Primary Bucket - Ok for extended primary fermentation?

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GonzoIllini

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I am a new homebrewer who just bottled my first batch this morning (Brewers Best American Micro Pale Ale). I bottled after 7 days and checking my hydrometer reading on 3 consecutive days and seeing no change. (OG 1.046 / F.G. 1.008). After extended browsing of this forum as well as Palmers online book and Papazians book i have a question that has been nagging at me.

The consensus on this site seems to be to leave your beer in your primary fermentation device even after primary fermentation is over. I understand the reasons behind this, but my question is can I also do this using a plastic bucket as my primary?

Papazian seems to label this as an "open" fermentation saying that the maximum amount of time in plastic buckets should be 10 days. However, i see that many of you are saying that for most beers we should skip the secondary fermenter (5 gallon glass carboy in my case) and simply let the beer sit in our primary fermenters for an extended period of time to allow it to clear.

So my question is... is it ok to let my beer do an extended fermentation in a plastic bucket? This is an "Ale Pail" primary with lid and an airlock. Thanks for your help!

Cheers!
 

llazy_llama

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If your bucket has a lid and an airlock, there's no reason why you couldn't/shouldn't let it sit another week or so. If you aren't racking to secondary, you should really let it sit for a while. Personally, for a pale ale, I'd rack it to secondary after 2 weeks to really have a clear final product, but that's my personal 2 shillings.

Edited: Reread your post, and saw that you bottled after 7 days. Your beer should be just fine, just make sure to let it condition, and don't get greedy. Let her rest up, and your beer will be delicious.
 
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GonzoIllini

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Ok thanks for some quick input. Yea i probably should have let my beer sit longer, but i was following a hybrid of instructions from Palmer, Papazian, and the instructions from my brewers best kit.

Luckily my primary is now empty so as soon as i get back to the LHBS i can start my second batch.

Thanks and Cheers!
 

MajorTom

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With that low of an OG beer, you beer will turn out just fine. Maybe a little more sediment in the bottles than you would like though.
 

Revvy

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I leave my beers in primary for a month no matter what fermenter I use, and I use both buckets and carboys...

One thing to remember is that Papazian, as wonderful as it is, was written 30 years ago...and a lot of "science" or "common wisdom" that he as an author tapped into has evolved....all authors face this issue with their work.

His basic info is timeless....how to brew beer, figure out recipes, etc...but some of the info is just a reflection of the "opinions," or prevailing wisdom of the times, and may not even reflect his current beliefs...There's a podcast with Papazian from a year or so ago, where he talks about just having started using rice hulls in his mash ton...so if he doesn't update the book again, or write a new one, unless you've heard the podcast or read it on here, you won't KNOW about it.

Here's a good example John Palmer basically admits that what he wrote about IBU's in How to brew, was esentially "wrong" or at least outdated in light of new science...

March 20, 2008 - What Is an IBU . . . Really?
John Palmer, author of How to Brew, shares information from a conference that challenged his concept of what defines an International Bitterness Unit (IBU).

http://media.libsyn.com/media/basicbrewing/bbr03-20-08ibu.mp3
I cite that podcast as an example of how the knowlegebase shifts so fast in this hobby because of places like this or podcasts...A book is a snapshot of the author's body of knowlege and the "common wisdom" at the time the author wrote the book, which may mean 3 years before it was even published. Papazian's book is 30+ years old. The basic knowlege is good, but brewing science and experience has progressed to where some things an author believes or says at that time may no-longer be valid...even to the author.

I mean I look at my own writings, including my E-book on spirituality, it was written back in 1999-2000, and a lot of my beliefs and ideas have shifted about things in the 8 years...

In that Podcast, Palmer basically contradicts in some was what he wrote in HTB...and I bet it will be reflected in his subsequent writings, but if he doesn't go back and revise HTB, and people don't read or listen to anything by him after, than they won't realize that the knowlegebase has already shifted...

In terms of long primaring, back then, yeah autolysis WAS the big fear at the time of Papazian, someone said this week it may have been a reflection of the oldier and crappier yeasts in the pre-prohibition days.....

Also what is of concern to commercial brewers of light lagers (by the way to lager means to store for a great length of time) or lager brewers in general doesn't necessarily apply to ales...or doesn't apply for a few weeks (or even a couple months of a healthy yeast cake.)

But things, like science, and even the yeasts themselves have changed, and we by our OWN experience have witnessed how much better our beer is when we've left it alone in primary for 2-4 weeks.

By the way a closed, sealed bucket, with an airlock is NOT an open fermentation vessel...an open fermentation would be a bucket without a lid, or a pie tin or towel on it like what was done before homebrewing was legalized in 1978...

Rememeber Papazian was writing his book from right around that time period, when yeasts cake in dry cakes and may not have even been stored properly, and many people just placed towles and cookie sheets on their ceramic crock pot fermenters.

It is podcasts and forums like this where you will find a lot more state of the art, or current views, and even scientific information...I mean if Jamil, John Palmer or Papazian even farts on a podcast, one of us beergeeks are going to start a thread on it within 10 minutes.

:D
 
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GonzoIllini

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Revvy thanks for your reply, and honestly your threads on bottling and relaxing if you think you made a mistake have helped me out tremendously in my initial interest in this hobby. I found myself having "information overload" about what i should do to make my first batch the best it could possibly be. Before i started brewing i read Palmer's online book, Papazian's book, the book with my homebrewing kit, the directions for the brewers best kit, and this forum. Now that i have the basic process down and am more comfortable with my cleaning and sanitation procedures i feel that subsequent batches will only get better.

I was under the impression that Papazian updated his book every once in a while, and since i have the third edition the publishing page has 2003 listed as the time for the third edition. However, i completely understand and agree with your point about the rapid evolution of this hobby.

Thanks for the confirmation about my plastic bucket being a "closed" fermentation system, and now i feel much more comfortable leaving my beers in the primary for an extended period of time. People like Revvy have made this forum and hobby much more accessible to people like me who are just beginning in this hobby.

Cheers!
 

Revvy

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I was under the impression that Papazian updated his book every once in a while, and since i have the third edition the publishing page has 2003 listed as the time for the third edition. However, i completely understand and agree with your point about the rapid evolution of this hobby.
Cheers!
Most of the time when someone "revises" a book they don't necessarilly "re-write" the entire thing...and unless they annotated the changes, often all a "revised" edition has to make it up to date is a new introduction, and maybe the addition or removal of some things. But Rarely is a revision in a book a serious comb through of the entire book. If an author plans to devote months to an extensive revision, they more than likely would just write a new book anyway.

And it's usually done for money or simply to get it back into the marketplace after a long lag..Sometimes a revised edition is simply a new cover or a different shaped book (like a trade paperback.) With a new intro and conclusion tagged on...

So there's really no way to know too much how updated the book was..I mean my copy is the 2002 edition iirc, and the photos are still pretty much have the look of bygone times.

:mug:
 

fat_al33

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I'm thinking of trying the long primary / no secondary method advocated by many on this blog. At the moment I'm using a bucket with a loosely fitting lid (no airlock) as my primary and a BB carboy as my secondary. Anyone think I'll run into trouble using my current bucket with loosely fitting lid for a long primary (3-4 weeks)?
 

Billy

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I'm thinking of trying the long primary / no secondary method advocated by many on this blog. At the moment I'm using a bucket with a loosely fitting lid (no airlock) as my primary and a BB carboy as my secondary. Anyone think I'll run into trouble using my current bucket with loosely fitting lid for a long primary (3-4 weeks)?
I wouldn't recommend it. Personally I'd go get a stopper and air lock for the BB, should be able to pick them up for under $10 at your LHBS. I think you'll notice a marked improvement to the clarity by sticking with a primary for a month and no secondary, but the risk of infection leaving a loose lid and no air lock is something I wouldn't want to chance. I hate the idea of having to dump a batch due to infection and horrible off-flavors.
 

eon

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I leave all my beers in primary for 3 weeks, bottle for 2 weeks, then drink! works for me so far...

RDWHAHB! :mug:
 

jollytim

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Many a beer have been made using nothing more than a cloth over the bucket to keep out critters. The CO2 layer will insulate the beer from O2, the lid will work to keep out debris. An airlock is NOT mandatory, it's only a safety feature.

I wouldn't worry about it, use an extended fermentation just the way it is. If that makes you too nervous, by all means move to the BB with an airlock. It's a hobby, it's not any fun if you can't relax. Take the extra step, if that helps you relax.
 

jfr1111

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I wouldn't recommend it. Personally I'd go get a stopper and air lock for the BB, should be able to pick them up for under $10 at your LHBS. I think you'll notice a marked improvement to the clarity by sticking with a primary for a month and no secondary, but the risk of infection leaving a loose lid and no air lock is something I wouldn't want to chance. I hate the idea of having to dump a batch due to infection and horrible off-flavors.
My first batch was left in primary with a loose lid for SIX WEEKS (lid closed all the way except for a small opening). No infection, great taste. Bacterias and wild yeast aren't ninjas, they need to drop into the fermentation vessel to actually infect the beer or, more accurately, try to. Because once fermentation has stopped, beer is not hospitable to other yeasts or bacterias. Think about it: at bottling time, you usually have your precious beer siphoned through a tube and going into another opened vessel for sometimes 2 hours in your kitchen, wich is probably the dirtiest room in the house when it comes to bugs.

If you don't mess with the beer (ie: open the fermentor), the CO2 blanket will stay put and protect it from oxygen. Now, I wouldn't push my luck and leave in primary again for more than 4 weeks in that manner, but it can and does work. You just have to gauge the risk.
 

Clifton

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I know that this thread is old but I wanted to add something.

A loose fitting lid may not be an issue for wild yeasts, etc.

However, I had a batch of wine fermented in a bucket with a loose fitting lid ruined by fruitflies. It wasn't really ruined it was just turned into red wine vinegar.

I just can't bring myself to drizzle it over my salad though. So I use it in my fruit fly traps.
 
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