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Old 03-07-2011, 12:14 PM   #1
Tomtanner
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Default secondary fermentation

Hello all,

Bought a brewing kit recently that came with 2 buckets one for the primary fermenter and another with a spigot for bottling ( I assume ). I'm in the middle of brewing my first batch of beer it's an oatmeal stout and it has been fermenting for 7 days. When I went back to the store to buy more bottles they recommended I buy another bucket for the secondary fermentation.... can someone explain to me this concept? Or advise me on how to do it? How would I transfer the beer without exposing it to the air etc.?

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Old 03-07-2011, 12:23 PM   #2
waldoar15
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It's more of a brite tank thing (for clearing and bulk aging your beer). You don't really need it if you let your beer sit in primary long enough anyway. Just buy more buckets to use for primaries.

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Old 03-07-2011, 02:25 PM   #3
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Some people will swear that you should put everything into a secondary, yet others will say it's fine remaining in the primary. If you do a search of this forum, you'll have days of reading material from people debating it.

Personally, I only secondary if I'm racking onto fruit or some other addition, or if I need to free up one of my larger carboys for another batch.
I've done it before in an attempt to get clearer beer also, but thats more for peace of mind since I have never really noticed a huge improvement in the clarity whether I do it or not.

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Old 03-07-2011, 02:45 PM   #4
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i started out using secondaries. then i read about people who don't use them on this forum. since then i haven't used secondary and my beers are just as clear from what i can tell, so one less step for me. as far as exposure to air, when i used to secondary i just used the auto siphon and never had any bad affects. just be careful not to splash around too much.

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Old 03-07-2011, 03:14 PM   #5
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I always go with secondary. I've tried it both ways and like the results of using a secondary fermentor more. In my opinion, it produces a "cleaner" beer in a shorter amount of time. What I do is ferment in my primary fermentor for as long as it takes the krausen to fall back into the beer, plus about 3 days. For most of my ales, this takes about 10 days. I allow the beer to sit in primary for the extra few days because it allows the yeast to clean up the beer a little bit and allows more of the yeast bi products and nasty stuff to fall to the bottom. When the krausen disappears and the beer doesn't look as hazy as it did during fermentation, I carefully transfer the beer to a secondary fermentor. Be sure to move your primary fermentor to wherever it is that you will be conducting the transfer (for me its the counter top in my kitchen) and then wait about 20 or 30 min before you tranfer. Moving the primary fermentor will disturb some of the trub and sediment, so you want to wait a little while for it to settle back down. Be sure to use sanitized equipment and try not to aeorate the beer or agitate the sediment. After transferring to secondary, I usually let it set for only 3 to 5 days. This is when the beer really clears itself up, and the secondary process does not take very long. When the beer is clear enough to satisfy, tansfer to the bottling bucket and do your thing.

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Old 03-07-2011, 03:19 PM   #6
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The guy I go to at the brew shop is a certified, licensed brewer. He told me the reason you transfer to a secondary is because the yeast sediment that forms at the bottom of the fermenter is bad when the yeast is so active, it can cause autolysis. Which means the active yeast are attacking the dead yeast at the bottom, and when that happens, it may make your beer taste off. The reason you transfer to a secondary is to get your beer away from that yeast sediment so you don't risk autolysis. Now, autolysis won't ALWAYS occur, and in fact, most people who do it have no off tastes in their beer. But if you don't transfer you always run the risk of it happening.

Now, after reading a lot of things here people do things a lot different than the brewer I talk to. But my beer has yet to turn out bad, so Im gonna keep doing what im doing.

Also: http://www.howtobrew.com/section1/chapter10-3.html

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Old 03-07-2011, 03:22 PM   #7
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I think you can't rush the beer off the primary cake, whether you secondary or not. The yeast need to clean up any off flavors like diacetyl and acetylaldehyde first.

Dark beers won't show much yeast haze, so a secondary is easily skipped in lieu of a 3 week primary.

But if your racking skills are weak or just inexperienced, a secondary helps remove the sediment you invariable suck up in primary. That's one reason I secondary often.

Anymore I'll primary 2-3 weeks, and my secondary is fairly short. Although I mostly keg so I'll just 3 week primary, keg, then push any yeast out with the first pint.

*edit* Autolysis takes quite a while to kick off. Its a WHOLE different work in commercial breweries because you have hundreds/thousands of gallons of beer pushing down on the yeast cake. Our 5-10 gallon batches suffer far less because the pressures are so much lower.
I know I've read (or was told during the Blvd. tour) about their large conicals and pressure and autolysis.
Like Hot side aeration, the home brewer really shouldn't need to worry.

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Old 03-07-2011, 08:10 PM   #8
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Wow lots of great advice guys! Thank you very much. I think with this first batch I will stick with the primary only, but in my next two batches try it both ways with the same recipe to see if there is a noticeable difference for a Brewer of my skill.... which is very low at this point! Thanks again all.

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Old 03-07-2011, 08:25 PM   #9
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One thing to keep in mind is you might want a 5-gallon carboy to secondary into as opposed to a bucket. I'm a bucket guy that typically only does 3-week primaries...but if I'm adding oak or something like that, I'll rack into a 5-gallon carboy (Better Bottle really...but same concept) for the secondary. There's a lot of headspace in a bucket which is fine during the primary because CO2 being produced forces out oxygen. But when you rack into a bucket for a secondary fermentation, CO2 production has slowed substantially, and your beer can get exposed to oxygen in the fermenter, or so they say .

There's substantially less headspace in a 5-gallon carboy.

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Old 03-07-2011, 09:17 PM   #10
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I am fairly certain the #1 reason you will get for people using a secondary is to free up their primary. For me personally, the #2 reason is for beer clarity and mellowing and/or dry hopping. Also I stick it into the secondary because I don't know when I will be able to bottle next and you can keep beer in the secondary for months, in fact I have.

So for bottling and transferring the beer to the secondary is your best friend ever, the auto-siphon. If you don't have one yet, pick one up with some tubing and the bottle attachment (only for bottling) and sit back and enjoy.

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