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Do I need to rack my beer to a secondary fermenter?

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==The Conventional Wisdom==
 
==The Conventional Wisdom==
  
Most standard [[homebrewing books]] recommend [[racking]] your [[beer]] to a [[secondary fermenter]] once the [[fermentation]] slows a bit, in order to avoid [[off flavors]] that would otherwise result from [[yeast]] [[autolysis]].  For years, homebrewers have dutifully [[racking|racked]] their beer from [[carboy]] to [[carboy]], or from food-grade plastic bucket to [[carboy]].  Racking is considered especially important when using open fermentation in a plastic bucket (that is, the lid is placed on top but not sealed).
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Most standard [[homebrewing books]] recommend [[racking]] your [[beer]] to a [[Secondary Fermenter]] once the [[fermentation]] slows a bit, in order to avoid [[off flavors]] that would otherwise result from [[yeast]] [[autolysis]].  For years, homebrewers have dutifully [[racking|racked]] their beer from [[carboy]] to [[carboy]], or from food-grade plastic bucket to [[carboy]].  Racking is considered especially important when using open fermentation in a plastic bucket (that is, the lid is placed on top but not sealed).
  
 
==The Controversy==
 
==The Controversy==
  
Recently, however, some have questioned whether this process is necessary or beneficial.  Some say that there is not enough yeast to create [[off flavors]] when working on a homebrewing scale, or that any autolysis would be undetectable in any but the lightest beers or with any but the unhealthiest yeast.
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The term "Secondary Fermenter" is misused in the majority of cases. Fermentation takes place in the primary vessel which is a fermenter. The Secondary Vessel is used to condition and clear the brew as well as bulk age.
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In a few circumstances a Secondary fermenter is used when the brew is moved from the Primary fermenter to a second fermenter and new fermentables are introduced such as fruit.
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The correct term in the majority of cases for the Secondary Vessel is a [[Bright Tank]].
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Recently, however, some have questioned whether this process is necessary or beneficial.  Some say that there is not enough yeast to create [[off flavors]] when working on a home brewing scale, or that any [[autolysis]] would be undetectable in any but the lightest beers or with any but the unhealthiest yeast.
  
 
==The Evidence==
 
==The Evidence==
  
 
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Latest revision as of 00:16, 8 December 2008


[edit] The Conventional Wisdom

Most standard homebrewing books recommend racking your beer to a Secondary Fermenter once the fermentation slows a bit, in order to avoid off flavors that would otherwise result from yeast autolysis. For years, homebrewers have dutifully racked their beer from carboy to carboy, or from food-grade plastic bucket to carboy. Racking is considered especially important when using open fermentation in a plastic bucket (that is, the lid is placed on top but not sealed).

[edit] The Controversy

The term "Secondary Fermenter" is misused in the majority of cases. Fermentation takes place in the primary vessel which is a fermenter. The Secondary Vessel is used to condition and clear the brew as well as bulk age. In a few circumstances a Secondary fermenter is used when the brew is moved from the Primary fermenter to a second fermenter and new fermentables are introduced such as fruit. The correct term in the majority of cases for the Secondary Vessel is a Bright Tank.

Recently, however, some have questioned whether this process is necessary or beneficial. Some say that there is not enough yeast to create off flavors when working on a home brewing scale, or that any autolysis would be undetectable in any but the lightest beers or with any but the unhealthiest yeast.

[edit] The Evidence

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