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Old 11-05-2012, 12:59 AM   #1
lhommedieu
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Default Secondary Fermenter question

Looking for an extract beer recipe that benefits from secondary fermentation. Something a little darker for the winter, I guess. But it raises an issue:

If my extract batch makes 5 gallons of beer (according the directions), should I adjust the recipe to make a little more, if I want to rack it to a carboy for a secondary fermentation? Won't there be a slight loss of volume as I leave the sludge at the bottom behind, resulting in head space in the secondary? Is this a real concern?

Best,

Steve

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Old 11-05-2012, 01:20 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by lhommedieu View Post
Looking for an extract beer recipe that benefits from secondary fermentation. Something a little darker for the winter, I guess. But it raises an issue:

If my extract batch makes 5 gallons of beer (according the directions), should I adjust the recipe to make a little more, if I want to rack it to a carboy for a secondary fermentation? Won't there be a slight loss of volume as I leave the sludge at the bottom behind, resulting in head space in the secondary? Is this a real concern?

Best,

Steve
You'll generally lose about 1/2 a gallon to trub from primary through the end of secondary. You can always adjust your recipe to compensate, but I make 5 gallon recipes and get 48-50 12oz bottles out of them.
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Old 11-05-2012, 01:35 AM   #3
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So, head space in the carboy isn't a problem?

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Old 11-05-2012, 02:11 AM   #4
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my first question is why are you intentionally looking to use a secondary? lots of people like to skip secondaries and opt for longer primaries. We claim to have clearer, cleaner tasting beers as a result. Not saying you should do extended primaries but some people don;t see the benefit of them.

secondly in order to get the total 5 gallons into a keg, secondary or bottles people will create their recipes to end up with something like 5.5 or 5.25 into the fermenter so they come out with 5 in the end. But if you formulate the recipe to be 5 gallons and then add more water to get full five gallons in the end your recipe will be a touch more watery than originally planned.

head space is more of a problem in secondary than in primary because there is very little CO2 created in secondary due to the bulk of fermentation done in primary. with that said you could purge the headspace with CO2 if you are that worried about it. depending on how long you are thinking about keeping it in secondary. a week or two wont be a huge problem. but a month or longer you might begin to see some off flavors produced.

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Old 11-05-2012, 03:16 AM   #5
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Based upon the very little that I know about making beer I would say the secondary is used to clear beer from sediment and perhaps to intensify flavor. But I don't know much about making beer. I see and read about people using a secondary, and I think "OK - makes sense, rack before you bottle and you'll worry about less sediment," etc.

I'd be interested in learning more about extended time in the primary and no secondary.

As it is, my first beer will spend 3 weeks in the primary, 4 weeks in the bottle; If it tastes good I'm bringing it to a party. It's an Irish Red Ale, from Northern Brewers - so simple, easy beer...

Best,

Steve

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Old 11-05-2012, 04:00 AM   #6
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Based upon the very little that I know about making beer I would say the secondary is used to clear beer from sediment and perhaps to intensify flavor. But I don't know much about making beer. I see and read about people using a secondary, and I think "OK - makes sense, rack before you bottle and you'll worry about less sediment," etc.

I'd be interested in learning more about extended time in the primary and no secondary.

As it is, my first beer will spend 3 weeks in the primary, 4 weeks in the bottle; If it tastes good I'm bringing it to a party. It's an Irish Red Ale, from Northern Brewers - so simple, easy beer...

Best,

Steve
Yes some people believe that secondary is used to clear the beer but I think that just as sediment would fall out of solution given the same amount of time. also with just one primary you jostle the Fermentation Vessel (FV) around one less time. So it seems using a extended primary would result a clearer beer, to me anyway.

I have never heard the "intensify flavors" before. I don't see how that would happen. I think you may mean letting the flavors mellow such as high alcohol beers. if you are going to let the whole batch bulk age then a carboy with little head space is a good plan as you would want the beer to get off the yeast if you will be aging for more than 2 months or so. Also dry hopping and adding other ingredients like fruit can be times when people will use a secondary fermenter.
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Old 11-05-2012, 10:54 AM   #7
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OK - so longer in the primary fermentation leads to clearer, mellower beer. I'll put my next batch in a carboy and extend the aging time - see what happens.

Secondary for additions like adding dry hops, fruit, etc.

Thanks for your input.

Steve

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Old 11-05-2012, 11:02 AM   #8
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Tinga is spot on here. The only thing I might add is that some people feel that getting the beer of the yeast cake when fermenteing for over a month reduces some of the yeasty and fruity flavors. However, that doesn't seem to apply here. I haven't used a secondary fermenter in years.

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Old 11-05-2012, 11:07 AM   #9
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Plus, you can work towards clearer beer in a few different ways without disturbing the beer and risking exposure to bacteria: boil a while (i.e. 30 minutes) before staring the hour boil/hops addition, use irish moss, cold crash, etc. I could only see myself using a secondary for dry hopping down the road.

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Old 11-06-2012, 12:11 AM   #10
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Thanks for your responses. My first beer isn't even in the bottles, and I'm already thinking about the second one...

Best,

Steve

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