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Old 01-05-2010, 02:09 PM   #1
ryankf
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Default Secondary Fermentation - To Rack or Not to Rack

I've got perspectives from both sides of the isle when it comes to using a secondary fermenter. I think i understand the concept - clearing, allowing sediment to fall out, getting the beer away from the krauesen before it settles back in, and getting the beer away from dormant yeast - so now the question is let it finish in the plastic bucket primary fermenter or rack (risk contamination/airation) to a secondary glass carboy for further clearing?

This is my first homebrew, so i'm going for drinkability, not necessarily perfection. I think I have pretty good sanitation throughout and don't see why that wouldn't continue. I'm able to keep the beer at a constant 62 degrees and things seem to be progessing nicely.

Thoughts...?

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Old 01-05-2010, 02:20 PM   #2
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I'd leave it in the bucket. Pop it open after three weeks, then siphon the beer out into a bottling bucket or keg. Beer will still be drinkable, even with haze or cloudiness. For the first brew, skip the secondary.

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Old 01-05-2010, 02:27 PM   #3
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There's been a big shift in brewing consciousness in the last few years where many of us believe that yeast is a good thing, and besides just fermenting the beer, that they are fastidious creatures who go back and clean up any by products created by themselves during fermentation, which may lead to off flavors.

Rather than the yeast being the cause of off flavors, it is now looked at by many of us, that they will if left alone actually remove those off flavors, and make for clearer and cleaner tasting beers.

You'll find that a great many folks, maybe even the majority on here these days, leave their beers in primary for 3-4 weeks, skipping secondary. Many of us even dry hop in primary, and only rack to secondary if we are adding oak or fruit, or had fruit in the boil or primary and left lots of trub behind.

Even John Palmer talks about this in How To Bew;

Quote:
Originally Posted by How To Brew
Leaving an ale beer in the primary fermentor for a total of 2-3 weeks (instead of just the one week most canned kits recommend), will provide time for the conditioning reactions and improve the beer. This extra time will also let more sediment settle out before bottling, resulting in a clearer beer and easier pouring. And, three weeks in the primary fermentor is usually not enough time for off-flavors to occur.
This is where the most up to date brewing wisdom and ideas can be found...In fact a lot of stuff has been started on here, and made it into byo or zymurgy or podcasts...in fact BYO DID a piece on no secondary/long primary, along with the BASIC BREWING PODCAST and even they said that there were no issues/harm with doing it and in some beers it did actually improve the flavor and clarity. And I believe that really WAS influenced by the discussion we have had for the last couple years on here.
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Old 01-05-2010, 02:36 PM   #4
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I agree with Revvy.. with my beers I leave in the primary usually for 14 days and then rack. There is some argument that after 14 days there is the chance for off flavors but just to be safe I usually rack to secondary on the 14th day and let it sit in the secondary for another 14 days before I keg it (unless its a quick turn around beer then i just go from the primary after the 14 days straight to the keg)

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Old 01-05-2010, 02:37 PM   #5
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+1 on what Revvy said.
I only use a secondary for additional dry hopping or various additions like fruit etc.

I did use a secondary for a while on all my brews, and I honestly see little difference in my results since moving back to just an extended primary.

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Old 01-05-2010, 05:45 PM   #6
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HOLY ****!

This thread got me curious, it has been 17 days since my beer went into the primary, havent even looked the bucket in a couple of days knowing its in a safe spot at the right temp. i started thinking "maybe today i will bottle" so i went and looked at my bucket.

i also wanted to check the temp with a new sticky strip i just bought because it just seemed like a good idea (wasted 2.30cents)

anyhow - im sitting there watchign the temp lower and lower and lower and all of the sudden i get A BUBBLE

hadnt seen any activity in like 2 weeks until just now

i think i read this can happen.

is this right?

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Old 01-05-2010, 06:09 PM   #7
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yeah like what others are saying. A secondary vessel isn't required nor will it produce better beer. Using a secondary will cost you cleaners, sanitizer, space for extra equipment, time and potential oxidation. Basically lots of us think it's a waste of time. Don't worry about your yeast dying on you.

Keeping your brew in one vessel will allow the yeast to clean up after it self and produce a cleaner tasting beer. Also yeast will settle regardless of what vessel it's in. it's not like yeast in suspension looks down, gets scared and decides not to floculate.

After fermentation has stopped completely and I have reached my FG I leave it alone for a week or so. Then I crash cool (putting the fermenter in a fridge) for another week or so. This will leave you will clear beer.

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Old 01-05-2010, 11:31 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michael.berta View Post
yeah like what others are saying. A secondary vessel isn't required nor will it produce better beer. Using a secondary will cost you cleaners, sanitizer, space for extra equipment, time and potential oxidation. Basically lots of us think it's a waste of time. Don't worry about your yeast dying on you.

Keeping your brew in one vessel will allow the yeast to clean up after it self and produce a cleaner tasting beer. Also yeast will settle regardless of what vessel it's in. it's not like yeast in suspension looks down, gets scared and decides not to floculate.

After fermentation has stopped completely and I have reached my FG I leave it alone for a week or so. Then I crash cool (putting the fermenter in a fridge) for another week or so. This will leave you will clear beer.
I like your advice at the end about a cool crash but I think your first paragraph will\can cause some argument. "nor will it produce better beer" Compared to what?!

Not everyone has the ability or resources to cold crash a beer and that's where racking to a secondary comes into play. Doing so will give you a clearer beer than keeping it in the primary (not cold crashing) and then bottling\kegging. I have tried both racking and not racking and I use both methods regularly. I usually do not rack with a Belgian wit or blond or a beer that is cloudy by style. Everything else (unless I get lazy) I do a secondary and believe it is worth the added effort, "risk" and sanitizing cost.
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Old 01-05-2010, 11:52 PM   #9
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I typically only use my secondary when I lager the batch for extended periods. At the present time I only have one primary and lagering in the primary would severely cut into my brewing capacity. I see no reason why you should rack to a secondary. However crash cooling will result in a clearer beer.

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Old 01-06-2010, 12:57 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SOB View Post

Not everyone has the ability or resources to cold crash a beer and that's where racking to a secondary comes into play. Doing so will give you a clearer beer than keeping it in the primary (not cold crashing) and then bottling\kegging.
WRONG WRONG WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Where do people come up with some if this stuff?



I don't don't EVER cold crash, I leave my beer for a month in primary and I have had judges describe my beer as extremely clear and "jewel like"....AND half the time I forget to add any moss.

Appearance ALWAYS scores high on my beers as well as taste. But there not one contest where a judge doesn't make a comment on the clarity of my beers.

That's precisely why I don't secondary....because my beers are much better than when I secondary.

After a month in primary your beer is crystal clear, very clean and crisp tasting. And when you rack to bottle you leave behind a really dense yeast/trub cake.

Believe me, after three years of doing the long primary/ no secondary I find no need to go back to doing it any other way. The quality of my beers has upped 10 ten fold.

Even John Palmer talks about this in How To Bew;

Quote:
Originally Posted by How To Brew
Leaving an ale beer in the primary fermentor for a total of 2-3 weeks (instead of just the one week most canned kits recommend), will provide time for the conditioning reactions and improve the beer. This extra time will also let more sediment settle out before bottling, resulting in a clearer beer and easier pouring. And, three weeks in the primary fermentor is usually not enough time for off-flavors to occur.
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