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Secondary Fermentation Question

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Poetaytoe

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Hello HomeBrewTalk,

I'm brewing my first batch of beer. It's an English Brown Ale from Brewer's Best. I've mostly followed the directions of my kit so far, but I've run into an issue with secondary fermentation. My kit included a bottling bucket for primary fermentation/bottling and a carboy for secondary fermentation. I brewed 8 days ago and it's still in the primary (bottling bucket). I've been reading what most say about secondaries and for the most part they seem to be more risk than anything else, but at the same time, I need to free up the bottling bucket before I can bottle.

When should I switch to the secondary and for how long?

Thanks.
 

DocScott

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Transfer once fermentation has completed. This is when your gravity is stable on 2 separate readings, 2-3 days apart from each other. Since your beer doesn't "need" a secondary, the length of time can be minutes to weeks depending on what you want.

The term secondary really means that you would be adding a source of fermentables and fermentation would start up again, hence, secondary. (For example, adding fruit). Most brews don't need that and the "secondary" really becomes a bright tank/conditioning vessel, where the yeast flocculate and the beer clears.
 
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Poetaytoe

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TYVM DocScott.

I was planning on doing my first gravity test at 11 days and if it's the same at 14 days then I'll transfer to the carboy just long enough to clean the bottling bucket.
 

flars

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Primary your beer for at least a week after fermentaion is complete. Rack to secondary. Clean bucket and rack to bucket for bottling.

While your current beer is fermenting pick up another bucket. A dedicated fermentor will reduce any risks from racking beer more than necessary.
 

Rugrad02

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After 8 days, I would say the bulk of fermentation is over. You could go ahead and rack to secondary.

I am in the camp of "no secondary" but I understand your need to free up a fermenter.

As for the duration of secondary, I would go for at least two weeks in secondary, especially if you fermented with a British style ale yeast. Sometimes, these strains can throw off some buttered-popcorn tastes associated with Diacetyl, which will usually clear up after an additional two or so weeks in fermentation.

I prefer to ferment for at least 3 weeks in the same carboy/fermenter, then rack to a bottling bucket and bottle for my session beers. If I am brewing a Belgian style with an high gravity, I may ferment for several weeks. Length of fermentation could depend on the style of beer, original gravity of the beer and even the type of yeasts being used.

Brett and Sour yeasts need a good bit of time to be left alone to do their thing. I have a few 3-gallon carboys full of Flanders style reds and Oud Bruins that will be in the same carboy for 1.5- 2+ years.
 

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