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Old 10-14-2009, 06:45 PM   #1
dulles
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Default Secondary fermentation: re-using my carboy, oxidation fears, timing question

I've got a wonderful smelling IPA bubbling away in primary fermentation. It's 5 gallons in a glass carboy. I'd like to do secondary fermentation so I get some clarity and so I get a chance to dry-hop, but I have concerns about the way I plan to do it. Specifically, I'm worried about oxidation and timing.

Oxidation: I only own one glass carboy. I have a bottling bucket, with a spigot, without a cover. I was thinking about racking into the bucket, covering the bucket with foil or plastic wrap while I clean out my carboy (to avoid unnecessary exposure to oxygen, and then gently draining the beer back into the original carboy for secondary, using appropriate hosing so that there's little to no splashing. Still, I'd rack yet again for bottling. With all these transfers, I'm worried about oxidation. Thoughts?

Timing: How soon should I go secondary? I've seen some folks say 3-5 days, others say as soon as fermentation slows, others say as much as 14 days. I've also heard that, although fermentation is complete, yeasts perform important flavor refinement duties after fermentation. This could cut both ways: (1) I should go secondary later rather than sooner to allow the yeasts to do their flavor refinement job now, or (2) I should rack sooner rather than later so that when I do so, I transfer a healthy amount of the yeast before most if it gets stuck in the trub. Thoughts?

I'm I getting too neurotic about this step?

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Old 10-14-2009, 08:27 PM   #2
ArcaneXor
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dulles View Post
I'd like to do secondary fermentation so I get some clarity and so I get a chance to dry-hop
Re-fermenting your beer won't make it any clearer - just letting it sit undisturbed usually does. But dry-hopping tends to create a hazy appearance due to the hop oils.

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With all these transfers, I'm worried about oxidation. Thoughts?
As long as you don't splash or plan on aging the beer for many months (which doesn't make a whole lot of sense for a dry-hopped IPA), oxidation is not a concern.

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Timing: How soon should I go secondary?
I wouldn't use a secondary at all, but if you really want to, I'd wait at least 2 weeks to give the yeast plenty of time to finish its work and flocculate.
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Old 10-15-2009, 12:10 AM   #3
michael.berta
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+1. It is a myth that using a secondary will result in clearer beer. Yeast will drop regardless of which vessel it is in.

Why not dryhop in the primary? I wait until fermentation is about 80% complete then I dry hop with pellets. They settle out as well. If you dry hop in a secondary then you will have oxidation issues with the oxygen in the hops. By doing it in the primary the yeast fermenting will blow out the oxgygen. You might need to add a bit more because they will also blow out some aroma as well.

If you want to avoid oxidation dry hop in the primary when it is almost done and don't secondary. After you reach your FG wait about 3 or 4 days. Then crash cool for a few days. If you bottle then rack to a bottling bucket. If you keg then keg....

A secondary doesn't provide much if any benefit to your beer, it exposes it to potential oxidation, contamination, etc. A secondary uses extra cleaner, extra sanitizer and extra time.

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