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Old 02-07-2011, 06:28 PM   #1
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Does racking to secondary oxidize the beer? Any resulting off-flavors?

I ask because I am planning on racking to secondary to dry hop tonight.

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Old 02-07-2011, 06:30 PM   #2
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Depends on how you do it. If you siphon from the bottom up and don't splash when you do so, you should be fine. If you were to just dump it in then yeah, that would be problematic.

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Old 02-07-2011, 06:30 PM   #3
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No, just do it carefully and minimize splashing in the receiving vessel. If you want, and have the capability, you can purge the secondary with CO2 prior to transferring to further reduce your risk.

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Old 02-07-2011, 08:27 PM   #4
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Why don't you just dry hop in primary? It works and with less worries.

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Old 02-07-2011, 08:31 PM   #5
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Anytime you move your beer, you increase the POTENTIAL for something like that to happen. It doesn't mean you oxydize you beer by racking if you are careful, it's just that if you don't move your beer, your odds are even more decreased.

Having said that, there's been a shift in belief over the past few years, now most of us leave our beers in primary for a month rather than rack to a secondary, and find our beers are better for being on the yeast that time. And clearer.

Fermenting the beer is just a part of what the yeast do. If you leave the beer alone, they will go back and clean up the byproducts of fermentation that often lead to off flavors. That's why many brewers skip secondary and leave our beers alone in primary for a month. It leaves plenty of time for the yeast to ferment, clean up after themselves and then fall out, leveing our beers crystal clear, with a tight yeast cake.

If you leave the beer alone, they will go back and clean up the byproducts of fermentation that often lead to off flavors. That's why many brewers skip secondary and leave our beers alone in primary for a month. It leaves plenty of time for the yeast to ferment, clean up after themselves and then fall out, leveing our beers crystal clear, with a tight yeast cake.

This is the latest recommendation, it is the same one many of us have been giving for several years on here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Palmer


Tom from Michigan asks:
I have a few questions about secondary fermentations. I've read both pros and cons for 2nd fermentations and it is driving me crazy what to do. One, are they necessary for lower Gravity beers?
Two, what is the dividing line between low gravity and high gravity beers? Is it 1.060 and higher?
Three, I have an American Brown Ale in the primary right now, a SG of 1.058, Should I secondary ferment this or not?
Your advice is appreciated, thanks for all you do!

Allen from New York asks:

John, please talk about why or why not you would NOT use a secondary fermenter (bright tank?) and why or why not a primary only fermentation is a good idea. In other words, give some clarification or reason why primary only is fine, versus the old theory of primary then secondary normal gravity ale fermentations.

Palmer answers:

These are good questions – When and why would you need to use a secondary fermenter? First some background – I used to recommend racking a beer to a secondary fermenter. My recommendation was based on the premise that (20 years ago) larger (higher gravity) beers took longer to ferment completely, and that getting the beer off the yeast reduced the risk of yeast autolysis (ie., meaty or rubbery off-flavors) and it allowed more time for flocculation and clarification, reducing the amount of yeast and trub carryover to the bottle. Twenty years ago, a homebrewed beer typically had better flavor, or perhaps less risk of off-flavors, if it was racked off the trub and clarified before bottling. Today that is not the case.

The risk inherent to any beer transfer, whether it is fermenter-to-fermenter or fermenter-to-bottles, is oxidation and staling. Any oxygen exposure after fermentation will lead to staling, and the more exposure, and the warmer the storage temperature, the faster the beer will go stale.

Racking to a secondary fermenter used to be recommended because staling was simply a fact of life – like death and taxes. But the risk of autolysis was real and worth avoiding – like cholera. In other words, you know you are going to die eventually, but death by cholera is worth avoiding.

But then modern medicine appeared, or in our case, better yeast and better yeast-handling information. Suddenly, death by autolysis is rare for a beer because of two factors: the freshness and health of the yeast being pitched has drastically improved, and proper pitching rates are better understood. The yeast no longer drop dead and burst like Mr. Creosote from Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life when fermentation is complete – they are able to hibernate and wait for the next fermentation to come around. The beer has time to clarify in the primary fermenter without generating off-flavors. With autolysis no longer a concern, staling becomes the main problem. The shelf life of a beer can be greatly enhanced by avoiding oxygen exposure and storing the beer cold (after it has had time to carbonate).

Therefore I, and Jamil and White Labs and Wyeast Labs, do not recommend racking to a secondary fermenter for ANY ale, except when conducting an actual second fermentation, such as adding fruit or souring. Racking to prevent autolysis is not necessary, and therefore the risk of oxidation is completely avoidable. Even lagers do not require racking to a second fermenter before lagering. With the right pitching rate, using fresh healthy yeast, and proper aeration of the wort prior to pitching, the fermentation of the beer will be complete within 3-8 days (bigger = longer). This time period includes the secondary or conditioning phase of fermentation when the yeast clean up acetaldehyde and diacetyl. The real purpose of lagering a beer is to use the colder temperatures to encourage the yeast to flocculate and promote the precipitation and sedimentation of microparticles and haze.

So, the new rule of thumb: don’t rack a beer to a secondary, ever, unless you are going to conduct a secondary fermentation.
THIS is where the latest discussion and all your questions answered.
We have multiple threads about this all over the place, like this one,so we really don't need to go over it again, all the info you need is here;

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f163/sec...-weigh-176837/

We basically proved that old theory wrong on here 5 years ago, and now the rest fo the brewing community is catching up. Though a lot of old dogs don't tend to follow the latest news, and perpetuate the old stuff.

The autolysis from prolong yeast contact has fallen by the wayside, in fact yeast contact is now seen as a good thing.

All my beers sit a minimum of 1 month in the primary. And I recently bottled a beer that sat in primary for 5.5 months with no ill effects.....

You'll find that more and more recipes these days do not advocate moving to a secondary at all, but mention primary for a month, which is starting to reflect the shift in brewing culture that has occurred in the last 4 years, MOSTLY because of many of us on here, skipping secondary, opting for longer primaries, and writing about it. Recipes in BYO have begun stating that in their magazine. I remember the "scandal" it caused i the letters to the editor's section a month later, it was just like how it was here when we began discussing it, except a lot more civil than it was here. But after the Byo/Basic brewing experiment, they started reflecting it in their recipes.

But lots of folks do sry hop in primary these days. So the choice is yours.

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Old 02-07-2011, 08:59 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolverinebrewer View Post
Why don't you just dry hop in primary? It works and with less worries.
Plus One this !

I'd strongly consider this, just tossing hops in what you have going. Unless you have a pressing need for the fermenter for another batch, just toss your hops into your primary.

Oxidation is for sure a possibility, but usually not detectable at entry level home brews.

More of a concern is exposure to additional sources of infection. Easy to avoid with basic sanitation, but easier yet to avoid by not racking the beer around unnecessarily to begin with.

JMHO
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Old 02-07-2011, 09:08 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Revvy View Post
Having said that, there's been a shift in belief over the past few years, now most of us leave our beers in primary for a month rather than rack to a secondary, and find our beers are better for being on the yeast that time. And clearer.
[...]
Thanks for that Revvy! That's a very clear explanation to something that has been a source of confusion for me as a beginner brewer. Most of the sources I've read (old John Palmer, C Papazian, recipe kit instructions) are "old information". I knew there was new information, but had not really seen it laid out in one post!

This does raise a few questions though

1. Do you recommend a bucket for a primary or a carboy? I was under the understanding that you want more head space during fermentation, but not during clearing, hence the larger 6.5 gallon bucket (or 7.9 in my case) for primary and 5 gallon carboy for secondary.

2. What size (bucket or carboy) do you recommend for a 5 gallon batch?

3. How do you dry hop in a primary, just drop the hops on top?

4. For clearing, do you just put the primary, trub and all in the cooler?
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Old 02-07-2011, 09:37 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wyrmwood View Post
Thanks for that Revvy! That's a very clear explanation to something that has been a source of confusion for me as a beginner brewer. Most of the sources I've read (old John Palmer, C Papazian, recipe kit instructions) are "old information". I knew there was new information, but had not really seen it laid out in one post!

This does raise a few questions though

1. Do you recommend a bucket for a primary or a carboy? I was under the understanding that you want more head space during fermentation, but not during clearing, hence the larger 6.5 gallon bucket (or 7.9 in my case) for primary and 5 gallon carboy for secondary.

2. What size (bucket or carboy) do you recommend for a 5 gallon batch?

3. How do you dry hop in a primary, just drop the hops on top?

4. For clearing, do you just put the primary, trub and all in the cooler?
All those questions have been answered in the thread I linked in the previous post.
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