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Secondary Fermenter Question

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Taylormade

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I'm brewing my fourth batch to date currently, a Sierra Nevada PA clone. I brewed it Xmas eve, so I'm going on my 9th day today.

The recipe calls for it to ferment in the primary for 7 days or until fermentation slows down before moving it to the secondary and adding cascade hops.

All three of my prior batches had stopped bubbling after day 4 or 5. I'm on day 9 now and, while it's slowed way down, it's still bubbling the airlock... approximately once every 20 seconds or so. Should I bother moving it to the secondary now, since it's "slowed", or just wait it out until there's no activity before adding the hops?

Thanks in advance!
 

exhumedatbirth

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If you are getting that much activity then leave the beer in the primary.
Actually I would just wait until the activity stops and dry hop right in the primary, but I only secondary my sours when it's time to pull them off the fruit.
 

freisste

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Secondary is a matter of preference. Some say it makes a clearer beer, some say the same clarity can be achieved with primary only (some even say primary only is faster because you don't stir up the trub).

To answer your question, secondary is NOT necessary as you WILL make fine beer without it. I would recommend brewing two similar (or even identical) beers with and without secondary to judge effects for yourself.

Personally, I would NOT secondary the beer you are doing now. But that's just me. I'm sure lots of people if agree with me, but I'm sure lots of people would say moving to secondary wouldn't hurt.
 
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Taylormade

Taylormade

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Ok thanks for the speedy replies. I have done two with secondaries and one without, and all have come out great. I guess I thought I needed to do a secondary this time because I was adding hops. I guessed wrong, it sounds like.

So do I just dump the cascade hops in now and stir it up or wait until the bubbling stops totally before adding them and then wait another week?
 

freisste

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Just throw them in. No need to stir; they will disperse on their own.

Generally speaking, you want to wait until fermentation is complete to dry hop. First reason is that offgassing CO2 will pull out some of the hop aroma you are going for if you dry hop during active fermentation. Second reason is that during active fermentation, there is more yeast in suspension that will fall out of suspension when fermentation ends. Hop oils tend to coat the yeast, so it will also fall out of suspension at that point.

Sounds like your fermentation is done or very close. A couple bubbles a minute do not necessarily indicate fermentation - they may be caused by a change in atmospheric pressure or temperature or a number of other causes.

Also, when you dry hop you are likely to see an increase in bubbling. Don't worry, it's normal and won't last long.
 

gilstein21

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for my Pale Ales I dry hop in the primary; just drop the hops in. I usually do this after 14-16 days in primary.
 
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Taylormade

Taylormade

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ok, so last question (hopefully) on this one:

When I drop the hops in, do I need to wait any particular length of time before kegging, like another week or so?

I'm used to fermenting for 14-17 days, cold crashing for 24 hours and applying CO2, drinking 48 hours later. This is the first dry hopping I've done.
 

Conman13

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This may be unrelated but I've found that ignoring most beginner recipes advice on duration of stay in primary has helped improve my beers greatly and reduced my need to go to secondary.

Most kits say 7-10 days in primary - I leave it for 3 weeks. Why? Because why not? There is no real danger from off flavors coming through the trub in that amount of time, unless you are fermenting at a very high temperature (80F+). Your beers will be clearer and taste cleaner - without the need to go to secondary.

With dry hopping, it might be easier to dry hop in your secondary vessel since there will be less krausen in the way. It depends.
 
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Taylormade

Taylormade

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... unless you are fermenting at a very high temperature (80F+). Your beers will be clearer and taste cleaner - without the need to go to secondary.

Yeah, that's an issue for me. I'm in Florida and it makes it a challenge to keep the temps down. In fact, I just had to close the windows and turn the AC on as it was 78 in the house. I keep the fermenting bucket in a 10G turkey fryer bucket filled with water that I swap frozen water bottles in. I struggle to keep the temps down to 72, even in the winter so I try to get my beer into the keezer as soon as it's done fermenting.
 

Conman13

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72 is fine. 78 is fine. I've fermented many batches without temperature control during summer months. The trub is just yeast cake, hops and wort proteins. It won't hurt your beer.

Check out the temperature range on the yeast you are using. That's more important.

Airlock activity ceasing does NOT mean the yeast is done. There's a ton of stuff going on in weeks 2 3 and 4. After going from 2 to 3 weeks of primary conditioning before bottling/kegging I was shocked at the difference in clarity in the beer and reduction of off flavors.
 
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Taylormade

Taylormade

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Airlock activity ceasing does NOT mean the yeast is done. There's a ton of stuff going on in weeks 2 3 and 4. After going from 2 to 3 weeks of primary conditioning before bottling/kegging I was shocked at the difference in clarity in the beer and reduction of off flavors.
I understand that the only way to check if it's truly done is to check the gravity and I agree that time=clarity and good beer.

I guess what I'm asking now is whether or not I can check the gravity and, if it's done, rack into my keg, put it in the keezer (~36 degrees) add hops and give it another week or two before adding CO2.

Or should I just check gravity, add hops, leave it alone for another week before kegging?
 

Conman13

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I would leave it longer at conditioning temps, if you want clearer beer with less of a green taste. If you're in a hurry and want beer sooner, then don't.

When you put it in the keezer at serving temperature, yeast conditioning activity essentially ceases.

Even though you hit FG, active yeast are still working on conditioning your beer. It's still alive. It's up to you how long you want that process to keep going. For an IPA, I would let it condition at least 3 weeks.

Also, I usually dry hop in my conditioning vessel, not in the keg. But that is up to you. Lots of people use muslin bags of hops inside the keg to much success.
 
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Taylormade

Taylormade

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Thanks for the reply. I actually racked into a secondary this morning. The final gravity is where it needed to be at 1.015 so I went ahead and tossed in the hops and sealed 'er up. I'm brewing a Sunshine Wheat clone and an octoberfest this weekend that I'll more than likely just leave in the primary for two or three weeks before going straight to the keg.

Thanks again for all the assistance.
 
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