Think Secondary is worth it?

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum:

BWRIGHT

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 17, 2008
Messages
404
Reaction score
11
Location
Indiana
I've got a batch of Brewer's Best, English Brown Ale, in my primary right now. It's only been a day and the action is substantial already. My question is will racking into a secondary make that much of a difference. This is my first attempt at brewing anything. I know the secondary will help with chill haze, but I'm not real concerned with that. I want to drink one of these beers as soon as possible but I don't want to compromise the flavor by not racking into a secondary. Is it worth it or not?
 

z987k

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2007
Messages
3,513
Reaction score
36
Location
Anchorage
Flavor, no, clarity, yes. You still need to let it sit in the primary for a few weeks (and then bottles for a few weeks) if your not going to secondary so it doesn't taste green. So basically why not?
 

Yooper

Ale's What Cures You!
Staff member
Admin
Mod
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jun 4, 2006
Messages
75,088
Reaction score
13,197
Location
UP/Snowbird in Florida
Well, in my experience, the beer takes the same amount of time whether you rack it to a clearing tank (secondary) or not. You can do the 1-2-3 method we talk about (one week in primary, two weeks in the clearing tank, then three in the bottle, drink!), or leave it in the fermenter for 3 weeks without racking it to the carboy. If it finishes up, and you let it sit for a couple of weeks, it'll clear and condition. So, it's 5-6 weeks either way.

I almost always rack to a clearing tank, but that's because I leave it in the carboy for a while (anywhere from 2-4 weeks) and want to have a fermenter ready when I want to brew again. There are many great brewers who never use the clearing tank. They just use the primary fermenter and let it sit there 3-4 weeks before bottling. I guess it's a matter of preference.
 
OP
OP
BWRIGHT

BWRIGHT

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 17, 2008
Messages
404
Reaction score
11
Location
Indiana
OK. But won't it take on unwanted flavors from the yeast if I just leave it in the primary. I've got a secondary carboy anyway. I'm just wondering if it will change the flavor.
 

Beerthoven

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 4, 2007
Messages
2,173
Reaction score
39
Location
Cary, NC
BWRIGHT said:
I've got a batch of Brewer's Best, English Brown Ale, in my primary right now. It's only been a day and the action is substantial already. My question is will racking into a secondary make that much of a difference. This is my first attempt at brewing anything. I know the secondary will help with chill haze, but I'm not real concerned with that. I want to drink one of these beers as soon as possible but I don't want to compromise the flavor by not racking into a secondary. Is it worth it or not?

You are not going to compromise the flavor by not racking into a secondary. Its perfectly acceptable to leave the beer in the primary fermenter for up to 4 weeks and then bottle or keg. The only way using a secondary can compromise the flavor is if you rack too soon.
 

APendejo

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2007
Messages
327
Reaction score
11
Location
So.Cal., No. Orange County
If I plan on bottling the beer I will move it off the primary after a week or so and let it set 2 weeks in the clearing carboy, w/the third week in the fridge.
I find that by doing this I end up with a minimal amount of yeast in the bottom of the bottles.
AP
 

Beerthoven

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 4, 2007
Messages
2,173
Reaction score
39
Location
Cary, NC
BWRIGHT said:
OK. But won't it take on unwanted flavors from the yeast if I just leave it in the primary.

No, not if you started with healthy yeast and don't leave the beer in primary for an extended period (more than a month or so).

BWRIGHT said:
I've got a secondary carboy anyway. I'm just wondering if it will change the flavor.

It sounds like your mind is already made up that you will rack into a secondary. That's fine. I'd suggest leaving the beer in primary for 10 days to 2 weeks to allow time for the yeast to condition the beer. After that you can rack to the secondary for a week or so to give the beer time to clear.
 

BlindLemonLars

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
May 5, 2007
Messages
4,471
Reaction score
35
I've always been a big believer in using a clearing tank, and have enjoyed great success doing so. My beers are generally brilliantly clear, and I definitely prefer handing somebody a beautiful jewel-like glass of beer, with no cloudiness or haze. Furthermore, I've NEVER looked into a primary and thought "wow, that's ready to keg or bottle," even after 3-4 weeks! It always looked cloudy, with junk still floating on the top, and a good inch of easily roused trub at the bottom. OTOH, a day or two after racking off the trub, my beer already looks vastly improved, as though the very act of racking somehow caused stuff to drop out quicker.

With all this in mind, when I brewed my Kölsch in December, I decided to let it go longer in the primary than I ever had...just to see. To better visually gauge its progress, I used a 6 gallon better bottle instead of my usual buckets.

After two weeks: cloudy, with tons of junk still floating.
After three weeks: no apparent change...I'm not putting THAT in a keg!
After four weeks: this is getting discouraging...I'd better rack to secondary at the next opportunity.

So yesterday marked week five, give or take a day. I pulled the BB out of my chest freezer (65F w/Ranco) and was delighted to find STUNNINGLY CLEAR BEER! The yeast cake had settled down to practically nothing, and the surface was clean and devoid of floaties. The trub got stirred up a bit as I carried it to my kitchen, but quickly settled back down within a half hour. The small volume of sediment was shocking, I couldn't believe how compacted it was. I still had to use more care racking to my keg (sucked up a bit of trub, no big deal) but I managed. I even filled a small water bottle and chilled/force-carbed it: clear, beautiful and already quite delicious!

Anyhow, I'm not yet completely in the no-secondary camp. However, I'm now aware that it's certainly a viable option for me, at least for smaller beers. If I can come up with a better way of keeping cold break out of my fermenters (without sacrificing too much wort volume) I'm betting I can reduce the primary time, and perhaps give up secondaries altogether.
 

InkPouchMan

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2008
Messages
76
Reaction score
4
Location
Long Island
Alas, the same question plagues me. I don't have a carboy, but I'm considering ordering a better bottle, maybe this week.
 

King of the Swill

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 4, 2007
Messages
125
Reaction score
0
Location
Illinois
I always go to the secondary. If nothing else, it makes me feel as if I am making beer (hate to just wait & do nothing for 3 weeks or so). Once you see how much trub you leave in the primary, you may choose to always secondary.
 

StallionMang

Active Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2007
Messages
41
Reaction score
0
If the beer sits on the trub for too long, then the yeast can autolyse, which will adversely affect the flavor of the beer. However, it has to sit on the trub for longer than 4 weeks before this will happen. That is why it is usually only an issue for lagers and high-gravity ales, because those must condition for a longer period of time than a normal ale.

If you are brewing a normal medium-gravity ale, then 3 weeks in the primary should be fine.
 
OP
OP
BWRIGHT

BWRIGHT

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 17, 2008
Messages
404
Reaction score
11
Location
Indiana
OK. So I've decided to transfer to the secondary. Now this is my first brew, but I've read a ton of info on this forum. GREAT HELP. Now, like everyone knows I've read some conflicting info on when to rack into secondary and when to bottle. I've got a Brewer's Best Engilsh Brown Ale in my primary. Supposedly it is similar to New Castle, but it's not a clone. I wanted to start with something I'm familar with so I can taste the differences. So here is how I did it.....I did a full boil of 6.25 gallons of distilled water. From reading further I think maybe this was a bit much to start with, but that is what LHBS said to start with. I have a 26 qt. pot with a 20" dia. so I think I had a good amount of boil off. I steeped 8 oz. of Crystal Malt 60L. Brought up to 150F then let steep for 20min. Drained the bag without squeezing. Brought to boil. Added 3.3lbs of plain Amber LME and 2lbs of plain Amber DME. Stirred to prevent scorch on bottom and returned to boil. Added 1oz of Willamette Hops and boiled 55 mins. Then, added 1/2oz of Willamette (finishing hops) for last 5mins of boil. Chilled wort in ice bath with lid OFF for first 1/2 hr. Then put lid on with room to vent until down to 7OF. (Worth Chiller will be my next investment). Took OG reading and was at 1.040 which was right on. Racked into 6.5G carboy. I tried to swhish the wort around as it entered the carboy to aerate (wish now i would have shaken it). Pitched 1 pkg of Nottingham dried ale yeast directly into carboy. Gave it a little rock back and forth just to wet the yeast. I now have it fermenting with a double chamber airlock. It's been 24hrs and the lock is bubbling about 1 a sec and half. So now that I've made you read this much blabble can someone point out any mistakes. I sanitized everythint I used with Iodapohor (sure that spelling is wrong) 1TBS to 5G of water. Fermenting at 70F. When should I rack into secondary carboy? How long in secondary? I am aware of the 1-2-3 rule. Thanks to anyone that took the time to read this extravagant explantation.
 

Yooper

Ale's What Cures You!
Staff member
Admin
Mod
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jun 4, 2006
Messages
75,088
Reaction score
13,197
Location
UP/Snowbird in Florida
It sounds fine. One thing to keep in mind is that the instructions have you steep and boil a smaller amount of water. Doing a full boil is fine, but it does increase your hops utilization. That's fine, but you may notice the beer has more bitterness than you intended. When you change a recipe by boiling the full amount, or adding extract that, you may want to reduce the bittering hops by about 25%. Brewing software (Beersmith has a free trial to download) helps alot with that. Or you can ask one of us if the hops should be reduced.

Next time, steep the grains as the directions say, and then add it to the rest of the water to boil. It's not a problem, but you generally don't want to steep the grains in more water than a couple of gallons.

Reducing the wort temperature after a full boil is tough without a wort chiller! It's good to bring it down to 70 degrees as fast as you can, and with a wort chiller that will be much easier.

Everything looks fine! I made that exact kit as one of my first beers. We really liked it!

Since you already know about the 1-2-3, I won't go into that again.
 

DeathBrewer

Maniacally Malty
HBT Supporter
Joined
Apr 9, 2007
Messages
21,787
Reaction score
317
Location
Oakland, CA
BWRIGHT said:
OK. So I've decided to transfer to the secondary. Now this is my first brew, but I've read a ton of info on this forum. GREAT HELP. Now, like everyone knows I've read some conflicting info on when to rack into secondary and when to bottle.

I've got a Brewer's Best Engilsh Brown Ale in my primary. Supposedly it is similar to New Castle, but it's not a clone. I wanted to start with something I'm familar with so I can taste the differences.

So here is how I did it.....I did a full boil of 6.25 gallons of distilled water. From reading further I think maybe this was a bit much to start with, but that is what LHBS said to start with. I have a 26 qt. pot with a 20" dia. so I think I had a good amount of boil off.

I steeped 8 oz. of Crystal Malt 60L.
Brought up to 150F then let steep for 20min.
Drained the bag without squeezing. Brought to boil.
Added 3.3lbs of plain Amber LME and 2lbs of plain Amber DME.
Stirred to prevent scorch on bottom and returned to boil.
Added 1oz of Willamette Hops and boiled 55 mins. Then, added 1/2oz of Willamette (finishing hops) for last 5mins of boil.
Chilled wort in ice bath with lid OFF for first 1/2 hr.
Then put lid on with room to vent until down to 7OF. (Worth Chiller will be my next investment).
Took OG reading and was at 1.040 which was right on.
Racked into 6.5G carboy. I tried to swhish the wort around as it entered the carboy to aerate (wish now i would have shaken it).
Pitched 1 pkg of Nottingham dried ale yeast directly into carboy. Gave it a little rock back and forth just to wet the yeast.

I now have it fermenting with a double chamber airlock. It's been 24hrs and the lock is bubbling about 1 a sec and half.

So now that I've made you read this much blabble can someone point out any mistakes. I sanitized everythint I used with Iodapohor (sure that spelling is wrong) 1TBS to 5G of water. Fermenting at 70F. When should I rack into secondary carboy? How long in secondary? I am aware of the 1-2-3 rule. Thanks to anyone that took the time to read this extravagant explantation.

The enter key is your friend! :D i had to fix that for ya...i just couldn't read it like that.

sounds to me like you have a good process going. As for racking, i would move it to the secondary after fermentation is finished (you're reached your target gravity and it holds for a couple days) and would not transfer until it has been in the primary AT LEAST a week. i personally leave mine longer. i use a 2-2-6 method ;)

:mug:
 
OP
OP
BWRIGHT

BWRIGHT

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 17, 2008
Messages
404
Reaction score
11
Location
Indiana
Thanks for the info. Hey Yooper. Did your brew taste like New Castle? I have read about more water increasing hop utilization. I was told to do a full boil If I had the capability.
Good tip about the return key. He is my friend. Much easier to read. Got it at 70F and will see how it goes. Also, what is the effect of not chlling the wort fast enough? I know it's bad, but what flavor does it impart?
 

Yooper

Ale's What Cures You!
Staff member
Admin
Mod
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jun 4, 2006
Messages
75,088
Reaction score
13,197
Location
UP/Snowbird in Florida
It did taste a lot like New Castle, and we were happy with it. We actually liked it a bit better, because it tasted fresher.

Cooling the wort fast gives you a good cold break, which means the proteins glob up together and settle out. That will give you a clearer, cleaner beer, with less chance of chill haze. (Homebrews that aren't filtered with sometimes be clear as a bell, untill you chill them, and then they get hazy. There are other ways to deal with it too). Also, less chance of infection because you're out of that danger zone of 80-150 degrees or so where bacteria can take hold, and you can pitch your yeast faster.
 
OP
OP
BWRIGHT

BWRIGHT

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 17, 2008
Messages
404
Reaction score
11
Location
Indiana
I got my wort down from boil to 70F in about an hour. How is that? What "off" flavors can I expect if the wort is not chilled fast enough?
 

BlindLemonLars

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
May 5, 2007
Messages
4,471
Reaction score
35
BWRIGHT said:
Is it alright to pour the wort back in after I take a gravity reading? My tube is like half a beer.
I wouldn't...your wort is right at it's most vulnerable state! Better to waste half a beer than risk your whole batch.
 

jds

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
1,912
Reaction score
38
Location
Littleton, CO
DeathBrewer said:
taste that sucker

I always taste my OG hydrometer jar. I don't usually drink it, but a taste al least gives me an idea of where it's going.

My FG hydrometer jar is a different story, though. Bottoms up!
 

skou

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 27, 2006
Messages
347
Reaction score
13
Location
MESA
BWRIGHT said:
Is it alright to pour the wort back in after I take a gravity reading? My tube is like half a beer.

Drink it!!

Like I used to tell my customers at the LHBS, when I USED to work there, "those taste buds are the determining factor here, the hydrometer is just a helper!"

Oh, about autolyzing, if you use Yeast # 1968, you NEED to go to a secondary as soon as you can! That stuff'll autolyze in a heart-beat. (Well, in a week. Even Yeast says so.) Most other yeasts are OK to not use a secondary.

steve
 

cd2448

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 21, 2007
Messages
601
Reaction score
4
Location
Haddonfield, NJ
the thing with cooling your beer is that while the beer is boiling, it's protected from infection (because it's boiling) and once you pitch the yeast and seal the fermentor, it's also protected. but while you are getting it cool enough to pitch (because to pitch too high either kills the yeast dead in their tracks or can cause off flavours by fermenting too warm), there's this window of time where infection can take place.

a wort chiller i'd say is essential for a full boil. i did ice baths for my 3gallon boils, and it took 30min+, but now i'm trying to boil 4gallons, i'm loving my wort chiller ($50 incl. delivery from eBay), which is getting the temp down in about 20mins.

definitely use your hydrometer to check if fermentation is complete before moving to secondary - the only sure rule is that until fermentation is done, you should not move to secondary. once it's done, i'd leave it there for minimum 1 week, then move to secondary (and you can move the secondary to a cooler spot to aid the clearing of the beer). couple of weeks in secondary should be good enough then bottle (for ales at least).

the temptation to drink the beer after a few days will be overwhelming - ignore it and leave it in bottles as long as you can stand (samples notwithstanding :) ). the longer it conditions in the bottles the better it will taste. there is an upper limit after which the beer will spoil, but i think that's probably 6-12 months - i defy you to still have any of that first batch left in bottles by then!
 

Brewpastor

Beer, not rocket chemistry
Joined
Feb 16, 2006
Messages
4,628
Reaction score
66
Location
Corrales, New Mexico
I believe it is more important to leave the trub (hot and cold break) behind than it is to rack into a secondary. Two words : whirlpool chiller.
 

TexLaw

Here's Lookin' Atcha!
HBT Supporter
Joined
Sep 19, 2007
Messages
3,672
Reaction score
37
Location
Houston, Texas
BWRIGHT said:
OK. Well can irish moss be used IN PLACE of racking into a secondary, or is it more of just and aid to prevent chill haze

The secondary does not magically clear the beer. It just provides another spot for the beer to sit while suspended stuff settles to the bottom. That suspended stuff is almost entirely yeast, by the time you're racking.

Irish moss promotes protein coagulation, which helps those chill haze proteins drop out.


TL
 

the_bird

10th-Level Beer Nerd
HBT Supporter
Joined
May 21, 2006
Messages
20,964
Reaction score
607
Location
Adams, MA
A fast chilling of the wort helps with clarity a ton, as well. I was amazed at the amount of cold break that developed the first time I used my immersion chiller.
 
OP
OP
BWRIGHT

BWRIGHT

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 17, 2008
Messages
404
Reaction score
11
Location
Indiana
Alright. So tell me if this is right. Racking into the secondary will help clear the beer for two reasons. 1. it will leave most of the trub in the primary. 2. Once I stirred up some of the trub from racking, only time will help settle anything else that may make my beer cloudy. So really TIME is the biggest factor in clearing a beer? Also, I want to make sure I get my priming sugar well mixed before bottling to promote even distribution so that the whole batch is evenly carbonated. What is the best way to do this without oxygenating the beer. Just swirl it?
 

IowaStateFan

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2006
Messages
232
Reaction score
18
Location
Western slope of Pikes Peak
You got it right. Time is the most important factor in clearing a beer. It also takes time for the flavors to blend and mellow. Brewing is certainly not for the impatient. Most of us around here will tell you that our beer was really beginning to taste it's best about the time we got to the last bottle. The more time you give it, the better it will taste.

The easiest way to mix the priming sugar is to put it into the bottling bucket first then rack on top of it. What you want to do is get your siphon hose idown nto the priming solution so that it swirls and mixes the beer from the bottom of the bucket.
 

Latest posts

Top