Author Topic: Should I Rack to Secondary  (Read 2696 times)

Offline wamille

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Should I Rack to Secondary
« on: November 22, 2011, 03:10:19 PM »
A pale ale is fermenting as I write.  After 24 hours I had a nice krausen... about an inch of foam on the top with intermittent bubbles coming out of the air lock.  However, last night the fermentation went nuts... the lid came off (seal was lost with the lid sitting on top of fermenter still) and the air lock is filled with yeast and goop.  I didn't have time to put another clean lid or air lock on my fermenter, so I popped the lid back on.  However, with all the goo that is in the air lock and lid... and sides of the bucket... do I have to worry about that stuff developing a bacterial infection that could contaminate my beer?

Offline bluesman

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Re: Should I Rack to Secondary
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2011, 03:16:31 PM »
The krausen will help protect the beer from contamination (oxidation). Replace the lid, clean and sanitize the airlock then reinstall. The beer should be fine, let it ferment out to terminal gravity and then bottle and/or keg accordingly. A secondary is not necessary and could potentially do more harm than good in this case. Did you make a starter? What temp was the beer when you pitched? What is the ambient temp in the room you're fermenting?
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Offline davidgzach

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Re: Should I Rack to Secondary
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2011, 03:18:02 PM »
Yes, if it is in the airlock you could potentially have an issue, or it could happen again!  I would pop it off now that fermentation is highly active, clean it out, sanitize and pop it back on.  If you can rig up a blow off tube, even better.  But I would definitely not transfer the beer at this point.  We've all been there and it's a mess, but you are probably fine.  You just need to ride it out at this point.  RDWAHAHB!
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Offline wamille

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Re: Should I Rack to Secondary
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2011, 04:01:14 PM »
I'm at work now... can't replace with a clean lid or airlock yet if that's what you're advising.  I did pour vodka all over the top of the lid and in the airlock before I left.  I live in Korea by the way.  No starter.  I re-hydrated two packets of Safale-05. The temp of the beer when yeast was pitched was around 70F... the ambient temperature was 66F on my porch where it stays around that temp or a little lower.  Guess I'll put on a new lid and airlock when I get home in about 9 hours or so.  Thanks for the advice.

Offline jamminbrew

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Re: Should I Rack to Secondary
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2011, 05:17:54 PM »
Agreed with the others, it should be fine. But I recommend a blow off tube in the future. I use one every time. Don't always need it, but it's just an insurance thing.  Keep the tube until fermentation calms down, then switch to a sanitized airlock.
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Should I Rack to Secondary
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2011, 06:24:23 PM »
Guess I'll put on a new lid and airlock when I get home in about 9 hours or so.  Thanks for the advice.

Chances are it will have blown the top again by the time you get home.

Once this happens, you really need a blow off until it settles down.

I tried swapping airlocks recently, but no dice.
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Offline tubercle

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Re: Should I Rack to Secondary
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2011, 08:43:52 PM »
  I re-hydrated two packets of Safale-05.

 If this is only a 5 gallon or so batch, 2 packs of dry yeast is probably the problem. You only need one. That doesn't solve you current problem but is likely the cause.

  You are probably better off with no air lock if you can't rig up a decent blow off until things subside. The air lock will just keep getting clogged and blowing the lid or worse, rupturing the bucket. Just let the foam blow out the hole, nothing is going to get in. After it calms down a bit, then re-install the air lock.
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Offline wamille

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Re: Should I Rack to Secondary
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2011, 09:06:05 PM »
I threw in two packets because they're pretty old... or at least I was worried about not having enough viable yeast cells with only one pack.  Apparently that Safale-05 lasts longer than I thought.  As soon as I get home from work, I'll put a clean top and blow off tube on that sucker and let it ferment out.  The fermenter looked like it was going to explode... haha.  Not only was the top bowing out, but the bucket itself was swollen.

Offline majorvices

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Re: Should I Rack to Secondary
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2011, 06:06:29 AM »
I'm at work now... can't replace with a clean lid or airlock yet if that's what you're advising.  I did pour vodka all over the top of the lid and in the airlock before I left.  I live in Korea by the way.  No starter.  I re-hydrated two packets of Safale-05. The temp of the beer when yeast was pitched was around 70F... the ambient temperature was 66F on my porch where it stays around that temp or a little lower.  Guess I'll put on a new lid and airlock when I get home in about 9 hours or so.  Thanks for the advice.

I'd try pitching cooler next time. Also, you should make some effort to drop the temp a few more degrees next time. Don't monitor ambient temp. Monitor the temp of the fermenting beer. The stick on "fermometeors" do an excellent job of telling you a reasonably accurate temp of the fermenting beer. Cooler pitching and fermentation temps will help minimize the blow offs. An ambient temp of 66 may mean you are fermenting in the low to mid 70s, which is a bit too high for my tastes.

As far as racking to the secondary - that's the last thing you would want to do! I have had literally hundreds of blow offs over the years. Never lost a batch because of it. Did create lots of messes.

Also, I notice you say you used no started and used dry yeast. There isn't really a reason you would even want to use a starter with dry yeast.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2011, 06:09:51 AM by majorvices »
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Offline bluesman

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Re: Should I Rack to Secondary
« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2011, 07:49:58 AM »
I agree that pitching at 70F is too high for a pale ale, and probably led to your blowoff. In the future, pitch in the low to mid 60's and let the beer rise up in temp on it's own. I keep a blowoff hose handy in the event of a blowoff, which will prevent having to replace the airlock and cleaning up a mess.

Depending on the ambient temp of your fermentation room you may or may not have to use an additional cooling source (swamp cooler or fermentation chamber). The beer temp should be monitored and controlled (approx 68F) while fermenting in an effort to make the best possible beer. Maintaining a controlled fermentation temp (beer) will help deter the formation of excessive esters and fusel alcohol formation during the ferment.
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Offline boapiu

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Re: Should I Rack to Secondary
« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2011, 08:11:16 AM »
i have racked every batch for a finale week of conditioning. after reading up on it, i realize, and the answers in this post seem to agree, that racking to secondary should NOT be necessary and is probably not a good thing. WHY? is it the risk of contamination or a question of getting the beer off the trub?
Beer is an ancient beverage that has been consumed as part of a balanced diet for centuries - it contains the goodness of sprouted grain extracted into rich liquid and fermented to produce a nutritional 'liquid cereal' beverage.

Offline bluesman

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Re: Should I Rack to Secondary
« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2011, 08:21:43 AM »
i have racked every batch for a finale week of conditioning. after reading up on it, i realize, and the answers in this post seem to agree, that racking to secondary should NOT be necessary and is probably not a good thing. WHY? is it the risk of contamination or a question of getting the beer off the trub?

The main risk is oxidation that occurs during the transfer process but also potential contamination (bacterial).
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Should I Rack to Secondary
« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2011, 10:12:47 AM »
i have racked every batch for a finale week of conditioning. after reading up on it, i realize, and the answers in this post seem to agree, that racking to secondary should NOT be necessary and is probably not a good thing. WHY? is it the risk of contamination or a question of getting the beer off the trub?

The main risk is oxidation that occurs during the transfer process but also potential contamination (bacterial).
That, and getting the beer off of the trub/yeast isn't as critical on a homebrew level as it may be for pros brewing 100 bbl at a time.
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Offline James Lorden

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Re: Should I Rack to Secondary
« Reply #13 on: November 23, 2011, 11:07:11 AM »
There are certain scenarios where I still find a secondary to be useful:

1) When looking to harvest yeast AND using a fining agent.  I will often rack to a secondary and add finings so that I can collect yeast from the primary that hasn't been tainted with the fining agent/

2) Beers that will sit for a long time.  Sours and Wood aged beers.  I like to transfer relatively clear beers to carry over as little yeast as possible while the develops.  Trying to avoid autolysis flavors.

3) Dry hopping.  To me, this is similar to a commertial brewer dumping the tank.  If I am repitching then I don't want all that hop matter in the cake.  Also, as the hops drop and settle on the yeast those critters can suck up some of the oils that you want in your beer.  The less yeast in the carboy the better so I will transfer to a secondary then add hops.
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Offline majorvices

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Re: Should I Rack to Secondary
« Reply #14 on: November 23, 2011, 12:54:16 PM »
My point had nothing to do with whether a secondary was useful or not - I just wouldn;t recommend racking a beer that is actively fermenting. Its very possible you could stall the fermentation. Plus, if the primary fermenter is infected that means the beer is infected (which, just because a blow off went through the air lock doesn't mean this is the case at all) and I don't see what the logic would be to rack contaminated beer into a clean fermenter.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2011, 01:10:50 PM by majorvices »
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