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Old 09-29-2013, 08:36 PM   #1
misterbk
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Default Does "no secondary" equal "shooting yourself in the foot

Brew-science newbie here. (My second 5-gal batch is in the closet now.) My roommate brews too and is less of a newbie, he's been doing it for a few years and understands the process better than I do so far.

We've been using a process where we let the beer sit for an extended time in primary, letting the beer sit in the carboy until it clears up and reaches FG and then siphoning out rather than racking to a secondary. We get good flavors and good clarity, but it has me wondering if we're missing out.

The factors leading to our extended-primary decision were:
* Limited space for equipment
* Less effort = more fun
* Great results so far, as far as we can tell.
* Having read that this might actually be a good thing (no way I could say where my roomie saw this, at very least he heard there was interest in this process.)

We have several things to dial down for sure, before we'd even consider saying we're doing everything right. The beer comes out great, but not always quite what we tried to make. I'm working on fermentation temp control (right now it's just ambient temperature which is 71 degrees), and a keezer for serving what we've made. Just wondering because everybody seems to talk about racking off to secondary in their process, and we aren't doing that so far. I'd love to do an experimental side-by-side, but not until I get the other stuff dialed in. Maybe someone here already knows what I should expect if we started going that route?

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Old 09-29-2013, 08:41 PM   #2
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You'll find very little support of indiscriminate use of a secondary on these boards (it's almost a daily topic - congrats, you covered today's quota). Most people here (I among them), will tell you that unless you have a specific reason to use a secondary (for example, adding fruit), it's best to just skip it.

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Old 09-29-2013, 08:51 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evrose View Post
You'll find very little support of indiscriminate use of a secondary on these boards (it's almost a daily topic - congrats, you covered today's quota). Most people here (I among them), will tell you that unless you have a specific reason to use a secondary (for example, adding fruit), it's best to just skip it.
+1
And racking to secondary is another opportunity for contamination and/or oxidation.
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Old 09-29-2013, 10:15 PM   #4
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Thanks! Sorry, realized just after I hit submit that someone else had probably discussed this.

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Old 09-29-2013, 10:17 PM   #5
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The fear used to be that there would be autolysis (yeast dying and spilling their guts) if left on the yeast cake too long. It's been since shown that if the yeast being used is healthy to start with, there is very little to fear. I've heard of people leaving beer on their yeast cake for up to a year without any ill effects. The reason people say it's beneficial is that even after the beer is done fermenting, leaving the yeast in the beer will give them a chance to clean up after themselves.

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Old 09-29-2013, 10:23 PM   #6
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All are good reasons. if you like the beer, I'd say it is perfect.

Quote:
Originally Posted by misterbk View Post
The factors leading to our extended-primary decision were:
* Limited space for equipment
* Less effort = more fun
* Great results so far, as far as we can tell.
* Having read that this might actually be a good thing (no way I could say where my roomie saw this, at very least he heard there was interest in this process.)
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Old 09-29-2013, 10:32 PM   #7
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Yeah, I wouldn't worry. There is nothing wrong with using a secondary and lots of brewers do it, but unless you are leaving it on the cake for extremely long periods of time or trying to re-pitch on 10 generation yeast, I wouldn't worry.

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Old 09-29-2013, 11:08 PM   #8
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I should probably recommend a secondary for my roommate then. He has a "RagnaBock" that he thought would be done for December 2012, but is still aging. It has now been on the yeast cake for almost a year and a half.

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Old 09-29-2013, 11:26 PM   #9
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Wouldn't dead yeast create off flavors in the beer if it was left in the primary for a month? I always rack to a secondary...but that's more out of OCD habit than anything else. I'm very new to the hobby, so I'm just as curious as misterbk.

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Old 09-29-2013, 11:40 PM   #10
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About four posts up:
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/does...2/#post5546573

Sounds like this is something that used to be more of a problem, but now people have a much better yeast supply in general, better control of temperatures and sanitation etc. So the yeast starts out healthier and we don't have to worry about dead yeasties until it's been in there for longer than people usually let it sit.

So, my roomie should have used a secondary for his ultra-long-term brew several months ago, and definitely should transfer or bottle soon. But I have nothing to fear for my two-to-six month brews.

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