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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > How to deal with empty headspace?
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Old 03-01-2013, 11:08 PM   #1
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Default How to deal with empty headspace?

If you're racking a 5 gallon batch from a typical 7.9 gallon primary bucket into a typical 6 or 6.5 gallon secondary/bottling bucket, how do you manage the headspace? Is oxidizing a concern or will the process of racking wake the yeast up enough to create a satisfactory blanket of CO2?

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Old 03-01-2013, 11:17 PM   #2
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It's a legitimate concern. I'd first consider skipping secondary altogether and just leave it in primary for a bit longer. I guess if you are doing wood or fruit beer, you'd want to secondary, but otherwise, skip it. Problem solved!

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Old 03-01-2013, 11:21 PM   #3
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I've used a 6 gallon better bottle as a secondary before and it's fine. If it bothers you put the racking cane down in the bottom or take the cap off to let some yeast in.

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Old 03-01-2013, 11:28 PM   #4
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It's a legitimate concern. I'd first consider skipping secondary altogether and just leave it in primary for a bit longer. I guess if you are doing wood or fruit beer, you'd want to secondary, but otherwise, skip it. Problem solved!
When I've done it with fruit, I wasn't concerned because the fruit kicked the fermentation back up and created a new blanket. In most cases I would skip secondary, but for clarity purposes some times it's almost necessary.
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Old 03-01-2013, 11:29 PM   #5
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I've used a 6 gallon better bottle as a secondary before and it's fine. If it bothers you put the racking cane down in the bottom or take the cap off to let some yeast in.
In my house, the wild yeast is cat dander... not a flavor I want in my beer
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Old 03-01-2013, 11:31 PM   #6
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The extra headspace is a concern. As Grantman1 said, avoid the secondary if possible.

You can also avoid the problem by splurging on a 5 gal carboy.

If you use a secondary, it will breathe thru the airlock as the room temperature changes. Add some metabisulfite to the water in the airlock (not to the beer), which will ensure there is enough sulfite in the headspace to scavenge any oxygen that makes it in there.

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Old 03-01-2013, 11:33 PM   #7
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In my house, the wild yeast is cat dander... not a flavor I want in my beer
That would make a great tag line.
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Old 03-01-2013, 11:40 PM   #8
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Shred,
Head space worries me every time so far in 13 batches. Only two came to the neck of the carboy in secondary. Most end up with 4 gallons (and less) in the 5 gallon carboy.

I always get some CO2 release in the secondary after transfer. Sometimes small tiny bubbles that will bubble the airlock every few minutes for a day or so. Sometimes just bubbles with slow airlock activity that only lasts for an hour or so. I am pretty sure there has been enough released each time to protect the surface.

I always fill the airlock with Starsan and fit a clean sandwich bag over the top.

Since I have only been brewing for six months, there are a only a few batches that are 3 months in the bottles. They are all tasting as good or better than the first month. So no great harm done here in this length of time.

It might be one of those things that effects things in the six month range and beyond, not sure. Hopefully someone can ring in that experienced the ill effects of oxidation due to low head space.

Infection and oxidation are two different things as far as I understand things.

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Old 03-02-2013, 03:31 AM   #9
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Secondary is a waste unless adding something or ageing.

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Old 03-02-2013, 04:56 AM   #10
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The beer doesn't know how many times it's been racked, it will clear the same in primary as in secondary. You only need to rack to get it off the yeast so unless you need the yeast cake for pitching a new batch, I would leave it in primary.

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