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Old 11-13-2012, 05:11 PM   #1
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Default Primary v Secondary

I'm sure this has been done a million times but I'm new.

I read conflicting opinions on primary v secondary. some say leave in primary for up to 3 weeks and others tell me to get it out of the fermenter and into secondary as soon as you can. All of your experience and advice is welcome.


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Old 11-13-2012, 05:18 PM   #2
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Moving to secondary is now considered optional. Many will not use a secondary unless long term aging or adding fruit etc.

Also do not transfer to secondary "as soon as possible". Make sure the beer has reached final gravity. That means you have to wait until all signs of fermentation have ended then take a gravity reading, wait 2 more days and take another gravity reading. If the gravity is the same you can transfer.

Better yet, just wait 3 weeks or so, take a gravity reading and if it is where it is expected to be go ahead and bottle.

Added: The less you mess with the beer, the less chance of introducing infection or oxidation.

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Old 11-13-2012, 05:20 PM   #3
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Plenty of threads on this- just do a little searching.

I used to secondary, but don't anymore unless necessary to get a desired effect, e.g., racking onto fruit or wood.

My first couple of long primaries were just because I didn't have time to rack to secondary (or was just lazy) and figured I'd let it go and see what happened. The beers turned out great, so I kept doing it. Racking to secondary is time, effort, and a potential infection point- why bother if your beer will turn out just fine with only a long primary?

I routinely primary for a month these days and then bottle.

All this being said, there's no one "right" way to do anything in the world of brewing. Take this and all the other advice/info I'm sure you'll get on here into consideration... and then just do whatever you want to do! You'll make great beer either way.
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Old 11-13-2012, 05:22 PM   #4
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Disclaimer: I secondary my beers.

'Get your beer out of primary as soon as possible" is old, outdated advice. That used to be preached as a means to avoid off flavors caused by yeast autolysis. Today's yeasts do not have the same challenges as were once faced; you can leave your beer on the yeast cake for an extended period with no side effects.

Lots of the vets here preach 3-4 week primaries, then straight bottling. I personally secondary my beers because I have better luck with not getting as much gunk into my bottling bucket.

That being said, I'm all about patience; I do a 3-4 week primary and then secondary for two weeks (or longer, depending on the beer... I did an imperial nut brown that bulk aged in secondary for four months).

However, secondaries are not necessary for most beers. If you're not doing fruit or some other additive, you can skip this step. I secondary for the reason above, but I don't advocate the necessity. It's just the process that works for me.
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Old 11-13-2012, 06:14 PM   #5
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I've done beers with and without secondary. I usually do a secondary, but that's because I have two 5 gallon fermentors and one 6 gallon fermentor. The 6 gallon works better for primary, so I often wind up moving the beer to secondary in order to clear out the big fermentor.

I have not ever noticed a difference in the results, though I haven't done a side-by-side comparison. Like homebrewdad, I also like having the extra racking as another opportunity to leave behind some of the trub, but this isn't a big motivation for me.
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Old 11-13-2012, 06:24 PM   #6
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Unless you need to free up a container, there is no real reason to secondary in most cases. My beer is just as crystal clear, just as tasty, and its even easier as I don't need to go though the trouble of cleaning and sanitizing another container.

I only secondary when I'm going to dry hop, and that is only because I think it's easier to put the hops on the bottom of the carboy before I rack the beer on top.

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