Head Room In A Secondary

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kjung

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How much head room is too much in a secondary?
I have a recipe that is next up on my agenda, but can't decide between two yeasts. I thought about dividing the 5 gals. into two different fermenters, but for a secondary I only have 5 gal. carboys, and I seem to remember reading something when I first started brewing that you only want a couple of inches of air space in the secondary to avoid oxidation.
Am I correct?
 

artyboy

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I always have a lot of headroom in my secondaries. You could always purge your headspace with CO2 if it worries you. The blanket of CO2 will stay in the secondary and not allow oxygen in.
 

CaliBrewin

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i almost always secondary, unless its a hef, and there is always plenty of headspace.

never been a problem for me. youll be fine.
 
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kjung

kjung

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I don't keg, so I don't have co2 handy. My concern is filling a 5 gal. carboy only half-way and risking oxidation.
 

Bizoune

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If you go to secondary when bubbling slows down, the CO2 that is produced should theoretically purge out all of the oxygen that was in your vessel initially. But I guess there is a limit to how much head room that you have if you want to avoid oxydation. When I secondary ferment, I'll rack off from a 6.5 gallon carboy to a 5 gallon one. My liquid level is right near the top.
 

pkeeler

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Putting 4 gal. in a 5 gal. carboy for secondary is probably ok as CO2 is generated and purges the space (if you put on an airlock). 2.5 gal. in a 5 gal. secondary is tougher to call. Since you will be splitting your primary, I'd just leave it in the two primary vessels (you could use 5 gal. carboys for this since you only have 2.5-3 gal. of wort.

Or just pick a yeast and proceed as normal.
 

Brewdouche-RuBrew

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I know this may sound particular, and sloppy all at the same time, but when I brew I make up a batch of "Generic topup soulution."

1# pale dry malt extract in a gallon of water. I keep it in the fridge, and top up my secondarys so that I get a full carboy of beer. At the same time I use a smidge more hops when I breew so as not to dilute.
 

cell

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There's always plenty of headspace during my fermentation process. I'm brewing 2 gallon batch and I use a 5 gallon carboy for primary and a 3 gallon carboy for secondary. I guess if you follow Murphy's law of brewing, you'll be ok (From John Palmer's book): If you keep messing with it, you will probably screw it up
 

TotemWolf

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There's CO2 in the beer and this will vent off. Even just a layer off CO2 on the beer is enough to push the O2 away from the surface and protect the beer so it's nothing worry about. Remember CO2 is heavier than O2 and will therefore sink down and cap the beer.
 

Montanaandy

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I was raked over the coals about this a while back on the Board. I always thought that headspace in either the primary or secondary fermeneter was bad. Was informed that headspace in the primary fermenter was acceptable/common. Can't recall what the consensus was with respect to the secondary. I stopped using a carboy secondary quite a while ago for the most part. When I do secondary it is in a corny which does not help you because you bottle. Montanaandy
 

JayInJersey

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You could always just skip the secondary...give it a little longer and the yeasties will do the cleaning for you. (I leave mine in there min 3 weeks average 4)
 

jay4e

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assuming you keep your wort stationary head space wont have any effect at all. the surface area in most fermenters will be the same with 2 gallons as it is with 4 or 5. And co2 is heavier than o2 so it will form a barrier as it seeps out of the wart to keep that surface area protected. the sooner after fermentation you transfer the more co2 you will have for that barrier, but there is still likely plenty of co2 held i suspension and some residual fermentation will make a bit more.

that being said the place where you may run into trouble is moving the fermenter. more space means more likely to splash around and if your co2 blanket is small this can lead to o2 exposure.
 

McGarnigle

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If you're using a carboy, there's less surface area at the top because the carboy narrows.

I've always tried to limit head space for secondary. Someone once suggested, if needed, adding a tiny bit of sugar water which will spark a small fermentation and create the necessary blanket of CO2.
 

DKershner

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I know this may sound particular, and sloppy all at the same time, but when I brew I make up a batch of "Generic topup soulution."

1# pale dry malt extract in a gallon of water. I keep it in the fridge, and top up my secondarys so that I get a full carboy of beer. At the same time I use a smidge more hops when I breew so as not to dilute.
This is the winemaking way, but doesn't help when the headspace is greater than the amount of beer.

I would suggest not using a secondary.
 

Brewdouche-RuBrew

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This is the winemaking way, but doesn't help when the headspace is greater than the amount of beer.

I would suggest not using a secondary.
I feel icky reading that because I started out with wine. Latly though I have heard Zanis /& Palmer on their pod cast latly saying how they rarely even do secondarys anymore.

Maybe I should wise up and move on.
 

Maltose

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slightly OT, but if I'm brewing a 10g batch, but only have two 6g carboys, does it matter if I fill one all the way up and then the next carboy up to the same level? or should I fill them up simultaneously?

i plan on using a primary, then cold crashing for 3 days in my keezer.
 

Brewdouche-RuBrew

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Malt

Why not adjust your recipe to be alittle more concentrated, and ad another 3/4 gallon or so of good water to the carboys to make more beer and eliminate the head space.
 

Julohan

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What are suggestions when you are about 5 gallons short in a 55 gallon secondary wood barrel? Fermentation was done before racking. Should I add sugar or just C02?
 
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