Author Topic: Should I bother with a secondary even when adding 'extras'?  (Read 820 times)

Offline zorch

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Should I bother with a secondary even when adding 'extras'?
« on: November 11, 2010, 01:31:43 PM »
I've got a batch of Denny's BVIP going, and it's just about ready for the next step:  Adding vanilla beans.    Normally, and in accordance with the recipe, I'd toss them into a secondary carboy, ack the beer on top, and let it sit for a week.

I'm wondering, though, whether I really need to bother with this racking step?     It seems that if I just toss the beans into the primary, I'd save some work and more importantly decrease the oxidation.

Then again, perhaps that primary full of goop is going to somehow interfere with the extraction of the vanilla flavors?

It seems that recent consensus on secondaries is that they are an unnecessary step, at least when it comes to clearing/finishing a 'normal' ale?   But is using a secondary still the best practice when adding additional flavors, or dry hopping?


Offline denny

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Re: Should I bother with a secondary even when adding 'extras'?
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2010, 02:44:04 PM »
You could probably get away without racking.  FWIW, I just got one bottling a batch of BVIP 5 min. ago (GAWD, I HATE BOTTLING!!!!) and I did use a secondary for the vanilla.
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Offline Wheat_Brewer

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Re: Should I bother with a secondary even when adding 'extras'?
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2010, 10:01:12 PM »
I've got a batch of Denny's BVIP going, and it's just about ready for the next step:  Adding vanilla beans.    Normally, and in accordance with the recipe, I'd toss them into a secondary carboy, ack the beer on top, and let it sit for a week.

I'm wondering, though, whether I really need to bother with this racking step?     It seems that if I just toss the beans into the primary, I'd save some work and more importantly decrease the oxidation.

Then again, perhaps that primary full of goop is going to somehow interfere with the extraction of the vanilla flavors?

It seems that recent consensus on secondaries is that they are an unnecessary step, at least when it comes to clearing/finishing a 'normal' ale?   But is using a secondary still the best practice when adding additional flavors, or dry hopping?



I've found that when I had additional flavors/hops I like to have them sit for another week or more.  I also like to harvest my healthy yeast from the primary and re-use it in future batches.  With that in mind, I don't want any of the yeast adding additional off-flavors by leaving it in the primary longer than needed, plus if you start throwing in additional flavors it could have an affect on your harvested yeast (imparting the additional flavors into your next batch).  I've certainly bottled from the primary, and maybe I'm paranoid, but I prefer to just rack to a secondary just to be safe. 
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Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Should I bother with a secondary even when adding 'extras'?
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2010, 10:22:09 PM »
I think the answer isn't simple.  Both methods have potential downsides, which can be avoided if you know what's going on and have some basic processes mastered.

If you leave it in the primary, you can get autolysis flavors if you leave it there for an extended time at higher temperatures.  You can pick up other off flavors because the beer is sitting on stuff that you don't want in the final beer.  More stuff, longer times, more risk of flavor pickup.  Most of the time, this doesn't come into play.  But it can happen if you leave your beer hanging out too long.

If you rack it to a secondary, some say you risk oxidizing the beer.  I say that you should learn how to transfer beer without oxidizing it.  Do you dispense from your primary fermenter?  You have to transfer it to bottles or kegs somehow.  How is it that you can do that without oxidizing the beer, but moving it to a secondary does oxidize the beer?  It just doesn't follow.  Blanket the receiving container with CO2, rack slowly into the bottom, displacing CO2 as it fills.  Blast some CO2 on top.  Top with airlock.  No oxidation.  Really.

A secondary for homebrewers is like a bright tank for pro brewers.  You can condition your beer this way before packaging, and you can further treat it with other additives (dry hops, flavorings, etc.).  Personally, I don't use this method unless I'm not going to package my beer for an extended time and want to avoid autolysis, or when I want to fiddle with the finished beer.  I usually package my beer from the primary after it drops bright.

For most scenarios, the true answer is likely "it doesn't matter."  Either would work if you do it properly, and you can spend time debating the alternatives, or you can make more beer.  Find something that produces good results for you, and go with it.
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Offline bluesman

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Re: Should I bother with a secondary even when adding 'extras'?
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2010, 08:12:38 AM »
OP,
How are you serving your beer...keg or bottle.

If kegging...the other option would be to skip the secondary and rack into the keg over the vanilla bean.
Just thought I'd throw that out there. Some folks like to use the keg as a psuedo secondary.

There are ways to mitigate the oxidation that occurs during the secondary tranfer, like purging with CO2 and minimixing head space, but I try to avoid a secondary when I can.

I currently have a kegged VBIP that utilized a secondary transfer to infuse the vanilla as Denny's recipe dictates and the beer is fantastic at almost a year old now. So good processing techniques are important.
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Offline hokerer

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Re: Should I bother with a secondary even when adding 'extras'?
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2010, 11:15:54 AM »
If you rack it to a secondary, some say you risk oxidizing the beer.  I say that you should learn how to transfer beer without oxidizing it.

Agreed.  Similar to the other point that's often attempted to be made by anti-secondary'ers:  "you're risking contamimation".  I say you should learn how to tranfer beer without contaminating it.
Joe

Offline denny

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Re: Should I bother with a secondary even when adding 'extras'?
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2010, 11:53:03 AM »
If you rack it to a secondary, some say you risk oxidizing the beer.  I say that you should learn how to transfer beer without oxidizing it.

Agreed.  Similar to the other point that's often attempted to be made by anti-secondary'ers:  "you're risking contamimation".  I say you should learn how to tranfer beer without contaminating it.

Agreed again.  It's the same thing I say when people mention that making starters is a risk for infection....if you can't do basic brewing tasks without harming your beer, perhaps you should consider taking up knitting as a hobby!   ;D
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Offline bonjour

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Re: Should I bother with a secondary even when adding 'extras'?
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2010, 12:55:30 PM »
I think I'll start packing a couple of knitting needles and a ball of yarn, that way I could offer someone a option.

;)
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Offline alikocho

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Re: Should I bother with a secondary even when adding 'extras'?
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2010, 01:25:48 PM »
If you rack it to a secondary, some say you risk oxidizing the beer.  I say that you should learn how to transfer beer without oxidizing it.

Agreed.  Similar to the other point that's often attempted to be made by anti-secondary'ers:  "you're risking contamimation".  I say you should learn how to tranfer beer without contaminating it.

Agreed again.  It's the same thing I say when people mention that making starters is a risk for infection....if you can't do basic brewing tasks without harming your beer, perhaps you should consider taking up knitting as a hobby!   ;D

Agreed once more. It's not difficult to do it right, but the risks are overstated on the notion that people will screw it up somehow.
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Offline Steve

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Re: Should I bother with a secondary even when adding 'extras'?
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2010, 02:15:59 PM »
Good sanitization practices vs. Murphy's Law?
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Offline bluesman

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Re: Should I bother with a secondary even when adding 'extras'?
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2010, 05:31:03 PM »
Good sanitization practices vs. Murphy's Law?

Reminds me of the saying "sometimes your the bug and sometimes your the windshield".   :)
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Offline hokerer

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Re: Should I bother with a secondary even when adding 'extras'?
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2010, 07:40:20 PM »
Good sanitization practices vs. Murphy's Law?

Reminds me of the saying "sometimes your the bug and sometimes your the windshield".   :)


And what was the last thing that went through that bug's mind when he hit that windshield?


























...his ass
Joe

Offline bluesman

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Re: Should I bother with a secondary even when adding 'extras'?
« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2010, 07:45:37 PM »
Good sanitization practices vs. Murphy's Law?

Reminds me of the saying "sometimes your the bug and sometimes your the windshield".   :)


And what was the last thing that went through that bug's mind when he hit that windshield?


























...his ass

poor bastard.  :-\
Ron Price