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Old 11-20-2013, 02:53 AM   #1
sankenship
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Default Beginner Help

Hi all,

Apologies if this question has already been addressed or is in the wrong thread. I'm new to home brewing and to this forum. I've just recently begun home brewing and have gotten a lot of my advice from my LHBS. They've instructed me to start with extract to get the hang of things. I'm boiling the LME and hops in 2.5 gallons of water and adding another 2.5 gallons in the primary fermenter. It stays in the primary for roughly 1 week then rack to secondary for 2 weeks. When I rack to secondary they told me to move it to a 5 gallon carboy and add enough water to fill it to the neck (I'm guessing for anti-aeration purposes...). Does all of this sound right to everyone? What if I use the above brewing method but don't add water when I move to the secondary? will I introduce off flavors? By adding water, am I just watering down my beer?

Thanks in advance.

Mike

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Old 11-20-2013, 03:43 AM   #2
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I personally wouldn't add the water. The goal your LHBS was going for was to limit head space to limit oxygen introduction. A 5 gallon carboy isn't going to give you too much room so it shouldn't be much of an issue. However you can also just keep it in your primary. It doesn't hurt anything to do so and you can achieve the same results from it as you would a secondary. And you prevent possible infection and oxidation. Personally, I don't use secondaries. Some people swear by them. To each their own. Hopefully that didn't make things more complicated for you.

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Old 11-20-2013, 04:15 AM   #3
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Definitely add the top off water to your primary to get 5 gallons, but I wouldn't add any to my secondary (shouldn't need to anyway if you get the correct volume the first time )

Also nothing wrong with skipping the secondary for most beers and just keeping in the primary for a couple/few weeks until it has reached final gravity and had at least a few days for the yeast to clean up a bit.

More important (in my opinion at least) is to try to control the fermentation temperature. Keeping the fermenting beer below 70F or so will do great things to your beer (there are plenty of threads on here about exact temperatures if you want precise numbers).

Cheers and welcome to the forum!

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Old 11-20-2013, 01:13 PM   #4
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It's def a good idea to keep ferment temps below 70F. And once topped off to recipe volume (5 gallons in this case),it's never a good idea to add more water at any time. Not to mention most average/beginner beers aren't done in a week. It's not a good idea to rack the beer anywhere beofre FG is reached. I leave it in primary till FG is reached,then give it another 3-7 days to clean up any by products of fermentation & settle out clear or slightly misty. Then rack to bottling bucket & bulk prime. Clear beer & no secondary to maybe get oxygenated & need cleaning.

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Old 11-20-2013, 01:30 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sankenship
Hi all,

Apologies if this question has already been addressed or is in the wrong thread. I'm new to home brewing and to this forum. I've just recently begun home brewing and have gotten a lot of my advice from my LHBS. They've instructed me to start with extract to get the hang of things. I'm boiling the LME and hops in 2.5 gallons of water and adding another 2.5 gallons in the primary fermenter. It stays in the primary for roughly 1 week then rack to secondary for 2 weeks. When I rack to secondary they told me to move it to a 5 gallon carboy and add enough water to fill it to the neck (I'm guessing for anti-aeration purposes...). Does all of this sound right to everyone? What if I use the above brewing method but don't add water when I move to the secondary? will I introduce off flavors? By adding water, am I just watering down my beer?

Thanks in advance.

Mike
Others have rightly pointed out that after primary ferment, you probably shouldn't be adding water.

Also, your original top up water has to be sanitary, though. It should have been previously boiled and now cooled, otherwise you're just asking for an infection.
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Old 11-20-2013, 05:12 PM   #6
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Others have rightly pointed out that after primary ferment, you probably shouldn't be adding water.

Welcome to the obsession.

Just skip the secondary entirely and it won't be an issue. For most brews, it's completely unnecessary and can cause problems (particularly oxidation). Simply give it three weeks in the primary and then go straight to the bottling bucket.

If at all possible, keep the fermentation temp below 68*F as measured on the fermenter. 64-65*F would be preferable the first 3-5 days for most ales using the dry yeast I expect you have.

Make your 2.5 gallons of top off water really cold before brewing. That way, if you cool the other 2.5 gallons of wort to below 90*F (usually in an ice bath), adding the cold water will bring the wort down to about 60*F (excellent temp for pitching).
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Old 11-20-2013, 05:46 PM   #7
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Yeah,I chill my wort down to 75F or so,then strain into the fermenter. I top off with really cold chilled spring water to recipe volume. This usually gets it down to 64-65F easilly.

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Old 11-20-2013, 05:49 PM   #8
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The problem with secondary is that it provides no benefits and it exposes your beer to the risk of infection and oxidation. No upside plus possible ruined batch downside = no secondary for me.

And like others have said, don't add water to the beer after primary fermentation. This is just really bad advice.

I would be highly suspect of any other advice you've received from that LHBS.

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Old 11-20-2013, 06:59 PM   #9
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Most kit manufacturers and LHBS's tend to rush the recipie to bring newbies back as soon as possible for their next kit. I do 4 weeks primary, no secondary, 4 weeks bottle conditioning and 48 hours refrigeration before i even think about grabbing a bottle opener. I know, waiting is hard, especially on the first couple batches. If you must, feel free to sample during the conditioning process, but remember you're tasting green beer. I usually brew and bottle the same weekend. Bottle friday evening, and brew Saturday morning. That way there's always a batvch conditioning, a batch fermenting and a (couple) batches ready to drink.

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Old 11-20-2013, 07:22 PM   #10
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There is no real downside to using a secondary if you follow common sanitation procedures. Your beer is exposed to the air a couple of times during the entire brewing process from chilling to pitching yeast to bottling. If you *want* to use a secondary, feel free. One benefit is that you can get back to using the primary sooner, provided you don't already have a second primary already.

But I agree there should be no good reason to top off with water. In fact, if you plan ahead you can brew the batch big enough to allow you to fill the secondary without having to add water. But the small amount of headspace won't kill your beer.

That said, if it's a normal strength beer you might consider just skipping the secondary and letting the beer sit in the primary a few days longer or maybe a week. It will clear in the primary just the same and 3-4 weeks primary is not damaging to the beer's flavor. It's just saves an extra step that is usually not necessary. If you can manage to rack from the primary to the bottling bucket without sucking up a bunch of yeast and trub, I'd just skip the secondary and let the beer sit in the primary, safely under the layer of CO2.

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