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Jdb2012 06-02-2012 08:44 PM

Secondary Fermenter
 
I have two 6.5 gallon carboys. Is it ok to use a 6.5 gallon carboy as the secondary? I was told that the oxygen from that much air space could make my beer taste like "cardboard" and that I should use a 5 gallon carboy. Is this true? I will be dry hopping in the second.
Thanks in advance!

hain 06-02-2012 09:10 PM

I also have two 6.5 gallon carboys that I use for both primary and secondary. Personally, I have not tasted or noticed any off flavors in any of my brews. I'd imagine the oxygen gets purged fairly quickly depending on when you rack to secondary, but at the same time eliminating as much of the head space as possible couldn't be a bad idea.

Calder 06-02-2012 09:11 PM

It should be fine. CO2 coming out of solution will help fill the head-space. If really concerned, boil up a couple of ounces of sugar and add it to the secondary for the yeast to work on and create CO2.

I do use secondaries, but I have some specific reasons for doing it. Why are you wanting to use a secondary?

Your friend is correct, oxidation will cause a beer to stale quickly. If you plan to drink it within a couple of months, you probably wouldn't notice any effect if it happened.

Jdb2012 06-02-2012 09:19 PM

I have used a secondary because I have been told that I could get some off flavor from yeast if I leave the beer on the yeast cake for awhile. Also I was told that the final produce will be clearer.
I am interested in your reasons, if you don't mind sharing.

jphebbie2 06-02-2012 09:30 PM

Autolysis is only really an issue over a much longer period of time. If you were doing a sour,a imperial stout, or something that was bulk aged for several months, you would want to get if off the cake and into a secondary. Almost all normal beers, with the exception of fruit beers, don't benefit from a secondary. I just let it sit in primary for 3 to 4 weeks, cold crash to clarify, and keg ( or bottle). Ive found that racking to a secondary creates much more o2 exposure. And the beer can mellow/condition/age in the bottles or keg

Yooper 06-02-2012 09:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jdb2012 (Post 4138620)
I have used a secondary because I have been told that I could get some off flavor from yeast if I leave the beer on the yeast cake for awhile. Also I was told that the final produce will be clearer.
I am interested in your reasons, if you don't mind sharing.

Both of those reasons for using a secondary aren't correct. You may certainly use a clearing vessel (it's not really a "secondary", it's a bright tank or a clearing tank) if you wish but there is no reason to worry about getting off flavors from the yeast. Also, nothing magical happens from moving the beer to make it clear faster- gravity clears the beer and not the act of moving it. It'll clear just as fast in one container as another.

In a brewery, there are a couple of vessels. The fermenter is where fermentation takes place, and then the finished beer is moved to the bright tank. The reason that happens is so another batch can be started in the fermenter, not because the beer will clear any faster in a different vessel.

It's true that you can get off-flavors from leaving the beer on the yeast cake too long- but that's many weeks or even months and not 10-14 days like most homebrewers typically do. Many homebrewers routinely leave their beer in the fermenter for a month with good results. I'm one to package the beer when it's been finished for a week or so and is clear, which is usually around day 10-14 for most beers. For lagers, I do use a carboy for the lagering period and remove the beer off of the yeast, though.

If I use a secondary at all (like for oaking or lagering), I would never use a 6.5 gallon carboy. The reason is that once fermentation is over, the co2 production ends as well. In the original vessel, the co2 that was produced during fermentation but still trapped by the airlock helps protect the beer from oxidation. But once fermentation is over, and the beer is moved, that 1.5 gallons of headspace is a risk since no new c02 is being produced to help mitigate that. If you feel that you must use a clearing vessel, make sure it's the proper size for a batch.

Jdb2012 06-02-2012 09:40 PM

Thank you for the clarification and information.

Calder 06-02-2012 11:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jdb2012 (Post 4138620)
I have used a secondary because I have been told that I could get some off flavor from yeast if I leave the beer on the yeast cake for awhile. Also I was told that the final produce will be clearer.
I am interested in your reasons, if you don't mind sharing.

My beers rarely get into the bottle in less than 10 weeks (exception is hoppy ales). Secondary may still not be necessary for that time period. I have a lot in the pipe-line.

I do a lot of Belgians and Brett beers which I ferment at high temperatures (usually reaching mid 80s at the end). The higher temperature speeds up the decay of the yeast, so I don't want to condition the beer on the cake.

I also harvest yeast from almost every batch. The pressure (of the weight of the beer) on the yeast is damaging to the yeast, and harvesting it earlier (2 to 3 weeks vs 2 to 3 months) gives me much healthier yeast.

Quote:

Originally Posted by jphebbie2 (Post 4138653)
Autolysis is only really an issue over a much longer period of time. If you were doing a sour,a imperial stout, or something that was bulk aged for several months, you would want to get if off the cake and into a secondary.

My exception to doing a secondary is for sour beers. I will leave the beer on the cake for 12 months or more. The Brett feeds of the decaying sacc yeast.

samsonave 06-03-2012 03:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Yooper

Both of those reasons for using a secondary aren't correct. You may certainly use a clearing vessel (it's not really a "secondary", it's a bright tank or a clearing tank) if you wish but there is no reason to worry about getting off flavors from the yeast. Also, nothing magical happens from moving the beer to make it clear faster- gravity clears the beer and not the act of moving it. It'll clear just as fast in one container as another.

In a brewery, there are a couple of vessels. The fermenter is where fermentation takes place, and then the finished beer is moved to the bright tank. The reason that happens is so another batch can be started in the fermenter, not because the beer will clear any faster in a different vessel.

It's true that you can get off-flavors from leaving the beer on the yeast cake too long- but that's many weeks or even months and not 10-14 days like most homebrewers typically do. Many homebrewers routinely leave their beer in the fermenter for a month with good results. I'm one to package the beer when it's been finished for a week or so and is clear, which is usually around day 10-14 for most beers. For lagers, I do use a carboy for the lagering period and remove the beer off of the yeast, though.

If I use a secondary at all (like for oaking or lagering), I would never use a 6.5 gallon carboy. The reason is that once fermentation is over, the co2 production ends as well. In the original vessel, the co2 that was produced during fermentation but still trapped by the airlock helps protect the beer from oxidation. But once fermentation is over, and the beer is moved, that 1.5 gallons of headspace is a risk since no new c02 is being produced to help mitigate that. If you feel that you must use a clearing vessel, make sure it's the proper size for a batch.

Nice post, thanks

TimpanogosSlim 06-03-2012 03:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Yooper (Post 4138656)
Both of those reasons for using a secondary aren't correct. You may certainly use a clearing vessel (it's not really a "secondary", it's a bright tank or a clearing tank) if you wish but there is no reason to worry about getting off flavors from the yeast. Also, nothing magical happens from moving the beer to make it clear faster- gravity clears the beer and not the act of moving it. It'll clear just as fast in one container as another.

I think it depends a little bit on your precise beer.

The batch i made with 30% cooked brown basmati rice and kolsch yeast produced an amazing quantity of trub, and the krausen wasn't sinking after 2 weeks.

So yesterday i racked it to another carboy, where further sediment has fallen out of it, and then tomorrow I'll rack it to a keg, cold crash it, and fine it with gelatin.

I suspect that much of the sediment is a remnant of the rice that is small enough to get through a paint strainer bag.


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