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Old 04-10-2009, 01:42 PM   #1
KELLEHERC
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Default Two Stage Fermentation: timing

Hello All,

I have read a million different opinions so I will post my situation and see what people think.

SITUATION:
- We just brewed up a batch of Smithwicks Ale (clone)
SG: 1.042
- Sat in primary for 4 DAYS
- Moved to secondary
SG: 1.011
- plan on leaving there for 11 days and then bottle

QUESTIONS:
1) My SG reading could be off but seems very close to the expected final reading. Should it be bottled sooner?

2) How long do people normally leave in primary and secondary?

Thanks

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Old 04-10-2009, 02:02 PM   #2
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1 week in primary, 2 in secondary is the standard answer (Or 3 weeks in primary alone). Anything longer is playing safe and good. Anything under is taking a risk unless you are very familiar with the particular brew. Risky for a beginner.

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Old 04-10-2009, 02:04 PM   #3
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I do 3 weeks to a month in primary then bottle/keg. This allows the yeast time to clean up their byproducts after primary fermentation.

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Old 04-10-2009, 02:05 PM   #4
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IMHO, you don't need to do that secondary. Just leave it in the primary for 3 weeks and then bottle it. I think you aren't really gaining anything by doing it...possibly losing some beer quality...and def increasing the chance of infection (although it is still small if you practice good cleaning/sanitation).

It's just more work for no gain and possibly a loss. Not worth it imo.

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Old 04-10-2009, 02:20 PM   #5
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I have done it both ways but the reason I did two stage this time was because of the last brew. We did an Oatmeal stout and but directly into a carboy. After 9 days we bottled. In the carboy there was blow over, the lock kept getting clogged, and the top of lock blew off at one point. When we opened carboy to bottle there was about an inch of dried up foam clogging the top. in hindsight I could have run a tube to another another bucket to catch any blow over and may try that next time. I assumed two stage (which I have tried before) would give me added benefits of a clearer beer and no blow over (as long as I took sanitary precautions)

Do you loose quality/alcohol by moving to second too soon?

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Old 04-10-2009, 03:26 PM   #6
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The yeast produce byproducts (other than CO2 and alcohol) early in the fermentation...they then go back and consume some of these byproducts later. That's basically what people mean by 'letting the yeast clean up after themselves'. By taking the beer off the cake too soon you reduce the ability of the yeast to clean up after themselves...but you don't eliminate it because there is still a ton of yeast in suspension.

You can reduce these bad byproducts by fermenting at cool temps during the early 'vigorous' fermentation (this will also help reduce blowoffs). Try to do the vigorous part of the fermentation at cool temps...later on after it's close to finished ferementing you can let it warm up (that will actually help the yeast clean up faster).

Try to reduce blowoffs by either using Fermcap or brewing slightly smaller batches. And if you're gonna have a blowoff def use a blowoff tube. The guys who use Fermcap swear by it...but you must add it after the boil for it to prevent blowoffs.

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Old 04-10-2009, 04:15 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpanishCastleAle View Post
The guys who use Fermcap swear by it...but you must add it after the boil for it to prevent blowoffs.
This is true for most setups. If almost everything from the boil kettle goes into the fermenter though the fermcap will as well. I don't use foam control in the fermenter but since the drain on my boil kettle is on the bottom I drain everything but the hops and some of the hot break into my fermenter through the CFC. I've seen greatly reduced krausens since I started using the foam control in the boil. The head retention on my brews is very good still so I know I'm leaving it behind in the fermenter.
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Primary: Nothin
Secondary: Shady Lord RIS, Water to Barleywine, Pumpkin wine, burnt mead
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Old 04-11-2009, 02:46 AM   #8
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Good info - thanks

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Old 04-11-2009, 08:37 PM   #9
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I like to secondary most of my beers - IMO the most important thing is that the beer is finished before racking to secondary. I usually give it at least 10 days in primary (more often 14) then 2 weeks in secondary, and check the gravity before I move the beer. Racking too early can prevent the beer from finishing completely, and you're also losing much of the benefit of the yeast consuming their own by-products and such.

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Old 04-11-2009, 10:24 PM   #10
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Think "bright tank" vs secondary. Fermentation occurs in the fermenter, the beer clears in the bright tank.

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