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Old 12-05-2012, 07:27 PM   #1
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Default Leave in non-airtight primary

I'm thinking of leaving my latest batch in the primary fermenter rather than rack it over to the secondary. I wouldn't question it if I was using an airtight primary fermenter.

My batch is a Brew House kit and they are pretty aggressive during the initial fermentation process and have had them blow out the air-lock in a standard bucket kit (made quite a mess!). I switch over to using a larger bucket but the lid is not airtight, it just snaps on without a seal - loose enough to allow the gas to escape.

Since it's not airtight should I rack it over to the secondary, I don't care about clearing it as I'm kegging, it but I don't want oxygen to have a negative effect on the beer if it's left in the primary.

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Old 12-05-2012, 07:43 PM   #2
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How bad is the leak? Technically you don't want airtight anyway, hence the airlock to let some of the gasses escape. The only issue I see is your airlock won't work. If you don't disturb it, a layer of CO2 should protect it pretty well. So I'd say let it be.

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Old 12-05-2012, 07:55 PM   #3
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Lots of people worry about oxidizing and infecting a batch when racking. I don't think this should be as difficult as people make it out to be. Maybe I have just had beginners luck, but I've never had any issue.

Sanitize your racking cane carefully. Make sure your secondary is sanitized. Make sure your hands are sanitized. Make sure anything the racking cane, your beer, or your hands may touch is sanitized. Now you have essentially no risk of infection if you are relatively careful. (You also shouldn't be under a vent or in a breezy area.)

Now slightly elevate your primary so it is above your secondary, but not so high that the hose doesn't reach the bottom. Rack carefully making sure you don't splash. If you don't see splashing or a lot of bubbles, the odds of oxidation are pretty minimal. I know the primary is nice to avoid oxidation because of the protective layer of CO2, but a secondary with an appropriately small headspace should not be a big deal. Remember, using a secondary used to be essentially gospel and people haven't talked about how their brews were always oxidized. At the same time, I would suggest you look at your situation and determine if a secondary is appropriate.

I for one would accept the minimal risk of oxidation and infection from racking to a secondary before I accepted the risk of oxidation and infection due to storage in a primary that isn't sealed with an airlock. Maybe that's just me, though...

As always, take advice with a grain of salt.

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Old 12-05-2012, 07:59 PM   #4
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Why not use the original fermenter with a blow-off hose? Simply insert a length of hose into the hole for your airlock and run the other end to a bucket with a water/sanitizer solution.

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Old 12-05-2012, 08:00 PM   #5
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Sealed with an airlock...oxymoron? I agree, racking isn't hard and it really makes no difference. But assuming he doesn't have the lid completely off, whatever little leak he has is acting as his airlock. I would agree to either way, but being lazy is more my style.

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Old 12-05-2012, 09:06 PM   #6
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Thanks for the input guys. Not totally sure what I'm going to do yet but I think I may just rack into a carboy.

Brings me to another question. When kegging my 23L kit will be a bit more than what the keg will take, what do you guys do with the extra? Should I just leave it in carboy and pour it into the keg when there's enough gone out of it? Would I have to increase the CO2 pressure for a little while if I were to add the extra beer in?

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Old 12-05-2012, 09:18 PM   #7
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Yes, sealed with an airlock is an oxymoron. I guess I meant protected by an airlock. But you knew that...

And to the question about 23l not fitting in your keg, do you know how much your trub loss will be? You may not have much more to put in. Any you do have, you could bottle. I don't keg, so I can't make any more useful suggestions.

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Old 12-05-2012, 09:48 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by freisste View Post
Yes, sealed with an airlock is an oxymoron. I guess I meant protected by an airlock. But you knew that...
I did and I totally agree with what you said as well
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Bottled: All Hallow's Eve Pumpkin Ale
Kegs: Sunset Orange Kolsch Redux
Future: Black IPA Redux, possibly others
2013 Previous: Sunrise Honey Rye Pale Ale, Dark Skies Black IPA, Sunset Orange Kolsch, All Hallow's Eve Pumpkin Ale, Maple Vanilla Brown Ale, Raining Hops and Dogs IPA, Starry Night Vanilla Bourbon Porter

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Dark Skies Black IPA - 2nd Place at a local comp. Score of 39 from a BJCP judge

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