Diacetyl Rest then rack, or rack then diacetyl rest?

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mccamich

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Primary fermentation is complete on my Oktoberfest. Going to diacetyl rest for 3 days before I lager it. Should I do the diacetyl rest for 3 days in the primary fermenter, then rack it, and lager it? Or, should I rack it to the carboy, diacetyl rest for 3 days in the secondary fermenter, and lager it?
 
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mccamich

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Will do. I've done a couple lager beers before, but I've always racked it THEN did the diacetyl rest in the secondary fermenter. I've never had a diacetyl issue with any of them, but I reeeeeeaaaaaly like my Oktoberfest and thinking more about it I thought that doing the diacetyl rest in the primary might have been the way to do it all along. Thanks for the advice.
 

Vale71

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1 - now it's a bit late to do an actual diacetyl rest, you should have done that when fermentation was two-thirds done.
2 - yeast that has settled plays no further role in maturation, that's the role of the yeast still in suspension which will be transfered together with the beer. Leaving the beer on trub and settled yeast any longer serves no purpose at all.
 
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mccamich

mccamich

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Fermentation isn't 100% complete yet. So, I should rack it first then do the diacetyl rest like I've been doing? Re-agitate the beer, introduce a little more oxygen to keep the yeast working some more, etc. Maybe I'll chalk this up to another instance of "don't try to fix it if it ain't broke" and just keep on doing what I've been doing if I've been having success with this process.
 

Vale71

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You said yourself that fermentation is complete. If you oxygenate your beer you will ruin it with oxidation. If you don't perform a closed transfer this will happen anyway as open transfers always introduce too much oxygen.
 
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mccamich

mccamich

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PRIMARY fermentation is complete. I always do a 2-stage fermentation. Primary ferment until fermentation slows and I'm within a couple points of my FG, open transfer to carboy, finish up fermentation in the carboy, then bottle or keg. Never had an issue with oxidized beer, contamination, diacetyl, missing my FG mark, etc. I think I'm just gonna rack the Oktoberfest, diacetyl rest for 3 days around 60F+, then lager it until September. It's worked before. No reason it shouldn't work now. I was just curious as to what others though about doing the diacetyl rest in the primary fermenter vs. doing the diacetyl rest in the secondary fermenter.
 

Chorgey

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For my Marzen, I have always waited until it's 10-15 points away and then do the diacetyl rest for 3 days, then cold crash.
 

GoeHaarden

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PRIMARY fermentation is complete. I always do a 2-stage fermentation. Primary ferment until fermentation slows and I'm within a couple points of my FG, open transfer to carboy, finish up fermentation in the carboy, then bottle or keg. Never had an issue with oxidized beer, contamination, diacetyl, missing my FG mark, etc. I think I'm just gonna rack the Oktoberfest, diacetyl rest for 3 days around 60F+, then lager it until September. It's worked before. No reason it shouldn't work now. I was just curious as to what others though about doing the diacetyl rest in the primary fermenter vs. doing the diacetyl rest in the secondary fermenter.
Maybe your process works well for you, and I'm glad you've had good results.

At the risk of starting an unproductive argument as to what you can get away with I'll make a suggestion...

Try to ferment your lager in your carboy until it's about ~75% finished. Raise the temp (62-65F) until fermentation is complete for D-rest. 3 days, a week - whatever. Add your gelatin or what you prefer if you choose to. Then close transfer into keg, put on CO2, and chill...

I bet you'd be surprised with your results and the less work you have to do since you only transfer once.

There, a friendly suggestion without an opinion.

Remember, you asked the question. People will answer. People will also point out flaws in your process. Your process is flawed, and you can make your beer better by listening to other experienced brewers.
 
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mccamich

mccamich

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Sure. I get it. If I close transfer I'm sure the overall quality of my beers would improve. Maybe the improvement will be noticeable in the beer's taste, clarity, aroma, overall profile, etc. and maybe it won't be. Do I have the equipment needed to close transfer? No. Am I going to go run out and buy the equipment needed to close transfer because people said it's a better process? Also no. I don't have any issue with advice and I don't have any issue with constructive criticism. But criticism by itself without constructivism just stokes the criticizer's ego. Maybe it's my fault for not explaining what equipment I have at my disposal (a couple steps above your basic Northern Brewer homebrew equipment kit) and what I plan to do with this beer (bottle condition). Next time I'll be sure to include an equipment list and my step-by-step plans for the brew so I can get more constructive criticism/advice and maybe an actual answer to my original question instead of "ifs and buts".

In the meantime, after work on Saturday I open transferred the Oktoberfest into the carboy, covered it in a blanket so it won't be exposed to the light, and put it in the stairwell leading down into my basement where the temperature is a (pretty) consistent 60-ish degrees F. When I get home today I'm going to take the blanket off, walk it the rest of the way down into the basement, and put it in the wine cellar for 2 months where the temperature is a (pretty) consistent 44-ish degrees F. After that I'll open transfer to a bottling bucket, make some simple syrup with corn sugar, bottle, cap, and let them bottle condition for 2 weeks. Is it going to be the best Oktoberfest ever made? Probably not. Will I have hit all my numbers and made a consistent beer from the last time I brewed this recipe? Yes. Is it going to be a damn good Oktoberfest? Abso-****ing-lutlely.
 

Bobby_M

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Sure. I get it. If I close transfer I'm sure the overall quality of my beers would improve. Maybe the improvement will be noticeable in the beer's taste, clarity, aroma, overall profile, etc. and maybe it won't be. Do I have the equipment needed to close transfer? No. Am I going to go run out and buy the equipment needed to close transfer because people said it's a better process? Also no. I don't have any issue with advice and I don't have any issue with constructive criticism. But criticism by itself without constructivism just stokes the criticizer's ego. Maybe it's my fault for not explaining what equipment I have at my disposal (a couple steps above your basic Northern Brewer homebrew equipment kit) and what I plan to do with this beer (bottle condition). Next time I'll be sure to include an equipment list and my step-by-step plans for the brew so I can get more constructive criticism/advice and maybe an actual answer to my original question instead of "ifs and buts".

In the meantime, after work on Saturday I open transferred the Oktoberfest into the carboy, covered it in a blanket so it won't be exposed to the light, and put it in the stairwell leading down into my basement where the temperature is a (pretty) consistent 60-ish degrees F. When I get home today I'm going to take the blanket off, walk it the rest of the way down into the basement, and put it in the wine cellar for 2 months where the temperature is a (pretty) consistent 44-ish degrees F. After that I'll open transfer to a bottling bucket, make some simple syrup with corn sugar, bottle, cap, and let them bottle condition for 2 weeks. Is it going to be the best Oktoberfest ever made? Probably not. Will I have hit all my numbers and made a consistent beer from the last time I brewed this recipe? Yes. Is it going to be a damn good Oktoberfest? Abso-****ing-lutlely.
I'll try one more time. If you want to be the type of brewer that makes mediocre to decent beer and shrug off any recommendations to make very good to exceptional beer, that's on you. It seems like you have a big ego and already know exactly what you want out of the hobby. However, it's odd that you'd even bother coming in here and asking for advice unless you were just hoping one person would answer the exact way that you planned to do it in the first place. That's not the general vibe around here. You will get more answers than you had questions and you'll make better beer for it.

Closed transfers are a significant improvement in any beer but especially in beers that are going to sit around for a while. If you don't have the gear to do it, then I highly suggest skipping the transfer to a secondary vessel. That's one extra oxygen exposure you can't afford if you're looking for the best possible beer.
 

VikeMan

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PRIMARY fermentation is complete. I always do a 2-stage fermentation. Primary ferment until fermentation slows and I'm within a couple points of my FG, open transfer to carboy, finish up fermentation in the carboy, then bottle or keg.
Just an piece of unsolicited advice... by definition, primary fermentation is not complete until terminal gravity is reached. This isn't a comment on your process, but just a suggestion that when you say "primary fermentation" on a forum, people will assume you mean something other than you do.
 

VikeMan

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2 - yeast that has settled plays no further role in maturation, that's the role of the yeast still in suspension which will be transfered together with the beer.
I tend to think this way, at least for the bulk of the yeast cake not in direct contact with the beer. But I also can't recall ever seeing anything definitive (peer reviewed studies or the like) to support this. Do you have anything on this beyond the sort of common sense argument that says settled yeast is "dormant," therefore it doesn't do anything (other than commit hari-kari by autolysis)?
 
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mccamich

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It seems like you have a big ego
You are 110% correct on that.

However, it's odd that you'd even bother coming in here and asking for advice unless you were just hoping one person would answer the exact way that you planned to do it in the first place.
I don't know about all of that. I was looking for an option A or option B kind of answer, not an option C kind of answer that isn't feasible to me at this point and involves me buying more equipment.
 

Bobby_M

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A "C" answer exists that doesn't require extra equipment and I suggested it. Stop transferring the beers to a secondary. It doesn't erase oxygen but it probably cuts it in half. You have to ask yourself what you're accomplishing with that transfer and whether it's really doing what you think it's doing.
 
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mccamich

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You have to ask yourself what you're accomplishing with that transfer and whether it's really doing what you think it's doing.
So you're saying that the benefits of less oxygen exposure outweigh the benefits of a secondary fermentation (the conditioning, fining, etc.)? What about off flavors produced from autolysis from letting the fermented beer sit on the yeast cake in the primary for an extended period of time? Or oxidation caused from aging in a plastic bucket (my primary fermenter), which is never fully airtight, after fermentation has ceased? Next time it would be easy for me to just use a glass carboy as my primary fermenter, but the autolysis and the chance of making a cloudy Oktoberfest scare the hell out of me.
 

Steveruch

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So you're saying that the benefits of less oxygen exposure outweigh the benefits of a secondary fermentation (the conditioning, fining, etc.)? What about off flavors produced from autolysis from letting the fermented beer sit on the yeast cake in the primary for an extended period of time? Or oxidation caused from aging in a plastic bucket (my primary fermenter), which is never fully airtight, after fermentation has ceased? Next time it would be easy for me to just use a glass carboy as my primary fermenter, but the autolysis and the chance of making a cloudy Oktoberfest scare the hell out of me.
Autolysis is not an issue in home brew size batches.
 
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mccamich

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Autolysis is not an issue in home brew size batches.
What about the batch size makes autolysis less likely to happen? Isn't autolysis just the final step in the life cycle of the yeast cell that produces those off flavors/aromas?

Edit: Or do you mean that autolysis if going to happen, but the quantities of yeast used in homebrew-sized batches make the off flavors/aromas produced by it negligible?
 
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Steveruch

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What about the batch size makes autolysis less likely to happen? Isn't autolysis just the final step in the life cycle of the yeast cell that produces those off flavors/aromas?

Edit: Or do you mean that autolysis if going to happen, but the quantities of yeast used in homebrew-sized batches make the off flavors/aromas produced by it negligible?
Autolysis becomes much more prevalent the larger the batch size with the much higher pressure on the yeast in the bottom of the fermenter in a pro brewery way more likely to cause a problem than the small size of most home brew batches.
 

VikeMan

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Autolysis becomes much more prevalent the larger the batch size with the much higher pressure on the yeast in the bottom of the fermenter in a pro brewery way more likely to cause a problem than the small size of most home brew batches.
I think @Vale71 has some science that argues that the homebrew vs commercial height thing for autolysis isn't really valid. Hopefully he'll chime in.

And I will just say that autolysis definitely happens in homebrew. I've tasted it. That said, autolysis is happening all the time, even in the yeast sitting in the smack pack in the fridge. To me, the important question is when does it become noticeable?
 

Bobby_M

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So you're saying that the benefits of less oxygen exposure outweigh the benefits of a secondary fermentation (the conditioning, fining, etc.)? What about off flavors produced from autolysis from letting the fermented beer sit on the yeast cake in the primary for an extended period of time? Or oxidation caused from aging in a plastic bucket (my primary fermenter), which is never fully airtight, after fermentation has ceased? Next time it would be easy for me to just use a glass carboy as my primary fermenter, but the autolysis and the chance of making a cloudy Oktoberfest scare the hell out of me.
That's exactly right. Oxygen destroys beer without exception and moving beer to an unpurged vessel does enough damage to notice. On the other hand, beer that sits in a well sealed primary fermenter on healthy yeast won't show obvious signs of autolysis for weeks, if not months. Of course if you underpitch and stress the yeast badly, it may happen but I've only had it happen once in over 200 batches (from pitching an old slurry of yeast).

When we say extended period of time, I mean 3 weeks. One week of active fermentation, 1-2 weeks of clearing time depending on the yeast strain. I'd get the beer into the bottles at that point where it's protected indefinitely. Lagers will condition in the bottle just fine.
 

BarryBrews

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If you don't perform a closed transfer this will happen anyway as open transfers always introduce too much oxygen.
Of all the process changes I've made over the year, closed transfers into carbon dioxide purged kegs was hands down the biggest improvement in beer quality. I personally have never performed a secondary carboy step due to the obvious oxygen exposure. Today I cringe at the thought of my old bucket and bottling technique. Not only was bottling a huge chunk of work but the bottle conditioning yeast never really cleaned up the oxygen by-products from the bottling process. Hate that cardboard.

BTW, sharing beer works even better with half gallon growlers for all those beer leeches!
 

DarrellQ

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Sure. I get it. If I close transfer I'm sure the overall quality of my beers would improve. Maybe the improvement will be noticeable in the beer's taste, clarity, aroma, overall profile, etc. and maybe it won't be. Do I have the equipment needed to close transfer? No. Am I going to go run out and buy the equipment needed to close transfer because people said it's a better process? Also no. I don't have any issue with advice and I don't have any issue with constructive criticism. But criticism by itself without constructivism just stokes the criticizer's ego. Maybe it's my fault for not explaining what equipment I have at my disposal (a couple steps above your basic Northern Brewer homebrew equipment kit) and what I plan to do with this beer (bottle condition). Next time I'll be sure to include an equipment list and my step-by-step plans for the brew so I can get more constructive criticism/advice and maybe an actual answer to my original question instead of "ifs and buts".

In the meantime, after work on Saturday I open transferred the Oktoberfest into the carboy, covered it in a blanket so it won't be exposed to the light, and put it in the stairwell leading down into my basement where the temperature is a (pretty) consistent 60-ish degrees F. When I get home today I'm going to take the blanket off, walk it the rest of the way down into the basement, and put it in the wine cellar for 2 months where the temperature is a (pretty) consistent 44-ish degrees F. After that I'll open transfer to a bottling bucket, make some simple syrup with corn sugar, bottle, cap, and let them bottle condition for 2 weeks. Is it going to be the best Oktoberfest ever made? Probably not. Will I have hit all my numbers and made a consistent beer from the last time I brewed this recipe? Yes. Is it going to be a damn good Oktoberfest? Abso-****ing-lutlely.
You really don't need to spend a lot of money to do closed transfers. Having already had a corny keg, it only cost me about $40. Believe me, and others here, the quality of your beer will go up significantly. Turning your Fermonster into a complete closed transfer system for cheap!
 
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mccamich

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bottle conditioning yeast never really cleaned up the oxygen by-products from the bottling process. Hate that cardboard.
That sounds really weird to me only because I've never had one of my brews taste "oxidized": never had a skunky or cardboard tasting beer before, never had flat beers or exploding bottles from bottle conditioning. Have I just been getting lucky for 13 years?
 

VikeMan

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That sounds really weird to me only because I've never had one of my brews taste "oxidized": never had a skunky or cardboard tasting beer before, never had flat beers or exploding bottles from bottle conditioning. Have I just been getting lucky for 13 years?
Oxygen doesn't cause "skunky." That's an unrelated problem.

It can cause "cardboard," but that's pretty severe. There's a whole lot of range and flavors in between pristine and "cardboard," and a lot of it can be pretty subtle, like faded/muted hop flavor/aroma, "rounded" (e.g. no longer crisp) malt flavors, slight candy/sherry-like flavors, etc.).

I'm not sure why you think oxidation would cause flat beers or exploding bottles.
 

Vale71

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That sounds really weird to me only because I've never had one of my brews taste "oxidized": never had a skunky or cardboard tasting beer before, never had flat beers or exploding bottles from bottle conditioning. Have I just been getting lucky for 13 years?
Yeah, it's pretty clear to anybody reading your posts that you think your beer and your process are just perfect. Makes one wonder why you come here asking for advice then...
 

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The people who have changed their process to control oxygen pickup have experienced the change in beer quality. Just like the first time you use precise temperature control, water chem, control mash and boil ph, etc. All of these little things make up a quality beer. I would actually say the oxygen pickup is a significant factor both in hazy ipa and blonde ale. To achieve this requires the purchase of some equipment, no way around it.

I would agree with the above, if you aren't willing to buy some additional equipment I would skip the secondary. You don't have to worry about yeast off flavors. Give that thing 3 to 4 weeks at 50 degrees (if using lager yeast) and then a week at 62. Bottle and don't worry about extreme clarity. You're beer will be better 100% guaranteed
 
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