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Old 08-04-2008, 04:35 AM   #1
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Default Primary v. Secondary Fermentation guidlines

I was compiling information from this forum and a couple websites. I am trying to get a handle on the rough guidlines used to determine how long things stay in primary and secondary.

On one website (northern brewer) they provide this;

Ales: Primary 4-7 days , Secondary 2-4 Weeks

Strong Beer/Lagers: Primary 7-14 days, Secondary 6-12 Weeks

High gravity/Belgian Ales: 7-14 days, Secondary 6-12 weeks

Lagers: Primary 7-14 days, Secondary 4-12 Weeks (16 weeks for dopplebock)

I know a lot of people go with;

Primary 1 week
Secondary 2 weeks
bottle/condition 3 weeks

Checking specific gravity to get two readings that match on two consecutive days before racking to secondary.

Is this a good guildline?

We are doing a Belgian Pale Ale right now and I was going to do 1 Week in primary (or when it's dropped the krausen) then rack to secondary for 2 weeks and then bottle/condition for 3.

Thats close to being in lines with northern brewer, but on their site they list beer kits that say they will be ready in 2 months. I've looked and can't find a specific wording in recipes that note how long in each, primary and secondary.

Would it be safe to assume that I could subtract 3 weeks from the 2 months and the remaining 5 weeks divided up into 2 weeks primary and 3 weeks secondary?

I'm trying to understand the reasoning and science to make better beer.

Am I on track?


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Old 08-04-2008, 05:29 AM   #2
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Take a look at this sticky. It's really up to your best judgement on how long you want to keep something in secondary, or if you chose to use one at all. Big beers (High OG) can benefit from extended time in secondary. For lower gravity ales, many of us don't use a secondary and keep the beer in primary up to a month before bottling or kegging. It's your call on the Belgian ale. Use at least a week in primary and either rack to secondary or just keep it in primary for 3 weeks before bottling.

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Old 08-04-2008, 05:32 AM   #3
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You will get a million answers to your question. I am a firm believer in the 3-2-1 method. 3 weeks in primary - to ferment and then to let the yeast clean up after themselves, 2 weeks in secondary - for clearing and possibly for more clean up as well as yeast dropping out of solution, and 1 week in keg MINIMUM for aging. When I bottle that last step is changed to 3 weeks in bottle and then 1 more week of refrigerating ideally. I am impatient sometimes so on the third step, be it kegging or bottling, I may allow that impatience to get the best of me. My first 2 steps are hard and fast though.

As far as your proposed schedule for this beer I would say you should have no problems. I would go with 3 weeks in primary and 2 weeks in secondary but your way is unlikely to hurt the beer.

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Old 08-04-2008, 02:03 PM   #4
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You'll get the best results leaving the brew in the fermenter until it reaches the target gravity and leave it in the clearing tank until it clears.

Time schedules are guidelines, but every batch is different.
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Old 08-04-2008, 02:16 PM   #5
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It's one of those matter of preference things...I leave my beers 3-4 weeks in primary (usually 4), skip secondary unless I'm dryhopping or adding something like fruit, then go straight to bottle and ignore for another 3 weeks.

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