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Old 06-30-2011, 05:18 PM   #1
May 2011
Mexico city, mexico
Posts: 32

Hi i see many recipes that use only one fermentation and i see recipes that need a secondary fermentation, what is the difference between one fermentation or secondary fermentation? in wich cases we can apply secondary or one fermentation? what is better?

Thanks in advances for your answers

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Old 06-30-2011, 05:21 PM   #2
Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc
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Dec 2007
"Detroitish" Michigan
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This question has been discussed thoroughly hundreds of times on here. There's at least 2 threads a day about it.

I think you'll find the best answers here- To Secondary or Not.
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Old 06-30-2011, 05:35 PM   #3
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Apr 2009
, Texas
Posts: 1,261
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Secondary fermentation is not the best term to use, there isn’t another fermentation happing, it’s the same one.

Putting beer into a secondary fermenter just allows your beer to be pulled of the yeast cake, it is the belief that yeast autolysis (the death of the yeast cell) is very common and you want to get your beer off the yeast cake by transferring the beer to another fermenting vessel (i.e. secondary). There is a lot of debate weather this is that common now a days. Some older brewers say that this was the result of unhealthy yeast that was being distributed in the beginning days of home brewing.

Some people like to secondary in the belief that the beer clears better or faster. Other only do it when they are adding another ingredient to the beer like vanilla, oak, or dry hopping.

You see different people and different recipes talk about secondary and primary because they are different techniques that brewers use. For a long time putting beer into secondary was thought of as being necessary. Now you have loads of brewers that just leave there beer on top of the yeast cake for 3 or more weeks (myself being one of them). We do this in the belief that the yeast has a lot of things to clean up after the bulk of the fermentation is done, different compounds are produced by the yeast that they clean up after they have had their fill of sugar. All my beers have cleared up amazingly well on top of the yeast cake, you do have to be care when you move the fermenter.

Search no secondary needed, or primary vs. secondary. There are a lot of pros and cons you just have to find which one makes more sense to you.

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Old 06-30-2011, 06:08 PM   #4
Mar 2009
Posts: 506
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I think the primary/secondary debate will go on forever, but there is one fact that can not be argued; the number one enemy of a fermented beer is oxygen.

For all the reasons someone can cite as to why they feel the need to move the beer off of the yeast cake prior to packaging (autolysis, clarity, etc.), none of those reasons outweigh the simple fact that any additional handling of your beer will needlessly introduce oxygen, and oxygen ruins finished beer. Leave it alone - minimize oxygen. Handle the beer - introduce oxygen. Additionally, the "bonus" handling takes up valuable time, and gives another opportunity for poor sanitation to rear its ugly head. Even if you are extremely careful, and dodge the sanitation bullet, the oxygen is still unavoidable.

For those two reasons alone, the negatives of moving to a secondary outweigh any claimed "benefits". IMO, the additional transfer is all risk and no reward....but some people feel otherwise.


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Old 06-30-2011, 06:44 PM   #5
Jan 2010
Victoria, British Columbia
Posts: 64

I usually rack my beer from my primary fermenter (a plastic bucket with a lid) to my secondary (glass carboy with airlock) for the reasons suggested in the above comments.

I get a clearer beer when I do this. It also frees up my primary so that I can brew another beer.

As others have said, my secondary fermenter isn't really a fermenter per se. It's doing very little, if any fermenting. The beer is already fermented and the final gravity is determined before I move the beer to my secondary "fermenter".

When I rack the beer, I make sure that the hose going from my primary to the secondary goes all the way to the bottom and the beer doesn't "splash" into the secondary and introduce oxygen.

If I had a better primary fermenter, like a conical fermenter that I could easily seperate the yeast cake from the wort, I probably wouldn't bother racking from one vessel to another.

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Old 06-30-2011, 07:01 PM   #6
Jan 2011
Hudson Valley, NY
Posts: 553
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Check this out.

There is barely any difference. In fact, in some cases, the beer left in Primary tasted better.

Also, from "Brewing Classic Styles" by Palmer and JZ:

"In general we recommend a single-vessel fermentation for a minimum of 1 week, and not more than 4 weeks, before packaging. Racking to a secondary fermenter is not recommended except for beers requiring a long fermentation, such as lagers, or beers requiring a second fermentation, such as sour ales and fruit beers."
IMEO, secondary fermenters are merely a vessel used for clearing beer and/or aging for long periods. This can easily be accomplished in a bottle with similar results.

Due to such subtle differences, the debate will go on... and on... and on... and on... and...

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Old 06-30-2011, 07:13 PM   #7
Mar 2009
Natick, MA
Posts: 568
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... on.

I move to a secondary to clear out a bucket, and for extended batch aging and dry hopping. I am quite careful with the autosyphon and I have never had a problem with oxygen. I also do it to store beer if I am running low on bottles and just batch age it a bit more. For a beer I have ready this weekend, I am going to just transfer it directly into the keg from the primary. For a special beer I have, I am going to rack it to a glass carboy to bottle from there. Because it's a sour, I can't just put it to a bottling bucket.

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