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Wheat beer in Secondary: what's supposed to be happening?

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Chicagobrewer

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I racked my Franzikaner clone 7 days ago into the secondary. The first day or so it had a small layer of foam on top. That dissipated and now it doesn't seem to be doing anything. My recipe says it is supposed to be in the secondary for 3 weeks. Am I jumping the gun here? Also the room temp was a little low (65F) so I've added a space heater to get it up to the recommended 68-72.

Any advice? Should it be bubbling in the air lock? Should there be any visible signs of activity?

Thanks from a Nube,
Edd
 

bigjohnmilford

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wheat beers tend to be cloudy and secondary is usually for clearing or bulk aging. I don't know why you'd need to use one for a wheat beer. If you left in primary for a couple of weeks you should've been fine. How long was it in primary?
 

Hops-a-Lot

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I just finished a honey, apricot wheat and the only reason I used a secondary was because of the fruit. In your case, I wouldn't think you would need anything more than a 7-10 day primary before a two week bottle conditioning. Secondary tanks (clarifiers, brighteners, etc.) are typically used for either settling out or long-term aging and there is a school of thought that questions their viability altogether. As for the airlock, don't count on that too much to tell you what is going on. Get out the old hydrometer and see if your gravity has stabilized (three readings over three days should do it). This will tell you without a doubt whether or not your fermentation has completed. I would recommend you check your gravity and if its stabilized go for the bottles.
 

slomo

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^x2 on the hydro. I just brewed a wheat, and it was in the primary for three weeks. I just racked it to bottles. All is good!
 

brian_g

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I racked my Franzikaner clone 7 days ago into the secondary. The first day or so it had a small layer of foam on top. That dissipated and now it doesn't seem to be doing anything. My recipe says it is supposed to be in the secondary for 3 weeks. Am I jumping the gun here? Also the room temp was a little low (65F) so I've added a space heater to get it up to the recommended 68-72.

Any advice? Should it be bubbling in the air lock? Should there be any visible signs of activity?

Thanks from a Nube,
Edd
They call it a "secondary fermentation," but it's not really a fermentation. The fermentation finished in the primary. The secondary is just a chance for the yeast to settle to the bottom.
 
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Chicagobrewer

Chicagobrewer

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How do I use the hydrometer in the secondary? Should I siphon some out? Drop the hydrometer into the carboy? Boy now I sound silly.
 

SeamusMac

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Hey there,

Now that I've just finished my first wheat beer I've learned 2 things. First of all wheat beer doesn't really age gracefully, it's best to bottle it as soon as it has finished fermenting and wait out 2 weeks for it to carbonate. Secondly, transferring a wheat beer to a secondary is a waste of time in my opinion unless you want to rack it onto fruit of some sort. It's time is best spent sitting on the yeast cake in the primary.

I left my wheat beer in the primary for 7 days and then racked it into a secondary where it sat for 21 days! Normally that would be fine, but wheat beer is meant to be drank while it's still young. I can tell you that after 7 days in the primary it tasted better then at 6 weeks in the bottle, it went all bitter on me...

Regarding the hydrometer reading, a wine thief is a really useful tool. After trying to siphon such a small amount out you'll realize you've ended up wasting more then you even needed to take the reading in the first place, or that was the case with me anyways.
 
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Chicagobrewer

Chicagobrewer

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Though a Wine Thief seems to be inexpensive my LHBS is not close (sigh) so I was wondering, could I do the same with a new turkey baster?

Also, I'm wondering, why did the recipe I was given (photocopied from some book by LHBS) tell me to rack the beer for 3 weeks if wheats should be drank while young?

Edd
 

Hops-a-Lot

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Though a Wine Thief seems to be inexpensive my LHBS is not close (sigh) so I was wondering, could I do the same with a new turkey baster?
Unless you have a spigot built into your fermenting vessel you are going to have to access the beer through the top. I would recommend that you completely sanitize anything you are going to put into your beer. A quick soak in Star-San or something similar should do the trick. I don't see why a baster woulnd't do the job, as long as its properly cleaned first. All of my fermenters have spigots built in so I just run off a little into the plastic tube that my hyrdometer came in, take my measurement, and then bottoms up! Don't want to waste any.:D Never put your sampled beer back into the fermenter. The risk of cross contamination is far too great.

Also, I'm wondering, why did the recipe I was given (photocopied from some book by LHBS) tell me to rack the beer for 3 weeks if wheats should be drank while young?

Edd
I am not really sure about the recipe you had and why it said what it said. I can only surmise that it was the victim of a cut-and-paste situation from another recipe. As with anything, sometimes a good bit of experience and common sense can help avoid issues like this. That's how we all learn, so just keep brewing.
 

eroth

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Though a Wine Thief seems to be inexpensive my LHBS is not close (sigh) so I was wondering, could I do the same with a new turkey baster?

Also, I'm wondering, why did the recipe I was given (photocopied from some book by LHBS) tell me to rack the beer for 3 weeks if wheats should be drank while young?

Edd
I'd 2nd the wine thief, i've found mine pretty awesome for daily gravity readings when fermentation is winding down. i just keep a bucket of starsan around and toss it back in when needed.

If you are in Chicago, we only really have Brew-n-Grow, which I can't really recommend. I've been there only once and wasn't too happy. They seemed a bit overpriced (plus you have our ridiculous 10.25% tax on top) and in lieu of the Goldings I was looking for, they recommended substituting Perle (which isn't the best replacement based on tables i've seen after the fact). All in all, it seemed like the guys I dealt with were more concerned about the 'Grow' than the 'Brew' part of their business.
 

Lou

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If you are in Chicago, we only really have Brew-n-Grow, which I can't really recommend. I've been there only once and wasn't too happy. They seemed a bit overpriced (plus you have our ridiculous 10.25% tax on top) and in lieu of the Goldings I was looking for, they recommended substituting Perle (which isn't the best replacement based on tables i've seen after the fact). All in all, it seemed like the guys I dealt with were more concerned about the 'Grow' than the 'Brew' part of their business.
that's exactly the impression i got from that place...

i drove up to perfect brewing supply in libertyville last weekend -- good place, but a bit of a long drive...
:off:
 
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Chicagobrewer

Chicagobrewer

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I really like Bev Art Brewing supply in Beverly but it is a long drive.

Thanks for the advice on sanitizing. Nothing touches my beer without a soak in Idofor.

Edd
 

Mesa512

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I was reading the thread and from what I gather its seems like there is no need for a secondary for any wheat beer. I just want to make sure, because I am still really new to the hobby. So my next beer is going to be a hefeweizen. Since technically that is a wheat beer there is no need for a secondary? Thanks
 
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