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Old 11-01-2012, 03:26 PM   #1
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Default Do I need to secondary?

I am brewing a holiday ale that calls for dry spicing cinnamon and vanilla after fermentation is complete. Do I need to transfer the beer to a secondary to do this or can I dry spice in my primary?

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Old 11-01-2012, 03:30 PM   #2
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Need to.....no. If you want to....go for it!
Alot of time the spices & vanilla (extract) are just added to the bottling bucket at bottling time.

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Old 11-01-2012, 03:35 PM   #3
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You can just throw them in the primary. Unless you're just bored and want to do extra beer stuff. Either way is fine as long as everything is sanitary.

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Old 11-01-2012, 04:04 PM   #4
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Of course you can dry spice in your primary. But I recommend you transfer your beer into a secondary fermenter and then dry spice. The reasoning for this is that you want to separate your conditioning beer off of the yeast cake that has formed on the bottom of your primary. Leaving beer in contact with flocculated yeast too long can lead to several unwanted off flavors including diacetyl. In my opinion, I believe it always worth it to secondary ferment for 1 week after primary fermentation and then cold crash 1 week. This will help clarify the beer and assist in flavor maturation. Good luck, and let us know what you decide to do!

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Old 11-01-2012, 04:17 PM   #5
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This debate has been repeated (and will continue to be repeated) many times over on HBT. Suffice it to say, at the homebrew level, it has been proven time and again that yeast autolysis doesn't happen (off-flavors produced by letting the beer sit on the yeast cake for more than a couple weeks). So no worries on that count. BYO has done some recent experiments that have, however, shown some difference in the flavor - though whether that difference is positive or negative has shown to be completely subjective. If you like what you get from doing a secondary, go for it. If you like what you get from not doing a secondary, go for it.

To answer the OP, you can certainly add spices to your primary - I just did so with my pumpkin ale. Just boil up a cup or so of water, mix in your spices, and add that to your carboy. I didn't even bother to chill first - 1C of near boiling fluid added to 5+ gallons of 65F fluid will tend to cool very rapidly. Sure, you'll likely kill a few yeast cells, but there's plenty more where they came from.

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Old 11-01-2012, 04:34 PM   #6
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Have you considered steeping them in vodka and adding potion in bottling bucket?

As for secondary, I did it once with Kolsch and I didn't noticed any improvement in regards to primary only.

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Old 11-01-2012, 05:20 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shmrak12 View Post
The reasoning for this is that you want to separate your conditioning beer off of the yeast cake that has formed on the bottom of your primary. Leaving beer in contact with flocculated yeast too long can lead to several unwanted off flavors including diacetyl.
Actually I think the opposite of this is true. Yeast create diacetyl as a byproduct during the first stages of fermentation, and then later on when things calm down they go back and clean up after themselves converting the diacetyl into other things. This is the reason people do diacetyl rests where they intentionally leave the beer on the yeast longer at a warmer temperature to encourage the yeast to clean up the diacetyl. I've never had off flavors from leaving beer on the yeast cake too long and from what I've read you would have to leave it for months or maybe years to notice anything bad. I leave my beers a minimum of 3 weeks and usually a month or two for bigger beers to give the yeast enough time to clean up.
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Old 11-01-2012, 06:11 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peterj View Post
Actually I think the opposite of this is true. Yeast create diacetyl as a byproduct during the first stages of fermentation, and then later on when things calm down they go back and clean up after themselves converting the diacetyl into other things. This is the reason people do diacetyl rests where they intentionally leave the beer on the yeast longer at a warmer temperature to encourage the yeast to clean up the diacetyl. I've never had off flavors from leaving beer on the yeast cake too long and from what I've read you would have to leave it for months or maybe years to notice anything bad. I leave my beers a minimum of 3 weeks and usually a month or two for bigger beers to give the yeast enough time to clean up.
This is partly correct. Diacetyl (tastes like butterscotch) is released during primary fermentation and is then reabsorbed by yeast and released as flavorless molecules. It doesn't take a month for yeast to do this, and diacetyl rests are typically a few days of increased temperature early in the fermentation process.

Talking about transferring to a secondary seems to really upset people on this forum..

Cell death and the resulting autolysis (cell degradation that releases molecules: fatty acids, degraded RNA/DNA, and proteins) takes a long time under normal "home-brew" conditions. You won't see this occur in healthy yeast until a couple months after the primary fermentation time. The reason being, the yeast is under a layer of beer covered by CO2, it isn't being agitated, and the ethanol % isn't high enough for rapid cellular death. That being said, if you reuse your yeast for multiple generations be careful about letting it sit that long if you want to avoid off-flavors. A small percent of yeast cells undergoing autolysis can have a detrimental effect on your final product.

those effects=bad head retention (from the fatty acids), off-flavors, and effects on mouth-feel

Not all molecules from autolysis are bad, I've done research and written articles on the positive effects of certain degraded RNA/DNA molecules on fermented beverages. For example, take your common sparkling wine that has been re-fermented in the bottle. Certain molecules from autolysis that release in that second fermentation greatly enhance desirable flavors and mouthfeel.

To the OP. Go ahead and add your spices to the primary. I would sterilize them by heat but if they're already really dry there is probably not enough water activity in them to promote microbial growth. In addition, after fermentation is complete, the beer has become a low PH and high ethanol environment that a lot of micro-organisms can't live in. If you do boil a small amount of water with the spices.. let it cool for a few minutes. A lot of yeast will be hanging out in the foam at the top of your fermenter. Unlikely as it is, I wouldn't risk killing any of them.
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Old 11-01-2012, 06:55 PM   #9
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As a beginner I just don't know if I'm doing this right. Do I rack my beer into my keg and use it as for secondary fermentation prior to conditioning? Or do I rack into a secondary fermentor then the keg before conditioning and placing in my kegorater?

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Old 11-01-2012, 07:05 PM   #10
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When you rack to a secondary, fermentation for all intensive purposes should be complete, so that will be irrelevant. Moving to a secondary helps to add additional flavorings, dry hopping or spices and also aids in clearing, though it is certainly not necessary. In general, three weeks in the primary and you should be good to rack straight to your keg for conditioning.

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