Second Fermentation - is it necessary?

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matthej

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Hi,

I am brewing a NE double IPA and the directions have secondary fermentation as optional.
I do have a secondary fermenter available. Just wondering what the pros and cons of doing this.
The directions do mention that you do this about 2 weeks after brewing day which is today. I do see bubbling in air lock once every 6 minutes or so (directions say to start when bubbling slows down or stops)

Any advice on what to do? I will be away until Thursday so if I do secondary fermentation it would have to be today or at the earliest Thursday

Thanks all!
 

TurnipGreen

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Skip it.
The risk of infection and oxidation is high. Especially for a NE IPA that you likely don’t want to be super clear and you definitely don’t want oxidation.

It’s also one less thing to do and clean up after.

Some people say they get a cleaner, more clear beer with a secondary, but I’ve never seen that. People also use a secondary if they are going to store the beer for a long time. Think barley wine or some super heavy stout you want to age. Again, I’ve seen no need. I regularly make a wheatwine that sits in the primary 1-3 months and I even forgot about a mead-beer for a year that sat on top of a yeast cake in the primary.

Secondaries we’re pretty standard practice when I started brewing 20 years ago, but I can honestly say I have only done 1 in 10 years. And that was very specific to rack on top of fruit. And I’m betting I could have just as easily gently dropped the fruit in rather than using a secondary.

If you do decide to use a secondary, make sure you have a little active fermentation to clean up any oxygen, limit splashing or any air when you transfer, and try to find a slightly smaller vessel to limit the headspace. Or just skip it.
 

RM-MN

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I do a secondary fermentation for every beer I make. They are called bottles and I mix some sugar into the beer just before putting the beer into the bottles so the beer carbonates. That carbonation is caused by a secondary fermentation. If you aren't adding fermentable sugar and simply moving the beer to another container, that container is called a bright tank. That makes sense for a commercial brewery as they can move the beer without exposing it to oxygen and the chance of contamination.
 

Jacob_Marley

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If you leave the beer on the yeast (in the developing lees/trub) when you dry hop, there is an interaction between the hops and the yeast that increases the levels of the geraniol in the result.
If you want the additional geraniol and its floral/fruit/citrus quality ... then the secondary is probably not necessary.
I think the extra floral etc quality works fine in a big American ale like a double IPA ... though the balance is up to personal taste.
(BJCP notes these characteristics for double IPA's too)
Otherwise, if you don't want the extra geraniol, rack to the secondary before dry hopping on a double IPA.
 
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friarsmith

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“No” would be my answer to the OP. On a related note, I wonder how the availability and affordability of soda kegs and “increase in homebrewing knowledge” thanks to HBT over the last 20+ years has made secondary fermentation almost obsolete?

I keg all my beers from Day 7 to 12-ish and dry hop in primary or the keg (when necessary) and jump keg #1 to a serving keg (when necessary). It helps to cut a half inch off the bottom of the liquid dip tube.
 

IslandLizard

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Otherwise, rack to the secondary before dry hopping [...]
Just a note:
When you "rack" it needs to be done without any air (oxygen) ingression. Oxygen oxidizes beer, and kills hop sensation quickly.

I'd rather use the term transfer when moving beer: Oxygen free transfers are recommended at all times when it comes to beer, the hoppier ones especially. 100% oxygen free transfers are very possible and doable, even with modest (homebrew) equipment.
 

Jacob_Marley

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Just a note:
When you "rack" it needs to be done without any air (oxygen) ingression. Oxygen oxidizes beer, and kills hop sensation quickly.

I'd rather use the term transfer when moving beer: Oxygen free transfers are recommended at all times when it comes to beer, the hoppier ones especially. 100% oxygen free transfers are very possible and doable, even with modest (homebrew) equipment.
Racking always means doing it in a way which limits oxygen ... that goes without saying and the term "racking" in and of itself does not mean "introduce oxygen". It is used as a generic term for "transfer".
The only time you "splash-rack" or otherwise intentionally introduce oxygen is when you're trying to de-gas, get rid of hydrogen sulfide, or resume or start a separate fermentation.
 

ryanhc23

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If you’re recommending to not transfer to secondary, do you keep in primary for two weeks then go directly to bottling? Or should I transfer to bottles after the 1week. Directions state 1 week in primary, 1 week in secondary, and 2 weeks after bottled.

Thanks!
 

hotbeer

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should I transfer to bottles after the 1week. Directions state 1 week in primary, 1 week in secondary, and 2 weeks after bottled.
Bottle anytime after the ferment is over and any days you want to add for the yeast to clean up off flavors that sometimes get produced and for most of the yeast to flocculate to the bottom of the FV, unless you plan to clarify it with other means, such as cold crash and/or gelatin.

You'll only know when the ferment is over if you have something to take an SG reading. Bubbles tell you nothing. A 4 to 8 dollar hydrometer is best. IMO.

Otherwise, just wait the full two weeks or more and then bottle. I've sometimes waited six weeks just to let the beer clear up so I didn't have to cold crash it. And more than likely, it finished fermenting in the first week.

IMO... There really isn't any reason to hurry most beers out of the FV. Most of my bad beers were ones that were a short time in the fermenter.
 
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RM-MN

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If you’re recommending to not transfer to secondary, do you keep in primary for two weeks then go directly to bottling? Or should I transfer to bottles after the 1week. Directions state 1 week in primary, 1 week in secondary, and 2 weeks after bottled.

Thanks!
I've bottled beer at one week. The fermentation was done, but the trub hadn't fully settled and I had 1/4 inch of sediment in every bottle. Waiting longer got me less trub in the bottle until now at 3 weeks in the fermenter and not being very careful in transferring the beer to the bottling bucket, I might see 1/16" of sediment in the bottles or less.
 

Tobin Bottman

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Hi,

I am brewing a NE double IPA and the directions have secondary fermentation as optional.
I do have a secondary fermenter available. Just wondering what the pros and cons of doing this.
The directions do mention that you do this about 2 weeks after brewing day which is today. I do see bubbling in air lock once every 6 minutes or so (directions say to start when bubbling slows down or stops)

Any advice on what to do? I will be away until Thursday so if I do secondary fermentation it would have to be today or at the earliest Thursday

Thanks all!
OK, I am going to be one of those people: It depends. On the yeast primarily but also the style. A hazy dry hopped NEIPA? No, I agree with all the other posts. You want that as fresh as can be.

But a saison or other Belgian yeasted beer? I say most definitely transfer to a second vessel to get it off the yeast cake after a good two to three weeks of fermentation (depending on the yeast strain it can take that long or longer) and let it do a two to four week set between 50 and 60 prior to cold crashing . It will make a much better beer.

And how about a lager you want to be clean, crisp and clear? Secondary baby!

For me the bottom line is don’t rush it. At least for the yeasts I routinely use that bigger brewery goal of 7 to 10 days grain to glass does not produce good results for me. And it doesn’t have to because I am not brewing 30 BBLs with my business hanging in the balance.
 
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