Author Topic: Is it necessary to rack to a secondary fermenter?  (Read 8661 times)

Offline chezteth

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Is it necessary to rack to a secondary fermenter?
« on: November 23, 2009, 06:38:41 AM »
Hi All.  I have been brewing for a few years and normally rack my beers to a secondary fermenter before bottling or kegging. It would be less work to transfer from the primary to keg or bottles.  However, I don't want to sacrifice the clarification or quality of the beer I am packaging.  My question is...  do you feel it is necessary to rack your beer to a secondary fermenter?  Why or why not?

Thanks,
Brandon

Offline a10t2

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Re: Is it necessary to rack to a secondary fermenter?
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2009, 06:53:45 AM »
I personally stopped using secondaries about two years ago, except in cases where I have a specific reason. Those could include dry-hopping, secondary fermentation using fruit or sugar, adding spices or oak, or anything I want to age for more than a couple months. I'm sure you'll get plenty of opinions on both sides.
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Offline theDarkSide

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Re: Is it necessary to rack to a secondary fermenter?
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2009, 07:06:27 AM »
No secondary here since I don't really make fruit beers, and I dry hop right in the primary.  I usually add my spices at bottling time ( make an extract with a little vodka and soak the spices for a few days ).  Never seem to have issues with clarity.  In fact, the comps I've entered seem to emphasize the clarity ( too bad the rest of it gets dinged...otherwise I'd look like Mr. T with all the gold medals :) )



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Offline cracklefish

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Re: Is it necessary to rack to a secondary fermenter?
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2009, 07:08:33 AM »
Some beers need to age or have additional ingredients as stated above. I feel most beers are just fine or even a little fresher with no 2nd. Clarity is usually an issue of time. Quality has too many other variables besides just time. I always make sure I am to FG before I do anything as I'm sure you know. I say give it a try and see what you think.
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Offline majorvices

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Re: Is it necessary to rack to a secondary fermenter?
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2009, 07:49:24 AM »
Secondary is unnecessary in most low gravity ales.
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Offline hokerer

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Re: Is it necessary to rack to a secondary fermenter?
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2009, 08:01:44 AM »
Necessary?  absolutely not.  Desirable?  could be.  You really need to try it both ways and decide for yourself.  Brew the exact same beer twice, once with secondary and once without (keep total time the same) and see which you prefer.  I've done that and prefer to always secondary because I (and competition judges) prefer the result.

You'll get plenty of opinions both ways in this thread so you really need to decide for yourself.
Joe

Offline ndcube

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Re: Is it necessary to rack to a secondary fermenter?
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2009, 08:03:31 AM »
I use them because I only bottle and I don't always feel like bottling.  Secondary is quick and easy.

Offline wilypig

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Re: Is it necessary to rack to a secondary fermenter?
« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2009, 08:35:28 AM »
I rack all my finished beers to a keg and secondary until I am ready to place on service or bottle. This may be for a few weeks, months or years depending on the beer/wine/cider/mead.
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Offline Matt B

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Re: Is it necessary to rack to a secondary fermenter?
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2009, 08:44:42 AM »
From a quality perspective, secondary isn't necessary. There have been more than a couple of experiments to demonstrate that having your beer sit on your yeast cake and trub for a few weeks isn't going to leave much in the way of off flavors. The main one I can think of off the top of my head is the collaboration between homebrew radio and BYO magazine.

However, more often than not I do transfer to secondary, as I find that kegging from secondary tends to suck up less sediment from my carboy, leaving less sediment in the keg in case it needs to travel, which it often does. Also, I tend to repitch the yeast from primary onto my next batch of beer, and the yeast is less viable after it's been sitting in its own waste (alcohol) for a few weeks, and I also need my only two 6g carboys again for that batch.

Now with that said, transferring to secondary runs the risk of introducing oxygen into your beer leading to off flavors, but also kicking off a secondary fermentation if your wort wasn't sufficiently oxygenated initially, and depending on the gravity and style of beer, this might be a good thing. But I purge the 5g carboys that I transfer into with some co2 to minimize oxygenation and seems to work well.


Offline denny

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Re: Is it necessary to rack to a secondary fermenter?
« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2009, 09:49:39 AM »
I decide on a brew by brew basis.  Sometimes a beer just isn't clearing the way I'd like after a few weeks in primary.  In those cases, if I rack to secondary it seems to get it to clear better.  Maybe the physical agitation, I don't know.  If I want to dry hop before kegging (unusual, I usually dry hop in the keg), or do a cold conditioning, I'll rack to secondary.  I prefer not to have to do a secondary, but I let the beer make the decision for me.
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Offline bonjour

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Re: Is it necessary to rack to a secondary fermenter?
« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2009, 11:12:48 AM »
I'm with Denny on letting the beer decide.  I do find that I rarely need a secondary.

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Offline woody

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Re: Is it necessary to rack to a secondary fermenter?
« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2009, 04:09:00 PM »
I don't secondary very often, I usually use the keg as a secondary.   I do rack to a carboy to secondary for higher gravity beers that I'm going to age for awhile and beers that I dry hop
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Offline crabber

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Re: Is it necessary to rack to a secondary fermenter?
« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2009, 07:55:51 PM »
I used to reside in the no-secondary camp, but now I'm with Denny and Fred on letting the beer decide.  I think it depends a lot on the flocculation properties of the yeast.  Stubborn lager strains usually need some chill time in a secondary to clarify, or else can taste yeasty and very un-lager-like.

Offline Thirsty_Monk

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Re: Is it necessary to rack to a secondary fermenter?
« Reply #13 on: November 24, 2009, 08:17:05 AM »
Are we talking here about finishing fermenting in secondary fermenter or are we talking about transferring fully fermented beer to another vessel for flocculating and clarification?

These are two different things.

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Offline hokerer

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Re: Is it necessary to rack to a secondary fermenter?
« Reply #14 on: November 24, 2009, 08:38:08 AM »
Are we talking here about finishing fermenting in secondary fermenter or are we talking about transferring fully fermented beer to another vessel for flocculating and clarification?

These are two different things.

In general, don't you never want to transfer out of primary until fermentation is done, whether to a secondary or not?
Joe