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Old 03-25-2009, 03:41 AM   #1
jescholler
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Default Headspace in Secondary Carboy

Hi,

I just brewed my 1st batch (5 gal.) last weekend and I'm close to transferring to my 5 gallon better bottle for the secondary. My question is, how much headspace should I leave at the top of the carboy?

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Old 03-25-2009, 03:47 AM   #2
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as long as you finished off fermentation in your primary, you shouldnt really need any but just a couple inches should be sufficient. i just racked a belgian wit into my carboy after 14 days in the primay, completed fermentation, and i filled it to within 1/2 inch of the bung and its been fine.

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Old 03-25-2009, 04:02 AM   #3
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I fill to about 2 inch below the bung with cool water and have never had a problem. I would say you can put 2in or 1/2in below the bung and everything will be good.



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Old 03-25-2009, 04:02 AM   #4
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The other side of this question is how much is too much headspace? I racked a 5 gal (barely) to a 6+gal carboy. There is a lot of space in there. Do I need to be concerned about that?

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Old 03-25-2009, 04:24 AM   #5
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For a primary its not to much head space. For a secondary I'm not to sure.

I usually only need to add about 2 litres or less of water to my carboy to make it within 2 inch. If you airlock is showing positive pressure you might be okay.



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Old 03-25-2009, 05:17 AM   #6
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> The other side of this question is how much is too much headspace? I racked a 5 gal (barely) to a 6+gal carboy. There is a lot of space in there. Do I need to be concerned about that?

This is something I'm concerned about also.

I want to get a new bucket and use my current primary as a secondary. How to brew says:

Quote:
It is important to minimize the amount of headspace in the secondary fermentor to minimize the exposure to oxygen until the headspace can be purged by the still-fermenting beer. For this reason, plastic buckets do not make good secondary fermentors unless the beer is transferred just as the primary phase is starting to slow and is still bubbling steadily. Five gallon glass carboys make the best secondary fermentors. Plastic carboys do not work well because they are too oxygen permeable, causing staling.

How to Brew - By John Palmer - Using Secondary Fermentors
That is putting me off using my current 25L plastic bucket primary as a secondary because it will be max 80% full and is plastic. Should I really be concerned about this - size/plastic?
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Old 03-25-2009, 05:27 AM   #7
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PET or thick HDPE (as in a bucket) is fine as far as normal secondaries (less than 6 months, perhaps longer) go. Shape is more of a concern but if you're only doing a couple of weeks you'll probably be fine--the beer releases trapped CO2 that forms a layer over it. A carboy shape with minimal headspace is ideal.

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Old 03-25-2009, 12:04 PM   #8
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Some headspace in the carboy is ok. I would never add water to completed beer, regardless of headspace. You're watering down the beer, as well as introducing oxygen into the beer (dissolved into the water) and also causing some splashing. Adding water at this point would introduce more oxygen into the beer than simply leaving a little headspace.

I've never used a 6 gallon carboy for secondary, but I am sure it'll be fine at least short- term, since the act of racking it "knocks" some co2 out of solution. If you've ever noticed the airlock bubbling after racking, that's whats happening. The co2 will displace the oxygen, and the beer will be fine.

For long term aging, though, I'd make sure there was very little headspace. By long term, I mean more than about 6 weeks.

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Old 03-25-2009, 12:39 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TacoGuthrie View Post
The other side of this question is how much is too much headspace? I racked a 5 gal (barely) to a 6+gal carboy. There is a lot of space in there. Do I need to be concerned about that?
I only use 6 gallon carboys.. for my primary and secondary.. Ive done about 10+ batches now and none have been bad.

The CO2 will take up the space in there.
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Old 03-25-2009, 02:37 PM   #10
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i have a 6.5 gallon carboy that i use on 5-gallon batches of FRUIT BEER ONLY. this is because i add the fruit to the secondary carboy and the fermentation of it begins. this will knock oxygen out of the headspace within a couple hours. but for everything else, i keep the 5-gallon carboy loaded as full as it'll go. of course, thats only if fermentation is complete, cuz i hate cleaning up crusty kraussen goodies left all over the place.

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