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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Fermentation & Yeast > Giving up secondary fermentation?
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Old 08-10-2012, 12:38 AM   #1
Maltjunkie
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Default Giving up secondary fermentation?

I have read on the forums about people not doing a secondary with good results. I have always racked to secondary since batch #1, 5 years 300, batches ago.

My one concern is repitching my yeast. If I let the cake sit while under the beer for the extra weeks for conditioning will it impact the quality of my yeast.


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Old 08-10-2012, 12:51 AM   #2
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I think it depends on how long you are planning on letting it sit. I brew exclusively ales, and usually am drinking from 3-4 weeks after brew day. I don't use a secondary -- I like to let my beer sit on the yeast cake to allow the yeast to clean up any off-flavors, such as diacetyl, that may have developed.

My yeast then is eminently reusable. I have pitched directly onto the yeast cake, harvested yeast for a batch, and rinsed/washed the entire yeast cake for storage into multiple containers for longer term storage. I had excellent with all approaches.

There's no real downside to using a secondary. If you are comfortable with that approach, continue to use it. If you bottle your beer, and want to dry hop, or use oak chips, or use other post-fermentative adjuncts such as vanilla beans or fruit, you may wish to continue to use a secondary.


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Old 08-11-2012, 12:27 PM   #3
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How about with lagers? I normally do however long in primary to ferment and diacetyl rest. Then transfer to secondary for reuse of yeast. Then I lager that for a month or two at near freezing. I'm betting if I left it in primary for that long and at those temps the yeast would be pretty stressed. Am I right? Is a secondary still required for lagers?
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Old 08-11-2012, 01:05 PM   #4
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I don't make lagers because I don't have the ability to control fermentation temperatures that low. However, I think the same principles apply. If you move your primary fermentation vessel into a fridge near freezing, that should actually help preserve the yeast. But I would probably use a secondary for a lager, then harvest the yeast.
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Old 08-11-2012, 01:08 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maltjunkie View Post
How about with lagers? I normally do however long in primary to ferment and diacetyl rest. Then transfer to secondary for reuse of yeast. Then I lager that for a month or two at near freezing. I'm betting if I left it in primary for that long and at those temps the yeast would be pretty stressed. Am I right? Is a secondary still required for lagers?
I always rack my lagers after the diacetyl rest. Leaving ales in primary for 2-3 weeks is fine, but I always want to get a lager off of the yeast cake after the diacetyl rest. Lagers are "clean" and crisp and without yeast character, so I do use a secondary for the lagering.

Leaving ales in primary for 2-3 weeks can impart a bit of flavor. Many people find 4 weeks in primary to give the best flavor, while others prefer a lesser amount of time. My "sweet spot" for ales is right around 2 weeks, although I have gone three weeks on several occasions.

I know that some have even lagered on the yeast cake, but I never have and I doubt I ever will.


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