Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Fermentation & Yeast > How important is the amount of air space in a secondary container?
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Old 04-05-2013, 08:08 PM   #1
peoplesbrewing
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Default How important is the amount of air space in a secondary container?

I have a 5 gal carboy with a pale ale that I just racked into secondary. I lost about 0.5-1 gal of my 5 gal wort in transfer due to some malfunctions. I was told that having too much air in the carboy during secondary can lead to increased aeration and off-flavors. So a few questions:

- How important is it that I fix this?
- Should I put another gallon of water with some DME to save the batch and continue secondary?
- Or should I just bottle right away?

It's probably important to note that's it's only been in secondary for about a day. And if the answer is putting some water and DME in, how much DME should I dissolve? A full 1lb bag?

Thanks!


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Old 04-05-2013, 08:11 PM   #2
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You want as little headspace as possible in secondary...ideally you want it nearly up the neck. You really don't want to add more fermentables or water, which will affect the recipe...an old winemakers trick is to sanitize glass marbles and add them carefully to the carboy which will raise the liquid level up. You can get them ant any art supply or dollar stores, and many homebrewshops and online carry them.


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Old 04-05-2013, 08:13 PM   #3
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Glass marbles to reduce air in secondary

According to this link from Morewine, 3 pounds of marbles will displace 1 liter. But make sure you boil them AND santize them, you want to make sure they are free of anything, including oils from skin.
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Old 04-05-2013, 08:14 PM   #4
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Interesting, any idea how many will be needed for 1-1.5 gal of displacement?
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Old 04-05-2013, 08:16 PM   #5
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I seldom use a secondary 'cuz I've lost all my marbles.
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Old 04-05-2013, 08:20 PM   #6
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you might be OK if you won't wait too long. what is the reason you're using a secondary? if it's to clarify, that should mostly be done in a few days. cooling the carboy by putting it in a fridge or in a tub with ice water will speed up clarification. bottle as soon as you can.

as revvy suggested, adding DME and water will throw off you recipe. your hops will be out of balance, for one.

there are diverging opinions on the need for secondary. some people swear by it and use it religiously. others skip secondary and do everything in primary. if you have good, healthy yeast then leaving your beer in there for a month should show no ill effects. i've done 5 weeks in primary with no off-flavors. complications like the one you're currently experiencing is precisely why i don't use a secondary unless i really need to.
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Old 04-05-2013, 08:29 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peoplesbrewing View Post
Interesting, any idea how many will be needed for 1-1.5 gal of displacement?
How many liters are in a gallon? (Roughly) That would tell you how much you need.
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Old 04-05-2013, 08:39 PM   #8
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A liter is a big quart, so 12-18 lbs of marbles.
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Old 04-05-2013, 11:24 PM   #9
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Dump in a pint of warm seltzer. The CO2 will come out almost intantly and fill a good portion of the airspace. Put on an airlock or a ballon and hope for the best.

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Old 04-07-2013, 06:47 PM   #10
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I just decided to bottle early. I'm not too worried about clarification as this is my first batch and was more of a test and learning experience. And I'd also like to stay away from buy 10-15 lbs of marbles for a batch like this! I'll just hedge my bets and make note for the future. But thank you all for the advice. This is my first week on Homebrew Talk and it's a great community and resource.


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