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Old 01-08-2012, 11:03 PM   #1
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Why do so many people on here not use a secondary fermenter?

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Old 01-08-2012, 11:10 PM   #2
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If you look under this post, there are some "similar threads" that go into detail, but here's one: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/secondary-fermentation-282322/

In short, "secondary fermenter" is a misnomer. In a pro brewery, there is a fermenter and a "bright tank". What happens is the beer finishes fermenting, and is moved to the bright tank to clear and condition a bit. That's so a new batch can be started in the fermenter.

There is nothing magic about moving the beer, though- it doesn't clear faster once it's moved. It just makes room for the brewer to start another batch.

In winemaking, there is indeed a "secondary fermenter" and I think that is where homebrewers got the idea from. But unless you're adding fermentables into the new vessel, there isn't any secondary fermentation happening anyway.

In the "old days" of homebrewing, yeast and ingredients were of poorer quality than today, and it was thought that getting the beer off of the trub as soon as fermentation finished was beneficial. It turns out that is not true- that the yeast cells don't break down nearly as fast as was assumed- and that there is no advantage to racking to a clearing vessel for most ales.

It doesn't hurt, but it does risk oxidation if poor racking technique is used. But it doesn't really "do" anything advantageous except open up the fermenter.

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Old 01-08-2012, 11:10 PM   #3
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Because back in the day yeast was believed to be a lot unhealthier that it is today and folks were afraid of autolysis, so they believed it was necessary to rush the beer off the yeast, and let their beer clear elsewhere in a secondary.

But over the last few years folks, including many of the authors like John Palmer who was a big believer in the autolysis boogeyman, has come to realize that modern yeast isn't easily prone breaking down and affecting the flavor of the beer.

And many of the folks, like myself who have long ago eschewed the primary unless we're adding fruit or oak, have come to believe our beer is actually clearer and better tasting leaving it longer in the primary.

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.

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, leaving our beers crystal clear, with a tight yeast cake.

I suggest you read THIS thread, it's become the "uber discussion" on this topic thread.

To Secondary or Not? John Palmer and Jamil Zainasheff Weigh In .

And you can decide for yourself.

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Old 01-08-2012, 11:11 PM   #4
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Lots of reasons, depending on the beer, it's not necessary, risk of infection, oxidation, waste of time. Take your pick.

Shorter time frame beers like my pale ales etc i'll skip it. Unless i'm dry hopping.

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Old 01-08-2012, 11:15 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yooper View Post
If you look under this post, there are some "similar threads" that go into detail, but here's one: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/secondary-fermentation-282322/

In short, "secondary fermenter" is a misnomer. In a pro brewery, there is a fermenter and a "bright tank". What happens is the beer finishes fermenting, and is moved to the bright tank to clear and condition a bit. That's so a new batch can be started in the fermenter.

There is nothing magic about moving the beer, though- it doesn't clear faster once it's moved. It just makes room for the brewer to start another batch.

In winemaking, there is indeed a "secondary fermenter" and I think that is where homebrewers got the idea from. But unless you're adding fermentables into the new vessel, there isn't any secondary fermentation happening anyway.

In the "old days" of homebrewing, yeast and ingredients were of poorer quality than today, and it was thought that getting the beer off of the trub as soon as fermentation finished was beneficial. It turns out that is not true- that the yeast cells don't break down nearly as fast as was assumed- and that there is no advantage to racking to a clearing vessel for most ales.

It doesn't hurt, but it does risk oxidation if poor racking technique is used. But it doesn't really "do" anything advantageous except open up the fermenter.
I agree with you regarding introducing oxygen when transferring; But if I'm doing a pilsner as I am now where it was to primary 3 weeks and secondary 3 weeks is it ok sitting on the yeast cake for 6 weeks? Oh; and I am supposed to dry hop after it goes to secondary.
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Old 01-08-2012, 11:19 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kerant View Post
I agree with you regarding introducing oxygen when transferring; But if I'm doing a pilsner as I am now where it was to primary 3 weeks and secondary 3 weeks is it ok sitting on the yeast cake for 6 weeks? Oh; and I am supposed to dry hop after it goes to secondary.
Oh, for lagers I still go the traditional route! I have never gone more than 3 weeks in primary, and I especially wouldn't with a lager.

You are best to dryhop about a week before packaging, wherever you're packaging from. You want to leave the beer on the dryhops about 3-7 days or so, right before packaging to get the freshest hops aroma and flavor. Leaving them longer than 10-14 days can lead to some grassy flavors as well as some fading of the hops flavor and aroma.
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