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When to rack to secondary

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ESPY

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I've seen a lot of different suggestions regarding the appropriate time to rack to secondary: 3-5 days, no more that a week, etc, etc.

But what is the appropriate event to trigger it? i.e. Wait until no more bubbles are rising? Wait for the airlock to stop popping? I know these are the signs to look for to trigger bottling from the secondary, but what about from primary to secondary?

Thanks,
SP
 

uglygoat

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i usually wait untill all the foam has subsided and fallen back into the beer. it usually is within a week of the yeast pitch. once the foam falls the airlock more or less stops bubbling. and it's time to move to the secondary for me. i guess it would also depend on the type and strength of the beer you are makeing.

some use hydrometer readings and figure their fermentation is ready to go to the secondary based on the readings.
 

Janx

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There is no real sign. It's easiest to siphon if it has settled down a bit and isn't vigorously fermenting, but that's just because the cane fills with bubbles if it's going too hard. You definitely do not want to wait until bubbling stops.

It's just a time thing...5 days to a week is perfect.
 
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ESPY

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Well, I got home last night and the krausen was pretty much gone and the airlock was only popping every couple minutes or so. Little or no activity. By that time it had been in the primary for only 3.5 days. But I'm only doing a small, 2.5 gal. batch. Should that matter?

Anyway, I wasn't prepared to rack so soon and didn't have the equipment sanitized yet. So, after getting all of that done, I was able to transfer to the secondary.

What's the reason for making sure to rack to secondary before the bubbling stops? Is it to avoid the chance of contamination due to inactivity?
 

D-brewmeister

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Sounds like you probably racked at a perfect time! :) From what I understand, you want to get the beer off the trub before those yeasty off flavors can infiltrate it. I would imagine that it is more vulnerable to that influence when it is not fermenting vigorously. And I think you also want to transfer enough active yeast to the secondary (that which is still suspended in the wort, not that which has settled onto the trub) that the fermentation can continue to work on the remaining sugars.
 

Janx

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You don't need to make sure to rack before bubbling stops, and it's no big deal if you don't. You basically just let the beer do the first most vigorous part of the ferment and then rack. It sounds like you did it just right.

Also, there is never NEVER a problem with not getting enough yeast in the secondary. You could never NEVER rack a beer over and not include enough yeast to continue the ferment. People place too much emphasis on the visible trub at the bottom and yeast in suspension, but there are a lot of yeast that you don't see. So, that's not really a factor.

Also, don't overly stress the effect sitting on the trub too long will have. Sure, if it sits there for weeks, you'll get some off flavors, and sure it's better to rack within a week. But if you don't it's definitely not a deal killer, and maybe something you won't notice at all. Cheers! :D
 
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