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Racking to secondary before fermentation is complete

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MattD

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So I'm planning on leaving my beer in secondary for a couple of weeks after fermentation subsides anyway. The beer was very high gravity, and is now 11 days into fermentation and still bubbling once per 10 seconds or so. Obviously it's not done, but would it hurt anything to go ahead and transfer the beer to secondary to make room for a new batch in primary this weekend? Obviously the resulting trub layer in the secondary will wind up higher than it would have had I let it run completely through fermentation in primary, but will anything actually be hurt? Will fermentation be retarded or halted in any way, or will the suspended yeast be enough to keep things going?
 

puravida286

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Everything should be fine. If you don't mind a little extra trub in the secondary go ahead and rack it
 

ian

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Unless you leave your beer in primary for like two weeks its most likely still fermenting every time you go to secondary. You've probably noticed little "islands" of bubbles (if you secondary in a carboy) in secondary quite often. That is evidence that fermentation continues. That little white layer on the bottom of secondary is further evidence that fermentation continues.
 

Ol' Grog

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I did that this past weekend, but the secondary slowed down to about one bubble every 5 minutes or so. I wondered the exact same thing. Still have a nice trub layer in the secondary, which surprised me because I thought the secondary wouldn't have that much being that I racked it from the primary. Plan on bottling for the first time this weekend.
 

Walker

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ian said:
You've probably noticed little "islands" of bubbles (if you secondary in a carboy) in secondary quite often. That is evidence that fermentation continues. That little white layer on the bottom of secondary is further evidence that fermentation continues.
I disagree. Even if your beer is completely done fermenting, you are going to knock CO2 out of solution when you rack it. This will cause bubbles, but does not mean that fermentation is still in progress.

Also, the yeast can still be in suspension, even though there is no sugar left to eat. When you rack it and let it settle, the yeast will fall out of suspension and make sediment. Still... no fermentation was going on.
 

ian

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I may be mistaken

But, I've often gotten lower gravity readings coming out of secondary than I had going in.

But, you've got a good point about the yeast in suspension. . .
 

Walker

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ian said:
I may be mistaken

But, I've often gotten lower gravity readings coming out of secondary than I had going in.

But, you've got a good point about the yeast in suspension. . .
I'm not saying that people always rack when it's completely done. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that a lot of people do still get some fermentation after racking (myself included).

My point was just that bubbles and sediment are not a sure-fire way to determine that fermentation is still in progress.

:mug:

-walker
 

Bobby_M

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Although I'm a beginner and probably have just enough knowledge to be dangerous, I've decided to rack to secondary while there is still a minimal amount of CO2 production going on (a burp of the airlock every minute or two) for the simple reason that I don't want any oxygen in the secondary's headspace. Is the concept flawed?

Bobby
 

Walker

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Bobby_M said:
Although I'm a beginner and probably have just enough knowledge to be dangerous, I've decided to rack to secondary while there is still a minimal amount of CO2 production going on (a burp of the airlock every minute or two) for the simple reason that I don't want any oxygen in the secondary's headspace. Is the concept flawed?

Bobby
Nope, that concept is fine. Everybody has their own method for determining when to rack.

However, you probably don't need to be too concerned with O2 in the headspace of the secondary. Racking will knock CO2 out of solution, and it will form a blanket over the surface of the beer.

-walker
 

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