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Old 10-30-2006, 07:51 AM   #1
Stevenhill
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Default Noob question about secondary fermentation

Hi, All

Please forgive the noob nature of the question, but I'm not getting a good answer from my books.

I have made some all grain pale ale recipe. 3 days ago I pitched it and there's plenty of crust on the top..

so, my question(s) are:

How long should I leave it for primary fermentation?

When I transfer it to the secondary fermentation vessel, should I siphon? or use the tap? i wonder if one might cause more of the crud at the bottom to be disturbed.

My recipe tells me i should rack it at 1011-1012 SG, but I don't know whether i should move it to another large vessel with some Krausen yeast and some additional sugar and THEN bottle it.... or if i should just bottle it straight from the secondary fermentor.

Thankyou to anyone who can point me in the right direction.

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Old 10-30-2006, 08:46 AM   #2
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What books are you using?

In AG brewing more than in extract brewing, you want to get the beer off the trub to avoid getting off-flavors/autolysis. As a rule of thumb, primary fermentation in a two stage set-up should be about 1-2 weeks. Of course, the real answer is "when the gravity has fallen far enough." After three days, I'd leave it, but you could take a gravity reading if you're in a hurry.

If you transfer it to the secondary, you'll want to use a syphon. The tap will introduce way too much oxygen in your beer and will transfer the crud, which defeats the purpose of racking to a secondary. If you do rack it, you'll want to let it sit for at least two to three weeks (some of the guys around here have let their beer sit for months with good results).

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Old 10-30-2006, 11:46 AM   #3
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RDWHAHB

In fact, racking to secondary is an optional and uneccesary step. If you don't do it, it will take months for autolysis to occur. I usually wait at least 10 days, unless I need my primary vessel free for some reason. I usually let the fermentation complete before racking . . . or I go straight to keg.

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Old 10-30-2006, 01:18 PM   #4
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Hi,

Thanks very much to both of you. I find this homebrewing thing fascinating, but also quite bewildering. It's good to know advice can be had from somewhere.

Books? Only one; The Big Book of Brewing by Dave Line. It's a great book, but the section on racking is a tiny bit ambiguous. He seems to suggest racking from primary vessel, to secondary vessel, to a third vessel with some Krausen yeast and priming sugar.... and THEN bottle with a dose of primer in there, too.

I could have misunderstood, of course.

My plan was to rack off from the primary after about 7 days, put it into my secondary fermentor (a pressure barrel with an airlock) then after a couple of weeks or so, siphon it to bottles with a little priming sugar and leave it for 3-4 weeks.

Assuming there's nothing terribly wrong with this technique, is this a sound way of doing it? will i get some carbonation from the residual yeast and priming sugar in the bottle?

Thanks again, everyone

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Old 10-30-2006, 01:23 PM   #5
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a great rule of thumb is the 1-2-3 rule

1 week in primary
2 weeks in secondary
3 weeks in bottles

As for the carbonation you asked about, yes, there will be plenty of yeast left in suspension to carbonate your bottles. do you have a bottling bucket to mix your priming sugar into?

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Old 10-30-2006, 01:36 PM   #6
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You really don't have to worry about transferring extra yeast. There is always enough in the wort. In fact, people rack from the clearing tank to a priming bucket to reduce the amount of yeast. Since you need to stir in the priming sugar before bottling, racking at that point is a good idea.

Fermenter: 1 week AND the krausen has fallen AND you've reached you target gravity
Clearing: 2 weeks AND it is clear enough OR you're tired of waiting
Bottling: 3 weeks plus 1 week for every ABV over 5%

When you rack or bottle doesn't change the aging time. You can bottle from the fermenter and add priming sugar to each bottle, but it will still take a minimum of 6 weeks.

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Old 10-30-2006, 03:33 PM   #7
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I would also suggest a redirection cap for the end of your racking cane. This helps to reduce the amount of trub that is racked, and doesn't clog as easily as the racking cane if you're dryhopping.

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Old 10-30-2006, 04:15 PM   #8
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Thanks, Chaps...

Very helpful.

Just a couple of questions... I was planning to bottle straight from my secondary fermenter. is it wise to move it from there to a priming bucket, mix sugar with it, and then bottle it from there?

if doing that, do you guys recommend ordinary white sugar? or is there something better? and at what quantity? i have made 4 3/4 gallons, though I imagine i'll leave some behind when transfer the beer.

I don't have a specific bottliing bucket, but I do have a 5 gallon bucket with a tap and a length of hose i can fit to it, I guess that'll do the same job.

Evan.. I think I have a racking cane, as long as it's plastic tube on my siphon pipe with a hole about an inch from a closed-off end.. then I do.

David 42.. I notice you're posting from Oregon. I'm coming to Ashland for Christmas from San Francisco. Any favourite breweries you think i should have a look at en route?


Many thanks, fellas

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Old 10-30-2006, 05:58 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stevenhill
Just a couple of questions... I was planning to bottle straight from my secondary fermenter. is it wise to move it from there to a priming bucket, mix sugar with it, and then bottle it from there?
It is definitely better to rack into a bottling bucket (or any clean bucket.) You can boil up your priming sugar (use dextrose from the homebrew supply shop, not white sugar) and pour it into the bucket first. Then gently siphon your beer on top of the sugar. This will insure that the sugar is well mixed with the beer. You want to siphon carefully so that you don't get oxygen (air) mixed in with your beer. Oxygen at this time in the process can and will oxidize your beer creating off-flavors.

Quote:
and at what quantity? i have made 4 3/4 gallons, though I imagine i'll leave some behind when transfer the beer.
It all depends upon how much carbonation your want in the batch. For a basic ale around 2.5 atm is common and you can get that with just under 4 oz. of dextrose in a 4.5 gallon batch. I'm sure someone else can give you a more precise answer. Let everyone know your beginning and finishing SG and the style for lots of suggestions.

Quote:
I don't have a specific bottliing bucket, but I do have a 5 gallon bucket with a tap and a length of hose i can fit to it, I guess that'll do the same job.
Sure will, you obviously don't have to siphon as I mentioned above if you have a tap.
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Old 10-30-2006, 09:01 PM   #10
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Cool...

well, if I can keep it from going bad (like the last vinegar-esque batch) then I reckon i have the gear i need for the job.

In case anyone has any advice on sugar quantity, then what I'm trying to create here is a pale ale.

The starting gravity should be (and was) 1040, and racking gravity should be 1011-1012, according to the recipe.

Cheers

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