To rack or not to rack, that is the question?

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jgalak

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Since this came up on the spigot thread, I figure I'll start a separate one on this topic.

I am brewing my first kit, a Blue Moon clone from Austin Home Brew. Extract with specialty grains. The instructions state to ferment for 5-7 days, until activity in the airlock slows down significantly and/or stops, then rack to a secondary and wait another 5-7 days until all fermentation stops befor bottling.

Although from reading here and Palmer I am somewhat skeptical of the need for a secondary, I figured for my first kit I'd stick with the instructions, especially since AHS seems reputable.

However, on the other thread, many folks suggested not racking, and leaving it alone in the primary. I only know of three reasons to use a secondary: 1) Oxygen permeability of the plastic - not an issue for this short of time, afaik; 2) Not letting the beer sit on dead yeast and pick up meaty flavor - again, not an issue for this short of time; and 3) reducing oxidation from the head space in the ig 6.5 gal bucket fermenter - not sure on this one.

Thoughts? Leave it alone, or go to secondary?
 

unionrdr

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I just leave it i primary till it cleans up fermentation by products & settles out clear or slightly misty. Oxygen doesn't soak through the plastic very quickly or easilly. I don't worry about that,as it's never been a problem. I've left beer in primary plastic for some 5 weeks with no problems.
Yeast autolysis isn't really a concern at our level of brewing. Commercial brewers do,since they have the weight of some 32 barrels of beer weighing down on the yeast & trub.
And if you aren't desturbing the beer in primary,the co2 in there will protect it.
 

SethNice

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I'm sure you will get mixed responses as always. Personally, I wouldnt secondary this one. 10-14 days is fine on the yeast. I only secondary beers that I dry hop anymore.
 

Mozart

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Since this came up on the spigot thread, I figure I'll start a separate one on this topic.

I am brewing my first kit, a Blue Moon clone from Austin Home Brew. Extract with specialty grains. The instructions state to ferment for 5-7 days, until activity in the airlock slows down significantly and/or stops, then rack to a secondary and wait another 5-7 days until all fermentation stops befor bottling.

Although from reading here and Palmer I am somewhat skeptical of the need for a secondary, I figured for my first kit I'd stick with the instructions, especially since AHS seems reputable.

However, on the other thread, many folks suggested not racking, and leaving it alone in the primary. I only know of three reasons to use a secondary: 1) Oxygen permeability of the plastic - not an issue for this short of time, afaik; 2) Not letting the beer sit on dead yeast and pick up meaty flavor - again, not an issue for this short of time; and 3) reducing oxidation from the head space in the ig 6.5 gal bucket fermenter - not sure on this one.

Thoughts? Leave it alone, or go to secondary?
I trust Palmer. I say leave it alone.

I think a lot of those instructions were written a while back and not updated as new and better homebrewing information has become available.

Based on the majority of information out there, the general consensus today seems to be only to rack to a secondary when necessary (like making a fruit beer, for example). Current thinking seems to be that the main reason to rack was to avoid autolysis, but that, according to Palmer and others, is much less of a risk today with the modern yeast strains we use. Racking to secondary also increases the potential for oxidation and infection.

I'm sure quite a few homebrewers still rack to secondary as a matter of course for a number of reasons. For me personally, though, I think the risk of oxygenation and infection is greater than the risk of autolysis, so I just leave my beer in primary the entire time (I haven't made a fruit beer or anything else that requires a secondary yet).

Cheers!
 

RIC0

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I'm sure you will get mixed responses as always. Personally, I wouldnt secondary this one. 10-14 days is fine on the yeast. I only secondary beers that I dry hop anymore.
+1 or beers I'm going to age for months will go to secondary.

If your super careful and a clean freak and are 100% sure you won't contaminate it then go ahead and do it but it's not something you have to do.

Cold crash if you can for a cleaner beer.
 
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If you're going to use a secondary vessel, wait until the FG is stable over a few days before racking the beer from primary. Simply put:
1) Not an issue in a few weeks time, which is plenty for the beer to finish and begin dropping clear.
2) Yeast is not going to die and/or autolyze in a 5 gal bucket in this short a time frame.
3) There is a blanket of co2 in the headspace from fermentation, as long as you don't agitate the bucket, there's no way o2 will come in contact with the beer. There's actually more risk (though not much at all) of oxidizing the beer by transferring it.

Secondary's optional for a beer like the one you're brewing. I'm in the camp of just letting it sit in primary for a couple few weeks, making sure gravity is stable and bottling it then.
 
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