Originally Posted by tagz
You need to buy a carboy. Then you can watch it all you want. You can tell a lot about the progress by looking at the wort/beer but you don't want to introduce a ton of oxygen. That said, I disagree with the 2-3 week timeframe. If you've done everything right it should be done in 10 days max.
This type of advise to a new brewer creates threads about bad tastes or worse - BOTTLE BOMBS.
A new brewer using the crappy instructions that come with kits are very unlikely to have "done everything right"....
To the OP A secondary fermentation is a misnomer. There should be no fermentation happening. It is just a step that you can do that might make the beer a little more clear. In the olden days it was thought that the dead yeast on the bottom would give off flavors. Unless you are leaving the beer on the yeast cake for many months it just does not happen.
The more you mess with your beer (transfers) the more risk of infection or oxidation. That is why many will advise against a secondary. Others want their beer very clear and will do the secondary.