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Yet another secondary question thread...

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Mencken

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Hey all, I keep reading about secondaries, and I'm flip flopping. Here's some questions I still have.

1) When you transfer from primary to secondary, you leave a lot of your yeast behind. Clearly, you don't want to do this if it's still fermenting. So do you wait until the SG is stable and fermenting is over before your transfer to the secondary?

2) If so, what's the purpose of the secondary? Is it just like bottle conditioning without the carbonation? That is, just lets the flavors mingle for longer? Does it do this better in a secondary?

3) Or is the secondary just about clarity? If this is the case, what's the advantage of racking to a secondary any longer than 24 hours or so before you bottle? Seems to me that would offer the same advantages in terms of clarity.

4) I've read repeatedly about the yeast continuing to eat up loose proteins in the beer, improving quality/taste. If this is the case, isn't the primary preferable, since it will have more yeast in it?


I guess I just don't see the advantages of a secondary, other than to add clarity, but #3 seems like it offers a clarity solution.
 

SumnerH

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Hey all, I keep reading about secondaries, and I'm flip flopping. Here's some questions I still have.

1) When you transfer from primary to secondary, you leave a lot of your yeast behind. Clearly, you don't want to do this if it's still fermenting. So do you wait until the SG is stable and fermenting is over before your transfer to the secondary?
Yes

2) If so, what's the purpose of the secondary? Is it just like bottle conditioning without the carbonation? That is, just lets the flavors mingle for longer? Does it do this better in a secondary?
It depends on the beer. Most don't need a secondary, but if you're dry-hopping or adding fruit or something, a secondary is the place to do it.

You may also add gelatin or other finings when transferring to secondary to help clear things up.

Even without that, the secondary helps clear up the beer even more, and for things that need to age a very long time (several months) you want to get them off the yeast at some point.

3) Or is the secondary just about clarity? If this is the case, what's the advantage of racking to a secondary any longer than 24 hours or so before you bottle? Seems to me that would offer the same advantages in terms of clarity.
The longer it sits, the more stuff settles out.

4) I've read repeatedly about the yeast continuing to eat up loose proteins in the beer, improving quality/taste. If this is the case, isn't the primary preferable, since it will have more yeast in it?
Yep. Most people prefer to let it sit on the primary for a week or so after fermentation is done to help clean it up.

I guess I just don't see the advantages of a secondary, other than to add clarity, but #3 seems like it offers a clarity solution.
So don't use it; it's not necessary, in general. Some people think a couple of weeks in the secondary helps clean up flavors even more. Others think a couple of weeks in the bottle will have the same effect, that it's purely an aging thing. Try things both ways and see.
 

double_e5

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1. Yes.

2. Most people use it for clearing. Secondary fermenter is kind of a misnomer. Fermentation does not take place here. It is also used for adding other things to your beer, such as dry hopping, fruit, etc.

3. While it is about clarity, it is also used for bulk aging. Most of the time 24 hours in the secondary is not long enough for a lot of the yeast to fall out of suspension.

4. This is where you will never find a definite answer. If I am not adding anything to the beer or it is not a big beer that needs extended aging, I stick to 3-4 weeks in the primary then bottle/keg. Some people always use a secondary for various reasons and that works for them.
 

llazy_llama

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1) Yes.

2)The main reason to use a secondary is just to let the beer clear up. The yeast in suspension will start to fall out, as will their waste products.

3) Yes. It takes a lot longer than 24 hours for everything in there (yeast, waste products, etc...) to fall out.

4) Many of us don't use secondary at all, unless we need to dry hop or add fruit. For those of us who don't, we believe that the beer tastes better when left in primary for ~1 month or so.


I guess I just don't see the advantages of a secondary, other than to add clarity, but #3 seems like it offers a clarity solution.
Dry hopping, oaking, adding fruit... Those are the only reasons I'll secondary. Everything else just gets long primaries in my house.
 

Jolly McStanson

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I dont secondary. After educating my self on these forums iv found that a secondary is not needed. I even dry hop in the primary now.

I brewed a batch of Orange/Cascade Pale Ale and dry hopped it in the primary after the fermentation slowed down. I kegged it in about 28 days. Let it age in the keg for another 3 weeks or so and ooooohhh boy was it good.

Its been the best beer iv ever brewed to date.
 
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Mencken

Mencken

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Thanks for clearing this up.
 

lamarguy

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Transferring your beer to a new vessel (i.e., secondary) is not necessary. If fact, it be can detrimental to the flavor of the beer if the fermentation is not complete.

I consistently leave my brews in the primary for 10 - 14 days (or until fermentation is complete) and transfer directly to a keg after a few days of cold conditioning (on the yeast).
 

Jolly McStanson

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Transferring your beer to a new vessel (i.e., secondary) is not necessary. If fact, it be can detrimental to the flavor of the beer if the fermentation is not complete.

I consistently leave my brews in the primary for 10 - 14 days (or until fermentation is complete) and transfer directly to a keg after a few days of cold conditioning (on the yeast).
You even keg up the yeast cake?
 

lamarguy

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You even keg up the yeast cake?
Ha...I think you read that wrong - I meant cold conditioning on the yeast cake, not transferring the yeast cake to the keg.

The first, oh, couple dozen pints pulled from the keg would have some serious cloudiness. :D
 
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