Question about secondaries...

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NocturnalEMT

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I keep reading threads about people doing a secondary....can someone please explain/elaborate the pro's and con's to doing this. Are there even any advantages to doing this?
 

BigB

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Some people believe that by doing a secondary, you help clarify the beer and to improve the flavor of the beer by getting it off of the yeast cake. Others believe that it is unnecessary and that your beer will be just as clear regardless. Further those that don't believe in using a secondary also argue that you are actually doing your beer a disservice by removing the beer off of the majority of the yeast cake prior to the conditioning phase being complete. John Palmer used to advocate a secondary but he changed his position because in a homebrewing scenario, there is not enough pressure in the fermentor to cause any issues that would necessitate a secondary. I personally only move to a secondary after two weeks and thats only if I'm dry hopping or adding fruit...this in itself is not necessary, only a personal preference to keep the trub down. I also transfer to a secondary when lagering but only because I lager for extended periods.
 

Malticulous

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There is a strong anti-secondary moment here. Most ales don't need one.

I do it to harvest yeast, dry hop, lager, age and/or fine. There are plenty of good reasons to use one.
 

Revvy

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What specifically are you looking for that you aren't getting from all the other threads on here about it? A basic definition of what a secondary is?

The traditional definintion of a secondary is a vessel used to clear, or bulk condition beer, or to add an andjuct such as fruit, hops (though many dryhop during extended primaries) or oak to the beer. Or to Lager beers in.

Besides the post which atom posted, the debates about using it as opposed to long primaries have been done to death on here....If you're looking for more of that, I suggest you read THIS thread, it's become the "uber discussion" on this topic.

To Secondary or Not? John Palmer and Jamil Zainasheff Weigh In .

Most everyone on this forum has already ventured their opinions on the subject many many many many many many many many many many times, and most of them have ended up in the above thread. If you really do want opinions, and even some facts and citations, and articles, podcasts and other things on this topic, hit that thread, then make up your own mind.

What else are you looking for/ Every day there's at least 2-3 threads about whether or not to use them, and what folks do....it's not like it's an undiscussed subject on here, if you need something more specific what is it?
 

Malticulous

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Traditionally the secondary was to carbonate lagers. It's not really been part of ale brewing.

The only reason JP changed his POV is the risk of oxidation from the transfer not because the yeast are doing anything. If the yeast were still active they would scrub off any oxygen like they do in traditional lagering.
 

BigB

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If you're looking for more of that, I suggest you read THIS thread, it's become the "uber discussion" on this topic.

To Secondary or Not? John Palmer and Jamil Zainasheff Weigh In .
Revvy, that was one of the threads I was referring to, so thanks for adding the link. But there was another thread that I thought you were involved in a couple years back with a brewer from overseas...unfortunately I cannot remember his name. It was a pretty good discussion as he had very strong opinions as to why to secondary. Do you remember who that brewer was or have a link handy to that thread. I agree its been done to death, but thats the problem for the new brewers... is that when they do a search, they are just innundated with way too many results and often overlook the quality threads.
 
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NocturnalEMT

NocturnalEMT

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the thread was great, but I have to start somewhere, I've actually put countless hours on here researching and learning all this. Maybe a sticky could be put in the beginners forum regarding continuous questions that rookie brewers have....just a suggestion. I even checking in the Hall o Fame sticky under introductions. It's not like I am posting on here without putting my search time in.
 

Yooper

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the thread was great, but I have to start somewhere, I've actually put countless hours on here researching and learning all this. Maybe a sticky could be put in the beginners forum regarding continuous questions that rookie brewers have....just a suggestion. I even checking in the Hall o Fame sticky under introductions. It's not like I am posting on here without putting my search time in.
Please don't ever feel the need to apologize about asking a question! The point of a forum is just that- asking questions and discussing things. If we didn't have people asking questions every day, then we wouldn't exist as a forum anymore!

Remember that you can ask any question at any time. If someone doesn't want to answer, there are 2500 others online at any given time that will answer. No one is hogtying anybody to the computer forcing them to answer questions!

So, ask away. Ask the same question more than once, even, if you feel like the answers are ambiguous. That's why we are here, and that's how others learn along with each of us.

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BigB

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I transfer to secondary after the diacetyl rest. Then I slowly lower the temp to the lagering range.
 
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NocturnalEMT

NocturnalEMT

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how can you know when the "diacetyl rest" has occured or has finished? is there a sign that I should be noticing?
 

BigB

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The diacetyl rest is typically started when fermentation is 75% complete. The warmed up yeast will tend to consume the diacetyl that was created prior to fermentation being completed. The diacetyl rest is done when the beer has reached FG. There is no real sign that it is done besides a hydrometer reading or if you desire, to taste the wort for signs of diacetyl. Sometimes there is little to no diacetyl created during fermentation, but I always do a diacetyl rest with lagers as a precautionary measure.
 

Calichusetts

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I don't understand the oxidation arguement for not using a secondary. I keep hearing on here that transfers create oxidation, but we all bottle or transfer to a keg so its going to happen anyway. I also here that oxidation takes a while to affect the taste of beer, yet most ales are not aged that long (6+ months). Am I missing something?
 

pjj2ba

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I don't understand the oxidation arguement for not using a secondary. I keep hearing on here that transfers create oxidation, but we all bottle or transfer to a keg so its going to happen anyway. I also here that oxidation takes a while to affect the taste of beer, yet most ales are not aged that long (6+ months). Am I missing something?
No you are not. We have to keep in mind that many of the "instructions" are geared a bit towards the worst case scenario of what a homebrewer might do. That is, the instructions tend to err on the side of them likely not being done well, so if that is the case you should do it this way............

It is not difficult at all to transfer to a secondary with no risk of oxidation. For those of us who keg and have CO2 available it is extremely easy. For those without, it is still easy to gently move the beer.

Risk of contamination is also a concern. But with proper care and technique this is not an issue.

If you think you might have a problem with either of these, just leave the beer where it is. Keep in mind that leaving the beer on the cake will affect the flavor. Some like this flavor some do not. The best advice is to try it both ways and decide which flavors YOU like.
 

Calichusetts

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Yeah, I figured this is more precautionary...I siphon a total of 4 times from boil to bottle and have never had an infection or oxidation, but I am pretty cautious during all of this
 

Malticulous

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I transfer to secondary after the diacetyl rest. Then I slowly lower the temp to the lagering range.

I don't see any point in slowly lowering the temp after diacetyl is consumed. Diacetyl is the last thing yeast will consume. After that they have to go dormant. There are no longer any sources for energy.

I crash the primary after diacetyl is gone. Then rack to secondary, keg, or bottling bucket. Bottles will be lagered after carbonation. I'll crash them longer because lager yeast is not very nice in bottles. I'll reyeast with a better ale yeast.

You don't have to raise them temperature at all. Yeast will consume diacetyl at any temp they are active at. Many brewers wait too long before doing the rest. The beer is finished. When they raise the temp they see air lock activity but it's just residual CO2 coming out of solution not form any yeast activity. The diacetyl was consumed at fermentation temp and the beer is probably fine.

In traditionally lagering at about four points above FG it's moved to secondary and the temp is slowly lowered. Over the next few days due to the higher solubility of CO2 the beer is carbonated and then diacetyl is consumed. It has to be lowered slowly because the yeast will go dormant somewhere under 40F anyway.
 

BigB

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Maticulous, I agree that my process may not be "necessary" and that your assessment of yeast activity and consumption of diacetyl is accurate. However, a diacetyl rest with slow reduction to lagering temperture "could help" in the reduction of diacetyl. This is why Palmer and Noonan advocate the procedure I use. Will your method work? Absolutely. Will mine? Absolutely. I just like having one more layer of precaution...just in case I get sloppy.
 

Malticulous

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I do raise the temp near the end of fermentation (10-15 points above FG). It's more than just for diacetyl, it's the get it to FG faster.
 
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