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

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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).

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.

The Evidence

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