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Old 03-18-2012, 11:51 PM   #1
Feb 2012
Muncie, IN
Posts: 19

Hey everyone!

I recently racked my first beer (Irish Red Ale) to a secondary. Everything went fine during the transfer but I noticed that there is a lot of head space (approximately 1 gallon) in the carboy. In the instructions from Midwest they recommend transferring to a secondary but don't really give a time frame on how long the beer should sit in there. However, they say if you leave it in the primary then keep it in there for another week. After looking on the forums about previous topics, most people go 2 weeks in the secondary (1-2-3 rule). My question is, should I bottle after a week (because of head space) or go two weeks? I want to make sure i have enough yeast to carbonate. My last hydrometer reading before I transferred was 1.010.
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Old 03-19-2012, 12:44 AM   #2
Jul 2011
Glenview, IL
Posts: 6,368
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At 1.010 you may not get much more out of it, after a week check the gravity again and if it hasn't changed then bottle, there will always be enough dormant yeast for carbonating, I've left beer in carboys for 45-60 days with no bottling issues-cheers!
Nothing Left to do but smile and drink beer.....

The Commune Brewing Company-Perfecting the "art" of beer since 2010

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Old 03-19-2012, 02:36 PM   #3
May 2010
Las Cruces, NM
Posts: 171
Liked 6 Times on 6 Posts

I assume you racked to the secondary after one week in the primary. If you want to use a secondary, it's best to wait until fermentation is complete before racking to the secondary. I am guessing yours was *probably* complete after one week, but you can only tell from a hydrometer reading and seeing if you hit your FG.

That said, if you only spent one week in the primary, I would probably let it sit for two weeks in the secondary. This time allows the beer to settle out, and the yeast will continue clearing up the beer.

Don't worry, you could wait several months and still have plenty of yeast left to carbonate. While there is a fair amount of dead yeast in the sediment on the bottom, there's still millions in suspension that will carbonate your beer when you bottle.

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Old 03-19-2012, 04:21 PM   #4
Feb 2012
Muncie, IN
Posts: 19

Thanks! Yeah I racked after a week in the primary. My FG stayed consistent (multiple measurements on consecutive days) at 1.010.

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Old 03-19-2012, 05:28 PM   #5
bchurch's Avatar
Aug 2010
Mont Clare, Pa
Posts: 393
Liked 37 Times on 29 Posts

For future reference you don't have to hurry up and rack to a secondary right away your beer will be fine in the primary for a few weeks. I wouldn't go longer that 3-4 weeks but I thought I'd throw that in so you don't have to ask later or if you weren't sure.

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Old 03-20-2012, 01:06 AM   #6
Jan 2012
West Lafayette, IN
Posts: 1,216
Liked 130 Times on 111 Posts

It seems that the 1-2-3 rule is in decline on here. I used it (coupled with hydrometer readings to verify) for my first beer, a light bitter. Worked great, though I'm holding many of the bottles longer than 3 weeks.

For my second, a stout with OG ~ 1.063, I let it go for a couple weeks in primary at which point it had hit FG or close enough to my eye. I went to a secondary, not so much because I wanted to, but because I had to get it out of my bottling bucket.... it's been there 3 weeks now and I'm going to give it another before bottling. I might consider going longer, but I need the carboy empty and the house is warming up to higher temperatures than I'd really like and I don't want to deal with chilling this batch.

From what I've seen here, this length of fermentation is not at all unusual, and many would do all of it in primary.

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