I have my first homebrew (all grain) in my primary for a little over 4 days now. It's a Brown Ale. Fermentation has slowed considerably. This being my first brew, I am following step by step instructions which tell me that I should rack to a secondary now. However, I've read a lot on the forums that this is an old school way of thinking and that if I leave in my primary for 3+ weeks and then cold crash, I'll get better and just as clear/clean beer as if I used a secondary.
From what I've read, I believe the big risk with racking to a secondary is oxidation if there is not enough CO2 production to push out oxygen. My OG was on target, but I only ended up with 4.25 gallons and I would be using a 5 gallon BB as my secondary. With that much deadspace, if fermentation has slowed too much, is there any reason to risk moving to a secondary?
So I don't have to keep posting different questions about using a secondary, I'll itemize my questions here:
Does using or not using a secondary change when brewing an ale or a lager?
Does using or not using a secondary change when brewing a big beer?
Does using or not using a secondary change with using Irish Moss?
Are there specific types of yeast where it is important to use a secondary (ie types of yeast that die quickly and the beer should be separated from)?
If fermenting above or below a certain temperature, is it advisable to use a secondary? If so, what temperatures?
Does using or not using a secondary change if brewer wants to add something to fermentation (dry hop, fruit, etc.)?
If you do not use a secondary, is it important to cold crash?
If you cold crash, how long & and what temperature?
Does deadspace play a role in using or not using a secondary?
Does using a bucket or carboy as your primary play a role in using or not using a secondary?
I've read about 'swirling' a fermenter to reactivate yeast 1+ week into fermentation. Should this ever be done (doesn't sound wise to me)? If so, should it ever be done only in secondary, primary or either?
I know there are a lot of secondary use threads on here, but they all seem to jump around on the various reasons to use or not use a secondary. I thought it may be helpful to consolidate answers about using secondaries. If this has already been done somewhere, I missed it. Thanks for any help!