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Old 04-20-2011, 04:36 PM   #1
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Default Should I rack to a secondary fermenter?

Just brewed my second batch ever on Sunday! It was a bit of a testament to Murphy's Law, but nothing that ought to ruin the batch. I managed to burn a fair bit of the malt extract (whoops -- I guess this is a common mistake though), and I used a different yeast (Safale S-04) and got much more vigorous fermentation than I was expecting, causing me to find that krausen had overflowed the fermentation lock by the next morning. I was doing a ~5-gallon batch in a 6.5-gallon carboy, so I did not think I needed a blowout hose.. but I think I may have filled it a little more than 5 gallons, and this yeast was REALLY active for the first 36 hours. No biggie, though; I just sanitized another fermentation lock and swapped it in, and haven't had a problem since.

SO, to my actual question:

There's a heckofa lot of trub in this batch, and primary fermentation seems to be fairly close to done at this point (like I said, the yeast was very active very early) so I'm thinking about racking to a secondary fermenter. The Papazian book insists that there is no benefit to racking to a secondary unless you're going to leave it in the fermenter for longer than about 3 weeks or so (I'm planning on leaving it for 2 weeks). Is that really true? Other sources seem to suggest you will get a more rapid and complete fermentation if you rack it after the primary activity is complete, regardless of when you bottle it.

To be honest, mostly I just want an excuse to buy a second carboy, so that I can get another batch going But I was just wondering -- is there any benefit at all to racking to a secondary fermenter if I'm going to bottle after 2 weeks anyway?

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Old 04-20-2011, 04:42 PM   #2
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You're going to have to make the decision for yourself. There's a ton of threads discussing the pros and cons of each. You don't really want to re-invent the wheel here and discuss what's been done ad nauseum- You can get all the info by reading this post, and the link included there, where there's an ongoing discussion, and all questions have been answered....

But you have to decide for your self.

Honestly if it's just about freeing up to brew more, just go get another bucket primary, they're dirt cheap. I have 9 different fermenters.

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Old 04-20-2011, 04:59 PM   #3
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I actually already have a bucket (I got a bunch of homebrew equipment from my old boss dirt cheap, and he threw in a bottling bucket with a spigot, and a fermenter bucket as well). But I'm terrified of contamination with that method. I know lots of people use buckets, but... I dunno, it just seems so much more exposed than a carboy. I also like being able to see what's going on without exposing it to the air.

Maybe I should brew a batch in the bucket just to get over my fear of it?

I know I *eventually* want to get a second carboy regardless, mostly because I would like to do some mead at some point and I don't want to have my only carboy tied up for a month or more while that stuff ferments. So I guess it's sort of a now or later thing...

Anyway, thanks for the link to the other thread. If my wife lets me blow $65 on a carboy (and she's already indicated that's probably okay) I'm leaning towards racking it. It certainly won't HURT the beer to rack it, right? (assuming I am careful siphoning it, etc.) And even though I don't think it will really matter, there's just something about seeing that giant pile of trub touching my beer that is bothering me. heh...

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Old 04-20-2011, 05:00 PM   #4
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Pouring, siphoning, or whatever into a secondary just gives you more chances to "create" problems. I've had my beer sit in the primary for up to a month. Best beer I've ever made. The worst, almost undrinkable, but not enjoyable, was placed in a secondary for two weeks. No secondarys for me unless dry hopping or adding fruit.

I also have a primary and secondary with spigots. I love them! Never had an infection or a leak, yet.

NRS

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Old 04-20-2011, 05:03 PM   #5
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It certainly won't HURT the beer to rack it, right? (assuming I am careful siphoning it, etc.)
As shown in the link it increases the risk of problems, but it's been done forever so it's not like it's bad advice to do so...But in terms of Trub, I actually find my beer is clearer after a month in primary.

I get little if any sediment in my bottles, simply by opting for a long primary. This is my yeastcake for my Sri Lankin Stout that sat in primary for 5 weeks. Notice how tight the yeast cake is? None of that got racked over to my bottling bucket. And the beer is extremely clear.



That little bit of beer to the right is all of the 5 gallons that DIDN'T get vaccumed off the surface of the tight trub. Note how clear it is, there's little if any floaties in there.

When I put 5 gallons in my fermenter, I tend to get 5 gallons into bottles. The cake itself is like cement, it's about an inch thick and very, very dense, you can't just tilt your bucket and have it fall out. I had to use water pressure to get it to come out.



This is the last little bit of the same beer in the bottling bucket, this is the only sediment that made it though and that was done on purpose, when I rack I always make sure to rub the autosiphon across the bottom of the primary to make sure there's plenty of yeast in suspension to carb the beer, but my bottles are all crystal clear and have little sediment in them.

Half the time I forget to use moss, and you can't tell the difference in clarity.
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Old 04-20-2011, 05:05 PM   #6
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Then I read the thread you linked to and I'm thinking I should probably just leave it. Damn, and I'd just convinced myself I could go buy a 2nd carboy with a clear conscience! heh...

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Old 04-20-2011, 05:18 PM   #7
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If my wife lets me blow $65 on a carboy (and she's already indicated that's probably okay)
For 65 bucks you can get yourself 2 6 gallon better bottles to use as primaries. Heck you can get three of them from this place.

http://labelpeelers.com/better-bottl...9hm2ho2kopd995
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Old 04-20-2011, 07:25 PM   #8
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I was just texting my wife saying I wish I was brewing instead of at work, and she seems to agree. So yeah, gonna make more beer

But, after reading more about it I have decided I am NOT going to rack this batch. I also think -- if I can bring myself to wait that long -- I will give it 3 weeks in the primary, instead of my initial plan to only give it 2.

Going OT now... My first brew was a porter, followed the recipe for Sparrow Hawk porter from Joy of Homebrewing. I bottled after 10 days, and cracked the first bottle after 5 days, expected it to not be carbonated at all... and whadyaknow, it's already pretty carbonated, and tastes pretty good! There's a bit of a funny flavor to it, which I am quite sure is just that it's waaay too young -- but even at this "green" stage it's most definitely drinkable, and in fact being my impatient self I've already had like eight of them... heh...

Being the type of person I am, I think I really need to get a good solid "pipeline" going ASAP, or else I am going to wind up drinking all of my beer before it has gotten a decent chance to mature. The fact that it tastes just fine right now is, well, a problem... I can tell it will get better, but I still like it quite a bit even at this point, and there it is in the kitchen closet saying, "Put me in the fridge and drink me! Drink me now, I say!"

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Old 04-20-2011, 08:35 PM   #9
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Revvy is right, lots of different opinions here on racking vs. not. I always do, but that's just me and I prefer it.

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Old 04-20-2011, 08:57 PM   #10
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Indeed, it was good to read some of the debates My conclusion is that I might try racking at some point in the future, but I want to get confident at the simpler process first. T'hat way, if something goes wrong, I'll have a better idea if I messed up the siphoning process or something (the whole "don't change too many variables at once" philosophy)

As to the topic of fermentation vessels... I have decided plastic buckets are out for me, even though I already have two of them. (One's got a spigot, for good for bottling at least, eh?) Part of the charm of this whole hobby for me so far is that every time I walk over and look at the fermenting beer, it brings a smile to my face, no matter how glum I am feeling. Not being able to see the beer would take half the fun out of it for me.

Revvy's got me seriously thinking about Better Bottles, but... It's crazy, but glass just "feels" more sanitary to me than plastic. There is no rational reason why this should be so (assuming the plastic isn't scratched, of course), but from perusing these forums I gather that the answer to 90% of homebrewing questions is "Whatever makes you feel more comfortable." Glass makes me feel more comfortable, so I am leaning that way despite the added expense...

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