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Old 12-23-2011, 03:42 PM   #1
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Default Secondary fermenter: not the usual question

OK: I've read the threads about to ssconday or not, and I've decided what's best for the Beer I choose to brew.

The general consensus is that secondary is only recommended if one is adding fruit or oak chips, or something similar. The question is: why does one rack to secondary for fruit or oak chips? What is the harm in adding items such as those to primary after the initial fermentation is complete? How does the dormant yeast cake affect those late additions?

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Old 12-23-2011, 05:09 PM   #2
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OK: I've read the threads about to ssconday or not, and I've decided what's best for the Beer I choose to brew.

The general consensus is that secondary is only recommended if one is adding fruit or oak chips, or something similar. The question is: why does one rack to secondary for fruit or oak chips? What is the harm in adding items such as those to primary after the initial fermentation is complete? How does the dormant yeast cake affect those late additions?
The idea is that when you add fruit or oak to your beer, you're going to be aging the beer for a longer period of time. At a certain point, even with fruit in your beer, the yeast are going to run out of nutrients and will begin to eat each other. This causes some nasty off flavors in your beer so you want to take those already flocculated yeast out to give the yeast still in suspension all the remaining sugars.

Edit: Didn't really answer your question, but adding fruit to the primary causes a lot of off flavors.
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Old 12-23-2011, 05:52 PM   #3
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OK, so I were to put a batch on oak chips for 2 weeks, I'd not need to secondary ( since I routinely do 4 weeks primary and bottle without issues anyway) according to your logic. .

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Old 12-23-2011, 06:00 PM   #4
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Treating each process of the fermentation, conditioning and flavoring as separate phases will yield cleaner results.

If the second two weeks of the primary are dedicated to the yeast cleaning up after themselves, they should be allowed to do just that. Without interference of oak chips or strawberries floating around and getting in the way.

My opinion only.

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Old 12-23-2011, 06:02 PM   #5
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No- the reason for doing a secondary is more than that! A "secondary" is done in a carboy usually, which reduces the headspace and is good for aging. Wines are always done like this- primary in whatever vessel, usually not even airlocked, just covered to keep it away from bugs, and then the secondary is a carboy and the headspace is reduced.

However, if you're adding fruit or things that are hard to remove, it's not uncommon do do this in a wider fermenter, like a bucket, so that the fruit can be removed after the time on the fruit is over.

If people notice most of the "infection threads" on this forum, it usually is because there is headspace left for a long period of time. You rarely see an infection in a topped up carboy.

I'm not talking about a week or two in a bucket, but instead long term aging. Once fermentation stops, and the beer is no longer producing co2 to help protect the beer from a wide headspace, you don't want to keep the beer in a wide vessel (like a bucket) for aging.

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Old 12-23-2011, 08:29 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Yooper View Post
No- the reason for doing a secondary is more than that! A "secondary" is done in a carboy usually, which reduces the headspace and is good for aging. Wines are always done like this- primary in whatever vessel, usually not even airlocked, just covered to keep it away from bugs, and then the secondary is a carboy and the headspace is reduced.

However, if you're adding fruit or things that are hard to remove, it's not uncommon do do this in a wider fermenter, like a bucket, so that the fruit can be removed after the time on the fruit is over.

If people notice most of the "infection threads" on this forum, it usually is because there is headspace left for a long period of time. You rarely see an infection in a topped up carboy.

I'm not talking about a week or two in a bucket, but instead long term aging. Once fermentation stops, and the beer is no longer producing co2 to help protect the beer from a wide headspace, you don't want to keep the beer in a wide vessel (like a bucket) for aging.
+1

I generally use oak cubes for their consistant shape and toast quality...and I go about 3 months with oak (1 oz) so the reduced headspace is critical. The key to long term oaking is to continually taste to avoid over-oaking. With stouts, I start the oak in primary with the yeast.
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Old 12-25-2011, 12:23 AM   #7
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+1

I generally use oak cubes for their consistant shape and toast quality...and I go about 3 months with oak (1 oz) so the reduced headspace is critical. The key to long term oaking is to continually taste to avoid over-oaking. With stouts, I start the oak in primary with the yeast.
sooooo... If you wanted 12 weeks on oak, and you routinely choose 4 weeks in primary, you'd likely toss the oak in with the yeast pitch, wait 4 weeks, rack to secondary with a minumal headspace, and move the oak over for the remaining 8 weeks.
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Old 12-25-2011, 12:31 AM   #8
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Another reason for not dry hopping or oak in a primary as the excess yeast will coat the items you added to the primary and their full effectiveness won't be allowed. In essence it will be like putting your oak chips in a plastic bag as they will get coated with yeast.

If you wanted 12 weeks on oak, the best way would be to oak in a keg and shoot CO2 into the headspace then move to another keg or bottle.

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Old 12-25-2011, 12:39 AM   #9
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Another reason for not dry hopping or oak in a primary as the excess yeast will coat the items you added to the primary and their full effectiveness won't be allowed. In essence it will be like putting your oak chips in a plastic bag as they will get coated with yeast.

If you wanted 12 weeks on oak, the best way would be to oak in a keg and shoot CO2 into the headspace then move to another keg or bottle.
ok, that's making sense. Thanks for the patience. I'm not questioning your judgement, its just that I find it easier to slot facts into my brain if I have a reason associated with them.
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Old 12-25-2011, 01:28 AM   #10
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Another reason for not dry hopping or oak in a primary as the excess yeast will coat the items you added to the primary and their full effectiveness won't be allowed. In essence it will be like putting your oak chips in a plastic bag as they will get coated with yeast.

If you wanted 12 weeks on oak, the best way would be to oak in a keg and shoot CO2 into the headspace then move to another keg or bottle.
This is actually common practice in wine, in fact whites are often fermented in oak. When done with cubes, the cubes are moved over from the primary into the brite tank. With reds, they go in oak during MLF only because of the cap issues with reds.

Beer yeast is the same basic critter, check out Shea Comforts (www.yeastwhisper.com) podcast about Oak and wine yeast in beer making on Brewers Network.
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