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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > How long is safe for secondary?
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Old 03-16-2012, 04:38 PM   #1
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Howya all doing!
Apologies in advance for the long waffle!!
I've read most of the arguments for and against secondary. My problem is whether to do it or not. As a complete noob I can't wait to brew more. I have 42 bottles of blonde conditioning at 70f for the last 2 weeks. Thinking that they would be ready for tomorrow (paddy's day party) I decided to brew a golden ale extract, which is now in primary 7 days. Now by instructions I should be able to bottle tomorrow, by reading here I should leave it at least 7 more days. So my problem is I have no bottles to fill !! I want to get flip tops but can't get to the city to collect until 12th April (4 wks away) I currently have pet bottles. How long can I get away with in primary, then how long in secondary? Or do I bite the bullet and get more pet bottles?

Sorry if this is a stupid question but I really want to get the flip tops and not waste money on more pet bottles!!

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Old 03-16-2012, 04:41 PM   #2
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A secondary's main purpose it to AGE and condition beer, so the length of time one leaves a beer in secondary is irrevelent. You can leave it as long as you want to. I've got a beer that will have been in a tertiary for at least 2 years before I bottle it.

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Old 03-16-2012, 04:48 PM   #3
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Listen to Revvy!

Once you get the beer off the yeast cake it will age in the secondary and longer will help mellow it out more, less chance of off flavors.

I have heard many times that leaving a beer in the primary too long (on the yeast cake) can start to cause some off flavors, think longer than 4 weeks in primary. I would leave all my beer in secondary for a month if I had more carboys and soon I will!

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Old 03-16-2012, 04:48 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Revvy View Post
A secondary's main purpose it to AGE and condition beer, so the length of time one leaves a beer in secondary is irrevelent. You can leave it as long as you want to. I've got a beer that will have been in a tertiary for at least 2 years before I bottle it.
Wouldn't this also depend on style? I would think a very long secondary on a light beer like a wheat would not be a great idea.

But in the OP's situation the duration of secondary should be no problem at all and maybe even for the better. IMO longer is always better than bottling too soon.
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Old 03-16-2012, 04:56 PM   #5
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Thanks for the help. Correct me if I'm going to do this wrong

1. Leave the current bottles for at least another week or more
2. Leave the current brew (a pale ale) in primary for 7 more days
3. Transfer to secondary and leave for 3 weeks
4. Put the secondary vessel into fridge
5. Go to Vegas on 12th April return to Dublin on 16th and collect bottles
6. Bottle beer and drink or wait?

That's my plan, If it's not a good idea please tell me tanx
Glenn

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Old 03-16-2012, 05:06 PM   #6
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As a general rule of thumb, you should just consider time limitations to be weeks in terms of primaries, and months in terms of secondaries.

There's no compelling reason to leave a beer in primary much past 2-3 weeks, that is, unless it just isn't done fermenting (most beers will finish by two weeks, though). There's no harm in leaving a beer in primary for up to 4 weeks, you won't likely get autolysis flavors in that short of a time frame.

As for secondaries, your beer can sit there for months, if you want. Beers will change over time though - flavors mellow, mix, and fade over time. So if there was a particular flavor that you wanted to stand out, you might lose some of that if you left it sitting around for 6 months before bottling.

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Old 03-16-2012, 05:07 PM   #7
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You could probably skip the secondary and go with a lengthy primary. I usually primary for 3 - 4 weeks. My beer comes out clean and crystal clear. IMO a week in primary is really not enough time. If you're going to do a secondary, I would give your beer a minimum of two weeks in primary to finish fermenting. A secondary's purpose is for aging and clarifying (IMO you get the same results with a primary only). There are many ways to make beer. Pick the one that works best for you.

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Old 03-16-2012, 06:02 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jayhem View Post

I have heard many times that leaving a beer in the primary too long (on the yeast cake) can start to cause some off flavors, think longer than 4 weeks in primary.
This is innacurate folks have left beer in primary for a year with no issues, I've left some in for 6 months and they were fine.

There's a lot of factors that come into play here, mostly having to do with yeast health.
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Old 03-16-2012, 06:40 PM   #9
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As for my plan.....will I be ok doing what I said earlier?

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Old 03-16-2012, 07:20 PM   #10
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The only time secondaries are really needed is when oaking,adding fruit,or extended aging of a big beer. I too do it all in primary,including dry hopping. And 7 days in primary def isn't long enough. Leavit in primary till it reaches a stable FG. Then give it another 3-7 days to settle out clear or slightly misty. It'll also clean up after itself at the same time. Then rack onto priming solution in the bottling bucket. And give those bottles 3-4 weeks,then a week in the fridge on average gravity beers.
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