racking to a secondary? really?

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bjzelectric

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ive heard that racking to a secondary really isnt worth the risk of oxidation/contamination... is this true or is it worth it?
 

Yooper

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It depends. I don't do it very often, but not because of risk of contamination or oxidation. I just think that it's not necessary for most lower OG ales. Three weeks in the fermenter is enough for me usually, assuming that fermentation had been finished for a while and the beer had a week or two to clear up some.
 

schweaty

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This is one of those grey areas around here. Some people don't rack to secondary at all and just leave it in the primary the entire time. Others rack to secondary 3 or so days after fermentation is done. Me personally, I rack to secondary to clear up the beer.
 

rsmith179

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You'll hear tons of different answers in just a few minutes. I "personally" use a secondary, but I guess it's all personal preference. I wait at least two weeks and then transfer out of the primary to a secondary for an additional week. This allows for a somewhat clearer final product. As long as you are sanitary during your transfer process, you should have no problems going over to a secondary.
 

SumnerH

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For me it depends on the beer. If it's something I'm struggling to clear, or if I need to dry-hop or add fruit/oak/etc, I'll secondary. If not, I might if it's high-gravity or I want to free up the primary for another brew. Usually I won't.
 

Stef1966

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You'll hear tons of different answers in just a few minutes. I "personally" use a secondary, but I guess it's all personal preference. I wait at least two weeks and then transfer out of the primary to a secondary for an additional week. This allows for a somewhat clearer final product. As long as you are sanitary during your transfer process, you should have no problems going over to a secondary.

This is exactly what i usually do.
But this last batch in process right now I'm trying it with no secondary racking at all just to see if there is any significant differences or advantages to do so or not.

So far i already see one advantage of the "no secondary" option, which is, less work, less cleaning and sanitizing.
 

david_42

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Risk of oxidation ~0%
Risk of contamination - 0-100% depends on your sanitation

Need - no.
 

Jolly McStanson

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I made a patch of Cascades/ Orange Pale ale from the recipe section, using just a primary. I dry hopped in the primary and every thing. I left it in there for about a month. It was clear when I kegged it. I aged it in the keg for another 3 weeks.

Its the best beer iv ever brewed to date.
 

Winesburg Ale

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This is one of my favorite debates. I've tried both methods. I like to use a secondary because it tends to produce beers that look and taste cleaner. As a bonus, using a secondary usually prevents having yeast sediment at the bottom of the beer bottles. On the negative side, I really think it takes longer to carbonate beer that has been in a secondary for very long - maybe a lot of yeast settles out of the brew or just becomes less active due to aging in the high alcohol environment. One other item that warrants discussion is the flocculence of the yeast strain. Some yeasts (S05 is a good example) flocculate out pretty well, so they would be well suited to using without a secondary.
 

Yooper

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I guess my answer wasn't really complete- I "cheat" because I keg most of my beers so that's one reason I'm happy skipping a secondary. I can leave the beer in the keg for a few weeks until I tap it, and end up with crystal clear, well conditioned beer. If I was still bottling, I'd either do a secondary or a much longer primary. If I was doing a "big" beer, I'd definitely secondary it.
 

Fat Guy Brewing

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I don't trust myself to rack cleanly out of the primary, I always end up stirring up the yeast cake. I don't want that in the bottles. I always have a small layer of yeast, etc at the bottom of the secondary so I know it helps clear the beer.
 

cmdrico7812

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I don't think I've done a batch that I haven't racked to a secondary. I usually follow the 1-2-3 rule; 1 week in the primary, 2 weeks in the secondary, 3 weeks in the bottle. For me, I rack to a 5 gallon secondary from a 6.5 gallon primary so that it frees up my primary so I can do another batch. I only have two primaries and two secondaries but I can piggy back my batches and really crank them out.
 

UYLDAR

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In regards to (4% to 8%) ALES:

I am not sure I like the 1-2-3 rule. I like the 20day - then make it up as I go rule. It seems to me that every ale I brew needs 14+ days to gravitate down to my liking then if its "clear-ish" I just rack to a keg and let it fester 'round 68F for a month. If its cloudier then I expected, off to a secondary for a couple weeks.

I guess for ease, I know if I go 20 days in primary then keg it... its good to go into the fridge in a couple weeks.

Not real scientific but, it seems to produce an excellent ale every time.

D
 

vespa2t

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ive heard that racking to a secondary really isnt worth the risk of oxidation/contamination... is this true or is it worth it?
this all depends on what you are brewing. I wouldnt rack a stout to secondary, I would just bottle from the primary, but for a Belgian Dubbel I would put into a secondary. I havent had any oxidation issues as of yet.
 

ifishsum

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Personally I think it's ridiculous to say that a secondary is not worth the risk of contamination - that's like saying driving to the LBHS is not worth the risk of getting in an accident. Try it both ways, and see what you prefer. Good beer is made both ways.
 

Stef1966

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I never caught an infection racking to secondary, using an auto-siphon is truly not a big risk.

And let's not forget that by the time you want to rack to secondary, the alcohol satured environment is a pretty hostile place for any potential pathogens anyways, let us not go completely paranoid over racking to secondary, it's still pretty usefull for at least two things:

1- Helping out clearing out the beer before the bottling/kegging stage.
2- Saving space to keep the pipeline going... (believe me, you'll want it to roll faster after a while)
 

sempf

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I just changed to using a secondary because my LHBS started carrying BetterBottles. I like the idea of letting it sit with a very low surface-to-air ratio for a while. Plus, I brew a lot of more subtle beers, and the trub will make it taste funny. I think my beer is a lot better after some time in the secondary.

S
 

lamarguy

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1- Helping out clearing out the beer before the bottling/kegging stage.
Let's be honest....Moving beer from one container to another does not in any way, shape, or form accelerate clearing.

Gravity and time clears beer. This process occurs on or off the yeast cake.

Proven methods for accelerating the clearing process include:

  1. Gelatin (binds to proteins)
  2. Cold crashing (flocculates yeast)
  3. Media filtering (expensive)
  4. Centrifuge (ungodly expensive)
 

Stef1966

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Let's be honest....Moving beer from one container to another does not in any way, shape, or form accelerate clearing.

Gravity and time clears beer. This process occurs on or off the yeast cake.

Proven methods for accelerating the clearing process include:

  1. Gelatin (binds to proteins)
  2. Cold crashing (flocculates yeast)
  3. Media filtering (expensive)
  4. Centrifuge (ungodly expensive)
I am currently in the process of doing my first ever "No secondary" home brew to date, if what you say is true, then the only reason i would then find to rack to secondary is to save space to brew some more at the same time and keep the pace up the pipeline.

I am brewing the very same batch (recipe and yeast) as the batch before it, if i do not find no noticeable difference in clarity, then the secondary is gonna be a thing of the past for me.
 

lamarguy

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I am brewing the very same batch (recipe and yeast) as the batch before it, if i do not find no noticeable difference in clarity, then the secondary is gonna be a thing of the past for me.
I think you'll be pleasantly surprised, assuming it doesn't interfere with your empty carboy pipeline. :)

Personally, I ferment ales for 10 - 14 days, cold crash at ~40F in the primary with 1/4 tsp gelatin for 3 - 5 days, and keg. I can verify this process works well because I only get a very thin, compact layer of yeast sediment in the bottom of the keg after it's been emptied.
 
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With a secondary you will have less sediment to knock aorund when transfering, but otherwise what lamarguy is correct.

Though I don't find filtering to be that expensive. Up front costs may be up there a bit but once you have your cartridge system going, it lasts a long time as long as you clean it.
 

Stef1966

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And to be completely honest, i dont really mind a moderately cloudy beer for starters, it's homebrew and live Brewer's yeast (proBiotics) is something Bio freaks go rush and buy at health supplements store because of it's great health beneficial properties...

So why fuss it out of beer really?

And... as i mentioned, bottling, or kegging and letting it sit in there for a week or two will also make the beer become a lot clearer so...
 

jpmcd03

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I suppose I will throw in a vote for primary only. While I am a fairly inexperienced brewer, 6 batches to date, for time/space reasons I am sticking with strictly primary. I just bottled a Red Cherry Ale a few days ago, my lightest beer to date, and it was uber-clear, two things I did differently this time I think helped greatly:
Used a carboy instead of a bucket for the first time, could see exactly what I was racking to the bottling bucket and avoided picking up the sludge.

Left it in the primary for about 4 weeks, as opposed to only about 2 weeks on previous batches.

We'll see how it tastes in a few weeks, but I can't imagine needing the beer to be any clearer.
 

By-Tor

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I guess my answer wasn't really complete- I "cheat" because I keg most of my beers so that's one reason I'm happy skipping a secondary. I can leave the beer in the keg for a few weeks until I tap it, and end up with crystal clear, well conditioned beer. If I was still bottling, I'd either do a secondary or a much longer primary. If I was doing a "big" beer, I'd definitely secondary it.
If it is a big beer like a stout,or bock or something dark,clearing is not really nessesary is it? Why would you secondary a "big beer"?
 

lamarguy

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Why would you secondary a "big beer"?
Some people are concerned that extended aging on the yeast cake will result in detectable yeast autolyis off flavors. The general rule of thumb people throw around is ~6 months, which (in my experience) is an acceptable time frame for 98% of beers.
 

By-Tor

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Some people are concerned that extended aging on the yeast cake will result in detectable yeast autolyis off flavors. The general rule of thumb people throw around is ~6 months, which (in my experience) is an acceptable time frame for 98% of beers.
so a month on the yeast cake wont hurt a stout?
 

aaronbeer

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i like to rack to secondary because I love to brew and every step is fun for me, so its another excuse to taste my beer, see my product and be part of the experience!
 

Stef1966

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i like to rack to secondary because I love to brew and every step is fun for me, so its another excuse to taste my beer, see my product and be part of the experience!
Thats what i call True Blooded badassed Enthusiam!

You sir are the Rambo of Homebrewers! :mug:

 

ChshreCat

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I'll freely admit that one of the reasons I use a secondary is because I primary in a bucket and secondary in a better bottle and I just like seeing my beer for the last couple weeks before I bottle. :D
 

BierMuncher

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Let's be honest....Moving beer from one container to another does not in any way, shape, or form accelerate clearing.
...
Disagree.

Our 10der & Mild swap last fall required we brew, condition and ship within ten days of brewing.

Ain't no way I get my beers looking like this by shipping time without racking to a bright tank.

10Der_3.jpg


This one was two weeks from grain to glass.

Sterling_Pour1.jpg

I've too much empirical evidence to suggest that transferring beer from a high (yeast) concentration environment to a low (yeast) concentration environment does promote (yeast) fall out.
 

Yooper

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If it is a big beer like a stout,or bock or something dark,clearing is not really nessesary is it? Why would you secondary a "big beer"?
Well, a bock is a lager, so it would be in secondary for the lagering.

I'd secondary a big beer for a couple of reasons- one, because it needs the time. "Big" beers need time to mellow and age a bit and I'd put it into secondary and forget about it for 4 or 5 months. I am thinking of barleywines, and other beers that need to be aged. Secondly, I'd age it in the secondary to keep from drinking it too early! If I bottle it or keg it, the temptation is too great for me to stay out of it. I probably won't get a straw and drink it out of secondary though!
 

Beer_Pirate

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Here's a somewhat related question. I've got a Saison brewing in primary right now (right next to the Tongue Splitter I've been so worried about in the other thread), and the kit said it would be ready in 3 months, which is twice as long as most of the beers I brew. I normally follow the 1-2-3 rule, but what should I do for the more long term beer? OG was only around 1.060.
 

lamarguy

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Our 10der & Mild swap last fall required we brew, condition and ship within ten days of brewing.

Ain't no way I get my beers looking like this by shipping time without racking to a bright tank.
Disagree. I've done several 14 day grain-to-bottle ~6 SRM brews with friends that have excellent clarity and no residual yeast taste, all within the confines of one brewing vessel. Cold conditioning and a touch of gelatin accelerate the clearing process dramatically. :)

I've too much empirical evidence to suggest that transferring beer from a high (yeast) concentration environment to a low (yeast) concentration environment does promote (yeast) fall out..
Did anyone in the mild swap group attempt a no-secondary brew? Assuming similar brewing practices, that would be useful empirical evidence.
 

theonecynic

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Personally I go 1-2-3 because it settles me into a routine, works fairly reliably, and allows me to free up my primary (a bucket) for the next brew (my secondary is a barrel which leaks under pressure - no other use for it so why not? I adapted the lid to take a bubbler). However, I have had the occasional cloudy beer - not sure of the source of this yet.
 
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Ain't no way I get my beers looking like this by shipping time without racking to a bright tank.
Curious. Is your secondary room temp or chilled?

Personally I think secondaries are best used as bright tanks, which should be chilled to lagering temps. Do you agree?

Ideally, if I wasn't filtering, I'd do 3-4 weeks primary and then cold condition in a secondary or "bright tank") for another month. (times dependent on dependent on style).

I had problems with clearing at room temp. Don;t have room for another fridge so I moved over to filtering and kegging.

[Newb Note: you can't filter and bottle without using a kegging system cause there will be no yeast to ferment your bottling sugar.]
 

Ceedubya

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I guess my answer wasn't really complete- I "cheat" because I keg most of my beers so that's one reason I'm happy skipping a secondary. I can leave the beer in the keg for a few weeks until I tap it, and end up with crystal clear, well conditioned beer. If I was still bottling, I'd either do a secondary or a much longer primary. If I was doing a "big" beer, I'd definitely secondary it.

Pretty much my logic as well since going to the kegs. I asked this same "should I secondary or not" question a while back. I have stopped using a secondary and have had great results. Of course, since then I have brewed a nut brown, a stout, and a wheat so I havn't had a beer that I feel would benefit from a time in a bright tank. If I had one, I may very well secondary.

I am going to try the crash cool and gelatin thing, and see how that works. But so far, by kegging and conditioning for a few weeks at ferment temps then into the fridge and carbing has resulted in some great beers with very little yeast settlement in the keg. I get a litte in the first pint or two, then its all good.

If I were brewing for a competition or something, I may change this technique, but just for me its not worth the extra effort.
 

homebrewjapan

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For me it depends on the beer. If it's something I'm struggling to clear, or if I need to dry-hop or add fruit/oak/etc, I'll secondary.
Any reason you can't dry-hop or add fruit/oak/orange peel in the primary? I'm thinking to add orange peel and coriander to a beer - if I can do that in the primary, I would.
 
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