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-   -   When to rack to secondary (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/when-rack-secondary-117674/)

MarkSheffield 05-05-2009 10:35 AM

When to rack to secondary
Hi Guys - I'm a born-again brewer after giving it up for over 10 years. I've forgotten lots of details in the meantime.

When should I rack to secondary (given that I'm going to - I don't need the naysayers here)? Should I wait until the first stage fermentation is done, or should I try to catch it while it's actively bubbling so I get rid of the krausen at the top?

Thanks - Mark

Trubadour 05-05-2009 10:43 AM

When I do rack to secondary, I wait until the bubbling almost stops... sometimes a week, sometimes 3. I just hate to disturb my little yeasty colony in it's hayday!

Revvy 05-05-2009 11:50 AM

Never unless you are adding fruit, oaking or dry hopping...and many people now adays do THAT in primary as well...

You will find that many of us leave our beers in primary for 3-4 weeks, skip secondary and bottle. Just search for the 10,000 threads under "long Primary" or "no secondary" and you will see all the resaons why we do it, and the explanations behind...There's at least one thread a day on the topic, so it's really not hard to find the discussion pretty much hashed to death.

but if you choose to secondary you should wait til your Hydrometer tells you fermentation is complete.

Usually on the 7th day you take a hydro reading, and again on the 10th day, if the reading is the same, then you can rack it...

If I do secondary (which is only when I am adding fruit or oak) I wait 14 days then rack for another 2 weeks...then I bottle.

But that's only if I am dry hopping or adding oak or fruit, whicnh I rarely do, so for me it's a month than bottle,

Honestly you will find your beer will be the best if you ignore the kit instructions, and don't rush it.

But Even Palmer says you should wait with kits...


Originally Posted by How To Brew
Leaving an ale beer in the primary fermentor for a total of 2-3 weeks (instead of just the one week most canned kits recommend), will provide time for the conditioning reactions and improve the beer. This extra time will also let more sediment settle out before bottling, resulting in a clearer beer and easier pouring. And, three weeks in the primary fermentor is usually not enough time for off-flavors to occur.

Your beer will thank you for waiting....:mug:

Trubadour 05-05-2009 12:11 PM

I just recently started skipping the secondary so I've yet to even taste those batches to compare. It sure is easier though, and I've heard nothing but good things about the results.

ifishsum 05-05-2009 07:56 PM

I wait until it's completely done - per the hydrometer, not the airlock. Typically for me that's 10-14 days in primary, check the gravity and if it's finished (it almost always is) and the krausen has fallen, then I rack it to secondary for 2 weeks before bottling. All of the actual fermentation should happen in the primary, the secondary is for clearing, letting the yeast settle out.

IMO the biggest risk you take by racking too early is that fermentation will slow down or even stop and the beer won't finish out completely, because there's just not enough yeast left to finish the job. The longer time in primary also gives the yeast a chance to clean up off flavors created during the lag and active phases.

MarkSheffield 05-05-2009 08:19 PM

Thanks for the replies. I guess this is sort of like a religious debate.

Anyway, ifishsum (and others) say to wait until the krausen has fallen - just a question about that - don't I want to avoid all the krausen when I go to secondary?

MarkSheffield 05-05-2009 09:12 PM

Ha! I just saw all the links about when to rack under this thread. I did a search before posting - honest! Seems like this question comes up quite often. I've looked at the replies - seems like the replies are all the same.

Cool forum - thanks for all the info

ifishsum 05-05-2009 10:13 PM


Originally Posted by MarkSheffield (Post 1304705)
Thanks for the replies. I guess this is sort of like a religious debate.

Anyway, ifishsum (and others) say to wait until the krausen has fallen - just a question about that - don't I want to avoid all the krausen when I go to secondary?

The fallen krausen will become part of the trub on the bottom, and yes you want to avoid as much of that as you can. A bit won't hurt, it will just settle back out in your secondary. Most racking canes have an attachment on the bottom to help avoid sucking up trub. The rest of the residue will just stick to the sides of the fermenter and not really be a problem.

Beerthoven 05-06-2009 12:31 AM

Wait 2, 3 weeks or so then rack if you are confident the beer is fully attenuated.

The whole "to secondary or not to secondary" debate is kind of misplaced, IMHO. The secondary itself does no harm, provided the beer is fully attenuated before racking. The debate should be reframed as "how long in primary is long enough?"

After that, the choice of whether or not to secondary is personal preference, and my preference is to secondary. I get clearer beer in my bottles or kegs when I do, which is why I do it.

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