Noob question about secondary fermentation

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Stevenhill

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Hi, All

Please forgive the noob nature of the question, but I'm not getting a good answer from my books.

I have made some all grain pale ale recipe. 3 days ago I pitched it and there's plenty of crust on the top..

so, my question(s) are:

How long should I leave it for primary fermentation?

When I transfer it to the secondary fermentation vessel, should I siphon? or use the tap? i wonder if one might cause more of the crud at the bottom to be disturbed.

My recipe tells me i should rack it at 1011-1012 SG, but I don't know whether i should move it to another large vessel with some Krausen yeast and some additional sugar and THEN bottle it.... or if i should just bottle it straight from the secondary fermentor.

Thankyou to anyone who can point me in the right direction.
 

Jack

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What books are you using?

In AG brewing more than in extract brewing, you want to get the beer off the trub to avoid getting off-flavors/autolysis. As a rule of thumb, primary fermentation in a two stage set-up should be about 1-2 weeks. Of course, the real answer is "when the gravity has fallen far enough." After three days, I'd leave it, but you could take a gravity reading if you're in a hurry.

If you transfer it to the secondary, you'll want to use a syphon. The tap will introduce way too much oxygen in your beer and will transfer the crud, which defeats the purpose of racking to a secondary. If you do rack it, you'll want to let it sit for at least two to three weeks (some of the guys around here have let their beer sit for months with good results).
 

sonvolt

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RDWHAHB

In fact, racking to secondary is an optional and uneccesary step. If you don't do it, it will take months for autolysis to occur. I usually wait at least 10 days, unless I need my primary vessel free for some reason. I usually let the fermentation complete before racking . . . or I go straight to keg.
 
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Stevenhill

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Hi,

Thanks very much to both of you. I find this homebrewing thing fascinating, but also quite bewildering. It's good to know advice can be had from somewhere.

Books? Only one; The Big Book of Brewing by Dave Line. It's a great book, but the section on racking is a tiny bit ambiguous. He seems to suggest racking from primary vessel, to secondary vessel, to a third vessel with some Krausen yeast and priming sugar.... and THEN bottle with a dose of primer in there, too.

I could have misunderstood, of course.

My plan was to rack off from the primary after about 7 days, put it into my secondary fermentor (a pressure barrel with an airlock) then after a couple of weeks or so, siphon it to bottles with a little priming sugar and leave it for 3-4 weeks.

Assuming there's nothing terribly wrong with this technique, is this a sound way of doing it? will i get some carbonation from the residual yeast and priming sugar in the bottle?

Thanks again, everyone
 

Desert_Sky

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a great rule of thumb is the 1-2-3 rule

1 week in primary
2 weeks in secondary
3 weeks in bottles

As for the carbonation you asked about, yes, there will be plenty of yeast left in suspension to carbonate your bottles. do you have a bottling bucket to mix your priming sugar into?
 

david_42

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You really don't have to worry about transferring extra yeast. There is always enough in the wort. In fact, people rack from the clearing tank to a priming bucket to reduce the amount of yeast. Since you need to stir in the priming sugar before bottling, racking at that point is a good idea.

Fermenter: 1 week AND the krausen has fallen AND you've reached you target gravity
Clearing: 2 weeks AND it is clear enough OR you're tired of waiting
Bottling: 3 weeks plus 1 week for every ABV over 5%

When you rack or bottle doesn't change the aging time. You can bottle from the fermenter and add priming sugar to each bottle, but it will still take a minimum of 6 weeks.
 

Evan!

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I would also suggest a redirection cap for the end of your racking cane. This helps to reduce the amount of trub that is racked, and doesn't clog as easily as the racking cane if you're dryhopping.
 
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Stevenhill

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Thanks, Chaps...

Very helpful.

Just a couple of questions... I was planning to bottle straight from my secondary fermenter. is it wise to move it from there to a priming bucket, mix sugar with it, and then bottle it from there?

if doing that, do you guys recommend ordinary white sugar? or is there something better? and at what quantity? i have made 4 3/4 gallons, though I imagine i'll leave some behind when transfer the beer.

I don't have a specific bottliing bucket, but I do have a 5 gallon bucket with a tap and a length of hose i can fit to it, I guess that'll do the same job.

Evan.. I think I have a racking cane, as long as it's plastic tube on my siphon pipe with a hole about an inch from a closed-off end.. then I do.

David 42.. I notice you're posting from Oregon. I'm coming to Ashland for Christmas from San Francisco. Any favourite breweries you think i should have a look at en route?


Many thanks, fellas
 

dantodd

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Stevenhill said:
Just a couple of questions... I was planning to bottle straight from my secondary fermenter. is it wise to move it from there to a priming bucket, mix sugar with it, and then bottle it from there?
It is definitely better to rack into a bottling bucket (or any clean bucket.) You can boil up your priming sugar (use dextrose from the homebrew supply shop, not white sugar) and pour it into the bucket first. Then gently siphon your beer on top of the sugar. This will insure that the sugar is well mixed with the beer. You want to siphon carefully so that you don't get oxygen (air) mixed in with your beer. Oxygen at this time in the process can and will oxidize your beer creating off-flavors.

and at what quantity? i have made 4 3/4 gallons, though I imagine i'll leave some behind when transfer the beer.
It all depends upon how much carbonation your want in the batch. For a basic ale around 2.5 atm is common and you can get that with just under 4 oz. of dextrose in a 4.5 gallon batch. I'm sure someone else can give you a more precise answer. Let everyone know your beginning and finishing SG and the style for lots of suggestions.

I don't have a specific bottliing bucket, but I do have a 5 gallon bucket with a tap and a length of hose i can fit to it, I guess that'll do the same job.
Sure will, you obviously don't have to siphon as I mentioned above if you have a tap.
 
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Stevenhill

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Cool...

well, if I can keep it from going bad (like the last vinegar-esque batch) then I reckon i have the gear i need for the job.

In case anyone has any advice on sugar quantity, then what I'm trying to create here is a pale ale.

The starting gravity should be (and was) 1040, and racking gravity should be 1011-1012, according to the recipe.

Cheers
 

ajf

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For priming sugar when bottling, I (and many others) use 3/4 cup of dextrose to 5 gallons of beer. These measures are U.S. cups and U.S. gallons. Google should help you to convert to imperial measures if necessary.

-a.
 

Beer Snob

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Well... hmmm.... in the line of thought that a secondary is unnessary I'm not sure what to say about this. I guess my challenge would be for someone to cite a book where the intermediate/advanced section does not begin with a secondary. I mean I can not think of an authority on brewing who does not advocate the use of one. It helps with clarity... aging in bulk is all around a better alternative then in bottles. Guess it's just my 2 cents on this controveral topic.
 

sonvolt

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Beer Snob said:
I mean I can not think of an authority on brewing who does not advocate the use of one.
Jamil Zainishef (sp?) from the brewing network (BN) is the brewer who finally made me realize that it is ok to shirk the secondary. There are certainly styles for which a secondary is a vital step; however, most of the lower to medium gravity ales you do will be just fine without it.

Try it sometime. Put one of your 1.045-1.055 OG ales in primary and leave it for 10-15 days. Then, rack 2.5 gals to secondary and bottle/keg the other 2.5. Then condition/age them for the same amount of time, etc. See if you can tell the difference. I can't.

Now, I'll admit that this works best with a good flocculating yeast strain like Nottingham or the Cali Ale yeast strain.

Additionally, bulk aging is not a technique that can only be done in the secondary. Autolysis takes a long time to happen. You could leave an ale in the primary for well over a month without any adverse effect on the taste of the beer. I believe that Chris White (owner/lead yeast farmer at White Labs) has verified this one.

This is what is great about homebrewing - we all have different techniques, etc.; but we all make some damn good beer despite doing it completely differently.
 

Jack

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I think we often forget that we brew because we like it.

So even IF the use of a secondary didn't do anything, I think most people would still want to do it just because it means more time doing what we like.
 

cha ngo

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sonvolt said:
Jamil Zainishef (sp?) from the brewing network (BN) is the brewer who finally made me realize that it is ok to shirk the secondary. There are certainly styles for which a secondary is a vital step; however, most of the lower to medium gravity ales you do will be just fine without it.

Try it sometime. Put one of your 1.045-1.055 OG ales in primary and leave it for 10-15 days. Then, rack 2.5 gals to secondary and bottle/keg the other 2.5. Then condition/age them for the same amount of time, etc. See if you can tell the difference. I can't.

Now, I'll admit that this works best with a good flocculating yeast strain like Nottingham or the Cali Ale yeast strain.

Additionally, bulk aging is not a technique that can only be done in the secondary. Autolysis takes a long time to happen. You could leave an ale in the primary for well over a month without any adverse effect on the taste of the beer. I believe that Chris White (owner/lead yeast farmer at White Labs) has verified this one.

This is what is great about homebrewing - we all have different techniques, etc.; but we all make some damn good beer despite doing it completely differently.
Amen brother.
My AG pale ale goes from brewpot to my belly in under two weeks (force carbonated). If it was any more delicious, I would never go to work.
 
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Stevenhill

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Thanks everyone...

I think I'm going to do the secondary fermenter route this time as a way of getting involved.. if that makes any sense.. it's sitting in the corner fermenting right now, I can't drink it, so I'm dying to get hands-on with it somehow.

I took out a sample to measure it's gravity just before I pitched. As an experiment I put some bread yeast into the sample to see what would happen. It's been bubbling happily ever since and I've been making my girlfriend taste it and comment on it surprisingly beer like quality.

Not quite ready for quaffing yet.. though try telling the beer-flies that...

One more thing; I don't seem to be able to find dextrose for sale in the brewers shops here (in the UK). I'll keep looking, but is it ever known by any other name, perhaps a brand name?
 

ajf

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Dextrose, AKA Corn Sugar (U.S.) AKA brewing sugar AKA Glucose.

I suspect Glucose is the most common name in the UK (at least it was 25 years ago).

-a.
 
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Stevenhill

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Thanks for that, AJF.

I will get myself some and prime it in a barrel.

I have moved it to the secondary vessel this weekend, and it tastes ok! I took half a wine bottle worth so i can keep my eye on it.

Let's hope it stays uncontaminated until it matures.

Thanks to everyone for your help.


Steve
 

Grimsawyer

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Stevenhill said:
...David 42.. I notice you're posting from Oregon. I'm coming to Ashland for Christmas from San Francisco. Any favourite breweries you think i should have a look at en route?...
I can reccomend Rogue Brewery on the oregon coast. It is 70 miles or so from Salem, OR. It is in Newport. I went there about 3 months ago and I can still smell the sweet wort in the air. It was a religeous experience. At 4pm every day they have a tour through the brewery... and they GIVE YOU A FREE BEER!!! What's the best kind of beer?...FREE BEER!!! Ok, so it was a pilsner, but it was the best pilsner I've had yet. Rogue brewery is not a microbrew anymore. They produce over the amount of BBL to be considered micro. They are now an artisan brewery... *shrug* They have 20 beers on tap and all of them are good. I tried them all over a few days, even the styles I don't really care for, and they all ROCK! I can't remember what all of them taste like because I really go for the hoppy higher alcohol ales. They have an IPA that's killer, something called Brutal Bitter that is out of this world and my favorite, their barleywine Old Crustacian. They also have an odd beer called Chipolte ale. It has a smokey flavor and a strong chipolte pepper flavor. It isn't spicy hot, but a very odd yet wonderful beer. I suggest at least a taste to everyone. Caught me off guard. Anyhow, that is the only brewery I've been to but it was the one brewery that all the beers I have bought in stores I've always liked. I want to check out a few more breweries in the portland area but I'm not as thrilled as rogue. All the other companies have one or 2 beers I like and I'm not too fond of the rest. Call it personal preference. Some people love all the others and that is GREAT!!! :rockin: Sorry for hijacking your thread but if you are coming up here so close to the oregon coast and want to hit a brewery you CAN'T miss out on the Rogue Brewery. :rockin: :rockin: :rockin:
 

dewey316

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The Rogue Brewery in Newport, is a bit of a drive from Ashland (3-4 hours). Rogue does have a brew pub in Ashland that you could go to. If you are going to the Oregon Coast for the Rogue tour, I also suggest going to Pelican Brewery, it is a smaller opperation than Rogue is, but they make GREAT beer, and have great food.
 
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Stevenhill

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Nice one, fellas..

I will look them up as we're going to be touring about a little anyway. I have heard of Rogue, and I think i had some as my girlfriend brought a few bottles back the last time she went. They were all lovely... i was really, really impressed.

I now defend American beers when my friends talk about Budweiser as the epitome of US ales. Shame you guys don't ship us the good stuff, but I don't blame you... !

Let them eat Bud.... ;)

Thanks again, and i'll keep checking this for a couple of weeks if you've got any more ideas.
 
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