Using only primary fermenter vs. primary/secondary - Home Brew Forums

Register Now!
Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Using only primary fermenter vs. primary/secondary

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 10-23-2012, 08:22 PM   #1
hellbus
Recipes 
 
Oct 2012
Posts: 25
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts



Hello! I know there have been several debates on using a primary/secondary fermenters vs. only using the primary.

From what I gather, most people say "it depends". One main reason I see that people opt to use a secondary for is if the beer is a bigger beer.

I am wondering why bigger beers would require a secondary. Does it have something to do with it sitting on the trub for an extended period of time? Is it to make room for the amount of krausen?

Can anyone shed light on this for me?

 
Reply With Quote
Old 10-23-2012, 08:28 PM   #2
BigB
Recipes 
 
Dec 2009
Shelby Twp, MI
Posts: 1,757
Liked 45 Times on 39 Posts


For a "bigger beer," the only benefit I could see is if you were doing an extended bulk conditioning... that way you don't have the beer on the yeast for too long. But even then, you wouldn't want to rack it into secondary for several weeks.
__________________
I love the sound of an airlock bubbling in the morning. It sounds like.....VICTORY.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TxBrew
It's now degenerating into nu uh and uh huhs and it no longer serves a point.

 
Reply With Quote
Old 10-23-2012, 08:30 PM   #3
J187
Recipes 
 
Jan 2012
, MA
Posts: 838
Liked 96 Times on 74 Posts


Personally, I would only use a secondary for... secondary fermentation - like you are adding fruit or maybe souring the beer. Other than that, the risk of autolysis is much lower than the risk of oxidation. It's an antiquated logic that really is a slow-to-die habit for a lot of older brewers - one of those theories that has evolved over time. Honestly, many people even dry hop in the primary. You could even leave the beer in the primary fermenter for a fairly extended period of time - like a month or more - providing the other aspects of your procedure are solid - yeast health, pitching rate, ferm temps, sanitation, etc.

 
Reply With Quote
Old 10-23-2012, 08:36 PM   #4
manoaction
Recipes 
 
Aug 2010
Fort Collins, Colorado
Posts: 438
Liked 19 Times on 16 Posts


Quote:
Does it have something to do with it sitting on the trub for an extended period of time?
Yes it has something to do with this, and more than anything it has to do with pretending to be a commercial brewer and superstition.

I don't know anyone who will seriously warn against using a primary only.

The first argument is a fear about something called autolysis which will supposedly produce off-flavors in long aging beers.

Generally speaking, people don't worry about it unless they are aging their beers for at least a few months. Your normal gravity, normal aging beers have nothing to fear from autolysis.

High gravity beers generally age for a lot longer so if people are doing a barleywine that will age for a year, they frequently transfer to a secondary, but as I said, not for normal beers.

The other argument is that your beer will be clearer if you use secondaries, but the use of gelatin, cold crashing, and normal racking doesn't give this argument much of a leg to stand on either.

The topic has been discussed to death so if you need more info, just use the search function to get enough reading material for a lifetime.

The short answer, is that the debate is over. You don't need secondaries to make world class beer. In fact, almost any change to your brewing process you can make will have a bigger impact than secondaries.

 
Reply With Quote
Old 10-23-2012, 08:45 PM   #5
cooper
Recipes 
 
Dec 2009
OFallon, IL
Posts: 467
Liked 28 Times on 25 Posts


I agree, the only time I've ever used a secondary (glass carboy type) is when I didnt have a keg to put the beer in to "secondary" while carbing up. If you do choose to utilize a secondary though, make sure there is very minimal head space as the yeast are not chugging out C02 anymore and oxidation could become a problem with 5 inches of head space between the opening and the beer.

Sound advice has said to just ferment out for three weeks in the primary, secondary only if you're adding something to the beer, and lager or condition the beers in kegs or bottles. Most of the time the beers will be the best at about 6-8 months after brew day, unless you're doing something like a Hefe when you should be drinking it on day 12 after brew day.

 
Reply With Quote
Old 10-23-2012, 08:46 PM   #6
BuddyWeiser
Recipes 
 
Jan 2012
Belgrade, MT
Posts: 256
Liked 14 Times on 10 Posts


I could see using a secondary for big beers if you plan to do a secondary fermentation by adding more fermentable sugars (corn sugar, malt extract, etc.) to up the ABV.

Or maybe the higher alcohol level makes autolysis more rapid or more likely and you don't plan to bottle/keg real soon.
__________________
RDWHAPBR

 
Reply With Quote
Old 10-23-2012, 09:22 PM   #7
yeastforbrains
Recipes 
 
May 2012
Paris, France
Posts: 146
Liked 11 Times on 10 Posts


Racking to secondary is recommended for lagering or when you simply want a clearer beer. You can't leave it in primary over extended periods as autolyse eventually kicks in and ruins flavour. So to get crystal clear results, or to lager it, you'd rack it off the cake to secondary and move it colder. If you harvest yeast, then it's normal to rack your beer before you dry hop, to avoid flavouring your harvested yeast. Big beers normally require long primary, and would not necessarily reach acceptable fg if you racked it off the cake too soon. But sometimes you'd rack a big beer with the lees and all simply to get the yeast back in suspension, as big beers have a tendency to stick near the end. Racking the yeast back in suspension is very effective for those situations. At the end of the day, many brewers do not secondary their beers. Amongst them is Jamil Zainacheff. So is secondary a requirement to make good beer? Absolutey not, but in some situations as mentioned above, it may be useful.

 
Reply With Quote
Old 10-23-2012, 09:26 PM   #8
FuzzeWuzze
I Love DIY
HBT_SUPPORTER.png
 
FuzzeWuzze's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Jun 2012
Newberg, Oregon
Posts: 3,083
Liked 416 Times on 306 Posts


I only secondary into my 5 gallon carboys to make room for my 8 gallon fermenting buckets for new beer lol, so maybe 25% of my beers see secondary at this point, and only if i need a bucket.

 
Reply With Quote
Old 10-23-2012, 09:47 PM   #9
sweetcell
HBT_SUPPORTER.png
 
sweetcell's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Jan 2012
Rockville, MD
Posts: 5,064
Liked 940 Times on 686 Posts


Quote:
Originally Posted by yeastforbrains View Post
You can't leave it in primary over extended periods as autolyse eventually kicks in and ruins flavour.
and by extended, we mean 6 months or more. since very few home brewers leave beer in primary that long, autolysis isn't something to worry about.
__________________
What hops should I grow? Looking for cheap honey?
- Drinking: NHCPA (BPA and APA made with ingredients from Baltimore), 2 blends of a rye sour: ECY20 + ECY34, local sour cherry kriek #2, brett'ed Belgian blond on raspberries
- Aging: sour blond on second-use cherries, English Barleywine (half on brett), 3726 saison w/ brett x2 (dregs mix & Lochristi), GNO 3724 saison w/ brett mix, sour cherry mead, acerglyn, and a few other sours...

 
Reply With Quote
Old 10-23-2012, 10:15 PM   #10
yeastforbrains
Recipes 
 
May 2012
Paris, France
Posts: 146
Liked 11 Times on 10 Posts


True, but there's also a risk of spoilage of thrub, hop-material and proteins settling out on the bottom along with the yeast. All these components are potential off-flavour donors, and so it is simply safe and standard practice to keep your primary relatively short. In practical terms that means 1 month or less, and nowhere near 6.

 
Reply With Quote


Reply
Thread Tools


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Why do I use a primary and secondary fermenter? BantamSLK Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 7 04-20-2011 07:20 PM
Longer time in primary fermenter vs. moving to a secondary fermenter randallr Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 2 02-21-2011 03:13 AM
Primary and Secondary fermenter? Inarus General Beer Discussion 6 09-16-2009 04:30 PM
Primary and Secondary Fermenter? Gordolordo General Beer Discussion 7 04-01-2005 09:19 PM


Forum Jump