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Old 03-24-2012, 12:32 AM   #1
monkeymootj's Avatar
Jun 2011
castro valley, ca
Posts: 74
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Hello all. This is going to be my first attempt at transferring to a secondary. I currently have a 1.070 OG imperial red in the primary and I would like to allow for some extra conditioning time in the secondary. My question is, what are the pros and cons of transferring from the primary to another plastic bucket with a spigot using a hose to limit oxidation? Is it worth purchasing a carboy instead? Thank you for your help!

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Old 03-24-2012, 12:59 AM   #2
Sep 2009
Posts: 164
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I don't think the spigot would ruin or make a beer. Although in the long run, invest in a glass secondary if you plan on aging often.

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Old 03-24-2012, 01:22 AM   #3
Dec 2010
Dracut, MA
Posts: 109
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The only possible problems I the bucket with the spigot would be possible contamination from small scratches in the plastic or if the spigot wasn't air tight, or had a slow leak (mine have been known to leak).
Carboys are the way to go though, or if you don't want glass, one of the PET better bottles. Once you get one, you'll find you need a second, then a third..........

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Old 03-24-2012, 01:59 AM   #4
Ale's What Cures You!
Yooper's Avatar
Jun 2006
UP of Michigan, Winter Texan
Posts: 70,009
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The issue with a plastic bucket for a clearing vessel instead of a carboy is the wide, wide headspace. Once the beer is done fermenting, if a clearing vessel is used ("secondary"), it should be one without a wide headspace since no co2 is being produced any longer to protect the beer. I would avoid moving the beer to a bucket, unless it was to add fruit or other fermentables that would be difficult to add and remove in a carboy. If you don't have a carboy, don't move the beer.
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Old 03-24-2012, 02:07 AM   #5
Apr 2011
Brewertown, IL
Posts: 466
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Yooper is right. Just give it a long primary. 4-5 weeks even.

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Old 03-24-2012, 02:13 AM   #6
CthulhuDreaming's Avatar
Jan 2012
Vancouver, WA
Posts: 104
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I've used a bucket spigot and a hose instead of a racking cane and siphon to transfer to kegs before. In theory, in terms of oxidation risk, it should be no worse than a siphon. In practice, I found the spigot clogged easily, and I think that more yeast material was transferred than would have been with a proper siphon.

With respect to using a bucket as a secondary, I would think a carboy would be better due to reduced headspace (and therefore less O2 available). If your beer is still off-gassing enough CO2, it may not matter. Most of the time when I'm racking, I purge the container with a CO2 bottle to try and displace as much free molecular O2 as possible. Probably unnecessary overkill, but it certainly can do no harm.

As I said, I do not often use a secondary (with beer, mead is a different story). I don't have a problem with leaving an ale in the primary for a couple of months, if I wanted to bulk condition much longer, I rack it to a keg or would use a secondary. I personally feel that there's more risk from oxidation due to siphoning mishaps / errors than there is to autolysis - if that's your motivation for moving to a secondary. It's my thought that excessive headspace in the secondary is less of a risk than the actual racking process - there's a potential for a hell of a lot more surface exposure to O2 during racking, and the amount of available O2 is for all purposes unlimited. So I make a point to only use a secondary when I have a compelling reason to.

Just my opinion, and subject to change if compelling evidence to the contrary is given.
Yes, as a matter of fact, I am drunk.

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