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Old 02-26-2006, 11:29 PM   #1
RiversC174
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Default Secondary Fermenter?

I have been reading a lot of the posts on this board and many people have mentioned secondary fermentation and having a secondary fermenter. I am simply fermenting in a glass carboy and then once fermentation is complete I am going to bottle it and let it sit for about another 2-3 weeks (probably sneak one or two before that...). I just wanted to know what secondary fermentation is, how do I do it, and is my beer not going to be as good because I havent done secondary fermentation. Also, is there a special container to do secondary fermentation in or do you just use another carboy? Also when speaking of primary fermentation being finished I have heard people say then it is time to "rack" it. What does this term mean? Thanks again!

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Old 02-26-2006, 11:35 PM   #2
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A secondary is just like the primary (what you have). People will use a secondary to allow additional flavors to be taken up by their brews (for example, most fruit beers get their fruit infusion in a secondary).

I mostly bottle right from the primary (into the bottling tank of course, then into bottles). But I just got a glass carboy for a secondary after a year and a few months, maybe a dozen batches, just because I wanted to try to add some layers of complexity that can't be done with one brew tank. The secondary also allows you another step in the process of making your beer clearer, and also eliminates the risk of picking up "off flavors" from the trub (the gunk).

Racking is one of those technical terms that we initiates use to throw off the noobs - like "trub" instead of "gunk." It means siphoning from one tank to another.

: )

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Old 02-26-2006, 11:38 PM   #3
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2ndary is simply xfering your beer from the 1st to another glass or similar carboy. I prefer to use glass. 2ndary is where your beer clears up, and ages a bit to get some depth and complexity. All the suspended yeast, hops, etc fall out and leave you with a cleaner beer. Of course, you dont have to do this. Your bottles can have a 1/2" or so of trub in the bottom.

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Old 02-26-2006, 11:41 PM   #4
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Secondary fermentation helps beer clarity by allowing the brew to settle longer and may help remove "off" flavors by (in both cases) getting it off the yeast cake that is sitting in your first fermentor.

Secondary fermentor is as you guessed it, an identical carboy, bottling bucket etc. "Racking" is just the process of siphoning from the first fermentor to the secondary.

Is this process necessary? No. But you'll gravitate to it as most do after brewing for some time. Can you still make a quality beer with secondary fermentation? Absolutely. And you'll find several seasoned veterans who will attest. Even medal winners brewed with only 1 carboy.

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Old 02-26-2006, 11:44 PM   #5
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Racking is transferring your brew from it's current (maybe primary) fermenter (IE: carboy) to another carboy or whatever you use. It's a good idea to at least do this once so that your brew does not sit on all of those spent yeast cells too long. Usually you will transfer from your primary once the most active part of the fermentation has slowed. You may even want to do it again later if you have a slow fermentation going. I'm new to beer but I usually rack a wine at least two or three times until clear before bottling. Beer seems to be more involved temperature wise so that may be an issue in how long it can sit around and be racked a few times before bottling. It doesn't seem necessary to rack but it will improve end product. If you love the beer you make now and don't want to be bothered with the extra work I would guess that it could be skipped no problem. Or you may want to try it out and see if you notice an improvement.

I'm new though and have not even bottled my first beer yet though so maybe others will have something more to offer.

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Old 02-27-2006, 12:05 AM   #6
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The purpose of a secondary fermenter is to get the beer away from the dead yeast that settles out after the vigorous ferment so that they don't add any off- flavors to the beer. It's not something to worry too much about until you get into lagering or the "big" beers that will be sitting in the fermenter for a couple of months. It won't hurt your beer to sit in primary for 2-3 weeks and then bottle. It won't hurt to rack to secondary either. Your choice. RDWHHAH.

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Old 02-27-2006, 12:10 AM   #7
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If I choose to do secondary fermentation next time how long does it need to be in the secondary fermenter? Also, the instructions for my beer kit say to bottle after primary fermentation and let it sit for at least 2 but preferrably 3 or more weeks. If I decide to do secondary fermentation, when I bottle the beer does it still need to sit in the bottle for 2-3 weeks after secondary fermentation, or can the week or so it was in the secondary fermenter be applied to those 2-3 weeks I have to wait after primary fermentation is complete? And, last but not least, one of the above posts mentioned "additional flavors" can be added during secondary fermentation, what things can I add during this time to flavor it a certain way? You guys are lifesavers... haha.

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Old 02-27-2006, 12:11 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveM

Racking is one of those technical terms that we initiates use to throw off the noobs - like "trub" instead of "gunk." It means siphoning from one tank to another.

: )

i use a chain stretcher to drop my green beer from the secondary to the tertiery...
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Old 02-27-2006, 12:28 AM   #9
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Quote:
one of the above posts mentioned "additional flavors" can be added during secondary fermentation, what things can I add during this time to flavor it a certain way?
I'm interested in that as well. I may want to play with the beer I just racked and posted about in the "Weak taste" topic below.
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Old 02-27-2006, 12:33 AM   #10
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you can add whatever you want...the most common are:
hops, fruit, oak chips, coffee beans, chocolate, bog myrtle, vanilla beans, jolly ranchers, jimmy hoffa, etc...just make sure whatever it is, its been sanitized, hops of course dont have to be, but pretty much everything else should...

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