Reracking before primary fermentation

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maltMonkey

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This is only my second brew, so bear with me....

I'm making an English Pale Ale (mini mash) and I want it to turn out as clear as possible. I added some Irish Moss to the boil, but I also read about a technique to improve clarity in a book. It talked about placing your wort in a "pre-primary" container and reracking to your primary within 12 hours of pitching the yeast (or before active fermentation) to get the wort off the trub.

So last night after brewing I threw my wort in a plastic fermenting bucket and pitched the yeast (starter). 6 hours later when I woke up, I noticed that no bubbling was in the airlock, so I thought it was safe to assume fermentation hadn't really started yet and I racked the wort into a carboy.

I noticed that there was a 1/4" layer of something at the top that looked like yeast which did not get siphoned into the primary. It was about a 1/4" thick and light colored. It really looked like yeast slurry. Should I have tried to siphon this into the primary as well??? I guess I'm confused as to where the yeast actually IS between pitching and active fermentation, i.e. is it in suspension within it, at the top of the wort, or part of the trub???

Also, what does everyone think of this technique? Is it a good or bad idea?

Thanks!
 

TexLaw

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Yes, you wanted that stuff on the top. That was your yeast. I don't know what sort of research you did before you started brewing, but good references discuss a bit about what the yeast does. There may be enough still suspended in what you racked to start over, but there may not be. Time will tell.

I don't know if that early racking is a good or bad idea (although I've never done it nor found it necessary), but it certainly is a bad idea to do it after pitching the yeast. If you want to do that in the future, pitch after you rack. However, I've brewed a lot of beer, never done such a thing, and have made some very clear beers.

In the meantime, check this out: How to Brew


TL
 

Jester369

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Well, as far as the technique, I think it's not a great idea. Before the yeast really has a chance to get cranking, it's ability to fend of infection and wild yeast is lower, so you really don't want to be racking it around yet. Getting the beer off the trub sooner won't make your beer any clearer to my knowledge. Once that stuff settles out, as long as you don't stir it up it should stay there. If you want nice clear beer, patience and cold crashing (dropping the beer temp for a couple of days) prior to kegging or bottling are your best bets.

:mug:
 

Surly

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maltMonkey said:
.............Also, what does everyone think of this technique? Is it a good or bad idea?

Thanks!
I think this technique may be great. But, as a new brewer, why not stick with the tried and true, get your processes down and then add pieces?

The more we move our beer the more exposure we provide to potential nasty critters. My recommendation would be to get the basics down, then begin refining your processes.

You may want to check this thread out as well: https://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=51540

good luck and enjoy this hobby.
 

Yooper

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I've never heard of that, but I think it's a bad idea. You want fermentation to take place quickly and without exposing the wort to contamination. You pitched the yeast, and then 12 hours later removed it from the yeast. So I think you'd be harming your chances for fermentation. The first thing that happens before fermentation starts is that the yeast multiply. That's great because then they get to work fermenting your beer.

Also, each time you rack, you expose your beer to possible contamination as well as aeration.

If you want clear beer, there are a few things you can do. One is to cool your wort as rapidly as possible. That will encourage a "cold break"- proteins will coagulate together. Then they'll drop out of the beer, leaving it clear. The other thing is to let it ferment, and then let it sit a couple of weeks to allow all the other "stuff" to precipitate out. Also, you can "cold crash" the beer after it's done. Just take the fermenter and chill it in the mid 30s for a few days. That's all I've ever done, and my beers are crystal clear. Still, you can use something called "finings" like gelatin if you need even more clarity.

Edit- You guys all type way faster than I do!
 
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maltMonkey

maltMonkey

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Thanks for the input. I would say that over 1/2 of the yeast on top made it into the primary. What's left is still sitting on top of the leftover wort in the closed bucket, so if I don't see anything happening in the carboy tonight maybe I'll try to extract it with a baster and repitch.....

I'm not too worried about it.....at the very least it should be an interesting experiment!

At any rate I'll let you guys know how (or if) it turns out.
 

TexLaw

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No matter what happens, I'd probably wouldn't go to the stuff that's in the bucket. It's been sitting at conditions ripe for contamination for too long. It may be fine, but the only way to find out is to culture it, and I don't know that you want to use your wort as the culture medium. :)

I'm glad to hear that you are keeping cool about this. Many other brewers might spin out and do something unwise, compounding the potential problem. If you got that much yeast in the fermenter, you're probably fine. I hope it all works out!


TL
 

SuperiorBrew

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This is as close as I have ever read & I plan to try this on my next lager, but it is done before the yeast is pitched and only on lagers.

From Brewing Classic Styles

we recommend chilling the wort to down to 44º (7º C) and racking the beer away from the bulk of the cold break material before oxygenating and pitching the yeast. The fermentation chamber should be set up to warm slowly over the first 36 hours to 48 hours to 50º F (10º C) and held at that temperature for the rest of fermentation. This results in a clean lager, with very little diacetyl.
 

david_42

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Never heard of this technique either. I don't think this would help much and potentially it can be a real problem. 6-12 hours will only settle the very largest bits.
 

hollowdp

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I've heard of this but I think you lost something in translation with the execution. The idea is to rack your wort over to a container to let the proteins settle to the bottom and then rack it into your primary fermentation vessel where you'll pitch the yeast. The problem is you're moving highly fermentable wort with nothing to fend off the wild yeast or bacteria that can not be eliminated unless you're in some sort of clean room and even then it's a risk.

I'd just cool the wort to pitching temp and pitch as much yeast as you can as quickly as you can. You'll find that reducing the risk for infection far outweighs the benefit of clearer wort in the primary when time would settle it out anyways. This is the same argument a lot of successful brewers use against moving to secondary.
 

shafferpilot

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Yeah, if you're obsessed with getting the clearest beer possible, leave it in primary for 3 or 4 weeks, then rack to a secondary and leave it there for a month. Then when racking to the bottling bucket or keg, sacrifice some beer to avoid picking up any of the flocculated yeast by keeping the bottom of the racking cane an inch or so above the bottom of the vessel. The yeast need to eat some of the trub while they reproduce, and anything that drops out in the first twelve hours, will drop out in primary so why complicate the process? That last bit of cloudiness should only be removed with time. Cold crashing helps, but if super-clear is your goal there's only two solutions: filter or time. And filtering is just a mess of sanitizing and generally unnecessary if you're patient.
 
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maltMonkey

maltMonkey

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You guys are probably right and I didn't understand what the book author was trying to get across.....

I don't have the book in front of me right now, but I read the passage so many times that I almost have it memorized.

I believe the author said his source for this technique was the book "Continental Pilsner", so he probably was only talking about lagers.....although he never came out and said this and it was in a general techniques section of the book.

He did say to rack either before pitching or within 12 hours after pitching (before "active" fermentation).....
 

TexLaw

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I just got Continental Pilsner for Christmas, but I haven't read it, yet. If I remember, I will look for a passage along those lines.

What book were you looking at? I'm wary of such a resource.


TL
 
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maltMonkey

maltMonkey

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TexLaw said:
I just got Continental Pilsner for Christmas, but I haven't read it, yet. If I remember, I will look for a passage along those lines.

What book were you looking at? I'm wary of such a resource.


TL
Yeah, let me know if you see a section about that in there.....

the book I have is "The Brewmaster's Bible" by Stephen Snyder.
 

Bobby_M

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What's the point of the intermediate container though? If you just leave the wort in your kettle for 30 minutes, covered of course, all the junk settles to the bottom. One less thing to sanitize, etc.

In any case, don't obsess about "stuff" in your primary. That's what secondaries, careful racking and time are all about.
 
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maltMonkey

maltMonkey

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Point taken...however I don't have a wort chiller yet, this was only a mini mash (2 gallon boil poured on top of 3 gallons cold water to cool) and I was experimenting with something new that I read about...I don't care about what's in the primary, I was just hoping it would end with a clearer beer. :mug: Next time I will try a secondary + cold crashing.
 
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