Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Primary v. Secondary Fermentation guidlines
Thread Tools
Old 08-04-2008, 04:35 AM   #1
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 471
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?


BADS197 is offline
Reply With Quote
Old 08-04-2008, 05:29 AM   #2
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
McKBrew's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Hayden, Idaho
Posts: 8,290
Liked 34 Times on 30 Posts
Likes Given: 8


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.

Make Beer, Not War.
McKBrew is offline
Reply With Quote
Old 08-04-2008, 05:32 AM   #3
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Central VA
Posts: 947
Liked 3 Times on 3 Posts
Likes Given: 2


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.

Cry 'Havoc,' and let slip the dogs of war;
That this foul deed shall smell above the earth
With carrion men, groaning for burial.

Prim 1: Ogre's House Red Ale
Prim 2: Apfelwein
devaspawn is offline
Reply With Quote
Old 08-04-2008, 02:03 PM   #4
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
david_42's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Willamina & Oak Grove, Oregon, USA
Posts: 25,675
Liked 142 Times on 134 Posts


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.
Remember one unassailable statistic, as explained by the late, great George Carlin: "Just think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of them are even stupider!"

"I would like to die on Mars, just not on impact." Elon Musk
david_42 is offline
Reply With Quote
Old 08-04-2008, 02:16 PM   #5
Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Revvy's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: "Detroitish" Michigan
Posts: 40,814
Liked 2899 Times on 1708 Posts
Likes Given: 3528


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.

Like my snazzy new avatar? Get Sons of Zymurgy swag, here, and brew with the best.

Revvy's one of the cool reverends. He has a Harley and a t-shirt that says on the back "If you can read this, the bitch was Raptured. - Madman

I gotta tell ya, just between us girls, that Revvy is HOT. Very tall, gorgeous grey hair and a terrific smile. He's very good looking in person, with a charismatic personality... he drives like a ****ing maniac! - YooperBrew
Revvy is offline
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Primary Bucket - Ok for extended primary fermentation? GonzoIllini Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 13 10-26-2011 02:08 AM
Primary and Secondary Fermentation BrewRI Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 4 10-14-2009 02:32 AM
Secondary fermentation in primary rednekhippiemotrcyclfreak General Techniques 4 08-28-2008 09:51 PM
Questions on bucket primary/secondary fermentation Poppy360 Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 19 05-16-2007 07:49 PM
Question on primary v. secondary fermentation jeffg General Techniques 14 01-12-2006 07:06 PM

Forum Jump

Newest Threads