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HughBrooks

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:)I am having a wonderful fermentation with an amber ale... I plan to rack to a secondary carboy when primary fermentation ends. My question is how do I know for sure primary is over? How long should I wait before I rack? Can I wait too long? You know the typical noob questions I guess. Tanks though for any input!
 

llazy_llama

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Option 1: Give it about a week, then test the SG. If it's constant over 3 days, fermentation is complete, and you can rack to secondary.

Option 2: Forget secondary. Leave the beer in primary for about a month, then bottle. You get the same end effect (clear beer) but you don't have the same risk of oxidation from trainsfering the beer.

HughBrooks said:
Can I wait too long?
Techincally, yes, but we're talking ~3 months in primary before you need to worry.
 

spitfire

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I am new to this as well so take my answer with that in mind. From what I understand after 7 days or so check your gravity. Check again 2-3 days later. If your gravity is the same you are ok to move it to the secondary. I'm sure somebody will correct me if I am wrong.
 

llazy_llama

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I am new to this as well so take my answer with that in mind. From what I understand after 7 days or so check your gravity. Check again 2-3 days later. If your gravity is the same you are ok to move it to the secondary. I'm sure somebody will correct me if I am wrong.
You have it right.
 
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HughBrooks

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the main reason I want to rack it is to put somthin else in my 6.5g carboy. I have a 5g glass carboy and a 5g better bottle too so much more room for secondary. Anyway, I should wait till fermentation is done before I rack to secondary? I have some directions that came with my LHBS recipe kit and it says if I am going to use a secondary that you should rack as soon as the airlock slows and MUST be done before fermentation ends. and it is in bold print that it must be done before it ends. This is a hoppy amber ale by the way..OG 1.051. what would be the advantage of doing it before fermentation ends? or after its over?
 

spitfire

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If it was me doing it I wouldn't rack to the secondary for 7-10 days. Then you can start your new brew, rack that after 7-10 days to your other secondary then start your 3rd brew and you will have a nice pipeline going on.

I had the same thinking as you but still waited 9 days to go into my secondary. I was going to order more 5 gallon better bottles but decided I am better off just getting 2 6.5 gallon primary buckets for the same price.
 

llazy_llama

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Recipe kit instructions should be ignored after the part where they say "and then pitch yeast." The best reason I can think of for why they'd tell you to rack before fermentation is complete is to ensure that your beer creates a nice CO2 cushion to keep out air. Then again, any kit that told me to listen to the airlock would be complete BS in my opinion.

The advice that you get from the combined wisdom and experience of 10,000+ HBT members is to rack after fermentation is complete. This is what I do, and this is what just about everyone here does. The advantage to waiting until fermentation is complete is that you end up with a much clearer finished beer. There will still be enough activity in your beer and enough CO2 dissolved throughout your beer to create that cushion of protection.
 
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HughBrooks

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I am not any any hurry to rack it I am more concerned with having a good beer:). So I will probally wait. The primary buckets are cheap but you get what you pay for if you ask me. I used one for my first brew and I had tosoak that thing in PBW several times and sterilize so much to get that smell out. That funk has got to carry over. not so much with glass or B-bottle
 

SumnerH

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the main reason I want to rack it is to put somthin else in my 6.5g carboy. I have a 5g glass carboy and a 5g better bottle too so much more room for secondary. Anyway, I should wait till fermentation is done before I rack to secondary? I have some directions that came with my LHBS recipe kit and it says if I am going to use a secondary that you should rack as soon as the airlock slows and MUST be done before fermentation ends. and it is in bold print that it must be done before it ends.
Either way works. If you rack to secondary just to clear it up, then wait until gravity is stable for several days then transfer. If you're doing a longer conditioning (at least 2 weeks) you can transfer once primary is very slow, but there is no advantage to doing that and some people prefer to wait even then.

There is also no particular _need_ to secondary, unless you're dry-hopping or adding fruit or something similar. Leaving in primary for several weeks and then bottling is perfectly acceptable.

In general, read How to Brew (free online, then buy it once you realize how awesome it is) and don't put too much stock in the directions that come with your kit (_do_ pay attention to the recipe, but not the general "how do I brew stuff" directions). Relevant chapter from How to Brew:
How to Brew - By John Palmer - Using Secondary Fermentors
 
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HughBrooks

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Thats why I ask because I am sure that the collective knowlege here is much greater than my instruction sheet. I do want to rack to 2ndary though to free up my glass primary...I will wait a few days though.. and I have the palmer book it is great! but it never hurts to ask
 
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