Questions about racking to secondary with fruit

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msarro

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So my next beer is going to involve fruit. I've had numerous people suggest that I rack to secondary and add the fruit there. I just have some questions...

First, after some research i see a number of people suggesting that I get a glass carboy for secondary fermentations. That's fine. However if I'm pouring in 5 gallons of beer, as well as fruit puree, that's going to overflow the carboy. So do I need to hunt down a 6 or 7 gallon carboy for the project?

Next, when you actually do the racking, how do you do it without adding a ton of oxygen in the process? Can I use a pressure duster (canister of c02 plus a sprayer and shoot that into the headspace before putting in the stopper)?

When adding the fruit puree, do I need to pasteurize it first?

Thanks for the help!
 

pericles

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First, after some research i see a number of people suggesting that I get a glass carboy for secondary fermentations. That's fine. However if I'm pouring in 5 gallons of beer, as well as fruit puree, that's going to overflow the carboy. So do I need to hunt down a 6 or 7 gallon carboy for the project?
Yes, although another option is to brew a base beer that you enjoy, like a pale ale or a stout, and then pour just two-and-a-half gallons of the fermented wort into secondary over fruit. Keg or bottle the remainder, and you'll have a half-batch of the base beer, and a half a batch of the fruit beer.

Next, when you actually do the racking, how do you do it without adding a ton of oxygen in the process? Can I use a pressure duster (canister of c02 plus a sprayer and shoot that into the headspace before putting in the stopper)?
When you rack to secondary, make sure the fruit goes in first, and then put the racking tube at the very bottom of the secondary vessel. Once your siphon gets started, the wort will quickly rise above the level of the tube's end, and the only portion of your wort exposed to oxygen will be the surface of the wort. (The other option is to leave the tube at the top of the secondary vessel, in which case every drop of the wort is exposed to oxygen as it pours down the side.)

You can definitely purge the secondary vessel with CO2 before you rack, and that's a good technique to have in your back-pocket. Many people purge bottles and kegs with CO2 before packaging. Make sure that whatever CO2 you use is at least food-grade, though, since I've been told that some industrial CO2s include trace amounts of oil.

When adding the fruit puree, do I need to pasteurize it first?
There's a bit of a debate about this. In the first place, remember that your wort is going to have a fair amount of alcohol in it by the time you rack to secondary, so a SMALL number of bacteria shouldn't cause an infection. Also, if you're using canned puree, that's usually already been pasteurized, so additional pasteurization is probably unnecessary, and will dilute the flavor of your fruit.

That said, I always pasteurize, just to be safe. And, of course, if you're using fresh-fruit, then there's no reason to believe that it isn't just crawling with bacteria. That stuff I think most of us would agree needs to be sanitized somehow.

Good luck, and let us know how it turns out!
 
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msarro

msarro

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Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate it! PM me if you're ever out in Philly, I'll buy ya a beer at monks for the help :)
 
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msarro

msarro

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One more question, if racking on to fruit, will any of the fruit juice be fermented? I'd hate for it to just water down everything. I'm looking at using pears, pureeing them, and using a clampden tablet and pectic enzyme to help free up even more sugar. It'll be from fresh pears since I have a buddy who works at a fruit wholesaler and can get me a good deal on about 12lbs of pears. I'm assuming that'll yield at least a gallon of juice.
 

pericles

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One of the tricky things about racking onto fruit is that, unless you're using fruit extract, you're also adding additional fermentable sugars. This re-starts active fermentation, so you'll see air-lock activity, and maybe a second kreusen. That means that, even though you're using a secondary vessel, your beer may turn out even cloudier than it was before you racked.

Another side effect is that you'll have to wait for your ferment to completely stop before bottling, or else you risk bottle bombs. If you're kegging, on the other hand, transferring early will cause over-carbonation and lots of foaming.

If I want an especially clear beer, I rack off the fruit to a tertiary vessel after the beer has completely finished the second round of active fermentation that the fruit jumpstarts. This step really isn't necessary, since the beer will continue to brighten and condition in either the bottle or the keg, but I like to do it anyway because (1) it gives me the chance to make doubly sure that fermentation has ceased, and (2) doesn't take up space in my bottles or kegs, which are more valuable real-estate for me than my fermenters.
 
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msarro

msarro

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One of the tricky things about racking onto fruit is that, unless you're using fruit extract, you're also adding additional fermentable sugars. This re-starts active fermentation, so you'll see air-lock activity, and maybe a second kreusen. That means that, even though you're using a secondary vessel, your beer may turn out even cloudier than it was before you racked.

Another side effect is that you'll have to wait for your ferment to completely stop before bottling, or else you risk bottle bombs. If you're kegging, on the other hand, transferring early will cause over-carbonation and lots of foaming.

If I want an especially clear beer, I rack off the fruit to a tertiary vessel after the beer has completely finished the second round of active fermentation that the fruit jumpstarts. This step really isn't necessary, since the beer will continue to brighten and condition in either the bottle or the keg, but I like to do it anyway because (1) it gives me the chance to make doubly sure that fermentation has ceased, and (2) doesn't take up space in my bottles or kegs, which are more valuable real-estate for me than my fermenters.
Fantastic, that answered my last question :) I'm not too worried about clarity because most of the craft wheat beer's i've had tend to be fairly cloudy. I was hoping to have it ready for spring but if the beer decides it wants to be ready in early summer, I guess that's its prerogative!
 
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