Should i secondary?

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mullimat

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I am about to brew my first batch this weekend and was wondering how important it is to put my beer in the secondary after it has sat in the primary? Isn't the secondary just to clear it up? My first brew will be a nutbrown ale so i'm not sure if i really want it clear or not. Also i have an ale pail and a carboy. Which should i use for my primary or does it matter? I would think i wouldn't want to use the ale pail because you can't really see inside. And is it bad to periodically open the fermenter while it's fermenting?
 

homebrewer_99

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That can only be answered by you.

The primary purpose of a secondary is for clearing. A secondary reason is for bulk aging and mellowing.

If you believe your brews don't need either then don't do it.

Of course, not doing it will not make your brew age any faster or make it ready quicker either...you can't rush a natural process (fermentation/aging). ;)
 

Blender

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You don't have to go with a secondary. Some brewers do and some don't but with careful siphoning you can get clear brew from the primary.If you decide to use a secondary I would use the carboy for that and ferment in the bucket for 2-3 weeks.
 
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mullimat

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So while it's in the primary it would be ok to open it periodically to check on it? I guess it would be as i would have to keep opening it to get samples and readings right?
 

hopsalot

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Don't open it up too much, do it once after two weeks in the primary, if you are checking everyday there is a possibility of contamination. I always secondary, My beers clear up enough to drink out of the bottle. If you have the equipment I would do it, but if not use that carboy for a solid two week fermentation and then take a hydrometer reading.
 

Yooper

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mullimat said:
So while it's in the primary it would be ok to open it periodically to check on it? I guess it would be as i would have to keep opening it to get samples and readings right?
Well, you can open it. But, I never do. I have a beer to rack today that I made about 2 weeks ago, and I'll open it today to make sure it's finished, and then rack it. We say it's good to check sg readings for three consecutive days before racking, or bottling, but the truth is if you wait a couple of weeks, the beer is probably done. I double check with a hydrometer, though, so I don't rack off the yeast too early. So, you won't harm your beer by opening the ale pail to take an sg reading, but there really isn't any reason to.

I usually use a clearing tank for all of my beers, even dark ones. They can use that extra time, and then I can use the ale pail for my next batch!
 

Moonpile

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What style of beer are you going to brew? Some benefit more or less from secondary.
 
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mullimat

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I will be brewing a nut brown ale. After that i have a Belgian Abbey ale to brew and then a Rochefort 10 clone from AHS. Saving the Rochefort for last as i want to make sure i don't screw that one up.
 

Moonpile

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I'll let some other people chime in about the Belgians, but for the nut brown, you can choose to secondary or not, without a whole lot of difference in the finished product.

There's two competing rules of thumb which you'll see around here quite a bit: 1-2-3 and 3-0-3, meaning weeks in primary - weeks in secondary - weeks in bottle conditioning. I've been leaning to the laziness of 3-0-3 lately, personally.

I'll try to sum up some of the reasoning behind both methods (and I'm sure others will pitch in with more reasons and counter reasons, but at least this'll get you thinking about it).

1-2-3:
  • Gets the beer off the bulk of the yeast cake faster
  • If you're going to re-use the yeast cake, this leaves the cake more healthy for the next beer
  • Probably the way to go for dry hopping (not likely to be of use for nut brown)

3-0-3:
  • Allows yeast to "clean up after themselves", breaking down off flavors
  • Just easier, with one less thing to clean
  • Less exposure of finished beer to oxygen
 

Kevin K

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I've quit using a secondary altogether, after listening to Jamil's show on the brewing network.

3-4 weeks after brew day I keg.
My beer is just as clear as when I used to rack to secondary, if not clearer.
No difference in taste that I can tell, plus I save a step and reduce the chance of contamination.
 
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