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NUCC98

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I was wondering if someone could shed some light on a 2-Stage Method of fermenting. I (as well as a lot of other newbies) only use a 1-stage fermenter, but was wondering if there is an improvement on clarity, and/or more "wiggle room" to play with flavors. Thanks!!!
 

strat40

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NUCC98 said:
I was wondering if someone could shed some light on a 2-Stage Method of fermenting. I (as well as a lot of other newbies) only use a 1-stage fermenter, but was wondering if there is an improvement on clarity, and/or more "wiggle room" to play with flavors. Thanks!!!
The biggest advantage in 2 stage fermenting is getting the beer off the yeast cake . This will lead to a much smoother, and more rounded flavor. Many off flavors will no longer be an issue. This is true for ales and lagers both. If you're cold conditioning your beer, this will make the final transference of the beer far easier. There will be less crap to deal with. Even if one doesn't cold condition, and just leave it warm, you'll still like the result better than if you had just used a single stage.
Hope this helps.
Tom
 

Janx

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I agree that you'll get much better flavor if you rack to secondary within a week.

Another advantage can be re-using the yeast in your primary. We will typically brew on Saturdays. So every Saturday, there's a batch to get racked, a batch to get kegged, and a batch to get made. After racking out of the primary (a 14 gallon demijohn, so it's very clean), we just pipe the chilled beer of the new batch right on top of the yeast cake in the demijohn. In my opinion, this method is the best way to get a large pitch and a fast start to the ferment, which are great things. You can taste the beer you are racking out of the primary to make sure you don't have an infection.

You have never seen a beer start fermenting so fast.

Note I wouldn't use a yeast cake for more than 3 or 4 beers just to be safe, but I never have problems with this method.

Janx
 

rightwingnut

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So what's the deal with secondary fermentation? You just rack from primary to secondary and let sit for another week or so, then bottle? No added yeast to the secondary? Where does priming fit in, does it require a third transfer to a priming bucket (with priming sugar) when you're ready to bottle?
 

strat40

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rightwingnut said:
So what's the deal with secondary fermentation? You just rack from primary to secondary and let sit for another week or so, then bottle? No added yeast to the secondary? Where does priming fit in, does it require a third transfer to a priming bucket (with priming sugar) when you're ready to bottle?
For lager beer, and some ales, an addition of fresh yeast gives kind of a "scrubbing" effect. It does really mellow things out. You then just wait till it drops clear, then transfer to your priming vessel, and bottle as usual. I use cornie kegs, but do the same thing. Yes, it is a bit more involved, but well worth it. If you do decide to add more yeast, make sure it's fermenting strongly, and use a high flocculating strain. This will help settle the other yeast out as well. Use the temp that the new yeast prefers, not the temp the original used. This works especially well for hefeweizens. Start with the hefe yeast, then krausen with lager yeast. After a couple days, decrease the temp to where its comfortable to the lager strain, condition, then go from there.
 

Janx

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I never add more yeast and can't imagine why it would be necessary, since the yeast has already bred to capacity. YMMV.

I just rack to a secondary and it stays there until I keg it. If I were bottling, then, yes, I would rack to a third container to add priming sugar.

The key benefit of a seconday to me, seems to be getting the beer off the yeast cake for a cleaner flavor.

Janx
 

rightwingnut

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Any sense in using a plastic pail for primary and a glass carboy for secondary? Then rack it to a pail w/ bottling spigot? That would work with thw equipment I have. Obviously it would work...right? But does the glass make it better for any reason? I like the idea of glass better...not pourous.
 

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How does one know when to rack to a secondary? I have a batch in the primary right now, been there for two days, and the airlock has pretty much stopped bubbling constantly. Is this a sign it could be ready for the secondary already or is there a specific gravity way of telling?
 
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NUCC98

NUCC98

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pilkinga said:
How does one know when to rack to a secondary? I have a batch in the primary right now, been there for two days, and the airlock has pretty much stopped bubbling constantly. Is this a sign it could be ready for the secondary already or is there a specific gravity way of telling?
I usually just time the bubbles in the airlock. Once it's slowed to one bubble every 1 - 2 minutes, you're good to go.
 

bena13

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After one week in the primary fermenter I just transfered my beer to the secondary glass carboy. How long should I keep it in the carboy before putting it into bottles? If I leave it in there another 10 days and don't add anymore yeast will there be enough yeast in the beer to carbonate it when I add the priming sugar? I mean how long can the yeast survive in there?
 

Janx

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bena13 said:
After one week in the primary fermenter I just transfered my beer to the secondary glass carboy. How long should I keep it in the carboy before putting it into bottles? If I leave it in there another 10 days and don't add anymore yeast will there be enough yeast in the beer to carbonate it when I add the priming sugar? I mean how long can the yeast survive in there?

The yeast *survives* a long long time. It goes dormant and settles to the bottom of the fermentor, but it's a LONG time before it's actually dead.

10 days is minimal, in my opinion. I do at least 10 days in the secondary before kegging. Make sure it isn't still bubbling when you go to bottle, or the residual sugar combined with your priming sugar can make grenades.

In general, enough yeast will get siphoned off the bottom of the fermentor when you rack to your bottling container, and that yeast will carbonate the beer.

In other words, you'd be hard pressed to fill a bottle with beer and end up without any living yeast cells in it, unless you filtered. You'll be fine.

Janx
 

bena13

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Thanks Janx. I feel a lot more comfortable about what I'm doing now.
 
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NUCC98

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bena13 said:
Thanks Janx. I feel a lot more comfortable about what I'm doing now.

Me too! Thanks!! The thought of there not being any yeast for bottling never even occured to me.....mine will be ready from the secondary to bottling, I think, by this Friday......
 

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Janx said:
The yeast *survives* a long long time. It goes dormant and settles to the bottom of the fermentor, but it's a LONG time before it's actually dead.

10 days is minimal, in my opinion. I do at least 10 days in the secondary before kegging. Make sure it isn't still bubbling when you go to bottle, or the residual sugar combined with your priming sugar can make grenades.

In general, enough yeast will get siphoned off the bottom of the fermentor when you rack to your bottling container, and that yeast will carbonate the beer.

In other words, you'd be hard pressed to fill a bottle with beer and end up without any living yeast cells in it, unless you filtered. You'll be fine.

Janx
Janx, you know your stuff it seems.....I feel like a sponge going through and reading all of your input (as well as the others, thanks!). I just found this forum a few days ago after I brewed my very first batch. Obviously I've had a ton of questions.
I'm confident it's going to turn out after reading this and the other threads. I'm in secondary right now and was about to pull it and bottle it after 5 days but I think I'll keep it in there longer after reading this.
I was hoping to hae it in bottles so I could show off my first brew on Super Bowl Sunday--but it looks like I'm going to fall short of that....oh well.... :)

Thanks again ALL OF YOU for the great info!!! I can tell I'm going to be a regular here! :cool: :D
 

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Hi guys, I'm a newbie here and have just brewed my first batch. For my next batch I would like to go secondary on it. Is it ok to have secondary at same temp as primary? I do not have an extra fridge, so I won't be able to keep the beer under 67-68 degrees. Is this ok?
 

Janx

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Sure...no need to lower the temp in the secondary at all. It's main purpose is to remove the beer from most of the yeast bed. Lowering the temp would only slow down the fermentation.

BTW...like the name ;)

Janx
 

Janx

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Holy ****. I never thought I'd see the day when two such reputable
mischief makers douse their drawers at the sight of a mall security guard.
****, *****, we're gonna bust that stage like a high school
kegger! We're just gonna outwit LaFours, x-men style.
 

LaFours

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lol..that's exactly where the name comes from. Love Kevin Smith. Thanks for the reply too! :)
 

rightwingnut

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Kevin Smith's office is a block away from me. He and Jay helped my girlfriend push her car once. Used to love Mallrats...but I must admit I can't stand the guy now.
 

Janx

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Wow I got censored!

It was a quote, rwn! I'm a very family-values kinda guy, myself, but I was just quoting a bit of cinematic art. Can I say "good girl" if I am referring to my female dog? Or "not being very pleased" about the weather? ;)

Did y'all ever see that 2-DVD set with Kevin Smith giving talks at colleges? It's really funny and suprisingly interesting. An Evening With Kevin Smith or something like that. Highly recommended.
 

LaFours

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Janx said:
Wow I got censored!

It was a quote, rwn! I'm a very family-values kinda guy, myself, but I was just quoting a bit of cinematic art. Can I say "good girl" if I am referring to my female dog? Or "not being very pleased" about the weather? ;)

Did y'all ever see that 2-DVD set with Kevin Smith giving talks at colleges? It's really funny and suprisingly interesting. An Evening With Kevin Smith or something like that. Highly recommended.
Yea I own it. It's a great DVD to bring out at get togethers. People who've never even heard of Kevin Smith enjoy it. And vol. 2 is coming out in a few months too!
 

Tophe

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Im also a newbie to this too.....and have a question about this. I have a batch in my plastic fermenter right now, I dont have a secondary fermenter but am considering going out and buying one now....My question is about transfering. Both my fermenter and bottler have the spigots on them so i didnt siphon last time, just used the spigot since its an inch or two from the bottom. It seems to prevent alot of the sediment from transfering over. But would it be better to transfer to the secondary carbouy by siphoning or could i use the spigot??
 

Janx

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Tophe96 said:
Im also a newbie to this too.....and have a question about this. I have a batch in my plastic fermenter right now, I dont have a secondary fermenter but am considering going out and buying one now....My question is about transfering. Both my fermenter and bottler have the spigots on them so i didnt siphon last time, just used the spigot since its an inch or two from the bottom. It seems to prevent alot of the sediment from transfering over. But would it be better to transfer to the secondary carbouy by siphoning or could i use the spigot??
You can use the spigot. But I would recommend glass for your secondary. That way you can let it sit a long time with no plastic taste coming into the beer. Also, it cleans more nicely.

Janx
 

Tophe

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That is my plan now.....but do you put an air lock on the carboy, or just a stopper? (for the secondary)
 

rono73

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Hey LaFours, I don't want to burst your bubble, since I'm a Kevin Smith fan too, but he stole the name from Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid. LaFours is the guy who tracks them across the plains and makes them jump off a cliff.
 

tnlandsailor

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I came in way late on this discussion, but thought I would give a perspective from the other end of the spectrum. I rarely, if ever, secondary my beer. I've left beer on the primary yeast for as long as 5 weeks with no discernable effect on flavor (it was a Cream Ale). I really doubt the flavor improvements that were mentioned earlier in this thread when using a secondary fermentation. The physical presence of suspended yeast will definitely affect the flavor. But, once the yeast settles out, I think the beer is the same whether it's sitting on big cake of primary yeast or a smaller cake of secondary yeast. Off flavors come from the suspended yeast which will eventually settle out if given enough time (cold temps help to speed this up) and autolysis (yeast death and decomposition) which takes months to develop. If you carefully rack for bottling or kegging directly from the primary, you can get very clear beer and it won't taste any different than same beer that utilized a secondary fermentor.

Does using a secondary hurt anything? Of course not. It might speed the process up for settling the yeast out and it certainly makes racking for bottling and kegging easier because you don't have to be as fastidious about not picking up yeast from the bottom of the container. But if you're lazy or forgetful like me, leaving the beer in the primary for 4 or 5 weeks won't hurt a thing.
 

Janx

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The vast majority of beer literature disagrees with you. Empirical evidence tells me the same thing that all the books do: You get *much* better beer if you use a secondary and rack out of the primary within a week. Every homebrewer and professional brewer I personally know agrees with that statement. I know that I can tell a beer that has sat in the primary to long easily. You get much cleaner flavor if you rack to secondary within a week. There's a lot in the primary besides yeast.

Your opinion is valid, though it suprises me coming from a guy who can't tolerate a tenth of a degree variation in his mash ;) In any event, I wholeheartedly disagree with it. And I want to make sure that any newer brewer reading this thread understands that your opinion falls into a definite minority among brewers.
 

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new brewer here and so i consulted with a microbrewer who happens to be my home brewers supply store. right off the bat he told me to do initial fermentation in the primary for about 3-5 days or as soon as the bubbler stops - rack to the secondary for clarification for a week or upon visual inspection yeilding desired results - then rack to bottling pale - and bottle cap - wait 3 weeks and enjoy.

so far this method has not failed me. whether or not it is the most right way for the homebrewer i cannot be conclusive about having the least experience in this group - however most of what i have been able to read onling and talk with to other home brewers says this procedure is best.
 

tnlandsailor

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Nice dig Janx. ;) I'm surprised at my opinion too. I've heard the same arguments and wisdom passed on from everyone - but it just doesn't seem to pan out in practice for me. The first time I left my beer in the primary for 3 weeks, I really expected the worst. Like I said before, I didn't do it on purpose, time just got away from me. The finished beer, once it cleared, was every bit as good as any beer I secondaried, which puzzled me at the time given all the information out there to the contrary. That paricular beer was an IPA which scored in the 40's at one of our club events.

What is it that causes the off flavors? I will agree with you to the point that suspended yeast and other "stuff" definitely affects flavor. If you taste a beer that is visibly cloudy and the same beer once the suspended particles settle out, the clear beer wins hands down. The taste difference is dramatic, I've experienced that with my own beers. But my beer tends to clear up to the same degree whether it has been secondaried or not, it just takes time (maybe a week or two in the keg). Is there something that is still present in (mostly) clear beer that didn't get the benefit of a secondary fermentation that affects flavor? I'm not arguing here, I'm really curious.

Sounds like an experiment is in order. Brew 10 gallons, split the batch with the same yeast, primary only in one, and secondary the other and do an A-B taste test. I'll look into it.

Prosit,
 

Janx

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There's no doubt that perfectly drinkable beer can be made without a secondary. There's also no doubt, to me, that that same beer would have been better had it been racked to a secondary in a timely fashion.

Autolysis, the off-flavor generated by spent yeast essentially decomposing in the fermenter, is really not the biggie here, though it's often talked about. Most of us don't leave our beers in the fermenter long enough for that to matter. So, yeast contact isn't the issue to me.

Nor is lack of clarity caused by suspended particles and yeast. Sure, that stuff settles out in the end, and more importantly, it's not the primary cause of haze.

The biggger issue is prolonged contact with the trub in the primary. We all know that it's best to leave as much of the hot break as possible behind in the kettle. That's why people use Irish moss or whirlpools. The same is true of cold break and any of the protein trub in the wort.

The conversion of sugar to alcohol and CO2 happens pretty quickly in the first few days in the primary for most beers. Much of the later secondary fermentation involves the yeast metabolizing off flavors like diacetyl. Physically removing as much of the off-flavor producing proteins (trub) makes this phase of the yeast's job easier.

It's clear once you brew a few batches that batch aging the beer for a few weeks in the secondary (or tertiary) fermenter makes better tasting beer than if you bottle at the first possible moment. That's because of these secondary roles of the yeast in metabolizing off flavors generated as byproducts of fermentation. I'm by no means an expert on the chemistry of it all, but by removing the trub from the fermenting beer, you physically reduce the amount of off flavors the yeast must metabolize.

To me, it has little to do with clarity or suspended particles, though I do think you get clearer beer if you use a secondary. In any event, clarity of homebrew is usually dictated not by suspended particles, but by things like chill haze. You'll also reduce chill haze by removing the beer from the trub. But the flavor advantages come from complex chemical reactions that have to do with the later phases of yeast metabolism.

Personally, I can always taste the advantages of using a secondary and batch aging an appropriate amount of time. Racking to a secondary within a week is one of the top five things you can do to improve the flavor of your beer, IMO.

Cheers! :D
 

tnlandsailor

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Top 5? I guess that's a matter of opinion. My curiosity is up however. I'm going to give the experiment a go and see what happens. What might be a good beer style to try for something like this?

For what it's worth, my top-5-things-to-make-better-beer list looks like this:

1) Effective sanitizing procedures
2) A large, clean, healthy yeast starter
3) Fermenting at the proper temperature
4) Fresh quality ingredients
5) Utilizing a full wort boil
 

Janx

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I'd say make a good clean APA...something simple so you can see if there's a difference.

Your list looks pretty much like mine. I'd amend number 2 to include *liquid* yeast specifically, and I'd replace number 3 with use of a secondary off the top of my head. Whole hops are also a big thing for me, so I'd add that to number 4. Full wort boil is something I definitely consider essential...in all honesty, you can't expect to be making good beer without a full boil. So, if we accept a full boil as a given prerequisite for the serious brewer, my list would look like (off the top of my head and in no particular order):

1) Effective sanitizing procedures
2) A large, clean, healthy yeast starter made from quality liquid yeast
3) Racking to a secondary within a week
4) Fresh quality ingredients and use of whole hops
5) All-grain brewing

This could be a really good thread all its own...what are your top 5 tips to improve your beer. Cheers! :D
 

DeRoux's Broux

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1. mad sanitation
2. quality ingredients (includes hops)
3. healthy LIQUIDE yeast starter
4. proper fermentation/conditioning/lagering temps (which includes racking to secondary vessel)
5. PATIENCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

those are the 5 things that have improved my brews the most over the past severa lbatches.....
Cheers!
DeRoux's Broux
 
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