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Old 10-22-2008, 06:02 PM   #1
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Default Secondary Fermentation - good, bad, ugly???

So I am knew to all grain, I know that has nothing to do with secondary fermentation, but well I am new to that, and wondering if I should be incorporating it as I venture to AG too.

I am wondering what is the point of secondary fermenting? I understand it may be more necessary for lagering, but for Ales what is the point?

Can you secondary ferment in a keg without putting gas on it? Then when the appropriate amount of time has passed, put the gas on? Just realized you probably need a airlock system on the secondary fermentor, so that shoots that idea in the foot.

I suppose there are going to be a lot of "well, it depends" on this, but what are they?

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Old 10-22-2008, 06:09 PM   #2
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For beer the secondary is better referred to as the clearing tank. You don't have a secondary fermentation (unless you dump your beer on more fermentables like fruit). It is a step to get the beer of the yeast and let it age a bit more. Many people go right from primary to the keg.

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Old 10-22-2008, 07:23 PM   #3
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Primary to Keg is fine for ales and can be conditioned in a keg. Actually same for lagers, just make sure you have cut about an inch off of the dip tub so you dont scuk up yeast.

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Old 10-23-2008, 02:42 PM   #4
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I go straight to the keg for ales and lagers. In both cases, I give the brew long enough to settle out before kegging. You don't need airlocks on the kegs, since the ferment is done. Even if it isn't 100%, all that means is you get some carbonation.

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Old 10-23-2008, 03:20 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by david_42 View Post
I go straight to the keg for ales and lagers. In both cases, I give the brew long enough to settle out before kegging. You don't need airlocks on the kegs, since the ferment is done. Even if it isn't 100%, all that means is you get some carbonation.
Ok thanks for all the info. From the sounds of it, the reason to use a secondary fermentor is if you had a flavor to add in the secondary such as coffee grounds, fruit etc...

If I left it in the primary for 2 weeks on an ale, that should be plenty of time for all the gas to release and no need for a secondary anyways.
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Old 10-23-2008, 03:58 PM   #6
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Well, it depends.

I only brew alse, and I used to secondary all the time. Why? because it was always recommended. It was reported that if you didn't secondary, you would end up with cloudy beer, and I didn't want that. Then, some time ago, JZ recommended not using a secondary, but leaving the beer in the primary for 3 - 4 weeks, and then bottling or kegging. I tried it, and to my surprise, my beer was not cloudy, and undoubtedly tasted better.

The only reasons I secondary now are:
1. I have run out of primaries, and need to make another brew.
2. I'm going to dry hop
3. A beer is ready to bottle/get, but I don't have any bottles/kegs available, and I don't want to leave it in the primary for more than about 5 weeks.

It could possibly be true that a secondary fermentation used to be necessary with the ingredients (especially yeasts) that were available in the old days, but is no longer necessary with modern ingredients which are of a much higher quality.

-a.

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Old 10-23-2008, 04:54 PM   #7
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I use secondarys when i want to harvest clean yeast. Helps me avoid old hops, hot/cold break etc..

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Old 10-23-2008, 05:13 PM   #8
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i quit using secondaries some time ago....all my beers have tasted better since then.

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Old 10-23-2008, 05:47 PM   #9
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Well, it depends.

I only brew alse, and I used to secondary all the time. Why? because it was always recommended. It was reported that if you didn't secondary, you would end up with cloudy beer, and I didn't want that. Then, some time ago, JZ recommended not using a secondary, but leaving the beer in the primary for 3 - 4 weeks, and then bottling or kegging. I tried it, and to my surprise, my beer was not cloudy, and undoubtedly tasted better.

-a.
Can you explain what process you go through for leaving your brew in the primary for 3-4 weeks? I'm new to all of this and I am learning a lot. Thanks.
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Old 10-23-2008, 09:11 PM   #10
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Can you explain what process you go through for leaving your brew in the primary for 3-4 weeks? I'm new to all of this and I am learning a lot. Thanks.
It's pretty easy. Just leave it. Don't touch it. No peeking if you use a bucket. Take a gravity reading 3 - 4 days before bottling to make sure it's ready, and another on bottling day. If the two readings are the same, and in range, you're ready to bottle. As you will have a lot more trub in the primary than you would in the secondary, you need to be a bit more careful when racking to the bottling bucket or keg. I clamp the siphon so the pickup is well above the trub, and then gradually lower it as the siphon proceeds. If I start to pick up trub, I've lowered it too far, and I raise it a bit. Just stop when you can't get any more beer out without picking up trub.

-a.
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