First off, hi to all--I've read this board for a long time but never posted--seems like all my questions have already been asked answered a dozen times here over the past few years. However, I do have a lingering question regarding something that has been touched on several times--namely, the effect of racking to a secondary on beer clarity.
So here's the deal: I've read the arguments for leaving your beer (esp. ales) on the primary yeast cake, and I've found over the course of my brewing (probably 50-60 batches over eight years) that I agree. The yeast are able to do a better "cleanup" job when you let them sit for at least a couple of weeks. However, I still rack to a secondary, usually two or three weeks into fermentation, and I find that it does make for a clearer beer, primarily I think because when I subsequently rack to my bottling bucket I can do so without fear of stirring up much trub.
Now, I know there are plenty of other ways to enhance clarity--gelatin, whirfloc, moss, cold crashing, etc. I'm not crazy about adding a bunch of extra stuff to my beer (although I do occasionally use Irish moss), and I usually cold crash my secondary before racking to the bottling bucket. So my question is, holding all other techniques constant, does racking to the secondary really improve beer clarity, or am I imagining things? For example, if I split a recipe at fermentation and did them like so:
A) Primary: 2 weeks, Secondary: 1 week, Bottle age: 4 weeks
B) Primary: 3 weeks, Bottle age: 4 weeks
Would A be any clearer than B, or would there be no difference? I may have to give this a shot, because if there's really no reason to do this it'll save me a step, albeit one of the simpler steps in my process. I'm aware of the counter arguments regarding additional risk of contamination, etc, but that's not what I'm interested in here.