Can you use a Carboy as a primary?

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BigHead33

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Hey guys. My friend and I have our first batch of brew (a nut brown ale) going in a store bought kit. We had it in the plastic primary bucket for 2 weeks and we racked it in a glass carboy today. We had planned on keeping it in the primary bucket and eliminating the carboy, but we were told that the brew should not be kept in the plastic bucket for more than 2 weeks. We would like to eliminate the secondary in the future as we've learned on this site that that is doable. So my question is...Can we use a carboy as a primary and just leave it in there and transfer from that to a bottling bucket when ready to bottle? Thanks
 

chaserchap

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Yeah, that's no problem. I've got a carboy for my primary, you just have to be careful to block the light from it. However from what I've read on here leaving it in the bucket more than two weeks is fine too.
 

BendBrewer

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You don't want to try to ferment 5 gallons in a 5 gallon carboy. You would either need a 6+ gallon carboy or do 4 gallon batches.

Yes, racking to a 'secondary' isn't required but it does free up a bucket.
 

Dunerunner

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I've left my beer on the yeast for three and four weeks without autolysis being a problem, but temperatures were in the low 60's. My brew buddy uses a carboy for primary, he is just careful about how much wort is in it and doesn't do any high gravity beers in it!
 

RMitch

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BendBrewer said:
You don't want to try to ferment 5 gallons in a 5 gallon carboy. You would either need a 6+ gallon carboy or do 4 gallon batches.

Yes, racking to a 'secondary' isn't required but it does free up a bucket.
Nothing wrong with fermenting 5 gal in a 5 gal carboy. Just make sure there is a blow off tube.
 

OldManHouston

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I primary all my beers in 6.5gal glass carboys. I also leave them on the big bad yeast cake for 3 weeks average. I usually don't stay on the yeast for more than 4 weeks, not because I'm really scared of autolysis, I just usually need the carboy sooner and feel the yeast has usually cleaned up sufficiently by the 3-4 week mark.

Many threads on this forum talk of leaving beer on the yeast in primary for 6+ months, I know Revvy has some good info there. I personally will not fear autolysis (or much else in the world of brewing) until I've experienced results I can attribute to these theories.

Buckets are also hotly debated in these parts. Many suggest there is no noticeable difference between plastic and glass with the quality of todays plastics. Though I believe many people in that crowd still may not suggest extended aging (6+ months) in plastic buckets. I'm not weighing in on that one for fear of being beated to death by an angry mob.

I will say I shoot for 5.5 gal batches in order to have 5 gal of clear beer in bottles/keg. For that reason I would recommend a 6+ gal carboy over a 5 gal.
 

rycov

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it would be fine to leave it in the bucket for the full time. my kit came with both. i use both of them. the carboy is harder to move, but i like being able to look into it. so it doesn't matter. pick wich one you want to use. or just brew two batches and use both!
 

stricklandia

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Yeah, that's no problem. I've got a carboy for my primary, you just have to be careful to block the light from it. However from what I've read on here leaving it in the bucket more than two weeks is fine too.
At the risk of hijacking this thread, how big a concern is keeping the glass primary out of the light? I am a newbie, and have not heard this before. Yes, I know light is the #1 enemy of beer, but I figured because of the short amount of time the beer is in the fermenter, it wouldn't be a big deal.

(I'm asking for future reference, because I've had a flannel sheet wrapped around the carboy on this (my first) batch to keep it from getting too cold.)
 

RMitch

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What do you consider a "short time"...2 to 3 weeks or longer isnt exactly "short", imo
 

stricklandia

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Well, I guess not so "short" after all -- just since posting that question, I've been reading quite a few opinions about leaving in the primary for several weeks, even after active fermentation is complete. So no, not really "short" at all.

Is any amount of light bad? I am brewing in my garage, and while there are two windows, they both have blinds on them that keep out direct sunlight. Is it best to keep the fermenter in total darkness? Or is a dim garage fine?
 

OldManHouston

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As far as light goes, if your concerned about, put a t-shirt on your carboy or bucket and forget about. Its easy to do so whether its a big deal or not, you're covered. Pun quasi intended.

The light has some interaction with the hops in the beer that can cause skunkiness. Not sure of the details but a quick search should give you plenty of info.
 

rycov

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yeah. its not hard to throw a shirt or a towel over it. might as well do it. then you don't have to worry. obviously people open their containers to check gravity, so a little shot of light here and there isn't going to kill you, but you dont want it sitting out in the light.
 

Rockape66

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I have an old wool Army blanket that I tuck my sweet little beer to beddy-bye in. I just leave the airlock exposed so I can watch it or give it a sniff from time to time. Ah the sweet, malty, hoppy aroma.
 

RMitch

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In my belief...as long as it is out of direct light, it is fine. Total darkness is fine, I suppose, but enough light to see in the room doesn't hurt.

Just don't leave it out on the back deck in direct sunlight.
 

NorthRiverS

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I've had my beer sitting in my primary bucket for four weeks now. The SG is just now stabilized. Bottling this Thursday. I have no fear leaving my beer in a plastic bucket that long.

NRS
 

ChshreCat

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we were told that the brew should not be kept in the plastic bucket for more than 2 weeks.
You can ferment in a carboy, but don't believe this load of crap. I bottled a beer recently that was in a plastic bucket for about 5 months. It's fantastic.
 

McMalty

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many people use a carboy for the primary, if i had to guess, i'd say the overwhelming majority. you don't have to use the secondary, but you're going to have more sediment in your bottles (if you bottle it), which can lead to floaters and when you pour your beer, people might say "eww, what is that?" b/c the sediment can float around in their glass. but if u don't really care about that, then it doesn't matter
 

tchuklobrau

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Really? I thought if you left in primary for a time = to the primary and secondary amount of time your beer would be the same clearnes wise.
 

RMitch

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^Well when you transfer to secondary, you leave behind a significant amount of the trub.
 

RM-MN

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If you leave your beer in the primary for the whole time and are a bit careful when you siphon to the bottling bucket you leave the trub behind. The one I did yesterday, I was not so careful (its only for my drinking so I didn't care too much) and sucked up a bit of trub into the bottling bucket. Guess what! By the time I was ready to bottle, that little bit of trub had settled right out and I didn't get any of it into the bottle until the last one when I was trying hard to get enough beer to fill that last bottle.
 

rycov

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ok. i didnt know you were talking about not doing secondary, i thought you just meant if you did a primary in a carboy it would make more sediment. also if you do a long primary you have sediment in one container instead of two. not really much different. the beer will still clear. just dont disturb the sediment.
 

McMalty

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More crap you shouldn't believe.
ok.....considering this is their FIRST BATCH, there's going to be more sediment in the bottle if they don't use a secondary. Not because one must use a secondary in order to have less sediment, but b/c i doubt they are experienced enough to leave the trub completely undisturbed. If they use a secondary, there will be less trub and less of a chance to disturb it. How bout that, cat.
 
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