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james138 03-02-2012 02:46 PM

Advice for someone who has to use a secondary
After reading this forum for a couple weeks I've come to realize that you don't necessarily need to use a secondary and I wasn't planing on doing it for 2nd batch. However, I've realized that I would like to brew another batch of beer right now, which obviously means I need to free up my primary.

My first ever batch is still sitting in the secondary and long story short I think I may have ruined that one because I added about 6-7 pints of tap water to the carboy to bring the beer closer to neck of the beer.

Does anybody have any simple tips or tricks to doing a secondary properly? I hate the idea of adding water to my beer as a higher ABV is important to me.

I've heard you can float co2 in there but I'm a rookie and that sounds confusing and I don't want to by anymore equipment.

So any advice as to use a secondary while preventing oxidation and adding copious amounts of water? Thanks!

SuburbanBrewer 03-02-2012 02:49 PM

I'm confused, why did you add tap water to your beer in the secondary again?

Revvy 03-02-2012 02:52 PM

Or obviously, you just get another bucket....fermenters are dirt cheap...Who says you can't have more than 1? I have 12.....

FastAndy 03-02-2012 02:53 PM

If you explain your process a little better we may be able to offer more help. What are you using as fermenters? A bucket and a carboy, two buckets, two carboys? You can ferment in either so your secondary may just as easily be a primary and via versa. If you don't want to top up you're going to have to adjust your system so that your post boil volume leaves you where you want to be.

alestateyall 03-02-2012 02:54 PM

You don't need to worry about head space in the secondary. The beer is not going to oxygenate. The beer will be out gassing for a while after secondary. That will push the oxygen out and replace with co2. Even if it doesn't you won't have a problem.

If you want to oxygenate your beer you need to shake the heck out of it. Just sitting in secondary won't do it.

I don't use secondary anymore but have many many times without problems. I never topped off with water to fill the extra space.

You didn't ruin you beer by adding water, but, you did water it down. It will still probably taste fine.

PS. Oxygenation takes time to do it's dirty work. Just drink the batch fast if you are worried. ;)

heckler73 03-02-2012 02:56 PM

it's fine. relax. carry on. My first batch was the same thing without a problem.

next time around, make sure you're primary is filled to the right level to be able to get the secondary filled up to the shoulders of the carboy for lack of a better term - you still want airspace in the carboy. Also tilt the primary when racking to get as much of the beer into the carboy. I filled both the primary and secondary up with water to test what the right levels were.

TopherM 03-02-2012 04:00 PM


I added about 6-7 pints of tap water to the carboy to bring the beer closer to neck of the beer
Good thing you didn't happen to have a 10 gallon carboy. You would have added a ton of water!

Don't just arbitrarily add water anymore. You only add water if you do not boil full volumes to reach your recipe's expected Original Gravity.

You just watered down your beer.

james138 03-02-2012 04:02 PM

Thanks guys. I have one bucket and two 5 gallon carboys. I guess I could just use a carboy as a primary, I would need a funnel and some way to filter out the stuff.

Maybe I should just skip adding the water and hope I don't get oxidation (hell, I don't even know what it is).

My beer in my first batch came right up to the shoulders before I added

khiddy 03-02-2012 04:31 PM

You're actually better off using a bucket for primary, as primary fermentation tends to be vigorous and messy, and that's hard(er) to clean out of a carboy. Plus, I'll bet the bucket is a bit bigger than 5 gallons, no? (If not, get yourself a 6.5 gallon brewing bucket - it'll be better for you in headspace for vigorous fermentations and allow you to brew batches that come out to ~5 gallons when you're ready to bottle.)

james138 03-02-2012 08:20 PM

Yeah, I have an ale pale that I think is 6.5 gallons that I use as my primary. So the consensus is that I am probably ok to just to rack my 5 gallons from the ale pale and into my secondary without adding any water?

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