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General Category => Yeast and Fermentation => Topic started by: crummydo on January 31, 2017, 09:37:58 PM

Title: "Rack on to" secondary
Post by: crummydo on January 31, 2017, 09:37:58 PM
I am almost ready to move an oatmeal raisin stout into the secondary, following a basic recipe kit but adding ingredients I found for another recipe. Right now I have, as suggested, the raisins, cinnamon sticks, and vanilla beans sitting in bourbon. However, the recipe states beer should be "racked onto" the ingredients. Im new to this and confused at what its saying. Am I just throwing this into the secondary or am I washing the beer over this mixture?

I would like to think that I should let these sit in the secondary to bring out the flavor, but im just not sure on the lingo.
Title: Re: "Rack on to" secondary
Post by: Stevie on January 31, 2017, 09:46:50 PM
Rack onto means the additional ingredients are already in the fermenter ahead of racking. This is to account for displacement. When using secondary you want to fill all the way to the neck, so adding stuff after could cause overflow.
Title: Re: "Rack on to" secondary
Post by: crummydo on January 31, 2017, 10:01:46 PM
Awesome. Thank you.  I figured as much, just wanted to make sure. What seems like a good length of time considering its sitting with those ingredients and bourbon?
Title: "Rack on to" secondary
Post by: Stevie on January 31, 2017, 10:03:00 PM
Never messed with cinnamon or raisins, vanilla is a quick pickup. Take very small tastes and package when you're happy.
Title: Re: "Rack on to" secondary
Post by: kramerog on January 31, 2017, 11:01:22 PM
Cinnamon powder takes a few days to achieve full strength.  Cinnamon sticks longer I imagine. 
Title: Re: "Rack on to" secondary
Post by: santoch on February 01, 2017, 03:01:21 AM
Be sure to purge the vessel with CO2 first and avoid splashing during the transfer to help your beer age better.
And remember that its most important that your fermentation is already complete in the primary.  There are old directions that basically say to rack after only a week.  Give the beer the time it needs to finish up, then rack it to the new vessel over the top of the spices.

HTH-
Title: Re: "Rack on to" secondary
Post by: Ellismr on February 01, 2017, 11:38:22 AM
This means to transfers your beer on top of the items you have already put in your secondary fermentor. 

Santoch, that's an interesting observation.  I have noticed when I have time that true final is reached in 1-2 weeks. 


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Title: Re: "Rack on to" secondary
Post by: crummydo on February 01, 2017, 03:19:10 PM
Thanks everyone.
Title: Re: "Rack on to" secondary
Post by: pete b on February 01, 2017, 04:34:37 PM
Rack onto means the additional ingredients are already in the fermenter ahead of racking. This is to account for displacement. When using secondary you want to fill all the way to the neck, so adding stuff after could cause overflow.
I'm not sure about all of this. This is a true secondary fermentation IMO because of the sugar in the raisins which will put out some CO2. I don't think it needs to be up to the neck because of the co2 and at any rate there may or may not be enough beer to fill to the neck after racking off the trub. If you do fill to the neck, or close to it, you need a blow off tube.
Also, to the comment that they should purge with CO2, most new brewers can't do this and with a sugar source in the 2nd carboy that's OK.   
Also, an alternative is to simply add the ingredients to the primary fermenter as it winds down. You will then want to rack very carefully into the bottling bucket when the time comes.
Title: Re: "Rack on to" secondary
Post by: Stevie on February 01, 2017, 04:52:53 PM
I didn't think of them as a fermentable.
Title: Re: "Rack on to" secondary
Post by: pete b on February 01, 2017, 05:03:56 PM
I didn't think of them as a fermentable.
If there are enough to have a flavor impact they should be. I cup has about 100g of sugar. Regardless, I wouldn't be surprised if the carboy can't be filled to the neck. Maybe adding to primary is best.
Title: Re: "Rack on to" secondary
Post by: crummydo on February 01, 2017, 09:03:12 PM
Correct, i dont have any co2 source. The time to move into secondary is drawing near. The goodies have been soaking in the bourbon since Sunday. Looking at the fermenter last night it looks like a gallon with of trubb sitting on the bottom, far above the collector and valve.

When I siphon the beer to the secondary carboy, I imagine that it will be 4 gallons and very thick considering the molasses and cocoa powder I used at the end of the boil. So should I add boiled clean water to top it off to make a total 5 gallons? And how would that affect the FG?

I can post the full recipe when I get home if that helps answer questions.
Title: Re: "Rack on to" secondary
Post by: Joe Sr. on February 01, 2017, 09:11:49 PM
Do not add water to top it off at this point.

I would simply rack on to the raisins et al and not worry about the head space in the carboy.

Raisins will ferment for sure.  Craisins ferment.  Pretty much any fruit you add will ferment.
Title: Re: "Rack on to" secondary
Post by: crummydo on February 01, 2017, 09:26:35 PM
Okay got it. Next time I will consider adding more water up front if I think the trubb will be more than the normal. Thanks.
Title: Re: "Rack on to" secondary
Post by: pete b on February 02, 2017, 01:04:31 AM
I'll make a couple of points that I think will be helpful in the future, crummydo.
You mentioned topping off with water, in part, because you expect the beer to be "thick" because of molasses and cocoa powder. Actually it won't because the molasses is just about all sugar which will all be fermented into alcohol which will actually be thinner and make the beer taste drier and the cocoa will just give off flavor and the rest will be trub.
You also mentioned adding extra water at the beginning so you can fill the secondary carboy to the top.
Two things:
You don't need to rack into a carboy in most cases. You usually can just let it finish in the primary fermenter. Racking into the secondary is usually done when you are adding fermentables like fruit. Some also do it onto hops and other ingredients. I personally only do it when there will be additional fermentables.
Also, adding extra water will give you watered down beer unless you add more malt or extract.
Title: Re: "Rack on to" secondary
Post by: crummydo on February 02, 2017, 11:09:04 AM
I see what you're saying. Makes sense. This is only my 6th batch I think, so I am still learning. All this is very helpful and I really appreciate it guys.
Title: Re: "Rack on to" secondary
Post by: pete b on February 02, 2017, 12:28:34 PM
We're here to help each other, have fun!
Title: Re: "Rack on to" secondary
Post by: crummydo on February 03, 2017, 11:25:47 AM
So as it happened, last night I finally "racked onto" the raisins, cinnamon, and vanilla. I used a bottling bucket with a false bottom to keep all that from bothering with the flow when I get ready to keg or bottle. I of course took a sample which is already sitting at 8.6% abv according to my math (woohoo), and gave it a little taste.

Very dry without much of a stout taste. It very much reminds me of a taste of a pils thats was left sitting out after a party all night. I know that adding in those other ingredients in the secondary will give it more character and flavor, but would adding a dry hop in a few weeks hurt it?  I mean I know the stout style isn't one that usually has dry hopping, but I just feel that its missing some. I only used fuggles in the boil and I didn't think that was enough at the time, but its what the recipe called for.

Im thinking about adding either Kent Golding, Fuggles, or Tettnang for dry hopping. Thoughts?
Title: Re: "Rack on to" secondary
Post by: tonyccopeland on February 03, 2017, 11:54:25 AM
Don't be too quick to judge the taste before it's carbonated.  Higher alcohol brews always seem to change a bit (for the better) overtime for me.  On the dry hopping, I tend not to dry hop stouts because I don't want the hops to overwhelm the roast, but if I was going to light dry hop I'd go Kent Golding's.

-Tony

Title: Re: "Rack on to" secondary
Post by: crummydo on February 03, 2017, 12:03:40 PM
That's what I assumed. It didn't taste bad, but the flavor had changed from post boil. Before going in the fermenter it tasted no s*** like hot chocolate.

Also the trubb wasnt as much as I thought it would be but damn was it  thick! The beer in actuality felt TOO thin. Stark contrast from what I thought it would be.
Title: Re: "Rack on to" secondary
Post by: pete b on February 03, 2017, 12:51:04 PM
Are you saying that you racked it into a bottling bucket?
Title: Re: "Rack on to" secondary
Post by: Stevie on February 03, 2017, 02:40:31 PM
I like to brew by two rules.

1 - less is more
2 - don't throw good after bad

It's your beer, so do your thing, but I'd leave it be at this point, pack it, drink it, and try again.
Title: Re: "Rack on to" secondary
Post by: 69franx on February 03, 2017, 07:59:42 PM
I like to brew by two rules.

1 - less is more
2 - don't throw good after bad

It's your beer, so do your thing, but I'd leave it be at this point, pack it, drink it, and try again.

Great thoughts/rules/words of wisdom to live and brew by Stevie
Title: Re: "Rack on to" secondary
Post by: crummydo on February 09, 2017, 08:30:37 PM
Are you saying that you racked it into a bottling bucket?

... yes?
Title: Re: "Rack on to" secondary
Post by: crummydo on February 13, 2017, 07:51:06 PM
Well, I took a quick sample since its been about 2 weeks in the secondary. It wasn't "bad". But it also wasn't "good". It was dark brown, almost black in color. Not hazy at all and was clear of any debris or floaters. However, it did kinda have a sour note in it that I couldn't quite pin down. Coming right out of the bucket it had some good natural carbonation and fiz, very low with a bit of a tan head on top.

Part of me wants to leave it in there to soak up all that vanilla, raisins, and cinnamon some more. But also im afraid that it might not be wise. Would it be wrong of me to put this beer into a THIRD fermenting vessel without all those addons? Is that a thing? Or should I bottle right out of that bucket and hope that the sour flavor dissipates with some time in the bottles?
Title: Re: "Rack on to" secondary
Post by: skyler on February 13, 2017, 09:31:24 PM
Don't rack it again - that is unlikely to be any help. Bottle it ASAP.

The "sour" note could be a few things. (1) it could be an infection, which would mean the beer has caught a microbe like lactobacillus and that it will keep getting more and more sour, so you should drink it ASAP (assuming it tastes okay). (2) it could be that you used old extract - old extract has a distinct sour taste that I notice in a lot of novice homebrew - this can usually be avoided by sticking to just dry malt extract and grain, or by switching to a better homebrew supply store. (3) dark malts are acidic and you probably didn'y do anything to combat that acidity with your water - it could be that the pH is low because of your water chemistry and grist - next time try using reverse osmosis water from the grocery store and reading up on water chemistry in brewing. (4) some yeast strains naturally produce more acidic-tasting beer. Did you use Nottingham? That makes every beer a little tart, IME.

If I were you, I would just bottle now and check on it in 2 weeks. If it tastes okay/is carbonated, chill almost all of the bottles (your potential souring microbe will be slowed down by the fridge). Leave at least 1-2 bottles at room temperature for 3 months or so to see how they develop. You will know it if they are infected because they will get super carbonated and very very sour. If it's an infection, throw away all the plastic that touched the beer.

In the future, I recommend against doing too much with a recipe. Cocoa, raisins, bourbon, vanilla, and cinnamon are a lot to add to a beer as a novice. You will get better at brewing quicker if your beer isn't "hiding" behind all those competing flavors. If you want a stout, try a plain stout recipe. You can always add vanilla-infused bourbon to half of it when you're bottling. But it's your beer. I know I sure tried to make every beer over 7% ABV and I put fruit and spices and chocolate in about half of my first 10-20 batches, so I get the appeal. My beer got better when I started doing less. Now, if I want to brew a complex flavored stout, I know what (almost) every ingredient does and what each different technique will give me, so my beers are a lot more consistent.
Title: Re: "Rack on to" secondary
Post by: crummydo on February 14, 2017, 05:40:51 PM
Okay, great. Thanks for the advice. Besides the extras I added, it all came out of a kit. Grain, DME, and yeast. I can't recall what the yeast was exactly, but it was what came with the kit. I will get it into bottles tonight.
Title: Re: "Rack on to" secondary
Post by: pete b on February 14, 2017, 07:56:01 PM
Are you saying that you racked it into a bottling bucket?

... yes?
The reason I asked is that when racking into a secondary vessel, which isn't even necessary, a glass carboy is used. Normally the beer gets racked into a bottling bucket (along with priming solution) just as you are bottling. Hopefully your sediment is below the level of your spigot when bottling.