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Old 09-29-2012, 10:18 PM   #1
Enoch52
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Default Using Secondary for Variants?

I'm new to brewing, and although I love good craft beers I'm not going to go through a massive amount each year (~200), so a 5-gallon batch is a significant commitment to me.

Here's my question: is it feasable after primary fermentation to rack half the batch into the bottling bucket for immediate bottling (halving the priming sugar, of course) and half into secondary for a variant (dry hopping half the batch, added flavorings, etc.)? Would the extra space in the secondary be a problem?

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Old 09-29-2012, 11:24 PM   #2
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Sounds like you might be better off making small batches. A 2-1/2 gallon batch would make about one case. Then each batch could be completely different.

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Old 09-29-2012, 11:56 PM   #3
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The extra space in the secondary would be a problem unless you were able to purge it with CO2 (which you could do with a keg setup, but if you're bottling I'm guessing you can't).

I'd also be weary about bottling right after primary fermentation if you aern't letting it sit for a couple weeks in the primary... if you only primary it for one week, the secondary is probably still going to get .01-.03 gravity points fermented, and if that happens in bottles, that's enough to mess up your carbonation, or worse.

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Old 09-30-2012, 12:04 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enoch52 View Post
is it feasable after primary fermentation to rack half the batch into the bottling bucket for immediate bottling (halving the priming sugar, of course) and half into secondary for a variant (dry hopping half the batch, added flavorings, etc.)?
Yes it is. My brother and I did something similar to a batch: make 5 gallon batch, cool, pitch, ferment ~2 weeks. pulled off 1 gallon and added some star anise. Let the other 4 ride for another week. We then bottled them all at the same time because that was just more convenient to us. Wow, that 1 gallon sure was licorice-y. Anyway, yes, the concept is sound.

However, if what you want is more variety overall, I recommend switching down to small batches, like 1-gallon size even. You can easily go all grain and full boil on your stove top at that scale, but you will need a good scale for weighing out rather small masses of hops. You'll get about 9 beers after trub losses. I've done 11 5-gallon batches and 14 1-gallon batches so far and like both scales for different purposes.
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Old 09-30-2012, 12:27 AM   #5
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Headroom will be a problem if it is a secondary vessel that is only half filled.
I recently racked just one gallon of a 5gal batch into an inexpensive 1 gallon demijohn - you could get a couple of these and try two experiments at once - less to dislike if the experiments aren't as nice as hoped.

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Old 09-30-2012, 04:37 PM   #6
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I may have to get a couple of 1-gal fermenters, then. As far as timing I was looking at doing it when the hydrometer said fermentation was complete.

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Conditioning:
Primary: Mosaic IPA
On Deck: Cherry Melomel
Gone But Not Forgotten: Blue Schoon (Blue Moon clone)
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Old 09-30-2012, 10:56 PM   #7
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+1 on thinking about headroom issues. For that reason I prefer making 1 gallon testers just completely at the 1-gallon size the whole way through. I use former apple juice jugs - the olde timey looking kind with a finger loop handle cast into the glass. If there is a Sprouts store nearby, this is the same kind I have and they come with free apple juice inside..

http://www.naturalwanderings.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Empty-apple-juice-jug.jpg

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Old 09-30-2012, 11:45 PM   #8
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They make a 3 gallon better bottle. That should help with your head room concerns.

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Old 10-01-2012, 12:43 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enoch52 View Post
I may have to get a couple of 1-gal fermenters, then. As far as timing I was looking at doing it when the hydrometer said fermentation was complete.
As long as the hydrometer shows the same reading over 3 days, and that reading is around the expected reading (either on the instructions with a kit, or If using several ingredients, you could use an online brewing calculator to estimate F.G), then that is cool. Some instructions say 2 days, but 3 days will be safer and gives the yeast a bit more time to clean up and also settle.
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