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Old 04-04-2008, 08:20 PM   #1
Apr 2006
Racine, WI
Posts: 41
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How long can I leave beer in a secondary fermenter? It's my understanding that it can stay in there for months and be OK. Truth?
Primary: Empty
Secondary 1: Empty
Secondary 2: Empty
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Old 04-04-2008, 08:21 PM   #2
RICLARK's Avatar
Nov 2007
Grand Ledge, Mich
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Depends on what your brewing. A Lager for about 2 monthes, an IPA about 2 Mothes but a Hefe no Secondary is needed.

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Old 04-04-2008, 08:23 PM   #3
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Nov 2007
Portland, ME
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But, as I think you are asking, yes, you can leave any beer in secondary for months and it will be fine as long as you have properly sanitized. You just wouldn't want to for a Hefe, as you want it to remain cloudy.

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Old 04-04-2008, 11:29 PM   #4
Mar 2008
Burnaby BC Canada
Posts: 77

Originally Posted by RICLARK
Depends on what your brewing. A Lager for about 2 monthes, an IPA about 2 Mothes but a Hefe no Secondary is needed.
Would the yeast still be functioning, sitting in a scondary for 2 months? It's ok if you are force-carbing into a keg, but how about carbing with sugar in a bottle?
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Old 04-04-2008, 11:32 PM   #5
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Jun 2006
UP of Michigan, Winter Texan
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Well, in my experience, two or three months seems to be ok. Maybe longer, but I've never done it longer! Still, when I lager, it's 8-12 weeks at nearly freezing temps, and the beer carbs.

If you are in doubt, though, after a long secondary, you can always rehydrate 1/4 package of dry yeast, and add that to your priming solution (after it's cooled!) when you bottle. I've done that because I was worried about carbonation in one batch, and it worked perfectly. Now, it might have carbonated just fine anyway, but I wanted to be sure.
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Old 04-04-2008, 11:34 PM   #6
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Jan 2008
Helmetta, NJ
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I made a braggot that spent 3 months in a secondary and 3 months in a tertiary fermenter. I had to repitch after that long, but the yeast settled out pretty quickly in the bottle. I added the dry yeast 72 hours prior to bottling and it carbed fine.
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Old 04-05-2008, 03:49 AM   #7
VA Brew
Aug 2007
Posts: 40

My last APA i left in secondary for 5 weeks (not planned just happened). Tastes great. I just bottled a IPA which sat in primary for 4 weeks (again longer than planned). While i was bottling it looked very clear and smelled perfect.
If its properly sealed and the secondary does not allow for a lot of head space for oxygen to eat at the beer (don't put 2.5 gallon batch in 5 gal secondary carboy), you should be alright for a few months. Yeast bite shouldn't be a problem in secondary and repitching yeast for bottling seems unneeded. If you were really worried about it i would say give the carboy a little shake prior to racking for bottling or just allow a longer time for carbonation (giving more time for yeast to reproduce until sugar is gone).

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Old 04-05-2008, 08:06 AM   #8
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Feb 2005
Atkinson (near the Quad Cities), IL
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I do many of my lagers at 90 and 100 days in the secondary.
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Old 04-05-2008, 02:26 PM   #9
Jul 2006
Posts: 321
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I think you can leave it in the secondary for a year or more if it has been properly sanitized. Beer in the secondary has a layer of CO2 over it much like it would if stored in a keg.

I personally would not leave it in a plastic container that long, as you risk some air permeating the plastic and oxidizing your beer as well as the beer permeating the plastic for a challenging cleanup. If you have glass or stainless steel, you can leave it in it for a very long time though...


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Old 04-05-2008, 05:09 PM   #10
Oct 2007
Posts: 212

I was wondering the same thing because I made a batch about 3 weeks before Christmas and havent had a chance to bottle it yet.
Yes, I am out of my mind, it's dark and scary in there.

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