To Secondary or not to Secondary...

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slinn

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Hello all, I've been lurking here since the first of the year. Many years ago, I tried this home brewing thing, and left it disappointed. Since then, I've read a lot and realized that a major reason I was never happy with my beer was because of my methods. I think the main reason I wasn't happy was because I was making my brew with partial boils. I have my first batch bottled this time around for almost three weeks. I have tried a couple bottles of it, it's great. That first batch was Morebeer's light ale extract that was included with the homebrewer's kit. I have my next in the fermenter for two weeks now - morebeer's Mild Brown. I tasted it yesterday when I checked a sample, and it was wonderful also! I've read and read, and I have learned that there are as many who say that a secondary is the only way to go as there who say that the secondary isn't necessary. I ferment in a glass carboy (that was in the kit from morebeer.com). I was planning on bottling the mild brown on Friday, which would be exactly two weeks since I brewed it. I think now that it would be too early to bottle, even though my gravity readings are stable. So, I was stuck. I'm off Friday, SWMBO isn't, and I'm stuck at home with nothing to do. I checked, and voila! My old upright freezer that I use for fermentation and aging has room for a second carboy! Then I called my LHBS and they have a 6 gallon carboy in stock! So, I thought, I can brew my third batch, Spring Maibock from AHS on Friday instead! Now I'm thinking, should I brew my next batch, put it in my new carboy, leaving my Mild Brown in its primary for another two weeks, or would it be better to rack my Mild Brown into the new carboy and use it as a secondary then wash, sanitize my original carboy and put my new brew in there. It will mean more work on brew day (wash and sanitize my new carboy, then wash and sanitize the old carboy vs. only washing and sanitizing my new carboy), but in the long term it should be a wash. Sorry about my long windedness, but I've finally arrived at my question. Is there any good reason NOT to go to a secondary?
 

Revvy

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You will find that many of us leave our beers in primary for 3-4 weeks, skip secondary and bottle. Just search for the 10,000 threads under "long Primary" or "no secondary" and you will see all the resaons why we do it, and the explanations behind...There's at least one thread a day on the topic, so it's really not hard to find the discussion pretty much hashed to death.

As much as you are excited you will find that your beer will benefit from time on the yeast in primary...

If anything, if you insist on secondarying, wait till it's been in primary for ath leat 10 days...even better and even 2 weeks then secondary for another 2.

THough if you just go three to four weeks, you can skip secondary entirely and bottle.
 

Revvy

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You will find that a lot of us subscribe to Palmer's l"et the yeast clean up after itself" idea.

From How to Brew;
Leaving an ale beer in the primary fermentor for a total of 2-3 weeks (instead of just the one week most canned kits recommend), will provide time for the conditioning reactions and improve the beer. This extra time will also let more sediment settle out before bottling, resulting in a clearer beer and easier pouring. And, three weeks in the primary fermentor is usually not enough time for off-flavors to occur....

...The fermentation of malt sugars into beer is a complicated biochemical process. It is more than just the conversion of sugar to alcohol, which can be regarded as the primary activity. Total fermentation is better defined as three phases, the Adaptation or Lagtime phase, the Primary or Attenuative phase and a Secondary or Conditioning phase. The yeast do not end Phase 2 before beginning Phase 3, the processes occur in parallel, but the conditioning processes occur more slowly. As the majority of simple sugars are consumed, more and more of the yeast will transition to eating the larger, more complex sugars and early yeast by-products. This is why beer (and wine) improves with age to a degree, as long as they are on the yeast. Beer that has been filtered or pasteurized will not benefit from aging.



The conditioning process is a function of the yeast. The vigorous, primary stage is over, the majority of the wort sugars have been converted to alcohol, and a lot of the yeast are going dormant; but there is still yeast activity. During the earlier phases, many different compounds were produced by the yeast in addition to ethanol and CO2, e.g., acetaldehyde, esters, amino acids, ketones- diacetyl, pentanedione, dimethyl sulfide, etc. Once the easy food is gone, the yeast start re-processing these by-products. Diacetyl and pentanedione are two ketones that have buttery and honey-like flavors. These compounds are considered flaws when present in large amounts and can cause flavor stability problems during storage. Acetaldehyde is an aldehyde that has a pronounced green apple smell and taste. It is an intermediate compound in the production of ethanol. The yeast reduce these compounds during the later stages of fermentation.

The yeast also produce an array of fusel alcohols during primary fermentation in addition to ethanol. Fusels are higher molecular weight alcohols that often give harsh solvent-like tastes to beer. During secondary fermentation, the yeast convert these alcohols to more pleasant tasting fruity esters. Warmer temperatures encourage ester production.....
This is NOT about secondary vessels, it's about the secondary phase of fermentation....the clean up phase. People often confuse the two. I firmly believe that it is negated by rushing a beer from primary to secondary too soon...and it comes from a "fear the yeast" mentality from over 30 years ago, when there were limited amounts of yeast availbale, and it was usually hard crappy already weakened cakes.
 

llazy_llama

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Revvy's post was also tl;dr, but I'll bet he said the following:

1) Don't secondary

2) Read How to Brew

3) Don't listen to your airlock.






Ahh, I'm just razzin' ya, Rev. :p
 
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slinn

slinn

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Thanks all, actually you've told me what I wanted to hear. I have read a lot, but to be perfectly honest, I have learned more by lurking on this chat board than I have learned by reading the several books I've bought. My father in law got me started home brewing many years ago - he has a deep appreciation for fine brews. He lived hundreds of miles away however, and couldn't give me the guidance I needed. Also, the internet wasn't nearly what it is today (this was 25 years ago), and the excellent resources weren't available. I have read and soaked up a lot, but this board is the best! I'll likely go back into lurk mode until I have another question, or gain enough experience to give others advice. Thanks again!
 

humann_brewing

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Thanks all, actually you've told me what I wanted to hear. I have read a lot, but to be perfectly honest, I have learned more by lurking on this chat board than I have learned by reading the several books I've bought. My father in law got me started home brewing many years ago - he has a deep appreciation for fine brews. He lived hundreds of miles away however, and couldn't give me the guidance I needed. Also, the internet wasn't nearly what it is today (this was 25 years ago), and the excellent resources weren't available. I have read and soaked up a lot, but this board is the best! I'll likely go back into lurk mode until I have another question, or gain enough experience to give others advice. Thanks again!
We were all beginners at one point in time and I remember having all those questions, I ready Palmers book and all that stuff. The big thing is to just relax, this is not rocket science, most of the cool stuff is done by the yeast anyways.

The learn by doing is great in brewing you will find ways of doing processes during your brew sessions because you think it works better, maybe it does, maybe it doesn't but the point is that your still making beer which is the coolest part.


P.S. I am still a beginner too so my words are only worth a quarter of what Revvy's are worth.
 

woollybugger2

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Revvy's post was also tl;dr, but I'll bet he said the following:

1) Don't secondary

2) Read How to Brew

3) Don't listen to your airlock.






Ahh, I'm just razzin' ya, Rev. :p

Man, I love to listen to my air lock or blow off tube bubbling away! It sounds like happiness!!!
 
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