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Old 03-10-2013, 02:43 PM   #11
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I read some secondary vs primary only tasting notes on a few threads. Some beers showed a slight taste advantage to the 2-stage beers, others showed the single tasted better. The results were far from conclusive, and I think demonstrate (for me at least) no big advantage to the transfer. I didn't even transfer my 11% abv barley wine 2 years ago and the last bottle I had a month ago was great. For me the risk of oxidation during the transfer was way more important to avoid than any worry of a long primary. I went about 6 weeks primary on this one then strait to 22oz bottles. Again, I'm VERY happy with the result.
I know this is a hot topic on this forum, but if you are a newer brewer you really should consider the risk vs reward ratio of anything you do in your process. The rewards of 2-stage fermenting are minimal at best on ales (I don't even transfer my lagers), but the risk of oxidation is very real. Unless you have a system to transfer beer in a zero oxygen environment, you're really taking an unnecessary risk...

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Old 03-10-2013, 03:18 PM   #12
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For most styles a longer primary and no secondary will be perfectly fine, and that is typically what I do. If you're not pitching enough healthy yeast and/or fermentation temps are not well-controlled, a long primary can definitely help clean up undesirable off-flavors.

However, I've also found that too long in primary can clean up and remove desired flavors in certain styles. There's a reason Belgians and Hefes typically have very short primary times. Leave those styles on the yeast too long and you'll find the clove you were expecting just isn't there.

So, skip the secondary if that makes sense for you, but if you want to make the best beer possible, pitch the proper amount of yeast and control your ferm temps so that undesirable off-flavors are avoided in the first place. Doing so gives you options that you otherwise may not have.

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Old 03-10-2013, 03:45 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LLBeanJ
There's a reason Belgians and Hefes typically have very short primary times. Leave those styles on the yeast too long and you'll find the clove you were expecting just isn't there.
This is a great point. I usually do 3 weeks or so, but i've also had super fast ferments with big healthy yeast pitches and O2. I'm starting to leave it in primary only as long as it takes to get a few days with stable gravity reading and no longer. This is with my Belgians only as they are so yeast driven in taste and aroma.

I used WLP565 and did everything perfect, but I think I left it in too long and it cleaned up some of the good stuff. Its still excellent though.
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Old 03-10-2013, 04:24 PM   #14
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Quote:
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For most styles a longer primary and no secondary will be perfectly fine, and that is typically what I do. If you're not pitching enough healthy yeast and/or fermentation temps are not well-controlled, a long primary can definitely help clean up undesirable off-flavors.

However, I've also found that too long in primary can clean up and remove desired flavors in certain styles. There's a reason Belgians and Hefes typically have very short primary times. Leave those styles on the yeast too long and you'll find the clove you were expecting just isn't there.

So, skip the secondary if that makes sense for you, but if you want to make the best beer possible, pitch the proper amount of yeast and control your ferm temps so that undesirable off-flavors are avoided in the first place. Doing so gives you options that you otherwise may not have.
Can you explain to me how racking a beer to a secondary removes the yeast in suspension in the beer? What prevents the suspended yeast from removing the "desired flavors", Magic?
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Old 03-10-2013, 04:34 PM   #15
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Lagering.

I recently picked up a copy of "Brew Like a Monk" as I was interested in how to get better yeast flavor from my Belgians. While the different Trappist breweries have varying pitch rates and fermentation temps and times, one of the constants was a quick primary (5-7 days was pretty common), followed by transfer to secondary for lagering at cold temps (ranging from 32f to 50f) for anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks to crash the yeast so that fermentation is halted.

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Old 03-10-2013, 06:46 PM   #16
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Belgians also benefit from a gradual rise in fermentation temperature. The typical mid-60s for ales mantra will subdue their character. I brew quite a few Belgians and just bottle or keg a week after stable final gravity. Never had an issue with them "cleaning up the good stuff"...

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Old 03-11-2013, 12:59 PM   #17
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There are three of phases of fermentation. At the beginning, the lag phases is when you add the yeast and it seems nothing is happening. That is when the yeast are reproducing and fermentation will start. Fermentation is the next phase, and when that finishes up, the conditioning will start.

When the beer is done fermenting, the yeast will still be active and scrounging around for food. Once the easily digested maltose is gone, the yeast will work on less preferred foods, including their own waste products (like diacetyl). That's what most people are referring to when they say "the yeast cleaning up after itself". After that, the yeast will flocculate and fall to the bottom.

These phases aren't all isolated, as they overlap, so even though it seems like nothing is happening there is still some activity in the fermenter.

The yeast doing the "work" are in suspension, so it really doesn't matter if there is a layer of trub on the bottom or not. That is, moving the beer to a clearing vessel won't hurt, but there is nothing magical about it either. The beer will still do their thing whether in the primary or in the clearing vessel.

The beer will still clear just fine in the primary, and any autolysis (the off flavors from spent yeast) isn't an issue in the 1-3 weeks (or even more) that the beer will spend in the fermenter.
Great! Makes total sense to me! What doesn't mesh for me is this: why is there any advantage to having this process of cleaning up happen in the fermenter. When u rack to your bottles or your keg, isn't there yeast in suspension? Isn't the cleanup and clearing happening there as well? Since the yeast cells in the cake are dormant, why leave the beer on the yeast cake?
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Old 03-11-2013, 08:44 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonives

Great! Makes total sense to me! What doesn't mesh for me is this: why is there any advantage to having this process of cleaning up happen in the fermenter. When u rack to your bottles or your keg, isn't there yeast in suspension? Isn't the cleanup and clearing happening there as well? Since the yeast cells in the cake are dormant, why leave the beer on the yeast cake?
Good question. There are indeed still yeast in suspension, but only a fraction of what's in the cake. It's the yeast that are settling into dormancy that are absorbing potential off flavor compounds. Leaving the beer on the settled yeast is convenient, maximizes their chance to "clean up", and reduces exposure to oxygen in an unnecessary transfer. Exposure to oxygen post ferment reduces flavor stability, and in extreme cases can ruin a batch. Unless of course you like the flavor of wet cardboard!
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Old 03-11-2013, 09:18 PM   #19
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I have been brewing for over a decade and have always used a secondary. I have not once produced a beer that has the flavor of wet cardbord, not even a slight flavor. The amount of oxygen the is introduced by transferring is usually small if you are careful.

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Old 03-12-2013, 01:42 AM   #20
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Quote:
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I have been brewing for over a decade and have always used a secondary. I have not once produced a beer that has the flavor of wet cardbord, not even a slight flavor. The amount of oxygen the is introduced by transferring is usually small if you are careful.
I don't doubt you have. I'm not saying you or anyone who uses a secondary is wrong. I'm just saying it isn't a NECESSARY step, and newer brewers can benefit by a simpler process. In fact, I doubt any brewer really LIKES the process of cleaning, sanitizing and transferring to a second vessel. For me, I have a very finite amount of time to spend on brewing, and I choose not to spend it "racking" as I've actually observed an INCREASE in the quality of my beer since abandoning the practice 2 years ago...
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