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Old 07-14-2011, 09:49 AM   #1
MikeFallopian
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Default Secondary Fermentation - Help!

I am going to make a pale ale. I am planning on using a fermenting bin for primary fermentation, then siphoning off to a pressure barrel (with a tap) for secondary fermentation, which I will be serving the beer directly from.

However, the more I read, the more confused I am getting. Would it be ok to go ahead with the planned process? Or would it be more effective to rack from the primary to a secondary such as a demi-john (aka carboy) or another fermenting bin, then rack to the pressure barrel as a tertiary and for serving (I don't particularly want to bottle this brew)?

Also, any tips on priming would be much appreciated!

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Old 07-14-2011, 10:29 AM   #2
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If you will not ferment for more then 5 months why secondary. also search fermenting in keg posts. I think that's what you want. Why the obsession with secondary'ing??
Pale ale. I would ferment 3 weeks min, dry hop in primary if dry hopping, keg, Carb, serve. Easy is good. Also bottle a few and try them out in a couple months.

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Old 07-14-2011, 10:55 AM   #3
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I always secondary. I don't understand the hate on using a secondary vessel. Some people like to do it. I've done it for twenty years and have had nothing bad happen. I've tried the extended primary and have had ill effects. If someone wants to secondary, let them.

I like my beer to be as clear as I can get it, for pales anyway. For me, putting it into secondary after the fermentation is done allows me to get where I want. Again this is just for me. I'm sure you can get clear beer from extended primary. But again, I've had problems doing extended primary. I don't like letting it sit on all that trub for that long.

To the OP: if primary is done, completely, move it to you secondary and do what you plan on doing as you mentioned. You are basically just conditioning it in the vessel you will be serving from, and employing the 'extended primary' as mentioned above. Nothing wrong with either method. Do what you feel you need to do to make a good beer.

If it was me, I would wait until primary was finished and my gravity wasn't dropping any lower. Then I would secondary until it was as clear as I wanted and rack into my serving vessel(s). Be that a keg or bottles. But I'm stuck in my ways. I do like trying out different methods, but if they don't work for me (as the extended primary didn't) I fall back to what I know works for ME.

There are plenty of different methods that work differently for each brewer. Don't be afraid to try all of them until you find what works for you.

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Old 07-14-2011, 12:31 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by suprchunk

There are plenty of different methods that work differently for each brewer. Don't be afraid to try all of them until you find what works for you.
Good point. It's about preference and what works for you. Experimentation is the fun part of brewing for me.
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Old 07-14-2011, 12:38 PM   #5
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Secondary is a conversational piece and it always comes around full circle, down to personal preference.

We have used secondaries, usually when adding something other than hops to the secondary. Cocoa nibs (stout), cherries (wheat), or any time an extended aging is taking place such as the "Quad" IPA that we took off the origianal yeast to repitch new yeast in a secondary. After 2 months got it up at 18.7%.

We always get clear beers, when the style calls for it, however we cold crash. We dry hop in our primary, cold crash for a day or so and the beer comes our clear as we could ever want it. Keg, carb and after the first pint out of the keg, nothing but CLEAR heavenly goodness.

All in all secondaries arent bad, if you do them right (cleanliness!!!!) but they arent needed. Some people swear by them, and against them. Do what you want, you are a homebrewer!!!!

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Old 07-14-2011, 12:56 PM   #6
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Thanks everyone for your comments - they have been really helpful and informative. On the basis of these I think I will just go ahead with my plans and see what happens!

How long does evryone think I should leave the beer in the primary fermenter for before racking to the primed pressure barrel?

How much sugar should I use to prime?

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Old 07-14-2011, 01:29 PM   #7
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I don't start taking readings before 3 weeks for ales and porters. My stout I probably wont touch for a month+

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Old 07-14-2011, 01:43 PM   #8
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Depends on FG, recipe, yeast, fermentation temps. Most PA's I've done do 10 days primary, couple of days cold crashing (vital for me) and then into the keg for gas. Two weeks on the gas and then since it's been about 4 weeks total I start to taste and drink it as appropriate given its taste at that point. Never done keg priming, only know that you use less sugar then if you were bottling.

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Old 07-14-2011, 02:25 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by suprchunk View Post
I always secondary. I don't understand the hate on using a secondary vessel.
It's not hate on the secondary vessel, it has it's purpose (though a lot of things folks use it for like dry hopping CAN be done in an extended primary.) It's just that a lot of the reason folks use it comes from the old yeast fear about autolysis. So much so that many brewers are so scared or go by airlock bubbling instead of hydromter readings that they will rush their beer out of primary and into a secondary.

BEFORE the beer is even done.

A lot of them are influenced by the first edition/online edition of How To Brew- Which Palmer has admitted he wasn't quite on top of things with and caused a bit of a newb panic.

THEN what's usually the case is that we get a thread like "Is my beer infected?" where they post a picture of a glorified krausen (which since they've used a bucket they may never have seen it) because moving the beer mid fermentation they krausen re-starts.

Which is less of a big deal than the OTHER threads they start which includes their beer actually getting stuck because they took it off the best amount of yeast to finish the job, or yeast bite, because the yeast hasn't flocculated out, or off flavors because the yeast hasn't had a chance to do their job.

Not to mention what Palmer and Jamil have said int he last year about not moving to secondary because of the risk of Oxydation or Infection.

Or just the fact that kit instructions suck and leaving the beer even a few days longer in primary after fermentation is complete to let the yeast clean up those byproducts of fermentation which they created. I mean even John Palmer mentioned that in the same edition that he talked about autolysis. He advocated leaving beers a little longer on the yeast.

Quote:
Originally Posted by How To Brew
Leaving an ale beer in the primary fermentor for a total of 2-3 weeks (instead of just the one week most kits recommend), will provide time for the conditioning reactions and improve the beer. This extra time will also let more sediment settle out before bottling, resulting in a clearer beer and easier pouring. And, three weeks in the primary fermentor is usually not enough time for off-flavors to occur.
One of the big ones that the yeast will clean up if given time is Diacetyl- Professor beer explains it well.

Quote:

http://www.professorbeer.com/articles/diacetyl.html

Three pathways lead to the creation of diacetyl. The first is through normal yeast metabolism. Brewer’s yeast form a precursor called alpha acetolactate (AAL), which is tasteless. This compound is converted to diacetyl as the beer ages. The reaction that changes AAL to diacetyl is accelerated by high temperature. At cool temperatures it will still occur, but more slowly.

Modern brewing practice dictates that beer be aged on live yeast until the vast majority of AAL is converted into diacetyl. Brewer’s yeast, while unable to metabolize AAL, will readily absorb and break down diacetyl into relatively flavorless compounds. By giving the beer enough contact time with the active yeast, the brewer can eliminate the diacetyl. It generally takes only about two weeks of aging an ale to assure that it will have no buttery flavors.
And following the 1-2-3 rule is, or arbitrarily moving the beer after a week, beause of instructions, is plain silly with the normal 72 hours lagtime you often get (as mentioned it the sticky in the beginner's section)they may only actually be fermenting for 3 or 4 days before someone arbitrarily moves the beer...As mentioned earlier, that leads to stuck fermentations, krausens in secondaries and those dreaded off flavors (because the yeast hasn't had a chance to clean up after their own byproducts of fermentation, if you move them before they get to that point in their life cycle- which is the true secondary phase, the cleanup phase.)

The problem is, contrary to what you might think, yeast can't read recipes, or follow calendars, so they don't know when they are supposed to be done, and have their own timeframe.

If folks DO choose to use a secondary, I recommend folks don't even take their first one til day 12 and the next one on day 14 and then rack to secondary if you are choosing to go the secondary route. That way you do get some of the clean up time that you get from having contact with the greatest amount of yeast, which will get rid of the byproducts of fermentation (such as diacetyl) and make sure fermentation is actually complete so you don't get a stuck fermentation.

I find some combination of a month, whether it's a month in primary or 2 weeks (if fermentation is complete) in primary and 2 weeks in secondary seems to bring out the best in most beers.

I find int funny that people say that "X beers need to be consumed young." You still only want to consume them young if they're actually finished, it doesn't mean a beer is meant to be drunk GREEN. A beer still will need to clean up after itself, it still might need to bottle condition, and for sure it needs to be CARBONATED before you want to drink it (You can't really control how long a beer in a bottle will take to carb up.) A young beer doesn't mean a crappy unfinished beer......you don't just decide that my beer is going to be ready from grain to glass in 10 days (especially you bottle.) It just means that you don't need to sit it in a secondary or bottled in a dark cellar for 6 months.

I don't think there's hate for secondaries (I still use them for big beers, or fruiting or oaking).....it's just not the be all and end all any more, ESPECIALLY if it's being done because of yeast fear like it was 30 years ago. They did a lot of that because the yeast WAS crappy.

The yeast 30 years ago used to often come across on ships in hot cargo ships, and OFTEN the only yeast folks COULD use to make beer was this;



(Which probably wasn't all that "fresh" to begin with. And probably wasn't even stored cold, like we do even with those little foil packets.

So yeah, rushing the beer off the yeast might have been the best course of action, but even Palmer admits that isn't the case anymore. That contact with modern, healthy yeast for a little longer may be beneficial for our beer. Most of us who long primary have experienced that to be the case.

But it's not that there's "secondary hate."
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Old 07-14-2011, 03:26 PM   #10
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++++ revvy
Thanks for clarifying in full details.

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