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Old 09-06-2010, 07:13 PM   #1
manoaction
 
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I'm having a hard time finding the info I need. Does anyone have definitive answers to what's happening with conditioning in secondary fermentor vs. the bottle.

I was told that the Secondary Fermentor is for conditioning the flavor of the beer. During this time the yeast was supposed to reprocess off byproducts, and generally clean up the flavor. For a stout that I'm brewing, I was told to leave it in the secondary for a month.

The bottling conditioning phase I was told needed to be a minimum of three weeks to properly carbonate and to condition. Is the conditioning taking place in the bottle, the same as in the secondary fermentor.

Could I spend a week in the primary, two weeks in the secondary, and four weeks in the bottle? Or is the conditioning that takes place in the secondary different than the conditioning in the bottle?

 
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Old 09-06-2010, 07:19 PM   #2
bferullo
 
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you are probably going to see a whole variety of answers. Everyone seems to have their own formula for determining their fermentation/conditioning schedule.

I personally use to use secondary containers, but now opt for just leaving in the primary longer then bottling. Once bottled I let sit from anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks depending on the beer style and what I put in it.

I will sometimes go back to using a secondary if i am aging after dry hopping since I don't dry hop more than 7-10 days.

All in all, depends on your patients. Some beers get better with age, some peak.

 
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Old 09-06-2010, 10:18 PM   #3

Hey Action -

Two weeks in secondary and four weeks in the bottle sounds good. Its the one week in the primary that's a little skimpy, imho. You want to make sure that primary fermentation is completely done before you rack it to secondary (side note: many here do not use secondaries at all, and will tell you not to, I do use a secondary and having tried it both ways prefer it). It will often take more than a week to for primary fermentation to finish. If you wait at least two weeks in the primary, you will be pretty safe. Then at least another two weeks in secondary - for a total of at least four weeks before bottling and you'll be good for many/most beers.

In the secondary, you will get more clearing - notice the trub and yeast that form at the bottom of your secondary/bright tank. Some of that happens in the bottle, but you really want that to only be yeast settling out when its in the bottle.

I have had beers, though, that taste significantly better after a couple of months in the bottle. Most, though, are ready to drink 7 weeks after brewing (4 in primary/secondary, 3 in bottle).

 
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Old 09-07-2010, 03:17 AM   #4
manoaction
 
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Thanks for the good advice, I'll give that schedule a try.

I've had people say not to rush the primary, but if most of the fermentation is already done after only 3-5 days, what is the threat of having some small amount of fermentation continue in the secondary?

I've read some people say that secondaries aren't a good step, but they usually don't seem to hold clarity high on their list. Clarity is fairly high on my list so I'm hoping these come out looking good. I'm going to try to gelatin and crash cooling before I bottle.

 
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Old 09-07-2010, 11:03 PM   #5
bferullo
 
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like i said i don't really use a secondary, but more or less its due to laziness. I did recently start using 1/2 whirlfloc tablet per 5.5 gallon batch. Cuts down on my yield but aids in clarity ten fold with no cold crashing or secondary.

 
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Old 09-08-2010, 12:13 AM   #6
Yooper
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Quote:
Originally Posted by manoaction View Post
Thanks for the good advice, I'll give that schedule a try.

I've had people say not to rush the primary, but if most of the fermentation is already done after only 3-5 days, what is the threat of having some small amount of fermentation continue in the secondary?

I've read some people say that secondaries aren't a good step, but they usually don't seem to hold clarity high on their list. Clarity is fairly high on my list so I'm hoping these come out looking good. I'm going to try to gelatin and crash cooling before I bottle.
There are lots of things going on in the primary, even after the bulk of fermentation is over. Take a look at this thread: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/how...t-beer-192918/ I don't pretend to understand the science behind it, but the gist of my understanding is that even after the bulk of active fermentation is over, the yeast are still busy. After they digest the fermentable sugars, they go back and digest whatever else they can. This includes some of their own waste products. Diacetyl is the one that really comes to mind- to take a beer off of the yeast cake in primary prematurely can halt the yeast's work of digesting the diacetyl.

Clarity in my beer is imperative to me. I don't use gelatin or other post-fermentation finings, though, because some of my friends are vegetarians and I don't want a non-vegetarian beer. I do use Whirlfloc in my boil though.

Here's a picture of my beer:
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Old 09-08-2010, 12:56 AM   #7

Its the return of Yooper's beer doily! Hurray!

and +1 on the continuing activity of the yeast, in both the primary and secondary/bright tank.

 
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Old 09-08-2010, 01:59 AM   #8
manoaction
 
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Yooper, that beer looks wicked tasty.

Those threads were great, but some of it was over my head. It seems like there is a steady and lasting contention on whether or not having it "on the cake" is better or worse for the beer.

My assumptions were/are...

Secondaries helps clarity.

Secondaries risk contamination and increase oxygen (bad).

I'm fairly committed from this conversation to stopping the use of secondaries, but I'm curious about a couple final things for academic sake.

1) Does racking to a secondary stop all the beneficial yeast activity? I was assuming that the yeast was in suspension and would come with the beer into the secondary and continue the work that the good Lord had destined them to.

2) Is being on the cake bad or good in a +3 week scenario? I thought it would add to cloudiness, but now I'm told it helps with conditioning?

Finally, of the heavy hitters here on the board, who uses secondaries on a stout or other long conditioning beer? Yooper sounds like no. What about Revvy, DeathBrewer, Orfy, Yuri, BeerMuncher, etc... (not definitive list)? Is there a consensus among the board lords?

 
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