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Why I do secondary fermentation

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Tobor_8thMan

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Go 97 miles and take a right...
I realize there are a number of fellow homerbrewers whom put down, pooh-poh, criticize, act if I’m a complete idiot and diminish doing a secondary. Well… I always do a secondary and I’m da*n glad. For a minimal amount of work I’ve been able to “leave behind” the goop shown in the photos.

BTW, I’ve never introduced an infection or oxygen, by doing a simple transfer from primary to secondary regardless to the claims of the pooh-pohers.

Also, a secondary gives me the opportunity to cold condition 5.25 gallons at a time and to fine said 5.25 gallons whereas, I would not be able to do with the primary 11.5 gallons.

Goop left behind in the secondary avoiding transferring over to bottling or kegging.
Secondary Gunk-1.jpg
Secondary Gunk-2.jpg
Secondary Gunk-3.jpg


Hmm... what beer do I end up serving?

Toasted Lager.jpg
 

HobbitBeer

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Sounds like you found a method that works for your equipment and preferences. I used to do a two stage fermentation and found it wasn't necessary to brew the kind of beer I enjoy.

Any time you expose your beer during/post fermentation, the possibility of introducing O2 and unwanted microbes increases. O2 is the babe bane of most modern beer styles and overall shelf life. Most people who use a single stage develop ways of leaving the goop behind in primary, so all of that considered, there's a reason that people are adamant. That said, to each their own. If you're making good beer, you're making good beer :mug:
 
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FloppyKnockers

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I don't think you're completely retarded :p

Ribbing aside, I don't think people that secondary are wrong. I just don't do it myself. I will definitely do it on lagers and if I didn't keg, I would do it with more beers. I feel kegging is a secondary in and of itself. Any leftover undesirables find their way to the bottom of the keg and the first pour captures this and is an offering to the beer gods.
 

Dgallo

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No feeling where hurt, just trying to show why secondary fermentation is valid among the numerous secondary doomsayers.
All this proves is that you transferred that trub from your primary to your secondary. If you took more care and crashed your primary, than it would have been left behind there. Which diminishes the need for a secondary and avoids the oxidation, VDK, and acetaldihyde risks from using a secondary
 
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day_trippr

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[...]
BTW, I’ve never introduced an infection or oxygen, by doing a simple transfer from primary to secondary regardless to the claims of the pooh-pohers.
Could you please detail your procedure for racking from primary to secondary that avoids any O2 pickup?

Cheers!
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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Maybe the details of OPs process will show
  • how to minimize oxygen ingress or
  • how minimize the effects of oxygen ingress.
Maybe OPs process
  • works for others, but not for you.
  • works for the styles of beer OP brews, but not for the styles you brew.
edit: see #17
 
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Beermeister32

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There are lots of ways to make beer! In my early batches, I used a secondary as that is what was recommended at the time.

As I continued on, it seemed to me that I could skip the step, the extra cleaning and sanitizing altogether. Later I read that a lot of people skip the secondary altogether for similar reasons including reducing infection risk.

Then came the understanding that this is another way of limiting oxidation. That nailed it. So at this point, I stopped using secondaries altogether. Goes straight into the keg for aging.
 

Dancy

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I recently brewed a nut brown ale and it was 12 days in the primary. Near the end, for about 24 hours, I cold crashed with gelatin finings out on my condo’s balcony in Minnesota winter temps (no room for a spare fridge). Opened a bottle a week later and it was stunningly clear. I see no reason to secondary unless I’m adding fruit, etc. — I’ll be adding a Belgian to the secondary with cherries shortly.
 
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day_trippr

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Welcome to the forums, @AuldScot :mug:

It would take a prodigious amount of CO2 to purge a 5 gallon vessel to a decent O2 level. iirc, @doug293cz charted it as around 30 full-volumes.

Otoh, doing a Star San purge would use a reasonable amount of CO2, but doing so on a carboy or bucket could be challenging (I've thought about it, haven't done anything about it)...

Cheers!
 

kevin58

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If it works for you... great. However it's not just people "Pooh Poohing"the use of a secondary step. It's people like John Palmer who was one of the early adopters and champion of secondary use. He advocated for it in the first edition of his book but by the 4th edition began warning against it. But again, if it works for you and is the only way you can avoid the "goop" then rock on with your bad self :rock:
 

day_trippr

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So, again, please tell us the process "what works for you".

Cheers!
 

Dancy

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I posted what works for me.

Others are welcome to use the methods, beliefs, mantra, Gospel, etc that works for them.
I agree with that as do some posting here but that was not the nature of your original post. You started out on the defense (yet you began this thread), stating people think poorly of your preference for a secondary and then you spent the rest of it defending that without discussing your process. Very strange, IMO. I certainly have nothing against your preference for a secondary -- the main thing is you enjoy your hobby. This forum is typically very civil, a very welcome thing for me when I compare it to a well known photography/photo tech site I also frequent.
 
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kh54s10

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It's great that it works for you. I get clear beer without the extra step. For me it does not make sense to do a secondary, and I avoid the probability of oxidizing my beers. I suggest that most people should try to eliminate the secondary since the reward is minimal and the risks are fairly high.
 

Bobby_M

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Moving the beer to a secondary vessel while it's still cloudy will allow you to further clear the beer in that second vessel. Allowing the beer more time in the primary will allow the same amount of clearing without the dangers of oxidation. You like what you're doing, cool, but it's more like a self fulfilling prophecy.

If you transfer a beer from one vessel to another every single day for 2 weeks during fermentation, you'll find sediment left behind each time. Does that prove that it was a good method of clearing?
 

jddevinn

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You haven't shown any of your process, just pictures of empty ferementers. What is your process that allows zero oxygen uptake during transfer? How do you purge?

Knowing enough about brewing to understand WHY reactions occur, the science behind around both hot side and cold side reactions and what threshold of achieving 'best practices' is good for your equipment, experience, and involvement level is the opposite of methods, beliefs, mantra, Gospel, etc.

2020 has shown the strangely large amount of people that insist that proven science is just something that other people "believe"
 

DarrellQ

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I have read enough on this forum and elsewhere, and NOT used a secondary in several decent brews with recipes that called for a secondary, to conclude, for me anyway, that there is no reason to use one. However, I'm getting ready to brew my first stout with a recipe that calls for 2 weeks primary, 3 months in a secondary. In this case, don't I need to use a secondary? Isn't 3 1/2 months too long to leave in a primary?
 

McKnuckle

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However, I'm getting ready to brew my first stout with a recipe that calls for 2 weeks primary, 3 months in a secondary. In this case, don't I need to use a secondary? Isn't 3 1/2 months too long to leave in a primary?
Yes (for the most part).

What matters more is what you'll do with the beer after the 3 months. If the 3 months is nothing more than aging time to condition the beer, you can do it in the serving package (bottles or keg) and keep it safe, ready for consumption when the time comes. That's why a secondary is unnecessary - the package essentially serves the same purpose.
 

kh54s10

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Yes (for the most part).

What matters more is what you'll do with the beer after the 3 months. If the 3 months is nothing more than aging time to condition the beer, you can do it in the serving package (bottles or keg) and keep it safe, ready for consumption when the time comes. That's why a secondary is unnecessary - the package essentially serves the same purpose.
I agree with this. I do a little longer primary - 3 to 4 weeks then package it, wait the 3 1/2 months then enjoy a properly aged beer.
 

Snuffy

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I started regular brewing with wine. We used secondaries and even third-iaries to clear. Never heard any concern over air exposure during the short periods when the product got transferred or bottled. Never had a problem with the results as long as you had the patience to let things age. Equipment was rudimentary compared to what is available now. Buckets, carboys, airlocks, siphon, bottles. Maybe a press if you got fancy. The things you could accomplish with that kit were always interesting and sometimes even astonishing.
When I moved into beer brewing, the shortened timeframe and the ability to use the same gear and process was a no-brainer. So that's the way I rolled for years. Mostly extracts and DME. Brewing away at standard styles from kits with little variation. 2 weeks Primary. Transfer to 2 weeks Secondary. Transfer to bottling bucket and Bottle. I was conscious of the need to transfer gently and cap her back up asap. That's it. That was brewing.
When I first heard the arguments against secondary because of air exposure, I was kind of like the OP here and wanted to call BS... but once I considered the savings in time and effort from skipping the secondary, I decided to test it out. I am not a chemist kind of guy and I am all about a viable shortcut. Worked fine with way less hassle. Now, it's three days same FG per Tilt and then kegged and/or bottled directly from the Primary tap using fizz drops. That's about as close as I get to avoiding oxygen exposure. Makes good clear beer with maybe a touch more conditioning sludge in a bottle. Maybe not. No secondary to wash. No bottling bucket to wash. No priming sugar melting. Rock n roll.
As far as beer quality goes, I can't tell the difference. If you blind taste-tested me between the two methods I couldn't distinguish.
So based on tales of experience shared here and mild laziness, my standard method now is no secondary unless there are dry hops or nibs or something. I still add that stuff in a secondary for now, but that could change too.
I agree that it's standard knowledge air exposure is not a good thing after fermentation has started and that limiting it to the extent possible is best practice. I have also seen some great setups to eliminate all exposure that are tempting to try. But IMO, taking brewing too seriously has a tendency to lessen the fun factor. I'm good with electric all-grain and limit exposure as possible. Don't think I will ever get tired of that or need to rent a storage unit for my gear.
I disagree that if you don't avoid air exposure at all cost, you're a brewtard and have compromised beer.
Now, if somebody wants to send me a sample of their brew to change my mind, I am open to that. :mug:
 

Dgallo

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Again if people are happy with their beer and happy with their results so be it, but the truth with tons scientific and anecdotal evidence is oxygen oxidizes malt and hop compounds and amount of dissolved oxygen determines the shelf life of all beer. Some beer styles, a little o2 exporsure will not make a huge impact. Some it’s even desirable (aged barleywines) but oxygen 100% degrades beer, especially hop dominate beers. This is the reason breweries spend so much money on equipment, especially packaging equipment to obtain extremely low dissolved oxygen levels.

take an ipa right now out of a bottle or can and pour it into glass(drinking the rest) and let it sit on your counter for 6 hours. Then open another of the same beer and do a side by side sight comparison... you’ll see the effects of air for your self and the you will no longer feel like people are being judgmental on your process
 

Snuffy

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take an ipa right now out of a bottle or can and pour it into glass(drinking the rest) and let it sit on your counter for 6 hours. Then open another of the same beer and do a side by side sight comparison... you’ll see the effects of air for your self and the you will no longer feel like people are being judgmental on your process
I know even you realize that is an extreme example of an unrelated situation where of course the exposure is damaging. Take orange juice and leave it out on the counter for 6 hours and it's ruined. As far as "judgemental", I don't really think that. I think some people are far more serious about detail than I am. And I don't think the obvious difference in the quality of small batch home brewed ale can be provided to back up the absolute necessity of a totally anaerobic process. I am not a brewery. Not trying to be.
 

Dgallo

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I know even you realize that is an extreme example of an unrelated situation where of course the exposure is damaging. Take orange juice and leave it out on the counter for 6 hours and it's ruined. As far as "judgemental", I don't really think that. I think some people are far more serious about detail than I am. And I don't think the obvious difference in the quality of small batch home brewed ale can be provided to back up the absolute necessity of a totally anaerobic process. I am not a brewery. Not trying to be.
Are you kidding... if you’re transferring into a vessel full of o2 it’s exactly the same as what I stated however you’re leaving the beer there for weeks.... You need to do some recent research. It’s literally extremely easy to find information




took two seconds to find that. There is literally no debate. It’s like debating if vaccines work
 

Snuffy

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Are you kidding... if you’re transferring into a vessel full of o2 it’s exactly the same as what I stated however you’re leaving the beer there for weeks.... You need to do some recent research. It’s literally extremely easy to find information
I do not dispute any of this. Just the need to fear it to excess. And no, I'm not kidding. Are you serious?
And nobody is transferring beer into a vessel full of O2. It's a vessel filled with air - which is 80% not O2. And as it fills, it forces air out and then continues to produce a layer of CO2 that insulates it from contact and forces the lighter gasses out completely eventually.
 

Dgallo

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I do not dispute any of this. Just the need to fear it to excess. And no, I'm not kidding. Are you serious?
And nobody is transferring beer into a vessel full of O2. It's a vessel filled with air - which is 80% not O2. And as it fills, it forces air out and then continues to produce a layer of CO2 that insulates it from contact and forces the lighter gasses out completely eventually.
Again co2 blanket is a myth. The difference in density is not enough to prevent currents and convection of temperature changes since the ambient temperature changes faster than the liquid
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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Just the need to fear it to excess.
The narrative these days seems to be be that you must fear oxygen ingress, _____, and crossing the street without looking both ways.

Oxygen ingress is immediate. I suspect the impact is style specific. So I don't see a reason to "fear it to excess".

As for traffic, back in the day, one only needed a good set of ears to detect cross traffic. :mad:
 
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VikeMan

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And nobody is transferring beer into a vessel full of O2. It's a vessel filled with air - which is 80% not O2. And as it fills, it forces air out and then continues to produce a layer of CO2 that insulates it from contact and forces the lighter gasses out completely eventually.
I recommend watching this video.
 

kartracer2

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I love these "grab some pop corn, put my feet up and grab a beer" threads. For those keeping score, I don't "secondary" any more,,unless,,. I also am one of the lowly that abuses my beer to a gazillion PPM of O2. I also am not sure I would know if any of my beer has been completely ruined by O2. They must all be and I just refuse to admit it. I will add that in all my years of making beer that I have yet to throw out a batch. (but there was that one that maybe should have been,,,LOL)
Now with all that said if I had all the stuff (read $$$) to eliminate O2 ingress I might try it. Then again it might be a one and done deal. Am I saying it' is hyper boil? No. Most of my beer barely ages long enough to carb properly (LOL). So I guess I'm just saying is, "to each their own". I like the beer I end up with, I can't imagine it being that much better (to me). It would be truly award winning for sure.
Now back to your normally scheduled thread,,,
Cheers, :mug:
Joel B.
 

HobbitBeer

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Again co2 blanket is a myth.
CO2 acting as a buffer in the headspace when the fermenter is sealed isn't, which is what I always understood as the "CO2 blanket".

That said, any exposure to O2 will cause the gases to mix. That's just what gases do, and I 100% agree that transferring to a non-purgrd vessel will lead to oxidation, full stop. O2 destroys the things most people enjoy about most common styles if beer; color, flavor, aroma go bye bye.

Until people actually see a vessel fully purged i.e a keg, it's hard to understand just how much volume and surface area is exposed during the transfer. The first time I filled a keg with star san and pushed it out with CO2 (and then stupidly removed the lid), I realized why my beer wasn't as good as it could be, and it's been significantly better since.

What people should really do is just try a single stage transfer into a purged package. Personally, it took one attempt before I began doing this for every single beer, and I have no plans on ever going back.
 

VikeMan

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CO2 acting as a buffer in the headspace when the fermenter is sealed isn't, which is what I always understood as the "CO2 blanket".
If the fermenter is sealed, what do you suppose CO2 is buffering against? If it's O2 (also in the headspace), CO2 won't stop it from reaching the beer.
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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Some beer styles, a little o2 exporsure will not make a huge impact.
Some it’s even desirable (aged barleywines)
... but oxygen 100% degrades beer, especially hop dominate beers.
and people here (and over in /r/homeberewing) are continuing to discuss how they are able to successfully package NEIPAs using bottles.

Like many other things in life, it will likely take some time to confirm that those processes are both effective and safe - and to convince the community of its safety and effectiveness.
 
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HobbitBeer

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If the fermenter is sealed, what do you suppose CO2 is buffering against? If it's O2 (also in the headspace), CO2 won't stop it from reaching the beer.
Sorry, as stated in my previous response, you're correct. What I intended to say was a sealed chamber with an airlock, in a situation where the wort beneath is still emitting CO2, or to the point where it is no longer emitting but has no O2 ingress. As I said before, O2 and CO2 will readily mix and stratify over time throughout the beer via diffusion and expand to the volume of the chamber, as all gases do.

CO2 won't guard your beer from O2, as the two will mix readily, but it's more preferable to have CO2 in your headspace than O2 :mug:
 

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