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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > My beer overflowed in the secondary, why?
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Old 05-10-2009, 11:05 PM   #1
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Default My beer overflowed in the secondary, why?

So I have been brewing for a while now and I noticed that I continue to seem to have problems with my beer in the secondary. So first off I am currently making a whit beer around 5% so rather light, nothing out of the ordinary, 2 cans of malt, 1 pound of dry malt, a few ounces of hops.

I put the wort into a 7g plastic bucket, wait for the right temperature and pure in the vial of the white labs yeast. I don't make a primer, I know I should but right now I don't and my beer comes out well. I let it sit in the bucket for about a week, fermentation happens, lots of bubbles it's awesome, after a week I open it up and there is a very thick head. Mostly it's the hops I think. I pipe it into the 5g glass secondary, put a stop gap on it and wait. There is about 4 or 5 inches of room in the carboy.

This time about 24h later I go down to find that the beer, which was rather still upon being put into the secondary, is over flowing out of the stop gap, so I quickly remove it and hear a suction sound and repressurization. It continue to bubble over, alot... I mean after an hour it was still going, and finally I just transferred it back to the bucket.

I thought about what I did wrong and realized that I didn't actually stir the yeast when I added it to the wart, but I did shake it around a lot. There were no bubbles coming from the bucket stop gap when I transferred it.

So my theory basically is that there was a huge amount of mixing in the piping of the beer, and the yeast were truly evenly distributed and found a lot more food and just started going to town on it. Given that there wasn't too much room in the glass it just overflowed. My question though is, how can I prevent this sort of thing from happening in the future and does my theory make sense and if there is a thick head in the primary does that mean that it isn't done in there yet?

Oh right! I don't think sanitation was the culprit as I used star san to the letter and I am VERY careful about making sure that everything is very clean and sanitized, also when I have had overflows in the past the beer came out wonderfully so I don't think it's a nasty bacteria.

Thanks a ton!

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Old 05-10-2009, 11:07 PM   #2
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I'll bite,

Own a hydrometer?



-bn

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Old 05-10-2009, 11:09 PM   #3
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I'm still new and learning about brewing, but isn't a week a little too soon to transfer from your primary fermenter? My guess is that it hasn't actually completely finished fermenting and that racking it into the secondary has stirred the yeast back into suspension allowing them to ferment more sugar. Two or three weeks is usually a better time span to allow fermentation to finish isn't it?

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Old 05-10-2009, 11:09 PM   #4
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which yeast did you use? what was your starting gravity and what temperature are you fermenting at?

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Old 05-10-2009, 11:10 PM   #5
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What's happening is that you are transferring the beer too early. If there is a "head" on it, it's right in the middle of active fermentation. You transfer it while it's still very active, and put it in a much smaller carboy, so that there isn't as much headspace.

By not using a starter with liquid yeast, it may take up to 72 hours or so to get enough yeast going to have fermentation happen. Then, it might take 5-7 days to ferment. If you're transferring after only a week, it's too early in this case.

It's usually easiest to use the hydrometer and take gravity readings. When the beer is at FG, then it's time to rack. If you're going by time, next time wait until the krausen falls, even if it's 10-12 days.

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Old 05-10-2009, 11:25 PM   #6
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Ahh thank you! Yes, I do own a hydrometer but for sanitation purposes I don't generally use it except to take the initial and finial readings, and most of the books I read said to wait about a week in the primary and 2 in the secondary for this strength of beer and I don't think mentioned the krausen but this time I will wait until the beer is headless in the primary and transfer to the secondary at this point. Thanks so much!

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Old 05-10-2009, 11:34 PM   #7
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asterix: I had the same problem with my first wit - and I had let it sit for two weeks in the primary. For me it ended up being distribution of the yeast. I had someone recommend to me [and I have no idea how practical this is], to stick in a spoon and give it a very gentle spin to lift up the yeast. That way if it isn't done, you've redistributed the sugars and it gets another go. The problem is that you can mess up the flavor of your beer this way.

Oh, and buy yourself a wine thief, you will thank yourself - they are awesome for doing hydrometer readings without as much worry of contamination.

Also, supposedly, Belgian wit's don't necessarily need to be put into the secondary - they can sit in the primary for the entire brew. Never tried it myself.

Oh, and if my beer blows off in the secondary, I just attach a blow-off hose, stick the other end in a pan of sanitized water, and let it do its thing. Sure, I lose a bit of beer, but I also don't hassle with transferring it repeatedly.

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Old 05-11-2009, 12:34 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asterix404 View Post
Ahh thank you! Yes, I do own a hydrometer but for sanitation purposes I don't generally use it except to take the initial and finial readings...
A "finial" is "an architectural device, typically carved in stone and employed to decoratively emphasize the apex of a gable, or any of various family"...how about "final"?

Actually you should be taking more readings than just 2. But for now an initial one and one after the kreusen head drops should be used to determining if the yeast has done its job and you can rack to the secondary.
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Old 05-11-2009, 01:13 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by homebrewer_99 View Post
A "finial" is "an architectural device, typically carved in stone and employed to decoratively emphasize the apex of a gable, or any of various family"...how about "final"?

Actually you should be taking more readings than just 2. But for now an initial one and one after the kreusen head drops should be used to determining if the yeast has done its job and you can rack to the secondary.
I have a question about secondary racking. So, if you wait until the Krausen has fallen and the yeast is done before transferring to your secondary isn't there a risk of your beer oxidizing from no yeast to work with? Or will there still be enough yeast to do it's job? Additionally if you are waiting to transfer to a secondary how long/how do you determine when you are done with your secondary before bottling?

And the term racking only refers to the bucket you transfer to with your priming sugar for bottling, not primary to secondary, correct?
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Old 05-11-2009, 01:18 AM   #10
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There will be enough yeast for the job.

I was told to rack to secondary when my SG has been steady for three days. That seems to work well for me.

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