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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Techniques > When to rack to secondary
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Old 03-14-2014, 01:46 PM   #1
vsusinga
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Default When to rack to secondary

Hi all! Semi-beginner here! I am on my 4th or so 5 gal brew, and I still have questions about racking. I have been using kits from my LHBS and the directions on these all say to rack to secondary when the fermentation slows down. They say not to wait until primary is totally finished because of risk of oxidizing with the extra head space in secondary. My brews usually ferment or slow down drastically within 2 or 3 days. I see a lot of people leave theirs in primary for a week before racking to secondary. what are everyone's thoughts on this?

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Old 03-14-2014, 01:50 PM   #2
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Hello, fellow VA homebrewer~!

First, if you brews are slowing down after only 2-3 days chances are great that you are fermenting too warm! Most ale yeasts make the best beer when the air temp where you are fermenting (ambient temp) is around 60F. Fermentation is exo-thermic (creates heat) so your beer can get up to 65-68F when the air temp is only 60F! If your air temp is normal household temps: 65 - 72F then your beer is fermenting WAY too hot! I realize that most beer kit directions say to ferment at this temp but they are wrong! You will not make good tasting beer if you ferment them this warm.

2nd, most beer does not benefit from secondary fermentation. Leave them in the primary for 3-4 weeks and then carefully rack to bottling bucket directly from primary! This is how I've done all mine for 3 years and they come out great!

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Old 03-14-2014, 02:25 PM   #3
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Thank you. I do use secondary for my fruit beers . Other than that, i still use it to free up my bottling bucket. Now the thermometer on my fermenter reads 72 . I have been told this is a good temp for the beer to ferment at. What r your thoughts?

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Old 03-14-2014, 02:27 PM   #4
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Thank you. I do use secondary for my fruit beers . Other than that, i still use it to free up my bottling bucket. Now the thermometer on my fermenter reads 72 . I have been told this is a good temp for the beer to ferment at. What r your thoughts?

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Depends on the yeast. 72 is too high for most ales unless it's a Belgian or Wheat Beer yeast and you want that banana/clove estery flavor from the yeast. Most ales will taste best when fermented around 65F measured by the stick on thermometer on the fermenter.
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Old 03-14-2014, 02:40 PM   #5
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Listen to Jayhem, he's 100% right about the temperatures.

What do you mean you rack to secondary "to free up your bottling bucket?" Are you using your bottling bucket as your primary fermenter? I would advise against that, because the nooks and crannies around the spout can harbour microbes and bacteria that can infect your batch unless your cleaning protocol is rigorous. Just get a couple more plain old buckets with lids and use them as fermenters (they're dirt cheap). You don't even need a hole in the lids, just set the lids on (WITHOUT snapping them on snugly) and set something heavy on top of it like a phone book. Or cruise Craigslist/Kijiji for some second hand glass carboys. I see them on there all the time for $15-$20 each.

But yeah, most importantly, get those temperatures down into the mid-to-low 60's.

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Old 03-14-2014, 03:47 PM   #6
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Luckily the one i have in now is a wheat beer. And yes by bottling and primary are the same. Its the setup i got from my local store. Plastic bucket and glass carboy. I have never had an issue with it.. i take it apart and clean thoroughly after i bottle and before i start a new batch. Im thinking about making a large wrap around pouch to put a few cold packs in to get my temp down to where it needs to be

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Old 03-14-2014, 04:23 PM   #7
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My main question is when is too late to rack to secondary? I dont want to risk oxidizing

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Old 03-14-2014, 06:05 PM   #8
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My main question is when is too late to rack to secondary? I dont want to risk oxidizing
My answer to that is NEVER. Spend a few bucks and get a fermenter bucket to go along with your bottling bucket so you aren't tempted to rack to secondary. Then make a mead in the carboy to further reduce the temptation.
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Old 03-14-2014, 07:07 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vsusinga View Post
Luckily the one i have in now is a wheat beer. And yes by bottling and primary are the same. Its the setup i got from my local store. Plastic bucket and glass carboy. I have never had an issue with it.. i take it apart and clean thoroughly after i bottle and before i start a new batch. Im thinking about making a large wrap around pouch to put a few cold packs in to get my temp down to where it needs to be

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Do a search for "Swamp Cooler". It is the best way to lower the fermentation temp and keep it stable short of a temp controlled freezer or fridge with a digital temp setting.
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Old 03-14-2014, 08:02 PM   #10
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Cool. Thank u

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