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Tip for new brewers regarding secondary

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Soulive

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I just wanna say that using secondaries are not recommended for beginners IMO. The good thing is, you don't need to secondary your beers. I recently left a beer in primary for 6 weeks and it came out as clear, if not clearer, then when I secondary. I don't recommend 6 weeks, but you could primary for 4 weeks and go right to bottling. Secondary-ing increases beginners' chances of oxidizing and/or contaminating their beer. Just wanted to let anyone know who's been wondering
:mug:
 

Bobby_M

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I'm soooo on the fence with this issue. I've argued for both sides in the past and keep running into experiences that change my mind. First, if you're doing a lighter beer, figure anything under 1.050, you don't need very much aging for flavor purposes. You're really just running a secondary to get it clear enough to bottle or keg. In that case, I have some empirical evidence that the very act of racking to secondary (yes Beirmuncher I'm conceding this) forces a lot of particulates out of solution.

So, I do agree that you can acheive the same thing in a long primary but it's going to take extra time. Just for giggles, say you do 4 weeks in primary (1 active ferment, 3 weeks clearing), that same batch would have been just as clear with say 10 days primary, 7 days secondary (with a crash cool right at the end).

The thing is that you can tell a beginner the easy/recommended way all you want but they'll do the FASTER thing given the two choices. Patience is not a noob trait.
 
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Soulive

Soulive

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Bobby_M said:
I'm soooo on the fence with this issue. I've argued for both sides in the past and keep running into experiences that change my mind. First, if you're doing a lighter beer, figure anything under 1.050, you don't need very much aging for flavor purposes. You're really just running a secondary to get it clear enough to bottle or keg. In that case, I have some empirical evidence that the very act of racking to secondary (yes Beirmuncher I'm conceding this) forces a lot of particulates out of solution.

So, I do agree that you can acheive the same thing in a long primary but it's going to take extra time. Just for giggles, say you do 4 weeks in primary (1 active ferment, 3 weeks clearing), that same batch would have been just as clear with say 10 days primary, 7 days secondary (with a crash cool right at the end).

The thing is that you can tell a beginner the easy/recommended way all you want but they'll do the FASTER thing given the two choices. Patience is not a noob trait.
You're right about the patience. I just wish noobs would realize that having patience is much better than risking ruining your batch. The best things for them to do is brew something with a moderate ABV (below 1.055), use a yeast that is very flocculant, and control the temps the best they can. I didn't start using a secondary until my sanitation practices were sound. That was around batch 5 for me...
 

david_42

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I tend to keg from the fermenter at 4 weeks. I suspect one of the reasons for "secondary" is to introduce an additional step, delaying the process. The biggest error people make is not waiting long enough.
 

PearlJamNoCode

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I'm new and I don't plan on using a secondary for my first batch. Clarity is not really an issue with me. I have it planned out to sit in the primary for about 25 days, then about the same for bottles.
 
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Soulive

Soulive

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PearlJamNoCode said:
I'm new and I don't plan on using a secondary for my first batch. Clarity is not really an issue with me. I have it planned out to sit in the primary for about 25 days, then about the same for bottles.
You should be good then. Its not so much about clarity as the yeast cleaning up their work site. They have to clean up any extra off flavors they threw during fermentation. Crap dropping out of suspension helps more than the clarity, it also helps the taste. You'll be fine with that schedule though...
 

Neomich

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I just used my secondary for the first time last night. I needed to dry hop an ale and it's easier in the secondary (and cleaner looking) than trying to rig it up in the primary.

All of my other beers have been primary only for at least 3 weeks or so. I've got places to make improvements but I don't think anything can be contributed to only using a primary vs racking to a secondary. I'm still learning and trying new styles so I'll use my secondary when I think I need to, otherwise, I'll just stick with the primary.
 

BrewDey

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Maybe I'm a bit lazy, and I am also a procrastinator-the lazy part isn't so good, but I've found procrastination can help. The best beers I've had have been 4 weeks in the primary-then to bottles, and another 4 weeks at least in bottles. This is actually longer than the '1-2-3' method, but the beer has been great, and it has required less steps, and thus, less chance for me to screw things up.
 

Bobby_M

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If you want absolute clarity, the key is letting the beer sit around COLD for a month. I've got some kegs that I've avoided drinking and they've just sat in the kegger at 36F. This one belgian wit that is 3-4 months old is incredibly clear. It's going out in the swap by the way.
 
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Soulive

Soulive

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Bobby_M said:
If you want absolute clarity, the key is letting the beer sit around COLD for a month. I've got some kegs that I've avoided drinking and they've just sat in the kegger at 36F. This one belgian wit that is 3-4 months old is incredibly clear. It's going out in the swap by the way.
:off: Since I've stopped bottling, I've been considering fining. I may start soon...
 

grasshopper1917

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I have always used a secondary - but in my opinion people should stick to whatever way they feel like doing it. If you dont rack to secondary you can still make great beer - if you rack to secondary you can make great beer. Its a win win situation.

I dont think there is a big risk of ruining beer racking to secondary - as long as your equipment is clean and you dont splash - it should turn out just fine.
 

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I always use a secondary but not really sure why. The only reasons I can think of that a secondary is really needed is if you only have one vessel capable of being the primary 6+ gallons in size and you have multiple smaller and need to move to the secondary to make room. The other would be if you want to harvest the yeast for your next batch. Other then that I think your beer will be just as clear if you go from primary to bottling vessel to bottle. Of course you will have to take more care to be sure you don't get the trub back into suspension and into the beer.
 

jjmadden08

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Ive only done 2 batches so far, but both have been with the primary only. the first was a pale ale i kept in primary for 3 weeks and is in its 2nd week of bottles now, and the second is a hefe that i will keep in the primary for 2 weeks. I think i will start using a secondary soon, not so much for clarity issues but so i can free up my primary sooner to get started on my next batch!!!
 

Bobby_M

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Soulive21 said:
:off: Since I've stopped bottling, I've been considering fining. I may start soon...
Yup, that's just another trick for getting clearer quicker. Time always works but not everyone has the cold conditioning space like Jamil's walk in shed cooler either.
 

Junebug

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I didn't do a secondary on my first brew and it turned out fine. I was impressed with the clarity! I think it was a good exercise in "patience", something that noobs have a difficult time with. :)
 

Orfy

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I have given up on using a second vessel and just leave it in the fermenter for 3 to 6 weeks unless I have specific reson to use a second vessel.

I think My beer is better.
 

BierMuncher

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Bobby_M said:
...I have some empirical evidence that the very act of racking to secondary (yes Beirmuncher I'm conceding this) forces a lot of particulates out of solution...
I’ll take my finger off the trigger now… :D

If you’re in a hurry…like I am…secondaries help. Trying to brew each weekend, I need to move that beer out and into a secondary (even if I need use a keg to condition) to free up my primaries.

If you’ve got a lot of time...which I don’t…they’re probably not necessary.

If I had unlimited primary space, I’d probably let them go longer. As it is…I have taken a page (from you Bobby) and I’m trying to store my kegs off in the corner for longer periods of time before chilling and tapping.
 
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Soulive

Soulive

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BierMuncher said:
I’ll take my finger off the trigger now… :D

If you’re in a hurry…like I am…secondaries help. Trying to brew each weekend, I need to move that beer out and into a secondary (even if I need use a keg to condition) to free up my primaries.

If you’ve got a lot of time...which I don’t…they’re probably not necessary.

If I had unlimited primary space, I’d probably let them go longer. As it is…I have taken a page (from you Bobby) and I’m trying to store my kegs off in the corner for longer periods of time before chilling and tapping.
I don't brew as often as you so I only have my Better Bottle and 2 buckets. If I wanted to avoid secondary but I was in a hurry, I'd primary in all of them. I'm just saying noobs should avoid secondaries, not all of us...
 

cd2448

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Soulive21 said:
I don't brew as often as you so I only have my Better Bottle and 2 buckets. If I wanted to avoid secondary but I was in a hurry, I'd primary in all of them. I'm just saying noobs should avoid secondaries, not all of us...
I messed this up big time on my first brew, but in a way I'm glad I went thru the secondary step as it was all practice and learning of the whole process. I know how (not) to move to secondary now, so the next time I do it it will be done well.

I'd hate to have left this kind of thing, and then gone to secondary on my first AG brew, for example - making the same foolish errors and ruining a whole AG batch. The next batch I have (weizen) is going straight to bottles but I'll be moving my holiday ale to secondary in due courses and doing a far better job than last time.

PS: the first batch actually cleared superbly in just a short time in secondary - I'd definitely do it again. If nothing else it forces a little patience on the thirsty newcomer!
 

Kevin Dean

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I'm in the exact same boat as BierMuncher. I choose to use a plastic "Ale Pail" as my primary, mainly because it's bigger than my Better Bottles and a big, healthy dump (he he) from the kettle to the bucket aerates well.

After one week, I rack to secondary (either a glass carboy or a Better Bottle) to clean and reclaim my bucket for the next brew.
 

DaleJ

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Then what's the deal with the things I read saying to not leave it in the primary too long or it will pick up off flavors?
 

IowaStateFan

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DaleJ said:
Then what's the deal with the things I read saying to not leave it in the primary too long or it will pick up off flavors?
Too long is a pretty long time - on the order of 6 weeks or longer depending on they type of yeast, how healthy they were, and the temp they're sitting at. What happens is that the yeast begin to die. Naturally, that's not a good thing to have in your beer.
 

BierMuncher

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DaleJ said:
Then what's the deal with the things I read saying to not leave it in the primary too long or it will pick up off flavors?
I agree with ISF.

If you're just starting out...stick with the generally accepted rules for your first few batches. You can't really go wrong following a 1-2-3 method, but with experience, you'll discover which of your recipes do best under different scenarios.
 

DaleJ

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That be what I'm doing.

It was 11 days in the primary. I'll be bottling on Thanksgiving, which will be 22 days in the secondary.

Going to be a Christmas beer it looks like :)
 

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Soulive21 said:
Secondary-ing increases beginners' chances of oxidizing their beer.

What kind of flavor does oxidation introduce? I've had a consistent after taste that I consider an "off taste" with all of my brews and I cannot put my finger on what it is.

It's a slightly burned or metallic taste.
 

BierMuncher

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rflem550 said:
What kind of flavor does oxidation introduce? I've had a consistent after taste that I consider an "off taste" with all of my brews and I cannot put my finger on what it is.

It's a slightly burned or metallic taste.
Is it kind of "twangy"?

What kind of recipes (AG, PM, Extract) are you making?
 

RichBrewer

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The main reason a secondary is used is to get the beer off the trub, yeast and kreausen. At least this is what I've learned through my years of brewing.

Does it make a difference? I don't know. I still do it because when I keg the beer it is much cleaner and I'm less likely to pick up junk when racking. The secondary only contains a small amount of yeast at the bottom of the fermenter.

I think this is a case of do what makes you happy. After all, we are supposed to enjoy the hobby. :mug:
 
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Soulive

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RichBrewer said:
I think this is a case of do what makes you happy. After all, we are supposed to enjoy the hobby. :mug:
I agree, but I started this thread for new brewers. I still don't think new brewers, who are new to sanitation/oxidation as well, should use secondaries...
 

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I finally checked on my first attempt at making beer last night - the FG looks good on the hydrometer, and it tasted decent considering it was warm and flat. However, it looks really cloudy and there's still some krausen floating on the top. This got me thinking that from now on I'll need to use a secondary - but after reading all the replies on here, I'm not so sure. Here are a few questions:

1.) Someone mentioned that chilling the beer will help things settle out. My primary is currently sitting at 70 F - so what would I need to drop the temperature to, and for how long? Won't that kill the yeast and then there'd be nothing still living to carbonate in the bottles?

2.) I've also read about certain things you can introduce to help clear it up. I forget all the stuff mentioned, but one of them was definitely Jell-O/gelatin. Does anyone have any experience with this?

Thanks for the advice!
:mug:
 

Joker

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Just give it time. If the krausen hasn't fallen yet, let it sit. Good things shall come to those who wait.
 

rflem550

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wild said:
Wet cardboard.

ok. i guess i'll go hose down the box my TV came in and take a big bite.




BierMuncher said:
Is it kind of "twangy"?

What kind of recipes (AG, PM, Extract) are you making?

extract
 

cd2448

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it's funny, it's hard to imagine what wet cardboard would taste like, but then you get an oxidized beer, and it's the only way to describe the taste. it really does taste like wet cardboard.

but this problem is easily avoided, do a good job of siphoning to secondary and the problem is solved. get an auto-siphon, straighten out your racking tube, or use a piece of solid tube, to ensure that the flow goes below the level of the liquid as soon as possible and oxidation is minimized.

the guy worrying about cloudy - don't. cloudy is purely an aesthetic problem, if you are getting the smell, taste and feel of the beer right, you can get some help with the clarity. but definitely focus on taste first and foremost.
 

RichBrewer

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Soulive21 said:
I agree, but I started this thread for new brewers. I still don't think new brewers, who are new to sanitation/oxidation as well, should use secondaries...
I've used secondaries on every batch I've ever brewed (including my first batch)and I've never had a problem with oxidation.
 

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I was at my LHBS today and was seriously considering getting a secondary. I figured it would be nice to use a clearing tank, get some cleaner beers, and my I'd free up an extra pail to brew with. As it is now, I use 2-6.5 gal plastic fermenters (one to ferment, one for bottling). However, I decided against it because, I haven't really found the need for it so far. I'd be curious to see the difference in the appearance of my beers, but I've never kept my beer in the primary for more than 1.5 weeks. Now, after reading this, is it recommended to give it a little more time? I understand different styles require different techniques, but in general, I've been very pleased with my beer, but if I waited longer, could it be better?
 
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