Conflicting Info. Set me straight?

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BWRIGHT

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Alright. I want to start by saying without coming across this website I may never have tried my first brew. That being said, I have and English Brown Ale in my primary. It's been there since Sun. I've read more conflicting info on the "When to Secondary" Sticky than my head can handle. So let me just state what I think are facts, and maybe someone can show me where I'm wrong.
1. Should never rack to secondary until fermentation is completely done.
2. Only way to tell when fermentation is done is with hydrometer readings.
3. Secondary is not necessary. Just helps with clarity and chill haze.
4. Leaving in primary will not pick up "off" flavors from trub.
5. The longer I leave it in secondary the better the taste and clarity will be.
6. 1-2-3 method is guideline but not necessarily "right."
7. Bottles should condition for at least 3 weeks. Longer the better.
8. One could leave just in primary for say 3 weeks then bottle and be just as good

So basically all my questions are about secondary.
Also, I've had my primary fermenting at between 67F and 72 the whole time.
Came home from work today and it was at 78F (only for about 4 hours)
Will this 4 hrs of being out of proper range affect the flavor?

Anyone who could answer any or all these questions would make my day. I do not want to screw up my first brew. I'll be sitting here enjoying my Sammy Smith Taddy Porter (I don't have any homebrew yet, but with some help it will be about 5 weeks. Thanks everyone.
 

SuperiorBrew

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BWRIGHT said:
Alright. I want to start by saying without coming across this website I may never have tried my first brew. That being said, I have and English Brown Ale in my primary. It's been there since Sun. I've read more conflicting info on the "When to Secondary" Sticky than my head can handle. So let me just state what I think are facts, and maybe someone can show me where I'm wrong.
1. Should never rack to secondary until fermentation is completely done.
2. Only way to tell when fermentation is done is with hydrometer readings.
3. Secondary is not necessary. Just helps with clarity and chill haze.
4. Leaving in primary will not pick up "off" flavors from trub.
5. The longer I leave it in secondary the better the taste and clarity will be.
6. 1-2-3 method is guideline but not necessarily "right."
7. Bottles should condition for at least 3 weeks. Longer the better.
8. One could leave just in primary for say 3 weeks then bottle and be just as good

So basically all my questions are about secondary.
Also, I've had my primary fermenting at between 67F and 72 the whole time.
Came home from work today and it was at 78F (only for about 4 hours)
Will this 4 hrs of being out of proper range affect the flavor?

Anyone who could answer any or all these questions would make my day. I do not want to screw up my first brew. I'll be sitting here enjoying my Sammy Smith Taddy Porter (I don't have any homebrew yet, but with some help it will be about 5 weeks. Thanks everyone.
1. True
2. True
3. It is only required on lagers and big beers, optional on the rest
4. True, up to at least 4 weeks
5. True
6. True
7. True
8. True, see #4
Your little heat spurt did not hurt anything
There are much more that could and has been said on all these topics, best to search them out and read up one topic at a time.
Plus there are exceptions to almost every rule. I answered them as pertaining to your English Brown Ale, there would have been a little different for a lager for example
 

Joker

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As stated above you have covered the topic very well. There is no rule just guidelines.
 

Yooper

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I agree with everything posted above. You seem to have a really good understanding of the processes, and it sounds like your beer is on track to be a good one!
 
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BWRIGHT

BWRIGHT

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Thanks. SuperiorBrewer. I know the type of beer is what determines most everything. I'm really only interested in Ales and Stouts right now. I don't have the equip. to do lagers right now. I've read probably 75% of the posts on this forum. (No S$%t). I've just read a ton of conflicting info on Secondary fermentation.
 
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BWRIGHT

BWRIGHT

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Thanks, Yooper. I'm still not decided on whether to rack to a secondary yet though. Either way, I now realize that whether or not the beer turns out I need to get started on another one. Either the beer will be great and I'll drink it and pass it out, or it will suck and I'll be itching to try again. So, I want to make either a Chocolate or Oatmeal Stout. Does anyone know if Brewer's Best makes an extract with steeping grains kit. That's what my LHBS has. Also am I mistaken or does every other member on here have EdWort's Aphlwein brewing primary or secondary or on tap? Is it that good. Can someone convince me because I've never had a good cider.
 

Yooper

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I've done alot of Brewer's Best kits when I first started brewing, and I think they all were extract and steeping grains. I thought they worked out just fine. Another thing to consider is an online brewstore- notably austinhomebrew.com and northernbrewer.com. They have kits that they make up fresh as you order, and you can choice anything from a certain style to a clone brew of your favorite beer. I've done several of them from ahs and they were wonderful. There is a special this Saturday for HBT members- 10% off. You'd have to find the thread with that info, but I'm ordering from them on Saturday.

I think I'm one of the only people who didn't do the apfelwein! It's just not my thing. I'm sure that the other 15,000 people around here would disagree, though-so try it if you're considering it!

And you're right- the best thing to do is start another brew right away. It really takes the angst out of waiting when you have another brew in the works. This is a very addicting hobby!
 

david_42

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The only rational thing is to keep the pipeline full.

[I didn't do apfelwein either. Revenge is a blackberry cider best served cold. And other than the bloodshed, the blackberries are free.]
 

Brakeman_Brewing

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david_42 said:
[I didn't do apfelwein either. Revenge is a blackberry cider best served cold. And other than the bloodshed, the blackberries are free.]
Excellent, because Ive got a blackberry cider going as we speak!
 

gallagherman

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SuperiorBrew said:

Is is wrong to rack to the secondary only when the main fermentation has subsided a bit, after about 5 days or so? Does the hydrometer have to NOT move in order to rack?

What are the disadvantages of racking too soon?
 
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BWRIGHT

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I can't believe none of you have it going. I'd be hard pressed to find 1 out of 2 that don't have it somewhere. I've only had Woodchuck and that other crap from the store. It must be better than that. How long does shipping take from those two online stores you mentioned?
 

DeathBrewer

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gallagherman said:
Is is wrong to rack to the secondary only when the main fermentation has subsided a bit, after about 5 days or so? Does the hydrometer have to NOT move in order to rack?

What are the disadvantages of racking too soon?
possibly a stuck fermentation or a slower fermentation...inevitably turning into worse beer or bottle bombs if you bottle too soon.

don't rush your beer. there is no point. you do not even truly NEED a secondary, it's only there for clearing. leave it in the primary until it is done, then use the secondary if you so chose.
 

TexLaw

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I tell you what - you've received a lot of good advice up there. More importantly, you've learned the valuable lesson that there isn't always a right way to brew, just another option. Brewing is a craft, subject to evolution and trends. Using a secondary is one of those situations. Conflicting as all the information above may sound, I agree with it all.

Just to illuminate, let me give you a little background. When I started learning about brewing and actually brewing, good quality, liquid yeast was really just becoming available to the homebrewer. Before that, you had to use dry yeast, which was of much lower quality than the dry and liquid yeasts you can get today (SafeAle and its cousins weren't around then). That old stuff often had wild yeast and other contaminants. Even if it didn't, it was fairly unhealthy stuff, so autolysis and some other problems were true concerns, especially if you didn't have temperature control (which was more expensive then). You wanted to get your beer off that yeast as soon as you could, so you racked from the bulk of the spent yeast after fermentation started to slow down. In the "secondary fermenter," you let the yeast finish up, and then you usually bottled or kegged once fermentation was complete. You just conditioned in the keg or bottle because you figured that the yeast that survived was the healthy stuff, and it's not like you had a better choice.

Nowadays, good quality, healthy yeast is available and plentiful. As a result, you can let your beer ferment to completion in the primary, and you can use the secondary as a conditioning and clearing tank. In fact, the yeast is so dadgum good, you don't even need to rack anymore, and the current trend is to leave the beer in the primary longer and longer, even removing the secondary from the process altogether.

The older literature is based on the state of the art at that time, and many of the most experienced homebrewers out there developed their process then. Advice gets passed down, and the older ways usually still work just fine. Change happens slowly, especially when you don't see much of a problem. Shoot, I used to rack, religiously, by the seventh day. Then, I went to Day 10, then Day 14. I could hardly believe it, myself, when I let my last batch go four weeks in the primary and then straight to the keg. I figured it was worth a shot.

So, I like the idea of leaving it in the primary for a couple weeks, if you can keep your temperatures at decent levels. I still like to rack to the secondary, as it gives a little insurance. If fermentation is just a little dormant, racking tends to rouse the yeast safely and spur the fermentation on to completion. It also frees up your primary sooner, so you can brew again. All of that is with nearly neglible risk of contamination or oxidation if you do it right.

So, are you good and confused now? :)

And, that heat spike shouldn't hurt you. That's not something you want to happen daily, often, or even at all. However, it's also nothing to fret about once it's happened. It's your first batch, so relax and enjoy it. You never forget your first, by the way. :)


TL
 

FairWeatherSmoker

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Thanks for the historical recap. That sort of puts all these posts in perspective. It answers a lot the question I had.

My first batch of Light American using a DeFalco kit has been fermenting for 7 days now. It still bubbles once every 25 seconds. I was going to rack it today, but now I think I'll leave it a while longer. It doesn't appear that that will hurt anything.
 

Kevin Dean

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The original poster gets it. :)

Some confusion comes from the term "secondary" because a lot of people add "secondary fermenter". Secondary is the second stage of beer conditioning. Even if it's in the same container as your fermentation, it's in "secondary" once fermentation has stopped and clarification has begun.

Likewise, you could rack it three times a day, to 50 different containers and until it's done fermenting, it's not in "secondary".
 

Revvy

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TexLaw said:
I tell you what - you've received a lot of good advice up there. More importantly, you've learned the valuable lesson that there isn't always a right way to brew, just another option. Brewing is a craft, subject to evolution and trends. Using a secondary is one of those situations. Conflicting as all the information above may sound, I agree with it all....
TL
Tex, IMHO this is an excellant and sticky worthy post, in the beginner's section.

One thing I've learned is that asking 10 homebrewers a question often get's you 12 different answers. It all comes down to preferences and your own process, which you refine over time, with education, knowlege and experience....and great resources like this place.
 

GloHoppa

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david_42 said:
Revenge is a blackberry cider best served cold. And other than the bloodshed, the blackberries are free.
bortaS bIr jablu'DI' reH QaQqu' nay'

for you trekkies:fro:
 

CBBaron

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gallagherman said:
Is is wrong to rack to the secondary only when the main fermentation has subsided a bit, after about 5 days or so? Does the hydrometer have to NOT move in order to rack?

What are the disadvantages of racking too soon?
Not completely wrong but not ideal either. I don't usually take multiple hydrometer measurements but it is the most accurate way to tell when you are done. If you leave your beer at 65-70F for 2 weeks it will be done 99% of the time. A 3rd week in the primary is probably the best way to do things for most beers but racking to the secondary works also.

Racking too soon has several disadvantages. First if it is still fermenting you may stall the fermentation by removing the beer from most of the yeast. This can result in an underattenuated beer. Also when the yeast finish with the sugars they will start processing a number of byproducts which cleans up the beer. Racking to a secondary slows or stops this process. Third the primary reason to use a secondary is to remove the beer from the trub and allow it to drop clear. If the beer is still fermenting there will be much more yeast suspended in the beer than there will be once it is finished. This means more trub in the secondary and possibly a longer time to clear.

If you feel you must use a secondary, make sure the beer is done first.

Craig
 

TexLaw

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Revvy said:
One thing I've learned is that asking 10 homebrewers a question often get's you 12 different answers.
I think you're lucky if you only get that many answers. :)

It all comes down to preferences and your own process, which you refine over time, with education, knowlege and experience....and great resources like this place
A-men, brother!:mug:


TL
 
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