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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Techniques > thoughts on skipping secondary and making additions directly to primary
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Old 12-05-2012, 04:24 AM   #1
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Default thoughts on skipping secondary and making additions directly to primary

Hello,
I know this topic is discussed in the forums already, but none of the previous ones answer my question.

In standard beers, when no additions have to be made post fermentation, I always skip secondary fermentation. I am now making a vanilla java stout that calls for adding coffee and vanilla beans to secondary. I want to skip the secondary and make the additions to the primary. Will I still get the full effects of the additions or does it physically need the racking process to blend everything correctly? Could i just stir everything in the primary? Thanks.

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Old 12-05-2012, 05:33 AM   #2
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I would think the coffee would blend fairly well on its own, given a little bit of time. If nothing else, eventually racking to a bottling bucket or keg would blend it. The only problem I could see would be with the vanilla beans. If they happened to sink to the bottom and embed themselves into the yeast cake, I could see where the beer might not be able to extract the full flavor from them. Depending on how tight the cake was when you added them, and whether or not they would even sink into the yeast, might affect the final taste. If you were worried about it, you could always soak the vanilla beans in some spirits (vodka, bourbon, etc) to extract their flavor and then add the beans and spirits, which should then blend fairly well. I wouldn't bother with stirring the primary. I personally don't like to ever stir the primary, since you'd essentially be canceling out whatever benefits you were gaining from not secondarying.

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Old 12-05-2012, 06:06 AM   #3
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OK, thanks. That's where I was kind if leaning.

Also, one quick thing on sanitizing coffee. I am using cold pressed coffee so no heat will be there to sanitize. I was thinking sanitize all containers, grind beans, soak grinds in bourbon for a very short time, drain bourbon, cold brew the coffee. Is this necessary? Will it effect the coffee?

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Old 12-06-2012, 03:18 PM   #4
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Depending on how much coffee beans you are using how about grinding them up with the vanilla beans and mixing in enough bourbon or vodka to make a slurry, then add it to the primary ?

OMO
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Old 12-06-2012, 03:35 PM   #5
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Just to clarify something for you...

Quote:
Originally Posted by HOPSareKEY View Post
Hello,
In standard beers, when no additions have to be made post fermentation, I always skip secondary fermentation.
This might seem trivial, but I don't believe you really mean "secondary fermentation." A secondary fermentation would be adding an additional yeast to further ferment a beer to lower the final gravity or add flavors. Bottle conditioning could also be considered a secondary fermentation because you are adding sugar to awaken the yeast to ferment again (in that case to introduce CO2 primarily).

Transferring beer to a "secondary fermentation vessel" does not mean that there is a secondary fermentation ocurring. This practice would be more akin to using the second vessel to remove the beer from the massive yeast cake that could impart unwanted flavors if left too long.

Quote:
I am now making a vanilla java stout that calls for adding coffee and vanilla beans to secondary. I want to skip the secondary and make the additions to the primary. Will I still get the full effects of the additions or does it physically need the racking process to blend everything correctly? Could i just stir everything in the primary? Thanks.
Adding your flavor additions to the primary should be fine (and achieve the full effect) as long as you don't intend to leave the beer sitting on the yeast cake for too long. Normally you would add these flavors and leave them for a few days to a week for them to do the job you intend them to do. If this is the duration you plan to use as well, all will be fine if you skip the secondary vessel.
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Old 12-06-2012, 03:51 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erikpete18
I personally don't like to ever stir the primary, since you'd essentially be canceling out whatever benefits you were gaining from not secondarying.
+1

Regarding the idea of a alcohol-based coffee extract: the one experience I have had with this yielded kind of a strange side effect that you might watch out for. I used a rum spice extract o flavor a holiday beer (mostly for control - wanted to flavor to taste post-fermentation). I added the extract in the bottling bucket. Immediately after adding the extract, proteins in the beer started precipitating out - looked like a giant beer-filled snow globe (patent pending ). I have chalked it up to a pH reaction. Next time, I plan on using a transfer (secondary) vessel of some kind in case of a similar reaction. I would also take the step of checking for a similar pH between my extract and the beer.

Cheers!
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Old 12-06-2012, 04:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsv1204 View Post
- looked like a giant beer-filled snow globe (patent pending ). I have chalked it up to a pH reaction. Next time, I plan on using a transfer (secondary) vessel of some kind in case of a similar reaction. I would also take the step of checking for a similar pH between my extract and the beer.

Cheers!
I get the Snow Globe with most of my ales. The amount and texture of hot and cold break that gets dumped into the fermenter seems to be the determining factor as to how big the "snowflakes" are.

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Old 12-06-2012, 06:20 PM   #8
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@bosco, that slurry sounds like a good idea. Any experience with it?

@thickhead, yes I ment secondary vessel, sorry about that. Why only a week on the yeast cake? From what I've been reading, i don't see why there would be a time limit in the primary

@jsv, thanks for the heads up!

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Old 12-06-2012, 06:26 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HOPSareKEY View Post
@bosco, that slurry sounds like a good idea. Any experience with it?
Sorry but the answer is NO. The only stuff I add to the fermenter might be finings, and I usually sanitize those with heat.

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Old 12-06-2012, 06:29 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HOPSareKEY View Post
@thickhead, yes I ment secondary vessel, sorry about that. Why only a week on the yeast cake? From what I've been reading, i don't see why there would be a time limit in the primary
I meant if you are only leaving your post fermentation flavoring additions (your coffee and vanilla) in the beer for a week to add flavor, and then rack to a bucket for bottling or keg for kegging, it would be fine to do it in the primary. The same is true if you are dry-hopping a beer.

A common practice when lagering (cold aging) is to remove the wort from the yeast cake by racking the beer to a secondary vessel. The reason for doing this is that leaving your beer on the yeast cake for a very long time (like 2+months) could introduce some unwanted flavor from the yeast.
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