how long in primary if no secondary?

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Tiredboy

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I'm brewing my first brew. It's the holiday ale from AHS. The instructions say 5-7 days in primary then 5-7 days in secondary. I'm only using a primary and was going to leave it in that for 2-2.5 weeks before bottling. Is this right?
 

Brewnoob1

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Leaving it 3-4 weeks in the primary won't hurt. A lot of people skip the secondary these days. RDWHAHB
 

MikeyLXT

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I just started as well but typically I have been doing a solid 4 weeks in the primary with no secondary at all. A lot of experienced brewers here are giving that advice.
 

Mermaid

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Many many of the kits say to use a secondary when it's not really necessary. There's a million different threads on this forum "to secondary, nor not" and for the most part you really don't need to bother.

Really, you could go 4 weeks in the primary with no ill effects (that's pretty much what I do these days, and I get good results)
 

Quaker

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Let your hydrometer measurements tell you when you're done. Whether racking or not to secondary, the total time is same (although the racking process may rouse the yeast a bit). So your 2-2.5 wks should be more than enough assuming a healthy ferment.
 

BrewStooge

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Time is your friend in brewing. Letting it set in primary for weeks to even several months is fine. After the yeast go through the main ferment they'll start to eat up all the left over junk made in the process, improving the beer. Secondary serves 2 real purposes, if you want to add something after the ferment, or if you want to clear up your only primary for another batch (which I still do often just because I've never gotten a second carboy larger than 5 gal). As said above, RDWHAHB, it's simpler than you might think. :mug:
 

zepolmot

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4+ weeks is now the norm for me. Half of the reason is that I can't work up the energy to bottle (even though I've got my process really well dialed these days...). The other half is that as people say up and down these forums, the beer is just better with the added time on the yeast.

Unless I really needed to keep things moving through to free up a fermenter, I likely wouldn't even think about bottling after 3 weeks. But that's probably the laziness talking...
 

ABrewingApe

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I haven't bottled sooner than a month in the primary for a while now. No sense rushing; once the wort is in a nice clean fermenter with some healthy yeast there's not a lot to worry about.

Yeast autolysis does happen eventually, and isn't something you want, but it takes a seriously non-trivial amount of time to happen. It's not the difference between two or three weeks, more like two or three months. (anecdotal accounts of six months or more on the yeast tasting just fine aren't uncommon. So short answer: sanitize and keep the lid closed and you're golden.)
 

gr8shandini

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Leaving it in the primary for a month or more won't hurt, but it's not at all necessary. For most average gravity ales, fermentation will be done in 2 or 3 days after kickoff, which can take up to three days. After 3 to 5 days of conditioning, your beer is as done as it's going to get. I usually go 14 days in the primary, then keg and force carb for a week.

Bottom line is, if you're at FG and it tastes good. Package and carb it using your preferred method.
 

Doomsday

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Secondary serves 2 real purposes, if you want to add something after the ferment, or if you want to clear up your only primary for another batch
would you include dry hopping with this? Or do you just thrown in your dry hop additions in the primary? Just curious.
 

emjay

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Doomsday said:
would you include dry hopping with this? Or do you just thrown in your dry hop additions in the primary? Just curious.
I dryhop in the primary. Don't see any reason to transfer.

Not to mention that hops are easier to clean out of a bucket. You can even use a big hop bag if you want, whereas a bag of wort-soaked leaf hops can actually be very difficult to pull back through the neck of a carboy.
 

Golddiggie

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I dry hop in primary for a week with great results.

I would advise taking a hydrometer sample after about two weeks. Get a SG reading from it, then taste it. If it doesn't taste good/right, give it more time. Plus a FG reading is two identical SG readings spaced 2-3 days apart.

Personally, I go 4-8 weeks in primary then keg/bottle most of my batches. Some get additional treatments, so they go longer before bottle/keg.

Also, it takes a lot more time for us to get autolysis than big breweries. It has to due more with the volume of brew sitting on top of the yeast cake. When you have hundreads (or thousands) of gallons sitting on the yeast, then you can worry about it. It all comes down to knowing your system, process, and ingredients (especially the yeast).
 

emjay

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IMO, BrewStooge forgot the biggest reasons:

a) LONG fermentation/conditioning. If you aren't going to bottle or keg for a VERY long time (eg 6+ months), racking off the yeast to avoid potential autolysis is a good idea (lambics excepted). Also, the HDPE that the buckets are made of allow oxygen to permeate. Not a concern with typical fermentations, but if it's going to be a long one, something impermeable, like glass or stainless steel, is your best bet.

b) Sour beers. Fermenting a sour beer in a plastic bucket will all but ensure that any future beers will be innoculated with the same bugs. Some people just dedicate a plastic bucket to sours, but unless you use it for the exact same kind of sour beer each time, it's probably better just not to. Besides, sour beers almost always require a long time, which as I've already explained is probably the most important reason of all to use a secondary.
 

Jcmccoy

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Matters on your OG... if it is 1.065+ 4 weeks minimum in primary IMO. If it is a smaller beer... then 3 weeks is fine. This is my guide line.
 
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Tiredboy

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Thanks for the comments.

It's really a trade off issue for me. In just under three weeks after putting in the primary I am going away for almost three weeks and I was hoping to drink the beer a week or so after I get back (christmas ale and lots of visitors at that time). That means I can do 2-2.5 in primary followed by 3-4 weeks in bottle (which is slightly more than the kit says for both assuming I combine primary and secondary time in the primary). The alternative is 5-6 weeks in primary than a week in the bottle which I expect is far too short in the bottle. I also have problems keeping the temperature down (running AC 24/7 at the moment) and suspect that once its in the bottle I'll have less to worry about.

I don't have a hydrometer (yet) so can't test but suspect fermenting has gone well as I used yeastfuel, got a lot of bubbling through airlock in first couple of days and has really slowed down (read virtually stopped) since. In know airlock activity isn't proof of fermentation but I suspect its a good sign that if I don't get bubbles for over a week then fermentation is probably done (especially as I expect it to be done well before then).
 

BamaRooster

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My first kit said bottle after 5-7 days and I did, that was a huge mistake. Now, no matter what the instructions say, I let it stay in the primary for 3 weeks minimum. It just seems like it produces a better finished product.
 

BetterSense

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I understand extended aging for people that keg. But for bottling, it seems to take a good 3 weeks of aging in the bottles, no matter what you do, so is there any benefit to extended pre-bottle aging for those of us that bottle?

What doesn't make sense to me is waiting a month or more to get really clear, aged beer, and then when you bottle, you basically start the fermentation process over in the bottle and it still needs 2-3 weeks or more in the bottles, so you are basically aging all over again.

Is aging in the fermenter any different than aging in the bottles? It seems you would get the same effect with less waiting if you bottle as soon as the hydrometer is stable, and then let the beer age and 'clean up' in the bottles. In fact, if you bottle as soon as the hydrometer is stable, for the same time span of say 8 weeks, you could have say a week in the fermenter and 6 weeks in the bottles instead of 4 weeks of aging in the fermenter and then only 3 weeks in the bottles. Which would be better? Does aging in the fermenter make sense for bottlers?
 
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Tiredboy

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I think we need someone to do a test. Brew a simple kit and bottle/taste at different times. Ideas below (using a batch that is split into 4 once stable SG reached):

A) bottle as soon as stable SG reached, taste after 1,2,3,4,6 weeks in bottle
B) bottle 1 week after stable SG reached, taste after 1,2,3,5 weeks in bottle (2,3,4,6 weeks after stable SG)
C) bottle 2 weeks after stable SG reached, taste after 1,2,4 weeks in bottle (3,4,6 weeks after stable SG)
D) bottle 3 weeks after stable SG reached, taste after 1,3 weeks in bottle (4,6 weeks after stable SG)

In other words,
1 week post stable SG (wPSG) taste A
2 wPSG compare A and B
3 wPSG compare A, B and C
4 wPSG and 6wPSG compare all four.

It requires someone with a fair amount of time (and need to test) but should be able to get some comparisons to see the effect of time in fermentor/bottle. All that needs to be done then is repeat for different recipes.......

Anyone want to rise to the challenge?

edit - is it obvious that I'm a research scientist?
 

BamaRooster

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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Palmer
Secondary Fermentor vs. Bottle Conditioning

Conditioning is a function of the yeast, therefore it is logical that the greater yeast mass in the fermentor is more effective at conditioning than the smaller amount of suspended yeast in the bottle. This is why I recommend that you give your beer more time in the fermentor before bottling. When you add the priming sugar and bottle your beer, the yeast go through the same three stages of fermentation as the main batch, including the production of byproducts. If the beer is bottled early, i.e. 1 week old, then that small amount of yeast in the bottle has to do the double task of conditioning the priming byproducts as well as those from the main ferment. You could very well end up with an off-flavored batch.

Do not be confused, I am not saying that bottle conditioning is bad, it is different. Studies have shown that priming and bottle conditioning is a very unique form of fermentation due to the oxygen present in the head space of the bottle. Additional fermentables have been added to the beer to produce the carbonation, and this results in very different ester profiles than those that are normally produced in the main fermentor. In some styles, like Belgian Strong Ale, bottle conditioning and the resultant flavors are the hallmark of the style. These styles cannot be produced with the same flavors via kegging.

For the best results, the beer should be given time in a secondary fermentor before priming and bottling. Even if the yeast have flocculated and the beer has cleared, there are still active yeast in suspension that will ferment the priming sugar and carbonate the beer.
 
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