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No evidence of activity in secondary

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abarko:
I'm new to homebrewing so any advice is appreciated. I'm brewing an American Amber (Brewer's Best partial mash kit). I used a yeast starter and kept the beer in the primary for 9 days. Temperature started at 70 degrees but then got down as low as 62 degrees (I live in an apartment in Chicago so its hard for me to control our spring temperature swings - but I did have the primary in a larger bucket of water to try and even out the temperature swings). I transferred to a glass carboy secondary when the head collapsed - there was still activity but it was noticeably slower. I transferred all the liquid, leaving the sediment behind. I had to leave town since then and just returned. I know the temperature in the apartment was between 62-65 degrees. When I checked the secondary 5 days later I don't see ANY evidence of activity - not even a small ring around the top layer of liquid. (As a side note - I sanitized the carboy using an iodine solution and then letting it drip dry.)
Did I do something wrong when I transferred to the glass carboy? Is there a way to see if any yeast are still in there and alive? Is it even worth bottling (I've already had 1 batch of flat beer and don't want that again)

Thanks in advance for your help!
Annie

tom:
Welcome Annie!
So it fermented for 9 days in a primary fermenter and then you transferred to a secondary? Sounds fine so far. And it has been in secondary for 5 days?
RDWHAHB (Relax Don't Worry Have A HomeBrew).
No problem about the yeast. Go ahead and check the gravity. And give it a taste.
And tell us more about the batch that didn't carbonate.
Brew on, Tom

a10t2:
What homebrewers call "secondary fermentation" generally doesn't involve fermentation at all, it's just a clarifying and conditioning step. Because of that it isn't unusual for there to be no activity in the secondary. There are some brewers who transfer with the intention of having additional fermentation in the secondary, but it's far from common.

Unless you're intentionally moving the beer early, 9 days is probably too soon to transfer most beers - especially if there's still activity. By moving the beer away from the yeast you could cause fermentation to stall prematurely, which sounds like it could be what happened here. It's also possible that because there was little remaining yeast, what fermentation did happen just wasn't vigorous enough to raise a krausen and leave a ring.

I think the best option is always to wait until fermentation is complete, then wait at least a few more days, then transfer to secondary (or skip secondary entirely and go straight to keg or bottle). And the best way to judge whether or not fermentation is complete is by taking gravity readings 3-4 days apart. If they're the same, it's done. Foaming and airlock activity aren't necessarily good indicators.

So take a gravity reading, then take another in a few days, and if they're consistent and about where you expect, go ahead and keg/bottle.

majorvices:
What the others said. A secondary is usually not even needed for most low gravity book. I highly recommend you pick up a good homebrewing book if you haven't already. most people recommend John Palmer's "How to Brew".

Welcome to the forum and the hobby!

richardt:
Agree with MV.  It's a great, and enjoyable, hobby.
You discover or learn something new every time.
You'll want your own "How to Brew" book.
It's a great reference and I keep going back to it. 
It is also available online (free).

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