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Old 09-12-2012, 05:15 PM   #1
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Default To secondary or not, redux

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.

Thoughts?

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Old 09-12-2012, 05:58 PM   #2
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Old 09-12-2012, 07:57 PM   #3
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This question always provokes a lot of hysteria. I don’t know why people feel so strongly whether or not somebody else goes to secondary.

You don’t have to, that’s for sure.

I think it depends on a lot of things. I used to use WL004 Irish yeast with a small ale that went to bottle in a couple or three weeks. Two or three days in secondary cleared it a lot.

The big caveat is to be sure not to go to secondary too soon. Be sure you have hit FG or you risk a stuck fermentation.

Try it both ways and decide for yourself.

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Old 09-12-2012, 08:31 PM   #4
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Yes, I know this is one topic where people seem to be stuck on different sides of the fence. Maybe I'll need to run my experiment. If I do, I'll take pictures and post here.

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Old 09-12-2012, 10:37 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jerrodm
Yes, I know this is one topic where people seem to be stuck on different sides of the fence. Maybe I'll need to run my experiment. If I do, I'll take pictures and post here.
It basically comes down to you whatever works best for you and your process is what you roll with, technically there is no right or wrong. The only important thing to consider is if you choose to secondary be sure fermentation is complete.
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Old 09-13-2012, 01:06 PM   #6
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Racking to a second vessel does not clear a beer any more or any faster than leaving it in primary. It's just the same beer in another container exposed to more oxygen.

That said, If you're not careful when you rack from primary you can stir up a lot of yeast/trub and it'll end up in suspension for a little bit. If you can rack from primary carefully- do that, no secondary. If for some reason you can't, then I guess secondary. It doesn't really need to be a week though. whatever you stir up will settle out in 1-3 days depending on temp.

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Old 09-13-2012, 01:13 PM   #7
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I'm for leaving it on the yeast cake longer and avoiding trub in the transfer. (I do use whirfloc) Then it's just a matter of time for the beer to clear.

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Old 09-13-2012, 01:15 PM   #8
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Can someone explain to me what whirflock is? I see a lot people talk about it.

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Old 09-13-2012, 01:27 PM   #9
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A blend of Irish Moss and purified Kappa carrageenan that encourages the precipitation of haze causing materials such as proteins and Beta glucans. Prepared in a quick dissolving, highly soluble tablet form. Almost everyone who tries Whirlfloc tablets prefer them to regular Irish Moss.
Add for the final 5 minutes of the boil.

From the MoreBeer.com site...

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Old 09-13-2012, 01:34 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JesperX View Post
Racking to a second vessel does not clear a beer any more or any faster than leaving it in primary. It's just the same beer in another container exposed to more oxygen.
I've seen evidence otherwise. Basic Brewing Radio has pictures showing a belgian-style beer clearing much faster when racked to secondary.
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