Still lost on whether to use a secondary or not..

Sat Dec 15, 2012 9:00 am

Hello all...I started out 2 years ago with Mr Beer...and after a year or so i moved from Mr Beer to extract brewing kits and that only lasted a few months..But iam back again brewing with extract kits..I have been reading alot about whether to use a secondary for Fermentation ...Its very confusing for i would say 50 percent say its not needed and 50 percent say yes it helps alot....I was just wondering what you all think...
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Re: Still lost on whether to use a secondary or not..

Sat Dec 15, 2012 11:39 am

There are a couple of times that I use secondary fermentation: when I am adding fruit and when I wanna keep my grubby mitts off a beer (like a barley wine) while it matures. (I don't brett age my beers, but that would be the other time I would do it.) Otherwise I don't do secondary because that's another chance to get oxygen into my beer. And I'm a lazy ass, and it's too much work to clean another vessel and the tubing, yada yada yada.

Basically, do what you want to do with your beer. We won't judge.

Much. :asshat:
"Mash, I made you my bitch!" -Tasty
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Dirk McLargeHuge
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Re: Still lost on whether to use a secondary or not..

Sat Dec 15, 2012 1:15 pm

The big problem I see for many brewers when they do a secondary has nothing to do with sanitation or oxidation. Too many folks simply rack too soon. Lots of older homebrewing texts, including Charlie Papazian's, hype the dangers of autolysis, scaring folks into getting the beer off the dead yeast as quickly as possible. Some folks rack at one week regardless of what the gravity is. Others will take a gravity reading a couple days apart and rack as soon as the gravity appears to be stable.

The problem is that even though you have reached terminal gravity and there are no apparent signs of fermentation, the yeast is not done working. During the fermentation process, especially at the beginning when new yeast cells are being formed, many unwanted esters are being formed. At the end of fermentation when activity appears to have ceased, the yeast begins metabolizing those esters, essentially cleaning up after themselves. For this reason you don't want to take the beer off the yeast too soon. There will still be some yeast in suspension when you do rack early, but not enough to guarantee that cleanup of the esters.

Leaving the beer on the yeast an extra week to ten days will allow for that cleanup time. You won't have to worry about autolysis (and it's attendant burnt rubber taste) for at least 5-6 weeks so you have plenty of time. This extended primary will also enable you to tweak out that last couple points of final gravity on big beers that tend to end just a bit sweet.

I sometimes rack to a bright tank (secondary is actually the wrong term 99.9% of the time) but only after at least two weeks in primary.
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Bugeater
 
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Re: Still lost on whether to use a secondary or not..

Sat Dec 15, 2012 1:38 pm

I was going to mention that, but I knew Bug would do it better than me. :asshat:
"Mash, I made you my bitch!" -Tasty
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Dirk McLargeHuge
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Re: Still lost on whether to use a secondary or not..

Sat Dec 15, 2012 2:03 pm

What Bug said.

And if he wasn't clear enough ......

....... no. Most of the time.

:D
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Primary - BCS Saison with rye
Secondary - Cabernet Sauvingon
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Re: Still lost on whether to use a secondary or not..

Sat Dec 15, 2012 4:30 pm

+1 to what Bug said.
There used to be in the old texts what they called the "1-2-3 rule", where you leave the beer 1 week in the primary, 2 weeks in secondary, and 3 weeks carbonating. As Bug said, this is bad advice and for the reaons he oulined, a "2-1-3" or "3-3" rule is much more effective. Either way, with or without the secondary, the important thing is having the patience to do a long enough primary before racking it off the yeast.

If you are so impatient that you can't wait long enough to start drinking it, then you simply aren't brewing enough batches. You need to brew so much that you hit your laziness point, where you have so much beer going that you actually hit the point where you say to yourself "shit, now I have to transfer and clean up ANOTHER batch...".
That's when the pipeline is full enough.
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Re: Still lost on whether to use a secondary or not..

Sat Dec 15, 2012 6:35 pm

Other than what was mentioned, sometimes moving to a second vessel can be useful in being able to transfer a clearer beer in the end, but largely isn't necessary. In my mind, the fearmongering about autolysis and dead yeast are due to two things.

1) Old advice from when yeast health wasn't as healthy/reliable.... if you're brewing with old bread yeast, you may want to do that....
2) Commercial brewers who are using cylindroconicals. The pressure at the bottom of the cone for a 60bbl tank is going to be MUCH beyond what a homebrewer will experience in a 5 gal carboy.
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Re: Still lost on whether to use a secondary or not..

Sun Dec 16, 2012 12:23 am

spiderwrangler wrote:Other than what was mentioned, sometimes moving to a second vessel can be useful in being able to transfer a clearer beer in the end, but largely isn't necessary. In my mind, the fearmongering about autolysis and dead yeast are due to two things.

1) Old advice from when yeast health wasn't as healthy/reliable.... if you're brewing with old bread yeast, you may want to do that....
2) Commercial brewers who are using cylindroconicals. The pressure at the bottom of the cone for a 60bbl tank is going to be MUCH beyond what a homebrewer will experience in a 5 gal carboy.


Exactly. Not much fear of it in a 5 gallon fermenter. I let a couple batches sit for over 100 days on the primary yeast cake just to see what would happen. Absolutely nothing. If you're fermenting in plastic, you'll oxidize your beer into cardboard long before autolysis kicks in.

Personally I only use a secondary for fruit, wood & sours.
Lee

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