Some Primary and Secondary questions

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Ishraider

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Alright i finally got all the equipment i need to start brewing seriously....I have some questions about primarys and secondarys.

1. When you use a carboy for primary, how much head space is too much? I wanna do a 4-gallon batch in a 6-gallon carboy so that i can use my 5 gallon for a secondary. I read head space only matters during the secondary to prevent oxygen from retaining in the carboy.

2. Is there a point when racking a primary to a secondary is too long? Like if i kept it in a primary while a beer in the secondary finished, say almost 2 weeks, would it hurt to rack it into the secondary at that point if fermentation is done?

3. If a secondary is to reduce settlement, is it bad to just let a beer sit in a secondary for a few days to let everything settle for clearer finished product?

4. Do i need a priming bucket? is it the best way to prevent oxidation of the beer? is stirring the prime in the fermentor put a HUGE risk of extra sediment in the bottles?

Thanx for the info anything would help. I just took all my equipment outta the bag to realize my floating thermometer is broken! SUCKS! I had to drive an hour and a half to portland to get that thing and probably wont be going back for a few weeks!
 

Yooper

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Alright i finally got all the equipment i need to start brewing seriously....I have some questions about primarys and secondarys.

1. When you use a carboy for primary, how much head space is too much? I wanna do a 4-gallon batch in a 6-gallon carboy so that i can use my 5 gallon for a secondary. I read head space only matters during the secondary to prevent oxygen from retaining in the carboy.

That's fine, but why a 4 gallon batch? You should do a five gallon batch, and use the 5 gallon carboy for a secondary. A 5 gallon carboy actually holds more like 5.5-5.75 gallons.
2. Is there a point when racking a primary to a secondary is too long? Like if i kept it in a primary while a beer in the secondary finished, say almost 2 weeks, would it hurt to rack it into the secondary at that point if fermentation is done?
No, two to four weeks in the primary is pretty standard. There's a misnomer here- a "secondary" fermenter isn't actually what you're talking about. You're talking about using a carboy as a clearing tank, or in the breweries it's called a "bright tank". Fermentation should be finished in the primary before moving the beer to to secondary carboy. You don't have to use one, but it does give the beer some more time to condition and clear a bit.
3. If a secondary is to reduce settlement, is it bad to just let a beer sit in a secondary for a few days to let everything settle for clearer finished product?
No, but why? Why go to all the trouble of sanitizing racking gear, the carboy, the stopper, etc, and only keep it there a couple of days? Either put it in the clearing tank for a couple of weeks, or don't bother. You can leave it in the original fermenter for a month or so, and not worry about moving the beer.

4. Do i need a priming bucket? is it the best way to prevent oxidation of the beer? is stirring the prime in the fermentor put a HUGE risk of extra sediment in the bottles?
You should have a bottling bucket. You don't absolutely need one, but you will risk some oxidation if you stir in the priming solution, and of course resuspend all the sediment that you just spent those weeks waiting to clear. A bottling bucket is like $10 or so, and well worth it.

Thanx for the info anything would help. I just took all my equipment outta the bag to realize my floating thermometer is broken! SUCKS! I had to drive an hour and a half to portland to get that thing and probably wont be going back for a few weeks!
IA floating thermometer isn't necessary, and in fact we hear on here everyday how people break them during the brewday INTO their wort! Just check the temperature of the steeping grains with a regular thermometer, if you have one. The only other time you need one is to check and make sure your wort is cool enough to pitch the yeast. I no longer use a floating thermeter, and just use a cheap (but accurate) digital one.

Answers in bold, and big (sorry about how big!)
 
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Headspace is not really an issue in primary....in fact, I'd rather have more than less. A huge amount of Co2 is generated at this stage, and it will quickly drive all of the air out of the carboy. I put just over 5 gallons in my 6 gallon better bottles, and use a blow-off tube if it is a big beer.

Leave it in primary as long as you want. (Within reason!) I've gone over two months, before racking directly to a keg. In fact, a secondary is optional for most beers. I gave em' up long ago!

You can also leave your beer in secondary a long time with no worries, so long as it's protected from light and temperature swings.

You need to thoroughly stir your priming solution into your beer before bottling...if you do this in your secondary, you'll completely undo all the settling that you used a secondary for! A bottling bucket is cheap, I would not skimp here. If you want to skimp, skip the secondary and just leave your beer in the primary longer!
 
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Ishraider

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Well i said 4 gallons because there is no brew shop where i live but i can get a double batch of Mr. Beer Oktoberfest and the reason i even wanna bother is cuz i have a nice extract kit i just bought and im waiting for the liquid yeast to be ready, its a smack pack and just broke it today so i gotta wait a bit.

And another reason is because I have only done one brew, and kind of wanted to get a little better grip on the procedure before i step up to the real extract kit (7lbs malt extract with some bittering and aroma hops) and figured since mr beer is the only option i have why not to a double batch of the oktoberfest.
 

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Well i said 4 gallons because there is no brew shop where i live
There are many online brew supply houses, that including delivery, pretty much match the price of the local prices around me... Frankly I order online a lot just for convenience... The closest shop is a half hour drive...

Don't let local supply discourage you from using the best ingredients you can get. It's the same amount of extertion/fun to make "meh" beer as it is to make good beer.
 
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Ishraider

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Oh dont worry i am an active online shopper the problem with buying stuff online is shipping is generically more expensive just because of the fact im so far away from major citys that there is very few good online brew shops that are within a decent shipping range. The only reason i even wanna bother with the mr. beer is i have the night off and am obsessing over wanting to get a brew in.

My Williams Brewing Brown Ale is next and its the full extract setup. Has anybody had any luck with the oktoberfest tasting any good from mr beer? I mean its 30 bucks for 2 refill packs which is cheaper than mr beer even sells it.
 
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