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Old 10-28-2007, 10:07 PM   #1
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Default When to go from Primary to Secondary (If at all)

The answer is in the FAQ sticky
This is just a quick overview.

For most brews a secondary is not obligitory

The fermenting should take place in the fermenter (Primary).
After the fermentation is finished then it can be transferred to a conditioning/clearing vessel (Secondary). Secondary fermentation vessels are sometimes used when adding fruit after the primary fermentation.

When should this happen?
Fermentation can take any where from 12 hours to 3 months (and more) most "normal" brews would be done in 3 to 10 days. The hydrometer will tell you.
If you want to guess then there are other methods. The one that can not be relied on is the bubbles stop.

Experienced brewers decide themselves when to move and what to do. Every beer is different.
If you are not sure and want an easy rule of thumb for a normal beer then a lot of brewers are happy to stick follow the 1-2-3 rule. 1 week to ferment - 2 weeks clearing/conditioning - 3 weeks to bottle condition.
Other brewers are just happy to leave it in primary for and extended time until it is ready to keg or bottle.

Sometimes the "Secondary" vessel is called a bright or clearing tank

Hope that helps.
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Old 10-30-2007, 04:21 AM   #2
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In general, which types of beer require secondaries? Is a secondary optional on all beers, or are there some types which NEED a secondary (for clarity or otherwise)?

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Old 10-30-2007, 05:17 AM   #3
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Some very experienced brewers have given up on secondaries.
It is optional.

I would suggest using them until you have the experience to judge for yourself.
I think wheat beers are about the only beers that don't benefit from moving to a conditioning vessel.

Some people have smaller conditioning vessels so go to use them so they can clear their fermenter for the next batch.

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Old 10-30-2007, 01:25 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by orfy
Fermentation can take any where from 12 hours to 3 months (and more) most "normal" brews would be done in 3 to 10 days. The hydrometer will tell you.
You mean that hydrometers across the pond can speak? Man you guys always get everything first!
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Old 11-03-2007, 03:06 PM   #5
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I usually rack my beer when the bubbles have slow to a crawl, thus the majority of the yeast has dropped out of the beer. (about 7-10 days.) I use a ale pail so once the CO2 has slowed it needs a new home in carboy to prevent oxidation. I have always used a secondary for clarity except for a batch or two. It keeps the bottles cleaner.

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Old 11-04-2007, 02:56 PM   #6
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I observe everyday, when I have 1 bubble to each 2 min, I take for the freezer (~3°C) for more 24 to 48 hs and step for the secondary for more 1 or 2 weeks. I believe to be important the secondary, because it seems that the flavor is better when the whole volume is in the maturation. Will it be that this (every volume) influence? Sometimes that I bottled direct I was under the impression of the flavor to be different.

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Old 11-15-2007, 04:25 PM   #7
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Default Fermentation times?

I've seen alot of veteran brewers maention the 1-2-3 method or even 2-4weeks in a primary (no secondary) but I have one question.

Most recipe's Ive read (only about 5 or so) indicate 2weeks or less for fermentation.

Now I know that patience is a virtue as far as fermentation goes and it seems the longer the better but then why would so many recipes indicate less? Is there a chance for off flavors due to sitting on dead yeast and or trub for too long?

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Old 11-15-2007, 04:44 PM   #8
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In reality most beers will be fully fermented within a week. Sometimes this can happen as quickly as 48 hours if the yeast is aggressive. The extra time spent in the primary or secondary is for conditioning and clearing of the beer. A lot of yeast will remain submerged in the beer for some time after fermentation has slowed. It's better to allow time for this yeast to flocculate and settle at the bottom before bottling/kegging (hence, clearer beer).

There is no "concrete way" to time this. It depends on the initial gravity of your brew, the strain of yeast you're using, the conditions under which fermentation happens (temp, etc.).

Many people follow the 1-2-3 method (including me sometimes) and it works well. Just use your hydrometer and your own gut feeling to know when things are ready. You'll get the hang of it quicker than you might think.

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Old 11-15-2007, 04:45 PM   #9
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Longer times are for fermentation and clearing. Most recipes are just talking about fermentation.

Autolysis is very rare. I've left batches on the trub for months without a problem.

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Old 11-15-2007, 04:49 PM   #10
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Fermentation is usually complete in less then a week - assuming a "normal" gravity beer, pitched with enough healthy yeast, aerated, good fermentation etc. Lagers may take a little longer.

Assuming healthy yeast there is little danger of yeast death and autolysis for a month or more. You are more in danger of drinking "green" (inadequately conditioned) beer if you only ferment/condition for 2 weeks before bottling.

Conditioning the beer (also referred to as secondary fermentation) takes longer. You can do this in a secondary or leave it on the yeast cake (and there are good arguments to do so). You could also bottle in 2 weeks, but you might need to leave it in the bottles longer for conditioning to finish so you are not really saving time.

The 1-2-3 method is simple to remember, works fine for most beers. Personally I have gone to fermenting and conditioning in the same fermentor, then bottle. I brew mostly lower gravity bitters, ales, porters etc so I leave them in the primary 3-5weeks before bottling and then at least 2-3 weeks in the bottle before drinking. Bigger beers I ferment/condition in a primary for a month then condition further for 2-3 months in a secondary.

Some beer styles would be fine with a shorter fermentation/conditioning time and are meant to be drunk "young" - eg hefeweizens.

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