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Old 01-05-2009, 05:10 AM   #1
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Default secondary a must for big beers?

This topic has probably been done somewhere here before. So apologies for broaching it again, but I couldn't find it with "search"

I notice quite a few experienced brewers here don't secondary, but bottle directly from the primary. This is appealing on a number of levels.

But I'm wondering about making 'big' beers this way, such as barleywines or even IPAs with OGs of 1.08. Are secondaries necessary for higher gravity beers?

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Old 01-05-2009, 07:12 AM   #2
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High gravity beers ferment the same way...

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Old 01-05-2009, 07:26 AM   #3
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I think so... But I keg everything.
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Old 01-05-2009, 07:43 AM   #4
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The main reason I think that a secondary would be more important for such brews is that they typically benefit from a long bulk aging - long enough that yeast autolysis could be an issue. Also in the case of an IPA the secondary facilitates dry-hopping.
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Old 01-05-2009, 09:06 AM   #5
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Autolysis is not a problem. You would be hard pressed to find a brewer on this board to say that they legitimately had autolysis from leaving a primary too long. For a big beer, you can leave the primary for 4-6 weeks with no problem. By that time fermentation is done, the beer is clear and it's ready to bottle or keg.
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Old 01-05-2009, 12:44 PM   #6
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I'm new so forgive me.....but if everyone leaves all beers in the primary and then straight to keg or bottles, what's the point of a secondary? Does it have any uses?
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Old 01-05-2009, 12:54 PM   #7
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Sure it does! Some people still always use a secondary, and I often do if I'm bottling a beer (not kegging). The secondary tank allows the beer to clear up quite a bit and condition. You can wait until fermentation is finished, then rack to a carboy and store it as long as you'd like.

I use secondaries for dryhopping, and for lagering. All of my lagers are racked to the carboy and lagered for 8-12 weeks before kegging.

It's a matter of personal preference. Some always use a secondary, some never do, and some of us use one if we feel that the beer can benefit from the extra time.

For a big beer, I'd probably use a secondary, if for no other reason than to keep me from drinking it way to soon!
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Old 01-05-2009, 01:19 PM   #8
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I have been racking to secondary with all my brews before bottling. So far so good.
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Old 01-05-2009, 03:43 PM   #9
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I have used a secondary only once on my 4 brews so far. The only reason I did was because I was doing a Vanilla Porter (that turned out to be a porter with not even a hint of vanilla.... ) where you let it sit on the adjunct for a few weeks after primary to try to impart the flavor to the beer.

Otherwise, I don't think I would even use my secondary, unless I got brave enough to try to make some Apfelwein.
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Old 01-05-2009, 11:17 PM   #10
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Most people i know rack, i rarely rack, a lot of people rack to dry hop but there doesn't seem to be a reason not to dry hop in the primary. Adding fruit etc seems to be a good reason to rack, yeast harvesting is another good reason. In the end with racking you double the chance of infection (which is not a high chance anyhow). My local HBS recommends against racking, he says that all the science is against it now. I have not seen the science so i reckon do what suits the brew. If it's a basic beer and you are not adding anything there is no reason to rack at all. Clarity come in the primary or secondary with time.
Oh, one more reason is that some people rack onto gelatin as it acts as a fining agent. I have done this and seen no difference in clarity than using other finings and in fact my brews without finings are probably just as good and clear.

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