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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Techniques > Is "Secondary" Actually Worth It?
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Old 07-26-2012, 08:16 AM   #11
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I did a secondary one time and then stopped. Now I am minimum 3 weeks before I even take a hydrometer reading. I am at my FG 95% of the time. Then I usually let sit another week unless I have something coming down the pipleline too fast and need to move to keg.

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Old 07-26-2012, 09:08 AM   #12
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I have little doubt a secondary will leave less trub on the bottom of a fermenter than in a primary. That's about it. Let your beer ferment out in the primary, all junk will settle out and no secondary equals less hassle and less opportunity for oxidation to occur.

Rack from primary to the bottle bucket (leaving the trub on the bottom - it's not difficult to do) and bottle away. By the time the beer has carbonated and sat in a fridge for a week or so to allow all that CO2 to be absorbed into the beer - You'll end up with clear beer that is fully carbonated and ready to drink.

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Old 07-26-2012, 09:31 AM   #13
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It's simple: Try the same recipe with a secondary, and without. See which one you think works best.

I do secondaries as a matter of habit and because it works for me.

My usual schedule (for ales) is 2 weeks primary, 2 (or more) weeks secondary. I've done some secondary-less batches with a 3 week primary and it worked just fine too.

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Old 07-26-2012, 10:08 AM   #14
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Just my 2 cents...
I tried secondary with my last Kolsch (1 primary+2 secondary w/gelatin) and it turned out pretty much the same as previous Kolsch with 2 weeks of primary and cold crash. Difference was imperceptible.

Even C. White in his book "Yeast" said that there are two misconceptions when using a secondary at homebrewing:

Quote:
1. Beer should be removed before the yeast starts to die and cause unwanted flavors.
For carboys and plastic buckets, the yeast is on the bottom of the broad fermenter so it does not retain heat and there is larger amount of yeast in contact with beer (as opposed to the conical fermentation) Because of that, the risk of autolysis and creating unwanted is much lower, the exception is if beer is a long time at a higher temperature after completed fermentation (when are created similar conditions as in the conical fermentation.), but several days longer are no real issue.
2. Beer will clear up quickly in the secondary fermentor.
If flocculation is not in some way increased after decanting the secondary, clarification of beer will be the same. During decanting the particles that have begun to drop on the bottom of the primary fermentor again "rise" in the secondary, so decanting can slows clarification.

Also, a layer of yeast at the bottom of the fermenter is not inert, it is participating in absorption of aldehydes and diacetyl.
Yeast that is washed from the primary fermenter contains cells with higher flocculation but lower attenuation, so the new beer might be less attenuated. Yeast from the secondary tend to have lower flocculation but higher attenuation, and the new beer may be cloudy because the yeast is not settled at the bottom.
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Old 07-27-2012, 03:08 PM   #15
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Basic Brewing did a test on this...

http://traffic.libsyn.com/basicbrewi...anProgress.pdf

http://www.basicbrewing.com/index.php?page=radio

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Old 07-27-2012, 06:17 PM   #16
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I had a fairly significant sulfur (h2s) odor in my wort in a braggot and after ferm had pretty much stopped, I racked it a couple of times before bottling and that got rid of it. That's one reason a secondary can possibly be beneficial.

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Old 07-27-2012, 07:24 PM   #17
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I do both and it really depends on my fermenter needs, my time available, and the yeast I'm dealing with. If I have a 2.5-3 week timetable, I will primary for 2 weeks and rack to secondary for a few days. Its amazing how much yeast falls out after racking.

I primary only german wheat 3333 since it flocs almost clear after 2-3 weeks in primary. I cold crash in primary Bells yeast, some US and English strains, and lower gravity belgians. Usually after 3 weeks or so in primary.

I will rack high gravity beers to secondary after 3-4 weeks on primary for further conditioning. It would probably be fine in primary for longer, but I feel more comfortable having these beers sit for another month or two on less yeast.

I find that 2565 Kolsch yeast flocs best when the beer is chilled (& gelatin added) in primary for a couple of days, then rack to secondary. Falls out clear in 2-3 weeks at 40F that way.

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Old 07-27-2012, 07:34 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yooper View Post
I'm not picking on you at all- but how do you "know a secondary vessel will clear the beer up a little bit?" I mean, moving the beer from one vessel to another won't magically make yeast or suspended proteins fall to the bottom of the next vessel, any more than leaving it in place will. After all, that's gravity that does the work.

I guess what I'm saying is that the basically premise of moving to a clearing vessel is flawed, when you think about it.

I'm a winemaker, and in winemaking there IS a secondary fermenter, as fermentation does occur in the next vessel. Usually, a wine primary is "open" and moved to the secondary for an airlock. But in the case of making beer, typically the fermenter is airlocked from the beginning. So they are different processes, and calling the clearing vessel in beermaking a "secondary" is a misnomer. There is no "secondary fermentation" going on in most cases, and instead in a brewery the clearing vessel is called a "bright tank".

The reason breweries use a bright tank at all is so that a new batch can be started in the fermenting vessel, plus they can then drop the temperature of the bright tank to clear the beer fast. We can do the same thing, by simply sticking the fermenter in the fridge. Also, in a big brewery, the pressure exerted on the yeast of the bottom of the fermenter is considerable while most homebrewers are doing 5-10 gallon batches which don't have the same weight. That means that we don't really have to worry about the yeast cells rupturing from the pressure on them from all of the weight, so it sort of negates the need for a bright tank for that reason.

What I'm saying is that whether a beer is in the first vessel or in a clearing vessel, it won't clear any faster and there really isn't any reason to move it for most beers.
This is exactly what I used to think. And then Basic Brewing/BYO did the experiment that MC linked a few posts above this one. I was as shocked as anyone, but moving to secondary pretty conclusively lead to faster clearing in their experiments. Dramatically so in some cases (if nothing else, check out the PDF with the pictures of the belgian). Their theory is that transferring dislodged small CO2 bubbles from yeast/proteins, causing them to fall faster.

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Old 07-28-2012, 04:36 PM   #19
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I never do secondary but wonder why most kit instructions call for it. If the trend is to leave the beer in the primary for a little longer prior to bottling/kegging, why haven't the kit makers followed this trend ?

ETA: I get most of my kits from Austin HomeBrew.

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Old 07-28-2012, 06:45 PM   #20
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I never do secondary but wonder why most kit instructions call for it. If the trend is to leave the beer in the primary for a little longer prior to bottling/kegging, why haven't the kit makers followed this trend ?
.
because its a method that works, one of several.
leaving the beer in the primary until you bottle isn't necessary
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