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Old 01-28-2009, 04:01 PM   #1
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Default Racking Questions

I'm brewing the Palace Bitter English Bitter that is found in the "Joy of Home brewing" book. I was wondering some things about racking.

1) How long do you wait to rack an ale? It's been 4 days for me and the active fermentation has stopped, can I rack now?

2) What do you guys ferment in first? This is the first time I will be using 2 fermenters. I used my plastic 5 gallon bucket with air lock for the 1st fermentation, and then am going to transfer to my 6 gallon glass carboy. Is it bettor to do it the other way, or did I do it correctly? Thanks for all the help, LOVE the forum.

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Old 01-28-2009, 04:29 PM   #2
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1) - how do you know it is done fermenting? Are you judging by your airlock, or are you taking hydrometer readings. If you get a consistent hydrometer reading 3 days in a row, then your fermentation is likely done. Many people here recommend a longer time in the primary fermentor. This allows the yeast to clean up their byproducts. Some people even go 3-4 weeks in the primary fermentor. I'll let the experts give you a more refined answer.

2) IMO, it makes more sense for your primary fermentor to be the larger of the two. This is because active fermentation requires more headspace. Once you rack to the secondary, you don't need nearly as much headspace, because fermentation is complete. The secondary is used to age your beer and to further allow particles to fall out of suspension (resulting in clearer beer).

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Old 01-28-2009, 05:16 PM   #3
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"Active" fermentation is down when the Krausen falls back down and there is no activity in the fermentation lock. The active has stopped, just wondering if I can rack to the secondary yet.

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Old 01-28-2009, 05:31 PM   #4
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I only use 6 gallon glass carboys. Plastic buckets can get scratched and are more likely to get contaminated. With the primary, all you need to do is use a blow-off tube.

A general rule is: 1-2-3
I do: 3-1-3

3 Weeks in the primary: This gives the yeast plenty of time to clean everything up and to ferment. Either way, you should take a hydrometer reading before racking to your secondary.

1 Week in the Secondary: I pretty much just use this as a clearing tank. It allows you to get rid of more sediment before you bottle.

3 Weeks in the bottle: This is standard.

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Old 01-28-2009, 08:06 PM   #5
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+1 on

Quote:
Originally Posted by reim0027 View Post
you don't need nearly as much headspace, because fermentation is complete.
With lots of headspace in a 6 gal secondary your beer could start to spoil if a protective layer of CO2 doesn't form above it from outgassing or continued fermentation.
Get a 5 gallon vessel for secondary or just don't do secondary.
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Old 01-28-2009, 09:09 PM   #6
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123, Even if it's an ale? The recipe said that it was ready to drink in 2 weeks, sometimes even sooner. If my Gravity readings stays the same and I'm happy with the clarity, can't I bottle sooner?

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Old 01-28-2009, 09:18 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Morkin View Post
123, Even if it's an ale? The recipe said that it was ready to drink in 2 weeks, sometimes even sooner. If my Gravity readings stays the same and I'm happy with the clarity, can't I bottle sooner?
You can. Most of us wouldn't. The beer isn't really "ready to drink in two weeks". After the krausen falls, the yeast are still busy working. Once the active fermentation is over, the yeast then go to work "cleaning up" after themselves, even digesting their own waste products (like diacetyl) created during the active fermentation. As a result, the beer is a better quality, has better flavor, and has less sediment in the final product.

Sometimes recipes say it's ready in 2 weeks, just to sell more of those kits. I think they'd sell less to beginners if it said, "Great tasting beer in 6 weeks!"

Patience is the most important part of homebrewing. I always leave ale alone for at least 10 days before thinking about racking to secondary. (Lagers are much longer as a rule). Usually after about 3 weeks in the fermenter, the beer can be bottled or kegged. This gives the best results.
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Old 01-29-2009, 12:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Morkin View Post
123, Even if it's an ale? The recipe said that it was ready to drink in 2 weeks, sometimes even sooner. If my Gravity readings stays the same and I'm happy with the clarity, can't I bottle sooner?
You can drink it even after 5 days if you want. It has alchohol in it.. but that doesn't mean it won't taste like sh!t.

If you want to have a good beer, then you should wait about a month before you bottle and at least 3 weeks in the bottle.. otherwise it'll be flat.

There is a lot of junk in there that needs time to get cleaned out by the yeast.

The one rule you have to learn with brewing is to be patient if you want quality stuff.
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Old 01-29-2009, 02:34 PM   #9
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Thanks Guys, I'm relatively new to homebrewing. This forum is and will serve as a good reference for me.

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Old 01-30-2009, 04:33 AM   #10
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Quote:
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"Active" fermentation is down when the Krausen falls back down and there is no activity in the fermentation lock. The active has stopped, just wondering if I can rack to the secondary yet.
Negative, Ghostrider. Airlock activity and krausen are terrible indicators of what the yeast are doing. The only way to know is to use your hydrometer.
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