Author Topic: Secondary Fermentation  (Read 663 times)

Offline Brewmeisters

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Secondary Fermentation
« on: November 05, 2017, 09:54:20 PM »
Quick question about secondary fermentation.
This will be our first official brew day.
We picked out the Brewers Best Russian Imperial Stout.
I'm confused about the secondary fermentation step.
If the wort is done or close to being done fermenting after the first fermentation, will the yeast still be active and still able to produce alcohol? After the wort is transferred will it bring up more sugars and yeast and continue to ferment more because the settled ingredients have been moved around?

All we do is clean, sanitize and transfer to the secondary fermenter, that's all, no more adding anything just let it have time to reach its specific gravity?

I think I'm letting myself get overwhelmed by this process.
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Secondary Fermentation
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2017, 10:26:26 PM »
Opinion:

When it's done it's done. Merely moving it to another vessel doesn't start more fermentation.

Reasons to transfer to a second vessel are

To add a second fermentable

To remove the finished beer from the yeast cake, and then add something unfermentable such as dry hops, wood, etc

To remove the finished beer from the primary yeast and then add another type of "yeast" like Brett, or bugs

To remove the finished beer from the yeast cake in order to let it "age" away from all that spent yeast before it autolyses.

I would not use a secondary on a typical imperial stout

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Offline Slowbrew

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Re: Secondary Fermentation
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2017, 05:11:41 AM »
Secondary fermenters are considered old school now days.  For good reason too.  The only reason I was told, back when I started brewing, for the secondary was to let the yeast settle out, more of a bright tank than anything else.  Another week or two in the primary does the same thing and eliminates one transfer and the oxygen pickup associated with it.

Leaving the beer in the primary will also keep you from bottling before the yeast have finished cleaning up after themselves.  I did this many times early on.  Diacetyl, yum.   :o

Good luck on the first batch!!

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Offline mabrungard

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Re: Secondary Fermentation
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2017, 05:50:38 AM »
No reason to change vessels in almost any case. As long as the vessel is kept reasonably cool, autolysis potential is minor. 

As mentioned, most brewers use this as a clarification step and not really a second ferment. It ought to be known as primary clarification, not secondary fermentation.
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Online Stevie

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Re: Secondary Fermentation
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2017, 09:00:58 AM »
I don’t fully agree with Martin. While autolysis risk may be low, oxidation risk is higher with the excess head space. Bulk aging big beers in a properly purged and filled to capacity vessel is useful.

Offline mabrungard

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Re: Secondary Fermentation
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2017, 09:33:01 AM »
I don’t fully agree with Martin. While autolysis risk may be low, oxidation risk is higher with the excess head space. Bulk aging big beers in a properly purged and filled to capacity vessel is useful.

Agree. But that's what I believe a keg is for.

I still don't agree that transferring to an additional vessel is ideal. But I do like your recommendation for purging that vessel prior to use.
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Online Stevie

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Re: Secondary Fermentation
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2017, 09:52:47 AM »
Sure, but not all of us keg and kegs are a valuable item inventory.

Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Secondary Fermentation
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2017, 08:28:50 AM »
With kegs becoming relatively inexpensive, I find that bulk aging in a purged keg (or simply not drinking as much anymore, so the beer sits a while longer) allows for a means of convenient cold storage with less oxidation concerns than a carboy or other vessel.  If I were not kegging, I would bottle carbonate and then store the bottles cold on the small amount of yeast sediment for increased O2 scavenging, rather than any bulk aging in a carboy (even if full to the neck).  Cold side O2 elimination is a preferred approach IMHO.

In recent competitions, oxidation was significant among the entries according to many judges in many categories (likely due to long lead times for submission of entries).

Of course, if you drink the beer fast enough after packaging from the primary, you might not have any worries.
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Offline 802Chris

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Re: Secondary Fermentation
« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2017, 10:12:37 AM »
...This will be our first official brew day....


...I think I'm letting myself get overwhelmed by this process....

Woah guys, slow down! From the sounds of it, correct me if I'm wrong, this is a FIRST brew for this person. We are getting a little into the weeds.

MY ADVICE

Don't transfer it as it MOST LIKELY not necessary for the beer you are making.

SECOND ADVICE

Russian Imperial Stout is a hard beer for anyone to make, especially on a first go. Follow the instructions (minus the secondary), make sure the clean and sanitize well, and be super patient. This beer will take bit of time. Also, come ask us questions if need be, a lot of industry jargon gets thrown around that you may not understand, we are all glad to help clarify

Relax! don't worry and have a homebrew :)

Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Secondary Fermentation
« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2017, 10:42:55 AM »
If the wort is done or close to being done fermenting after the first fermentation, will the yeast still be active and still able to produce alcohol? After the wort is transferred will it bring up more sugars and yeast and continue to ferment more because the settled ingredients have been moved around?

All we do is clean, sanitize and transfer to the secondary fermenter, that's all, no more adding anything just let it have time to reach its specific gravity?

To answer these questions:

1. You might see further fermentation after transfer due to rousing the yeast or oxygen that makes its way into the beer during transfer gets the yeast into a healthier state. Ideally you want to pitch the right amount of yeast, adequate oxygenation and nutrients up front to have a full and healthy primary fermentation so this second fermentation doesn't occur or occurs minimally. Big beers like imperial stouts need a lot of healthy yeast and it's easy to underpitch what you need for those beers.

2. No additions to the secondary vessel except to thoroughly clean and sanitize.

You could add a little sugar or dissolved extract when you rack to secondary to give the yeast something to do with any aeration that occurs in the beer during racking to secondary so you don't oxidize the beer. However, as discussed above, I'd opt to skip the secondary vessel entirely.
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Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Secondary Fermentation
« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2017, 03:22:31 PM »
Agreed, stay simple.  Pitch a healthy amount of yeast, bottle condition after 6-8 weeks and you should be fine.  After bottling (with sugar added to carbonate) and waiting 2 weeks at room temperature in the bottle, store the bottles in a refrigerator another month or more.  This big beer will hit its stride in the fourth to sixth month (but will keep even longer than that).
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Offline Brewmeisters

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Re: Secondary Fermentation
« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2017, 10:18:31 PM »
That is my next question for the Russian Imperial Stout kit from Brewers Best.
The packet of yeast says do not rehydrate.
What is the best approach?
Pitch the yeast or follow the directions?
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Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Secondary Fermentation
« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2017, 05:01:00 AM »
Many debates on rehydrating or just sprinkling.  On small beers, I have seen no difference.  On big beers or lagers, I would rehydrate or pitch a second sachet of yeast. YMMV....
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Offline BrewBama

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Secondary Fermentation
« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2017, 06:33:38 AM »
Major mfr’s of dry yeast offer rehydration instructions. From one mfr: “Rehydration is recommended for use, and will reduce osmotic stress on the yeast when rehydrated and pitched in liquid form. Rehydration guidelines are quite simple...” Though I’ve sprinkled and rehydrated, it is so easy I usually rehydrate. YMMV

However, in your case, the instructions explicitly state NOT to rehydrate. I’d follow the instructions the first time. But that’s just me...

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« Last Edit: November 08, 2017, 06:39:47 AM by BrewBama »
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Secondary Fermentation
« Reply #14 on: November 08, 2017, 03:44:39 PM »
That is my next question for the Russian Imperial Stout kit from Brewers Best.
The packet of yeast says do not rehydrate.
What is the best approach?
Pitch the yeast or follow the directions?

Can you also post the recipe for the kit?  If it's all extract, we may have recommendations on simple steps that will improve your fermentation and make sure that an all-extract big beer does not stall out or end with a super sweet high final gravity.
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