Oxygenation during transfer to secondary

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Tony Domenico

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I'm a novice brewer, and I've got a batch of ale going. So I'm following the instructions on my kit that say, "transfer to secondary." AFTER I did that, I came online to ask, "why did I do that?" That's when I found out that you really, really want to avoid oxygenation during that transfer.

Judging by the amount of bubbles present after I opened that spigot and let it slosh into my carboy, I'd say I oxygenated the hell out of it. I guess next time I'll use the siphon....

I've read some posts that say that oxidation takes time and that I should bottle it and drink it quickly.

Question: if I bottle it now, how long should I wait until I start drinking it?
 

foolsbrew

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Question: if I bottle it now, how long should I wait until I start drinking it?
After a week, it will be somewhat carbonated and drinkable, but far from ideal. It's up to you to drink a bottle or two for tasting.
After two weeks, it will be decently carbonated, and you can start drinking it. Some people consider this enough and they will start refrigerating the first bottles. It still won't be the best of the batch though.
By the third week, you can consider it done and start drinking.

It's accepted that you should refrigerate it for a few days before you open the bottle. Once they are ready, keep them refrigerated for a few days before you drink.

Almost all kinds of beer gets better with age, the exception is hoppy beers where people prefer it fresh, but the "fresh" is still at least 2 weeks in bottle.
 
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Tony Domenico

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After a week, it will be somewhat carbonated and drinkable, but far from ideal. It's up to you if you start drinking or drink a bottle or two for tasting.
After two weeks, it will be decently carbonated, and you can start drinking it. Some people consider this enough and they will start refrigerating the first bottles. It still won't be the best of the batch though.
By the third week, you can consider it done and start drinking.

It's accepted that you should refrigerate it for a few days before you open the bottle. Once you plan on drinking them, keep them refrigerated for better beer.

Almost all kinds of beer gets better with age, the exception is hoppy beer where people prefer it fresh, but the fresh is still at least 2 weeks of carbonation.

Cool. Thanks for the response. So 2-3 weeks is still OK even if I got a lot of oxygen in it?
 

IslandLizard

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I think you meant so say "aeration" because you allowed "air" (containing ~21% oxygen) to mix in with your beer during transfer.
Oxygenation is 5x worse, as that would mean you'd used pure (100%) oxygen, 5x more oxygen than in air. ;)

Once fermentation starts any air (oxygen) exposure should be limited as much as possible, ideally totally avoided. The oxygen in the air will cause oxidation of your beer, some works fast others become more prominent over time.

So yeah, you did a number on it.
Secondaries are not needed, with very, very few exceptions. Kit and older recipe instructions are notoriously outdated.

There's not much you can do about it. Don't dump it, it may still be very drinkable.
As long as the beer has finished, bottle ASAP. Keep 'em in a warm area (70-76F) for a week or 2, chill some and start drinking.

Any warranty on that kit? Maybe you can get a free new kit out of it?
 

foolsbrew

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Cool. Thanks for the response. So 2-3 weeks is still OK even if I got a lot of oxygen in it?
It's going to be kind of flat before the 2 week mark, so you don't have a lot of choice. I am going to say the more you wait, the better, even if you messed up. If you don't like the result, forget about them and check back after a month :)

Secondaries are not needed, with very, very few exceptions. Kit and older recipe instructions are notoriously outdated.
This, I'd avoid the secondary entirely in further batches unless you have a good reason to use one.
 

beernutz

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The kit instructions just said 'transfer to secondary' without suggesting how to do this or stating why avoiding aeration was a good thing? Which kit are you using?
I'm a novice brewer, and I've got a batch of ale going. So I'm following the instructions on my kit that say, "transfer to secondary." AFTER I did that, I came online to ask, "why did I do that?" That's when I found out that you really, really want to avoid oxygenation during that transfer.

Judging by the amount of bubbles present after I opened that spigot and let it slosh into my carboy, I'd say I oxygenated the hell out of it. I guess next time I'll use the siphon....

I've read some posts that say that oxidation takes time and that I should bottle it and drink it quickly.

Question: if I bottle it now, how long should I wait until I start drinking it?
 

mongoose33

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It seems as if almost all kits today recommend using a secondary....which is generally bad advice. Exceptions: long-term aging, perhaps using fruit or other adjuncts, and maybe if you just had to free up the primary fermenter for more beer.

But very, very few brewers here use a secondary. There are several negatives to using a secondary. More to clean. It's very likely you'll oxidize your beer. More hassle.

What you should generally do is let the beer sit in the primary fermenter for 10 days to 2 weeks. This gives the beer time to condition, which is a magical process in which "Meh" beer becomes "Wow" beer. Seriously, you need to give the beer some time, and it will amply reward you.
 
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Tony Domenico

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Pretty sure the kit doesn't have a warranty. We'll just chock this one up to a learning experience....

Thanks for all the advice. I'm gonna go ahead and get to bottling, wait a few weeks, and cross my fingers.
 

IslandLizard

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I'm gonna go ahead and get to bottling
Again, try as much as possible to avoid any (more) air exposure during transfer to your bottling bucket (you got one?) and when filling the bottles.
Do you have a "bottling wand" (a hollow plastic tube with a push valve on the bottom)?

Did you measure your final gravity?
 
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Tony Domenico

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I do have the wand. I will use that to transfer to the bucket and then to the bottles.

Starting gravity was 1.06. Final was 1.011.
 

monkeymath

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Sort of an unpopular opinion, but I think the impact of oxidation is blown out of proportion. Some beers are more sensitive to it than others, it can probably wreak havoc on a NEIPA, but I wouldn't fret over it in a Brown Ale (sure, I try to avoid it and don't unnecessarily introduce oxygen).

In short: rdwhahb.
 
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Tony Domenico

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Sort of an unpopular opinion, but I think the impact of oxidation is blown out of proportion. Some beers are more sensitive to it than others, it can probably wreak havoc on a NEIPA, but I wouldn't fret over it in a Brown Ale (sure, I try to avoid it and don't unnecessarily introduce oxygen).

In short: rdwhahb.
Well that's food for thought (while I sit and ponder what 'rdwhahb' means.)

This is a 'cream ale'--not an IPA--. I got it as a gift.

Anyone else have an opinion as far as 'bottle immediately' or 'let it sit another week?'
 

bkboiler

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I've made several cream ales. If you're at final gravity I'd bottle it immediately. Did you buy oxygen absorbing caps?
This will similarly be an unpopular opinion around here, but you could raise the gravity by 3 points or so with some lactose and add some vanilla extract in the bottling bucket along with your dextrose.
Personally that's how I prefer my cream ale... But it's highly frowned upon by people who brew to style...
In this case, those flavorings along with making it highly carbonated and serving very cold could cover the oxidation. I'd pull a fermenter sample right away using a sanitized wine thief or turkey baster and taste to see what you think... bear in mind warm flat beer generally doesn't taste that great so you need to use your imagination somewhat.
Best of luck, let us know how it turns out!
 
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Sort of an unpopular opinion, but I think the impact of oxidation is blown out of proportion. Some beers are more sensitive to it than others, it can probably wreak havoc on a NEIPA, but I wouldn't fret over it in a Brown Ale (sure, I try to avoid it and don't unnecessarily introduce oxygen).

In [this link] will get you to a "link dump" of some recent closed transfer topics here at HBs. In those topics, you should find a variety of opinions (at the moment, I've only skimmed through two of the topics, and the counter balancing opinions take a while to "show up").

Kits (including those with notoriously outdated processes) get us started; discussion moves us forward.

:mug:
 

IslandLizard

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I do have the wand. I will use that to transfer to the bucket and then to the bottles.

Starting gravity was 1.06. Final was 1.011.
You also have a siphon or racking cane to get the beer out of the carboy and into the bottling bucket?

You don't need the bottling wand itself to transfer the beer to the bottling bucket. Just use the vinyl tubing, just be aware there's a method for doing it correctly, to limit aeration, or even prevent it (closed transfer, mentioned above ^ by @BrewnWKopperKat) as there is "a" method for everything we do here.

The wand (hard plastic tube w/ valve) is just used for filling the bottles, providing a nifty way to fill them to the top, and when pulling out, stop the flow while leaving just enough headspace behind.

At 1.011 it's most likely done.
 

day_trippr

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Sort of an unpopular opinion, but I think the impact of oxidation is blown out of proportion. Some beers are more sensitive to it than others, it can probably wreak havoc on a NEIPA, but I wouldn't fret over it in a Brown Ale (sure, I try to avoid it and don't unnecessarily introduce oxygen).

In short: rdwhahb.

You managed to give yourself enough cover that I won't have to thrash you soundly for this post ;)

Post-fermentation oxygen exposure is never A Good Thing.
Some styles are much more sensitive to it than others...

Cheers!
 

mongoose33

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But it's highly frowned upon by people who brew to style...

This is a mild thread tangent, but I like that you're brewing what you want to drink, rather than being a slave to the style nazis.

I have a few beers that are difficult to label as to style. My response to those who might have difficulty with that is "so what?" I like 'em!

I think it's normal for new brewers, early in their brewing career, to try to match styles. After all, that's what competitions usually do--they see how close brewers can come to a style.

But for me, I don't care much about that. I care whether I like the beer I brew, and whether people who drink the beer want a second one, which nobody does except for one reason: they like it.

There's a local guy here who's a long term brewer who cannot seem to assess a beer except by comparing it to styles. Early on I wanted to know if he though a beer I brewed was good, and all he could do is say the carbonation was less than the style indicates, too much of this for the style, and so on. I just wanted to know if the beer was good, and he couldn't seem to answer that simple question.

So, @Tony Domenico, in the end I hope your beer turns out (probably will have some issues, but that's not unusual), and enjoy the journey forward. There's much to learn and great beer to drink! :)

RDWHAHB: Relax, don't worry, have a home brew. You can't do this....yet. Give it a couple weeks. :)

Now, I use other indicators of whether my beer is good. Do I like it (the most important criterion)? Do others like it? If they don't care for it, is it that they don't care for the style, or are there problems with the beer like off flavors? I don't like Belgians, but I can judge them, and tell you if they're good for the style, even though I'd never buy one.

I also use other criteria, such as friends who want to buy my beer at commercial prices, or someone who wants to sell my beer (can't, no license).
 

eric19312

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One good thing on your side is you are bottling and not kegging. Bottle conditioning takes care of a lot of cold side oxygen exposure. It won’t reverse oxidation that has already occurred, but you probably can’t taste that anyway. But it will scrub the beer of oxygen during bottle refermentation and that will prevent further oxidation. So yeah I’d vote for bottle it up and let the bottles be your secondary fermentors.
 

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