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Old 01-12-2011, 07:51 PM   #1
pfish83
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Default When to switch to my secondary carboy

I apologize if this is a really simple question but I just got a home brew kit for Christmas and I am brewing a beginner IPA from Brewers Best. I have it fermenting now. It suggests a two-stage fermentation and says when the fermentation slows but before it completes, switch to the secondary carboy. My question is...when is slow? I brewed it Saturday afternoon and now the bubbles have slowed to about 6-8 seconds apart. Any advice?

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Old 01-12-2011, 07:56 PM   #2
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Bubbles do not indicate slow or complete fermentation. A hydrometer reading is your best bet. Also my personal opinion is that you really do not need to transfer to secondary. Let it sit in primary for about a month on a tight yeast cake then take a SG hydrometer reading if you hit your SG or are close wait 24 then transfer to your bottling bucket. Alot of us on here leave our beers in primary you can transfer if you wish there really isn't anu laws governing this. So to answer your question transfer in couple of weeks. Oh and welcome to the forums.

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Old 01-12-2011, 08:04 PM   #3
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Are you dry hopping? If yes skip the next paragraph, if no read it.

If you're not dry hopping, just skip secondary altogether. Use your spare carboy to ferment MORE BEER Autolysis takes a while to occur, so you're good up to a month even in the primary before it starts to affect flavor. By then it's going to be fermented out and ready to keg/bottle.

If you're dry hopping then you'll wanna secondary. You'll also want to secondary if you're trying to achieve a super clear beer and want to let it rest for a while. You can only let it sit in primary so long (about a month) before the chance vegitative flavors can develop.

Anyway in general beer is ready for secondary after fermentation is complete. There is no visual way to determine this, so don't try :P. Instead use a hyrdometer to take readings every other day. Once you get the same reading twice, fermentation has completed (or stalled). Assuming you're at your target final gravity (and not experiencing stuck fermentation) you're ready to rack to secondary.

The secondary is not a place for fermentation. People often call it a secondary fermenter, or secondary fermentation, but the truth is that fermentation is complete before it's switched. Old school methods say to transfer it as soon as it slows, but I don't really believe that's necessary. I believe it stems from being afraid of autolysis, which has been proven to take a while to occur, and hence there isn't really any huge hurry to rack to secondary, or a need to secondary at all aside from the two previously mentioned reasons.

Eventually you'll worry less about fermentation and it won't be so hard to let it sit for a few weeks. Especially w/multiple batches going. You'll eventually stop using a hydrometer most likely and just sort of know it's going to be ok.

Hope this helps!

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Old 01-12-2011, 08:08 PM   #4
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Oh I remember I asked the LHBS owner why I should rack "when it slows" and not when totally finished. His answer was that yeast fall out of suspension when they are done fermenting, and that I'll need a good amt of healthy, active yeast for bottling.

He urged getting it into secondary and into bottles as soon as it seemed ready.

I suspected he was wrong, and it turns out he is. The truth is that no matter how long that beer sits there, it will still have a ton of viable yeast floating around. It just can't all settle out that fast. I've aged beers for months in secondary and bottled w/o any additional yeast and it was fine.

Guess he hasn't been reading the forums:P

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Old 01-12-2011, 08:54 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by cvstrat View Post
If you're dry hopping then you'll wanna secondary. You'll also want to secondary if you're trying to achieve a super clear beer and want to let it rest for a while.
No need to rack just to dry hop, it works just as good in the primary as long as active fermentation is complete.
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Old 01-12-2011, 09:34 PM   #6
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Thanks for the quick responses...good to know there are forums like this to get advice.

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Old 01-13-2011, 12:52 AM   #7
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Personally, I dry-hop in the primary. Beers for which a secondary is needed are few and far between IMHO.

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Old 01-13-2011, 12:56 AM   #8
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Hop the primary. Save the extra time to drink more HB.

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Old 01-13-2011, 01:05 AM   #9
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When should you switch to the secondary?

NEVER!!!

Seriously, unless you're going for a super long conditioning period, or adding fruit or oak, it doesn't seem to do anything for the average home brewer's beer.

Conditioning TIME is the biggest factor in beer clarity, (besides clarifying agents or additional process steps like cold crashing) not the conditioning vessel.

Do a search on this site for long primary vs. secondary, or something along those lines and you will find more information on the topic than you could possibly stand.

Welcome to the site

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Old 01-13-2011, 01:19 AM   #10
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As you can see secondary useage is a hot topic around here. If you are going to secondary, do so after about 3 weeks in the primary. I personally secondary as I like the clarity it gives my beer, but many others disagree. There is no wrong way to do it, just multiple, different, right ways.

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