New brewer - Secondary "fermentation" and clarity question

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

Patricksence

New Member
Joined
Jul 18, 2011
Messages
2
Reaction score
0
Location
Bellevue
I have read a lot of threads regarding secondary fermentation and done a lot of research into the subject. I came to the conclusion on my first batch that a secondary is an added step that is a lot out dated, and leaving the brew in the primary will yield great results leaving the ideal of a secondary "fermentation" as a pointless step. So, that is what i did.

my first batch came out very tasty, but was certainly not clear, AND left a small amount of sediment on the bottom of the bottle. Would a secondary reduce this sediment/clarity problem? if it is not even a factor, how can i eliminate this problem? the Pumpkin brew i am working on now contains a good amount of residual gunk on the bottom of the carboy that i want to make sure does not making anywhere close to the bottle.

Next, regarding extended time in the primary -

I am started my brew yesterday and is sitting in the carboy happily bubbling away. My newbie concern there is that with his particular brew, would leaving the brew in the primary for 3 to 4 weeks use up all of the yeast? would i need to pitch again for bottling? is this just a newbie question? I know there are a lot of threads on this topic, but since i am making a Pumpkin beer that has a lot of residuals, i am looking for the best way to end up with a clear brew that will carbonate properly with out bringing back to the top an old discussion. Any and all help will be appreciated!
 

chumpsteak

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 15, 2011
Messages
897
Reaction score
112
Location
Meridian
I let the beer sit in primary for 2-3 weeks then throw some gelatin in and cold crash for a week. This creates a very clear beer with a very solid yeast cake. I can then siphon right to the bottling bucket with almost no excess sediment. There will still be plenty of yeast in suspension to carb up the bottles, I've never had a batch not carb doing it like this.
 

Calder

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2010
Messages
8,545
Reaction score
1,035
Location
Ohio
Unlike many people here, I still use a secondary on most of my beers. I like to get the beer of the decaying yeast and other vegital matter (hops, etc) once the main ferment is done and the majority of the yeast has dropped out. I rarely rack earlier than 2 weeks, allowing the yeast to 'clean' up after themselves. When I rack to secondary, I usually rack onto some gelatin to help clear the beer.

For most beers, you will have plenty of yeast in suspension to carb it in the bottle. If you push the alcohol level (10+ abv), or age for an extended time (6+ months), you might find you have to add a bottling yeast, but for most beers it is not a concern.
 

TromboneGuy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2011
Messages
278
Reaction score
7
Location
Wichita
There are a couple things you can try with this pumpkin ale.

1. Don't bottle straight from the primary. Either rack to a bottling bucket (which will leave most of the sediment behind) and bottle from there, or transfer to a secondary, leave for another week or two for even more material to settle out, and then bottle.

2. Gelatin and cold crashing can help get more junk to settle out of the beer.

3. Move it to a keg system and run it through a filter plate if you want it super-clear.

About the yeast, you don't "use up" the yeast. It's reproducing while the beer is fermenting, so there will be plenty left to bottle-carb.
 

Lost

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 2, 2005
Messages
594
Reaction score
7
Location
Tampa
Cold crashing helps but so does time. I'm reluctant to let my beer sit for extended periods - say 3 or more weeks - in the primary. So I use a secondary. I do 10 gal batches so I can let 5 gals sit while I drink the first 5.

I use irish moss in the boil too. My beer ends up clear this way.

I think a secondary is a good idea but not a necessity. The trend around here seems to be toward simpler processes (eg BIAB and no chill brewing) while more traditional steps are denigrated. I'm all for simple equipment (no pump, immersion chiller, etc.) but I am a traditionalist and a purist when it comes to the steps.
 

wilserbrewer

BIAB Expert Tailor
HBT Sponsor
Joined
May 25, 2007
Messages
11,264
Reaction score
2,849
Location
New Jersey
As said above, if you have the ability to cold crash the primary w/ gelatin, you will get a clean brew. Also, some yeasts floc better than others...notty and S-04 floc pretty darn good w/ a compact yeast bed that will resist disturbance while racking.
 

Skarekrough

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 8, 2010
Messages
315
Reaction score
13
Location
Massachusetts
It will depend on the beer alot of times.

I'm seeing alot of folks that advocate for long primaries and no secondaries racking to a keg and letting it sit for a few weeks to a few months. In essence that's allowing the keg to be the secondary or even just a bright tank.

Find what works for you. But never feel you should undertake a task because you need something to do.
 

bad67z

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 6, 2009
Messages
1,867
Reaction score
126
Location
Columbus
As said above, if you have the ability to cold crash the primary w/ gelatin, you will get a clean brew. Also, some yeasts floc better than others...notty and S-04 floc pretty darn good w/ a compact yeast bed that will resist disturbance while racking.
If he is bottle conditioning his beer won't the cold crash followed up gelatin drop the most/all yeast out and cause the beer to not carbonate?
 

chumpsteak

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 15, 2011
Messages
897
Reaction score
112
Location
Meridian
I cold crash with gelatin (while dry hopping) in primary for a week at about 34C and have never had any problems with bottles carbing up. Maybe if you cold crashed for a long time, but a week still leaves plenty of yeast in suspension and they wake right up when you bottle and bring them back to room temp.
 

Revvy

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Dec 11, 2007
Messages
41,296
Reaction score
3,727
Location
"Detroitish" Michigan
If youre bottle conditioning you beer, there will ALWAYS be some sediment in the bottom of the bottle. That's an inevitble part of bottle conditioned beers regardless of whether they're homebrew or commercial beers.

Whether you secondary or not, you're always going to have some.

This is my yeastcake for my Sri Lankin Stout that sat in primary for 5 weeks. Us-04 yeast IIRC.

Notice how tight the yeast cake is? None of that got racked over to my bottling bucket. And the beer is extremely clear.



That little bit of beer to the right is all of the 5 gallons that DIDN'T get vaccumed off the surface of the tight trub. Note how clear it is, there's little if any floaties in there.

When I put 5 gallons in my fermenter, I tend to get 5 gallons into bottles. The cake itself is like cement, it's about an inch thick and very, very dense, you can't just tilt your bucket and have it fall out. I had to use water pressure to get it to come out.



This is the last little bit of the same beer in the bottling bucket, this is the only sediment that made it though and that was done on purpose, when I rack I always make sure to rub the autosiphon across the bottom of the primary to make sure there's plenty of yeast in suspension to carb the beer, but my bottles are all crystal clear and have little sediment in them.

Half the time I forget to use moss, and you can't tell the difference in clarity.

I get the barest hint of sediment in my bottles....just enough for the yeast to have done the job of carbonating the beer.

The longer you chill your bottled beer, the further tighter your bottle sediment will be. I recommend a week. But the longer you leave it the less will come out. I have bottles in my fridge for months that when I pour them they are extremely clear, not a hint of sediment falls through, and there is no chill haze.

But even if you have sediment, who cares? You leave it behind when you pour anyway. It's called pouring to the shoulder.

 
Last edited by a moderator:
Top