Racking Questions

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

Morkin

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2009
Messages
318
Reaction score
2
Location
Missouri
I'm brewing the Palace Bitter English Bitter that is found in the "Joy of Home brewing" book. I was wondering some things about racking.

1) How long do you wait to rack an ale? It's been 4 days for me and the active fermentation has stopped, can I rack now?

2) What do you guys ferment in first? This is the first time I will be using 2 fermenters. I used my plastic 5 gallon bucket with air lock for the 1st fermentation, and then am going to transfer to my 6 gallon glass carboy. Is it bettor to do it the other way, or did I do it correctly? Thanks for all the help, LOVE the forum.
 

reim0027

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 19, 2008
Messages
439
Reaction score
9
1) - how do you know it is done fermenting? Are you judging by your airlock, or are you taking hydrometer readings. If you get a consistent hydrometer reading 3 days in a row, then your fermentation is likely done. Many people here recommend a longer time in the primary fermentor. This allows the yeast to clean up their byproducts. Some people even go 3-4 weeks in the primary fermentor. I'll let the experts give you a more refined answer.

2) IMO, it makes more sense for your primary fermentor to be the larger of the two. This is because active fermentation requires more headspace. Once you rack to the secondary, you don't need nearly as much headspace, because fermentation is complete. The secondary is used to age your beer and to further allow particles to fall out of suspension (resulting in clearer beer).

TIFWIW, read my sig :D
 
OP
Morkin

Morkin

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2009
Messages
318
Reaction score
2
Location
Missouri
"Active" fermentation is down when the Krausen falls back down and there is no activity in the fermentation lock. The active has stopped, just wondering if I can rack to the secondary yet.
 

syd138

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 18, 2008
Messages
538
Reaction score
4
Location
Chicago, IL
I only use 6 gallon glass carboys. Plastic buckets can get scratched and are more likely to get contaminated. With the primary, all you need to do is use a blow-off tube.

A general rule is: 1-2-3
I do: 3-1-3

3 Weeks in the primary: This gives the yeast plenty of time to clean everything up and to ferment. Either way, you should take a hydrometer reading before racking to your secondary.

1 Week in the Secondary: I pretty much just use this as a clearing tank. It allows you to get rid of more sediment before you bottle.

3 Weeks in the bottle: This is standard.
 

ombre42

Active Member
Joined
Oct 29, 2008
Messages
41
Reaction score
1
Location
Winnebago, IL (near Rockford)
+1 on
you don't need nearly as much headspace, because fermentation is complete.
With lots of headspace in a 6 gal secondary your beer could start to spoil if a protective layer of CO2 doesn't form above it from outgassing or continued fermentation.
Get a 5 gallon vessel for secondary or just don't do secondary.
 
OP
Morkin

Morkin

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2009
Messages
318
Reaction score
2
Location
Missouri
123, Even if it's an ale? The recipe said that it was ready to drink in 2 weeks, sometimes even sooner. If my Gravity readings stays the same and I'm happy with the clarity, can't I bottle sooner?
 

Yooper

Ale's What Cures You!
Staff member
Admin
Mod
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jun 4, 2006
Messages
74,914
Reaction score
12,812
Location
UP/Snowbird in Florida
123, Even if it's an ale? The recipe said that it was ready to drink in 2 weeks, sometimes even sooner. If my Gravity readings stays the same and I'm happy with the clarity, can't I bottle sooner?
You can. Most of us wouldn't. The beer isn't really "ready to drink in two weeks". After the krausen falls, the yeast are still busy working. Once the active fermentation is over, the yeast then go to work "cleaning up" after themselves, even digesting their own waste products (like diacetyl) created during the active fermentation. As a result, the beer is a better quality, has better flavor, and has less sediment in the final product.

Sometimes recipes say it's ready in 2 weeks, just to sell more of those kits. I think they'd sell less to beginners if it said, "Great tasting beer in 6 weeks!"

Patience is the most important part of homebrewing. I always leave ale alone for at least 10 days before thinking about racking to secondary. (Lagers are much longer as a rule). Usually after about 3 weeks in the fermenter, the beer can be bottled or kegged. This gives the best results.
 

syd138

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 18, 2008
Messages
538
Reaction score
4
Location
Chicago, IL
123, Even if it's an ale? The recipe said that it was ready to drink in 2 weeks, sometimes even sooner. If my Gravity readings stays the same and I'm happy with the clarity, can't I bottle sooner?
You can drink it even after 5 days if you want. It has alchohol in it.. but that doesn't mean it won't taste like ****.

If you want to have a good beer, then you should wait about a month before you bottle and at least 3 weeks in the bottle.. otherwise it'll be flat.

There is a lot of junk in there that needs time to get cleaned out by the yeast.

The one rule you have to learn with brewing is to be patient if you want quality stuff.
 
OP
Morkin

Morkin

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2009
Messages
318
Reaction score
2
Location
Missouri
Thanks Guys, I'm relatively new to homebrewing. This forum is and will serve as a good reference for me.
 

Vic_Sinclair

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2008
Messages
174
Reaction score
2
Location
SLC, Utah
"Active" fermentation is down when the Krausen falls back down and there is no activity in the fermentation lock. The active has stopped, just wondering if I can rack to the secondary yet.
Negative, Ghostrider. Airlock activity and krausen are terrible indicators of what the yeast are doing. The only way to know is to use your hydrometer.
 

vespa2t

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 11, 2008
Messages
251
Reaction score
8
Location
Kansas City
Negative, Ghostrider. Airlock activity and krausen are terrible indicators of what the yeast are doing. The only way to know is to use your hydrometer.
+1.

My maltbomb that I just bottled is a good example where after 5 days the krausen fell, and airlock was slow, but my hydrometer read 1.030 where terminal should be 1.018...It took another 2 weeks to hit my FG.
 

Runyanka

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 31, 2008
Messages
1,544
Reaction score
20
Location
Frisco
I have a couple ales under my belt and one thing I have learned on here (mostly from revvy) is this... leave it in the primary fermenter as long as your little heart can bear it. I have been leaving mine in the primary for 3 weeks at a time, and the only time I have been going to secondary (not secondary fermintation) is if I'm dry hopping. The secondary should have no "active fermintation" happening inside it. Like most have said on here, the term "secondary fermintation" is a horrible term. The only time you want to go to secondary IMHO is if you cant bottle within a given time, or if you are dry hopping. As palmer says, you wont see any off flavors by leaving your beer on the original yeast patty for an extended period of time.
Now that thats said.... back to another wonderful homebrew! :rockin:
 

Hanr3

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 13, 2008
Messages
48
Reaction score
0
Location
Central Illinois
The secondary stage is really a lagering stage. This is where the flavors blend better, more sediment drops out, and you free up your primary fermentor for another batch. You can leave it in the secondary for as long as you like. Generally the longer the better, smoother, the flavor.

Drink it whenever you want. Generally the longer you let it sit the better it tastes. However there are times when you need a beer. :mug:
 
Top