What is two-stage fermentation? - Home Brew Forums
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Old 11-18-2008, 03:26 AM   #1
grace1760
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So, after 2 successful home brews (extract kits; English Brown Ale and American Cream Ale), I'm looking to take on bigger beers. I was perusing the Northern Brewer catalog, and I notice that many of the "heavy ale" kits (Double IPA, Imperial Stout, etc.) indicate that these require 2-stage fermentation & a yeast starter.

Questions:

1) What is 2-stage fermentation? Do you really pitch yeast multiple times? If so, when?

2) Do you need a yeast starter if you are using the Wyeast smack packs? I used Munton's dry yeast for my first brew, but I used the Wyeast for the second one. Could I simply pitch 2 packs if I wanted to really make sure that fermentation started quickly and efficiently?

Thanks...I can't wait to get a stout goin' for the winter (I know I need to get on that ASAP, my brew planning, like much else in my life, could use some additional organization...perhaps I'll ponder that over the Young's Double Chocolate Stout that I hear calling my name from the fridge).



 
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Old 11-18-2008, 03:36 AM   #2
irunxcjm
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Grace,
1) 2-stage is referring to using a secondary vessel (for clearing). There is no second fermentation, however. This is sort of a misnomer. Bigger beers need extra time for conditioning. Leaving the beer for extended periods of time on the yeast cake can lead to autolysis and off flavors.

2) I've used the Wyeast smack packs without a starter without any problems. However, these were relatively small beers. Bigger beers will for sure require a starter. This is mainly to get the beer fermenting quicker.



 
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Old 11-18-2008, 03:36 AM   #3
Brewme
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1) 2 stage fermentation is when you rack (move your beer) from your primary fermentor to a second container (carboy, bucket, or better bottle usually) for clarifying your beer. The idea is to separate your beer from the yeast cake in your secondary fermentor. Also, it will free up your primary to do another beer! You do not pitch yeast more than once!

2) The smack packs are great, but it never hurts to do a yeast starter. More yeast = less chance of infections and wild yeast to take ahold of your wort. 2 packs should be enough not to have to do a yeast starter,but would cost more money and is less fun!

Good luck!
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Old 11-18-2008, 03:41 AM   #4
grace1760
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Quote:
Originally Posted by irunxcjm View Post
Grace,
1) 2-stage is referring to using a secondary vessel (for clearing). There is no second fermentation, however. This is sort of a misnomer. Bigger beers need extra time for conditioning. Leaving the beer for extended periods of time on the yeast cake can lead to autolysis and off flavors.
Yeah, that's a bit confusing. I mean, I've used a secondary for both of my brews, but I've never heard it call that before. That's reassuring though, I though for a moment that it was way more complicated than that.

Thanks...I'll search the forum for starter advice (I know it's been covered on this great site).

Grace1760

 
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Old 11-18-2008, 01:59 PM   #5
Eves
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I was under the impression that leaving the beer on the yeast cake was not necessarily a bad thing. Those yeast do plenty of cleaning up of them selves long after they are done fermenting. Then again I guess it might depend on what is meant by 'extended periods of time'. I've had beer sitting on the yeast cake for 6+ weeks only to find that beer better than any other beer I have made.

 
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Old 11-18-2008, 02:28 PM   #6
mmb
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eves View Post
I was under the impression that leaving the beer on the yeast cake was not necessarily a bad thing. Those yeast do plenty of cleaning up of them selves long after they are done fermenting. Then again I guess it might depend on what is meant by 'extended periods of time'. I've had beer sitting on the yeast cake for 6+ weeks only to find that beer better than any other beer I have made.
Extended time on the yeast cake is a very beneficial thing. It allows the yeast in bulk contact with the beer to clean up diacetyl and acetaldehyde that is produced earlier in the fermentation and the process is quicker than if you removed the beer off the yeast cake.

In the smaller volumes that we brew at and if the yeast is healthy and hasn't been stressed during the fermentation in regards to IBU levels, temperature, or alcohol level then you shouldn't worry too much about autolysis. Members here have had beer on yeast for over 3 months without issue. I regularly leave my beer in primary for 4 weeks or more and most often skip secondary completely.
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Old 11-18-2008, 05:17 PM   #7
grace1760
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So, racking to secondary is a good idea if:

a) practically speaking, you want to free up your primary container, or

b) you want to further clarify your beer.

But, you don't NEED two-stage fermentation for big beers, despite Nothern Brewer's instructions to do so?

 
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Old 11-18-2008, 05:27 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grace1760 View Post
So, racking to secondary is a good idea if:

a) practically speaking, you want to free up your primary container, or

b) you want to further clarify your beer.

But, you don't NEED two-stage fermentation for big beers, despite Nothern Brewer's instructions to do so?
Correct, but if you have a secondary, you might as well use it. If you don't, you don't NEED to buy one.
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Old 11-18-2008, 05:58 PM   #9
lx302
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I use my secondary for my lagers and higher SG beers.
Since I have 2 primary buckets, I can brew anytime. I leave the brews in for 2.5-3 weeks.
Now all I need is more bottles.

 
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Old 11-18-2008, 06:41 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grace1760 View Post
So, racking to secondary is a good idea if:

a) practically speaking, you want to free up your primary container, or

b) you want to further clarify your beer.

But, you don't NEED two-stage fermentation for big beers, despite Nothern Brewer's instructions to do so?
Depends on if you want to do dry hopping, oak additions, fruit additions, or bulk aging for extended periods of time. I'm doing the 999 barleywine swap and will have my 999 in secondary for probably three months before I keg.

As a rule, I wouldn't leave beer on the yeast for multiple months. But you also don't have to get the beer off of yeast within a set number of days before autolysis kicks in.

Saying you need to secondary all your beers is as wrong headed as saying you don't need to ever secondary a beer. It's an option best chosen when it meets the needs/desires of the brewer.

A yeast starter, on the other hand, should be used everytime you brew with liquid yeast to get proper cell counts.


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