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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Fermentation & Yeast > Benefit of leaving in primary fermenter for a while?
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Old 09-05-2013, 03:19 AM   #1
statyk
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Default Benefit of leaving in primary fermenter for a while?

Hi all, I've got a question that I haven't been able to find the answer to yet.

If I'm doing a single-stage fermentation and then bottle conditioning for a typical ale, is there any advantage to leaving the beer in the fermenter for some time after I've reached by FG, in lieu of a secondary fermentation? I know if you left it there for *too* long you'd have autolysis to worry about, but is it beneficial to let it sit for say 2-3 weeks after primary fermentation is complete, or is it just as well to bottle the beer and let the conditioning happen there?

I appreciate any insights, thanks.


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Old 09-05-2013, 03:40 AM   #2
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There's some debate on this. Consensus is that some time is needed after FG is reached for the yeast to finish cleaning up after themselves, and sitting on the yeast cake is part of it. Some folks say a few days is all you need, some say longer. And the other consensus seems to be the healthier the fermentation (temperature control, yeast pitching rate, proper aeration, etc) the faster it'll be ready.

I'm personally in the "longer" camp. My thoughts being that autolysis is very rare on the homebrew scale, and there's more risk rushing the process than giving it some extra time. Most of my beers get about 4 weeks in the fermenter. Some get longer, and sometimes a little sooner.

Some conditioning will happen in the bottle, but if you remove the beer from the yeast cake too soon, a lot of stuff may never get cleaned up no matter how long you let it is.


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Old 09-05-2013, 04:25 AM   #3
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I've been leaving my big beers (starting gravity over 1.075) in secondaries for 2 months at 60F. Clean up any trash and just extra time to clear. Anything less gets 3-4 weeks in a primary bucket then kegged and add geletin. Got the advice here amd it's working great.
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Old 09-05-2013, 04:34 AM   #4
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I rarely do secondaries, I feel it is a step that I just don't need to do in most cases. I also ferment most of my beers for 3 weeks to allow plenty of time for them to finish and clear. I have done a couple at 2 weeks, I didn't do any extra steps to make them clear up and did not cold crash. They were noticeably more cloudy than my others.

I also think autolysis is not a common problem in homebrewing unless bulk aging in primary for very long periods. Like more than 6 months. I have left several on the cake for about 2 months with no issues.
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Old 09-05-2013, 06:40 AM   #5
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Unless I am going to age it on something to add other flavors (cherries, oak, dry hopping, etc...) I don't secondary. 2-3wks in primary, then bottle. Big beers, maybe closer to 3-4wks depending on how long it took to ferment.
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Old 09-05-2013, 01:55 PM   #6
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I use secondary when its available but if its occupied I don't blink about leaving in primary. If I rack to secondary I like to add about 2 weeks before I would bottle if only primary. I do this as I've had overcarbonation when using secondary. Haven't read anywhere but my novice mind thinks that I still have sugars left that are better cleaned up if sitting on the flocculated trub. Again, no evidence other than experience to back this up. I expect dissent from my assumption but its my 2 cents worth.
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Old 09-05-2013, 02:47 PM   #7
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I like to give each batch a few days in the primary after FG has stabilized. I then clarify by cold crashing the primary to 35-36*F for 5-7 days before kegging or bottling.
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Old 09-05-2013, 02:54 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cbrobertson View Post
I use secondary when its available but if its occupied I don't blink about leaving in primary. If I rack to secondary I like to add about 2 weeks before I would bottle if only primary. I do this as I've had overcarbonation when using secondary. Haven't read anywhere but my novice mind thinks that I still have sugars left that are better cleaned up if sitting on the flocculated trub. Again, no evidence other than experience to back this up. I expect dissent from my assumption but its my 2 cents worth.
Your overcarbonation was not due to using a secondary in itself. Your fermentation should have been finished before you transferred to secondary.

You either had a stalled fermentation and it continued after bottling, you used too much priming sugar or you had an infection.
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Old 09-05-2013, 06:29 PM   #9
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The reason to leave it in the primary after fermentation is so the yeast can clean up slight off flavors they produced during fermentation. Some people go 3 to 4 weeks but I usually just go 2 weeks in the primary before kegging. Sometimes when I haven't brewed in a while and I am out of homebrew I will only wait a couple days after fermentation has stopped before kegging. This beer is definitely not quite as good at first (but still pretty good) but after a couple weeks the flavor improves and I don't notice any difference with this beer than beers I left in the primary for 3 weeks.

Everyone has a different opinion on this so I'm sure some people will disagree and think you should wait 3-4 weeks in primary before bottling. However, I think 2 weeks in the primary (assuming fermentation was complete after a week) is plenty of time. I also think that if you are out of homebrew and don't want to wait forever to drink it you are fine to bottle it a day or two after fermentation has finished and after a couple weeks of bottle conditioning it will be just fine and maybe even better after a few more weeks. It won't be as clear at first if you do that but clarity doesn't really affect flavor and it will clear up given a little more time.


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