crash, a bulk of your suspended yeast drops out, where as in secondary, it stays in suspension. Plus, when cold crashing, you get more good yeast when you harvest off the yeast cake. I haven't used a secondary in a long time, I'm to the point now where I even dry hop, add adjuncts, etc to the primary fermenter.
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Old 01-25-2012, 02:11 PM   #6
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For most of the styles of beers I brew, I do not want these flavors in my beer. Most of my beers are in a keg within 2 weeks where they age (secondary) for a couple more weeks before carbonating.
Blasphemy! You must primary for at least 6 weeks to quell the off flavors produced from poor brewing habits. Silly rabbit, relax and have some coconut milk.


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Old 01-25-2012, 02:18 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by pjj2ba View Post
It is only a waste of time for those who like the flavors you get from leaving the beer on a lot of yeast for a long time. Somewhere along the line, that finding that leaving your beers in primary for a longer time WILL NOT HARM YOUR BEER, got twisted into you MUST leave your beer in primary. This is totally inaccurate.

For most of the styles of beers I brew, I do not want these flavors in my beer. Most of my beers are in a keg within 2 weeks where they age (secondary) for a couple more weeks before carbonating.
+1

I do worry about the way people on this forum talk about secondaries, many people are unbaised and state their opinion, but some posts, especially in the beginner forum, really are opinions but presented as a fact. I think it leads to many new brewers not quite understanding the pros, cons, or even that they have the choice.

Most "risks" I hear about secondaries are universal and apply to primaries but stated like they only apply to secondaries, such as infection or oxidation, or that time will lead to a clearer beer. Yes...it can clear up in a primary or a secondary though, just as how any carboy can get infected, and any siphoning can lead to oxidation
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Old 01-25-2012, 02:21 PM   #8
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I secondary my beers for a few reasons:

1.) It's provides that I rack off the sediment twice, leaving me with really clear beers
2.) I only have 4 fermenters and I brew ALOT. I have 10 carboys so plenty of space there.
3.) I like to cold crash in the carboy so I can see when my beer is clear enough to bottle/keg

I know people say you run the risk of oxidizing when you rack, but if you're careful to run the hose to the bottom of the carboy, you won't oxidize your beer. Also, you must practice good sanitation technique to prevent infection, but this goes without saying at any point in the beer making process.

Everyone has their own methods that work best for them, so just do what you feel produces the best beer for you, and don't worry about the next guy. That's what makes this hobby great...lot's of paths to the same destination.

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Old 01-25-2012, 02:32 PM   #9
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I don't care for the following reasons:

1) I'm too lazy to rack to secondary for 99% of my beers.
2) You ultimately can do whatever you want to your beer and if it works for you, great.
3) This is seriously the 1,000th thread on the subject.

For the argument of long primaries, no fining agents, no cold crashing, and careful racking, here's a batch of BM's Centennial Blonde that had a 4 week primary:

(not the greatest picture quality, but my dad asked me where I got the Budweiser when he saw my glass)

That's all there really is to it. I start with good water, maintain mash temps, hold a nice strong boil, and cool my wort down quickly. I don't even filter out any of the hops or trub going into my fermenter. If you need to secondary your beer to have it clear up, then great, buy some more carboys. I've found what consistently works for me, and I'm not exactly going to try and change it.

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Old 01-25-2012, 02:36 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by OHIOSTEVE View Post
I am sure you could but I THINK the argument is that simply a long primary works the same.
I think you misunderstand. People aren't skipping a cold crash just because they skip the secondary. At least I wouldn't.

Cold crashing is probably a great idea no matter if you secondary or not, keg or bottle (although I tend to cold crash IN THE KEG as the beer is carbing up.

Long primary is simply to save the effort of an additional racking step.

There used to be a huge concern over leaving your beer on the yeast for more than a couple of weeks. People have since discovered that the dead yeast and meat flavor associated with leaving your beer on the yeast simply didn't happen.

Whether or not doing a long primary actually helps a beers flavor is well up in the air. I don't suppose it does, but from my experience it hasn't hurt yet either.
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