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Old 02-15-2009, 12:36 AM   #1
rrj713
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Default Secondary Vs. Bottle Conditioning

Ok, this is my first post on these forums so go easy on me. I'm currently on my first batch and so i'm trying to keep things as simple as possible for myself as I get familiar with the brewing process. I'm trying to figure out when to bottle and if racking into a secondary is necessary or not. The guy at my local homebrew store insists that I need to rack into a secondary (he didn't even ask what type of beer I was brewing or how long it's been in my primary).

I've read in these forums that a secondary is not needed, and John Palmer's book also says it's not needed. So I didn't find this guy very helpful and I need my questions answered. It's been in the primary for 2 weeks now, should i listen to him and rack into a secondary for another week or 2, or should I just go ahead and bottle next weekend? and if I just bottle next weekend, how do I do the Priming without a bottling bucket?

If it helps answer my question... It's an English Pale Ale
OG 1.050
instructions say final gravity will be between 1.012-1.014

Thanks for advance for your help!

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Old 02-15-2009, 12:44 AM   #2
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Welcome to HBT!

There is no need to rack to secondary. As you read, many folks don't use a secondary. We were not kidding about it, it just isn't needed. I will tell you that you should leave your beer for another week or two. This will allow the yeast to complete it's job cleaning up your beer as well as giving it some bulk aging time.

I don't know what to tell you about not having a bottling bucket. Obviously, you can rack it to whatever you were going to use as a secondary and bottle from that, however, I have never tried to bottle out of anything other than a bottling bucket.

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Old 02-15-2009, 12:47 AM   #3
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Take a SG reading, when you get the same results to days in a row it's time to bottle...

Secondary isn't necessary, I did a triple on my first brew and racked it into the secondary, then bottled it after taking SG readings....

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Old 02-15-2009, 12:49 AM   #4
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There is really no "wrong" answer and no "right" answer for your question. Everyone approaches this issue differently. You're going to end up getting a lot of personal processes and nothing definitive.


Unless I'm bulk aging a big beer, making a fruit beer, dry hopping, oaking or something else that needs to sit for some time I just primary for 2 - 4 weeks and then keg/bottle.

Bottle conditioning and secondary isn't the same, however. Bottle conditioning is adding a little sugar to naturally carbonate. Secondary isn't when you carb.

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Old 02-15-2009, 12:55 AM   #5
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I'm no expert and still consider myself a n00b at this but here is my $0.02......

If you want it to condition, leave it in primary. The yeast will clean up some of their own by products if you leave it sit. If you take it to a secondary, you'll be losing a large percentage of your yeast for clean up. I've done batches both ways but only after letting it stay in primary for a few weeks. My only reasons for a secondary are for clarity and freeing up my primary for another beer.

I'm not sure about priming the batch without a bottling bucket. It sounds as if you do have another (secondary) vessel. I suppose you could transfer the beer into the second, clean and sanitize your primary bucket and use it to bottle. Or, you may be able to bottle from the secondary using your siphon, tubing and hopefully bottling wand. I've never tried this, my kit came with a bottling bucket and I've always used it.

One thing I'm learning about this is that beer is pretty forgiving. I've gone off traveling for months and left beer and I've also done a 20-day turn around on a batch. Don't stess too much and just have some patience. The beer will be fine.

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Old 02-15-2009, 01:03 AM   #6
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I don't own a bucket. I always bottle from a carboy. It is simple enough. Add the boiled and cooled priming sugar, rack the beer on to it and bottle. Works easy.

My personal practice is to use a secondary. Probably as much out of habit as anything else.

I agree it isn't essential, but I'm used to it.

Regards

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Old 02-15-2009, 01:15 AM   #7
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Thanks for the fast replies everyone. One more quick question that's been on my mind. If i do decide to rack to my 5-gallon carboy either to bottle from there or to leave it there as a secondary, I am just supposed to open my current bucket and stick the siphon in? I'm guessing the air that gets in at that point is negligable, but I wanted to ask just to be sure. Thanks again.

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Old 02-15-2009, 01:17 AM   #8
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Yup, just siphon and go. Don't splash too much and you'll be fine.

I'd really recommend a bottling bucket. It helps quite a bit and the bottling wand makes it so much easier than bottling from a racking tube.

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Old 02-15-2009, 01:29 AM   #9
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I stick my wand on the end of racking tube.
(sounds dirty)

What is difference between a racking tube and whatever attaches to a bucket?

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Old 02-15-2009, 01:31 AM   #10
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Well im no expert but i can see at least two good reasons to use a secondary:

1- see this other guy in this other thread who just busted a glass carboy to pieces trying to scrub all the dirty mess the initial Krausen left.

(i use a plastic primary fermenter plastic bucket for at least the first 10 days and you can see my thread about the plastic bag covering method, after that initial "wild yeast feast stage" you just transfer and blow offs wont occur and it wont get as dirty in your carboy).

2- transferring to secondary (a glass carboy in my case) after about 10 days, begins to clear the beer out and is a first step towards the final product, no blow offs or insanely dirty carboy to clean up afterwards, just a beer that keeps on aging with what's left of the active yeast cells for as long as you wish (i usually let them sit in secondary for 2 weeks then bottle).

Hey it's beer, do you want to wait till your retirement days to be able to finally taste it? I dont, im not that patient.

Just my little .02 cents worth of worthless advices, hey i've only been brewing for 2 years now, so what do I know?

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