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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Techniques > Using secondaries
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Old 03-12-2007, 02:11 PM   #1
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Default Using secondaries

I was just thumbing through How To Brew and Palmer claims that using a secondary is only necessary for lagers and higher gravity ales. In my short brewing career I have always used a secondary. From what I have read on this forum it sounds like everyone else does as well. What are peoples thoughts on this?

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Old 03-12-2007, 02:14 PM   #2
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Its not entirely necessary but helps clear the beer and let fermentation complete. You also commit usually an extra week or so which helps age the beer before you lose all patience and start gnawing at the bottles or slap it on the kegerator

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Old 03-12-2007, 02:18 PM   #3
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It also helps if you brew often--you can get your beers out of your primary in a week or so, freeing it up for the next brew. Racking also facilitates yeast harvesting or re-pitching.

I think the main point is that there'd be little difference between a beer primaried for 3 weeks and one primaried for one and then secondaried for two.

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Old 03-12-2007, 02:22 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cweston
I think the main point is that there'd be little difference between a beer primaried for 3 weeks and one primaried for one and then secondaried for two.
I was under the impession you wanted to get the fermented beer off the yeast cake asap to prevent off flavors
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Old 03-12-2007, 02:29 PM   #5
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Two weeks on cake isnt gonna hurt it. Three weeks... ehh maybe.

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Old 03-12-2007, 02:30 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sirsloop
Two weeks on cake isnt gonna hurt it. Three weeks... ehh maybe.
I've never tried it, but I understand that you could actually leave a beer in primary several weeks (months?) before yeast autolysis begins.
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Old 03-12-2007, 02:52 PM   #7
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I used to use a secondary with everything, but now I only bother if I have a reasonable excuse (adding brett, or spliting a batch). There are some good arguements against using a secondary, picking up O2 in the transfer, potential contamination from a bad job sanitizing the secondary, birds falling in.
Your beer will be fine for 4 weeks. Just don't transfer in a lot of break materials to start with.

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Old 03-12-2007, 02:52 PM   #8
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If I can get the same results without racking to a secondary I am all for it. Although I don't mind the task it would be easier.

I was thinking that using the paint strainer on the end of the racking cane/autosiphon technique would be a good way to filter the break material and get a clear beer into the bottling bucket.

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Old 03-12-2007, 02:56 PM   #9
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It depends on your equipment and your goals.

I have a 7 gal bucket and 2 5 gal carboys, which allows me to brew on three consucutive weekends if I choose to, following the 1-2-3 paradigm. If you multiple larger carboys or buckets, then one-stage fermentations would be more workable.

Also, I usually harvest or repitch yeast, so racking works better for my goals.

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Old 03-12-2007, 03:16 PM   #10
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Personally, since I bottle rather than keg, I find that it helps to keep an excessive amount of flocculated yeast out of the bottling bucket and aids in clarification. It also allows me to get the beer into a smaller carboy with less headspace, meaning less risk of oxidation. Lastly, it allows me to add adjuncts like oak and dryhops without compromising the primary yeast cake. For instance, if I wanted to dryhop an IPA, and I added the hops to the primary after fermentation was done, then when I racked it to the bottling bucket, the primary yeast cake would have a bunch of hops in it, preventing me from harvesting it.

Given the ease of racking, I find that it's a no-brainer for everything but hefe's.

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