Author Topic: Secondary fermentation  (Read 763 times)

Offline sdevries42

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Secondary fermentation
« on: February 27, 2014, 07:15:38 PM »
When using a primary and secondary fermentation system, how do you decide when it is the right time to transfer from the primary to secondary fermenter?

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Secondary fermentation
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2014, 07:24:40 PM »
When the primary is fully attenuated and all diacetyl/acetaldehyde is cleaned up. Then transfer to the fruit or dryhoping  secondary. If not fruiting or dryhoping I'd keg or bottle it after primary

Offline Jimmy K

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Re: Secondary fermentation
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2014, 07:33:16 PM »
I say what Jim says (and not just because I'm also Jim).

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Offline garc_mall

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Re: Secondary fermentation
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2014, 07:43:32 PM »
Well, I am not a Jim, and I approve this message.  ;D
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Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Secondary fermentation
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2014, 08:12:20 PM »
I used to think - just leave it in primary until ready to keg, but a recent white mold issue has me re-thinking this on light beers.  Maybe rack to secondary when the beer is ready, rather than waiting too long.  The white mold was caused by a heated primary, by the way - probably not being sanitary enough and not cleaning with PBW between brews- but I rescued the beer!  And it tastes fine now at carbonation.
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Offline sdevries42

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Re: Secondary fermentation
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2014, 08:43:44 PM »
I was told that it is important to remove the beer from the sediment in the primary fermenter as soon as initial fermentation has stopped as this improves the taste of the beer. However, it seems like many leave the beer in the primary fermenter for long periods of time and don't seem to have a problem. Does it matter if the beer is removed from the sediment in the fermentor?

Offline a10t2

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Re: Secondary fermentation
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2014, 09:36:31 PM »
I was told that it is important to remove the beer from the sediment in the primary fermenter as soon as initial fermentation has stopped as this improves the taste of the beer.

That is totally and demonstrably false. It may have been true in the 80s, given the relative lack of purity of the yeast cultures at the time. I have my doubts.
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Secondary fermentation
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2014, 11:15:57 PM »
I was told that it is important to remove the beer from the sediment in the primary fermenter as soon as initial fermentation has stopped as this improves the taste of the beer. However, it seems like many leave the beer in the primary fermenter for long periods of time and don't seem to have a problem. Does it matter if the beer is removed from the sediment in the fermentor?

There are some risks in taking the beer off the yeast too soon. Even after the fermentation is done, the yeast remain active and clean up a lot of the compounds that can cause off flavors. In addition, you run the risk of contamination (this is a very small risk if you clean and sanitize properly) during the transfer process. The biggest risk is oxidation, which can lead to staling and off flavors in your beer, and can also reduce the shelf life.

At the homebrew scale, there is little need to rack the beer out of your primary fermenter until you are ready to package it (either in a keg or bottles).
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Offline majorvices

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Re: Secondary fermentation
« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2014, 05:34:43 AM »
Listen to these guys. You don't really even need a secondary. In fact, unless you are purging the secondary with co2 you are going to risk oxidation.

There was a train of "old school" thought that said use a secondary and get the beer off the yeast ASAP because of the risk of autolysis from the dead yeast. But in reality this is only a problem for large breweries because of the pressure of the tanks from hundreds of gallons of beer. If you keep the beer cool (preferably cold) it will keep on the yeast for weeks. Months some even say.
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Offline jeffy

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Re: Secondary fermentation
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2014, 06:00:42 AM »
Exactly.  Pro brewers, using tall cylindroconicals, worry about all the pressure on the yeast in the cone and make sure they dump it before it starts to autolize.  Hombrewers have no such worry.  It's best to leave it on the small layer of trub and let the yeast finish cleaning up any flavors in the green beer.

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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Secondary fermentation
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2014, 06:08:03 AM »
While I'm not Jim (at least to my knowledge), I agree with all. Yeast needs to clean up after itself, to reduce the compounds you don't want in your beer.
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Offline Jimmy K

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Re: Secondary fermentation
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2014, 06:34:18 AM »
This was a popular notion a decade or two ago, but it holds on because a lot of kits, LHBS's, and books still talk about secondary. To make it worse, 'advanced' equipment kits are the ones sold with a secondary fermenter. So new homebrewers are taught early on that they need secondary fermentation without the teachers thinking critically about it. It took a while to convince my wife that this was OK.
 
Beer will clear up perfectly fine in a primary fermenter. The yeast/trub will form a compact sediment at the bottom, and unless you handle it roughly you can rack it off that sediment easily. A week or two in contact with that sediment will help make sure that the beer is fully attenuated (won't wind up overly sweet) and that 'green' beer flavors produced by the yeast during fermentation will get reabsorbed by the yeast so the beer tastes fresh.
 
Overly malty beer with bits of diacetyle (buttery) and acetylaldehyde (green apple) - these are probably the key flavors in what people used to call homebrew flavor or twang. These are also problems made worse by using secondary fermenters.
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Offline thebigbaker

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Secondary fermentation
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2014, 06:53:27 AM »
"While I'm not Jim" - I just may start using this outside this forum when anyone asks me a question.

To the OP, can't add much to what others above have said.  They've all hit the nail on the head.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2014, 06:55:43 AM by thebigbaker »
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Secondary fermentation
« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2014, 08:32:24 AM »
I change beer over to another fermentation vessel every day.

No, I agree with others. Secondary is not necessary.
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Offline jeffy

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Re: Secondary fermentation
« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2014, 03:31:21 PM »
"While I'm not Jim" - I just may start using this outside this forum when anyone asks me a question.

To the OP, can't add much to what others above have said.  They've all hit the nail on the head.

And Bob is not my uncle.
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