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Old 10-09-2013, 02:24 AM   #1
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Default When should I move beer to a secondary fermenter

I have decided to brew an English Brown Ale for my 3rd batch of home brew, and like always I choose the Brewers Best Ingredient Kits, I think they make some outstanding beer.

Anyways, after transferring it into the primary I forgot to get a reading with my hydrometer. So when I was en-route to do so, I broke my second hydrometer. Very frustrating. Now I have no means to make an accurate reading. It has been in the primary for a few days and midnight will mark day five. Airlock activity did not begin until day three.

The instructions that come with the ingredient kit state that if you have a secondary to transfer when airlock activity has slowed down, BUT NOT BEFORE it diminishes. It also states that airlock activity should start within 24 hours, and mine started about day 3. So my question is this:

Since I have no means to get a gravity reading, when should I transfer to my secondary carboy? I have browsed this site and many individuals state that airlock activity should not be taken seriously and the only thing to determine when you should transfer into secondary is with a hydrometer. You see my dilemma. Any advice would be helpful, thanks.

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Old 10-09-2013, 02:28 AM   #2
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I think you'll find that most of the brewers here don't even think about moving beers to secondary fermenters, and I'd agree with that approach - I almost never transfer to a seconday. Let it stay in the primary for three weeks, and you should be safe without compromising the quality of your brew. The only reason I ever transfer into a secondary is because I REALLY NEED my primary because I brewed another beer.

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Old 10-09-2013, 02:39 AM   #3
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I understand completely with your response, but I too am thinking about starting another brew and would like to utilize my primary. For some reason I was under the impression that transferring to a secondary would greatly improve the clarity of my batch. Is this not true. I understand that clarity is next to meaningless, but I would like to do it for personal preference.

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Old 10-09-2013, 03:32 AM   #4
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Time (and good process) provides better clarity. The key is to not disturb the trub and yeast at the bottom of your primary when you transfer to the bottling bucket or keg. I am not familier with Brewers Best kits, but I'm assuming they are extract kits (maybe with some steeping grains), so you shouldn't have a lot of "stuff" at the bottom of your primary to worry about. I'm an all-grin brewer and don't have clarity issues by not using a secondary fermentation - and I like clear beers, too. If you need to transfer to secondary and are concerned about continuing your fermentation, then you should intentionally take some of the top layer of the sediment off the bottom of your primary - that's here the yeast will be and will it help in completing fermentation of there's any doubt. It will settle out in your secondary. And you don't need to rush the fermentation - either primary or secondary. More time for the beer to settle = clearer beer. It's hard to wait, but your patience will pay off.

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Old 10-09-2013, 05:51 AM   #5
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I use a secondary and I don't really care that John Palmer and others say it isn't necessary. I brew IPA mostly and I think it helps the style. To answer your question before I start rambling... I have done anywhere from 1-3 weeks in the primary and I have enjoyed great beer from anywhere in that range. I don't usually take a gravity reading unless I think something is wrong. Just give it 2-3 weeks then transfer. Be patient.

I like a secondary mainly because I can cold crash and drop most of the yeast out of suspension and then transfer. After the transfer I dry hop and there is less yeast and hop interaction. I find this to be a more desirable result. I hope that helped.

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Old 10-09-2013, 12:03 PM   #6
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You don't need to secondary an English Brown.

If you are going to anyway, you'll want to wait until it has hit FG before transfer. Those instructions, like many kit instructions, are inaccurate.

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Old 10-09-2013, 02:20 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigFloyd View Post
You don't need to secondary an English Brown.

If you are going to anyway, you'll want to wait until it has hit FG before transfer. Those instructions, like many kit instructions, are inaccurate.


Good advice.
All my brews are brown ales (some big and some session style) and I have never used a secondary to clear up or brighten them and they are always crystal clear on bottling day. If you just allow them to stay in the primary for the extra 2 or 3 weeks that you plan on leaving them in the secondary they will be just as clear.

Maybe they want you to transfer while the ale is just at the end of the fermentation and not completely done is so that there is still CO2 being produced. This might help reducing the possibility of oxidation in the secondary.

OMO

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Old 10-10-2013, 01:19 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigFloyd View Post
You don't need to secondary an English Brown.

If you are going to anyway, you'll want to wait until it has hit FG before transfer. Those instructions, like many kit instructions, are inaccurate.
I agree you dont need to secondary an english brown. I missed what style you were doing. But since you dont have a way to measure the FG I think 3 weeks should do the trick.
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Old 10-10-2013, 03:15 PM   #9
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If you have a lot of trub or sediment after 2-3 weeks primary, you may want to rack to secondary for a few days, then bottle at that point.

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Old 10-10-2013, 03:33 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bethebrew View Post
If you have a lot of trub or sediment after 2-3 weeks primary, you may want to rack to secondary for a few days, then bottle at that point.

If you rack carefully to the bottling bucket, you'll leave that stuff behind in the primary.
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