Author Topic: Purpose of secondary fermentation beyond clarifying?  (Read 5181 times)

Offline tumarkin

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Re: Purpose of secondary fermentation beyond clarifying?
« Reply #15 on: April 10, 2011, 06:08:05 AM »
This was addressed by John Palmer in Ask the Experts.  If you're an AHA member you can read his entire answer at http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/pages/lets-brew/ask-the-experts/john-palmer . Here's an excerpt...

"Therefore I, and Jamil and White Labs and Wyeast Labs, do not recommend racking to a secondary fermenter for ANY ale, except when conducting an actual second fermentation, such as adding fruit or souring."

To go one step further, I don't even recommend bottling or kegging or packaging the beer in any manner. Just drink straight from primary fermenter, preferably in one big, long gulp as is not to stir up the sediment too much.

Hey Major......Interesting approach. However, I'm thinking that you're going to have to leave a lot behind in the primary unless you tip it significantly. In which case it will stir up the sediment quite a bit. However, by the time you've drunk up the top part (wow, that's one looong pull), you probably won't be disturbed by a little sediment in your beer. In fact, you're likely to be so trashed out that you wouldn't even notice.
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Offline weithman5

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Re: Purpose of secondary fermentation beyond clarifying?
« Reply #16 on: April 10, 2011, 06:23:03 AM »
or just have one long siphon going so everyone can share.  no bottling no kegging, just a party day with a few close friends
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Offline Beer Monger

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Re: Purpose of secondary fermentation beyond clarifying?
« Reply #17 on: April 10, 2011, 06:58:31 AM »
I've been used to a primary & secondary - but with this new info I'm going to make the switch to no secondary unless doing a 'true' secondary fermentation or dry-hopping.

I usually had my beer in the primary fermenter for 7 days, and another 7 days in a secondary. 

If I'm going to ditch using a secondary - how long should I keep the beer in the primary before kegging/bottling?  The full 14 days?  8 days?  10 days?  I'm not really sure. 
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Offline denny

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Re: Purpose of secondary fermentation beyond clarifying?
« Reply #18 on: April 10, 2011, 09:59:56 AM »
If I'm going to ditch using a secondary - how long should I keep the beer in the primary before kegging/bottling?  The full 14 days?  8 days?  10 days?  I'm not really sure. 

2-4 weeks is what I do.
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Offline maxieboy

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Re: Purpose of secondary fermentation beyond clarifying?
« Reply #19 on: April 10, 2011, 10:13:18 AM »
Verify your FG by the same 2 or 3 readings on successive days and comparing to the expected value. If equal and approx. the expected value, proceed to bottling or kegging.
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Offline denny

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Re: Purpose of secondary fermentation beyond clarifying?
« Reply #20 on: April 10, 2011, 10:21:41 AM »
Verify your FG by the same 2 or 3 readings on successive days and comparing to the expected value. If equal and approx. the expected value, proceed to bottling or kegging.

I've found that just because I get consistent gravity readings doesn't necessarily mean that the beer is ready for packaging.  Often there's stuff the yeast needs to clean up or it needs more time to drop clear.
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Offline denny

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Re: Purpose of secondary fermentation beyond clarifying?
« Reply #21 on: April 10, 2011, 10:23:57 AM »
Hey Major......Interesting approach. However, I'm thinking that you're going to have to leave a lot behind in the primary unless you tip it significantly. In which case it will stir up the sediment quite a bit. However, by the time you've drunk up the top part (wow, that's one looong pull), you probably won't be disturbed by a little sediment in your beer. In fact, you're likely to be so trashed out that you wouldn't even notice.


He uses conicals, Mark, so all he has to do is lay down and open the valve...:)
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Offline Beer Monger

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Re: Purpose of secondary fermentation beyond clarifying?
« Reply #22 on: April 10, 2011, 10:25:52 AM »
If I'm going to ditch using a secondary - how long should I keep the beer in the primary before kegging/bottling?  The full 14 days?  8 days?  10 days?  I'm not really sure. 

2-4 weeks is what I do.

Wow.  4 Weeks seems long - is that for certain styles?  I'll try 2 weeks.  That will mirror the time scale I'd been using when doing a primary & a secondary. 

Are you keeping the fermenters at fermentation temp for those whole 2-4 weeks, or do you drop the temp a bit before bottling/kegging? 
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Offline tumarkin

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Re: Purpose of secondary fermentation beyond clarifying?
« Reply #23 on: April 10, 2011, 10:32:37 AM »
Hey Major......Interesting approach. However, I'm thinking that you're going to have to leave a lot behind in the primary unless you tip it significantly. In which case it will stir up the sediment quite a bit. However, by the time you've drunk up the top part (wow, that's one looong pull), you probably won't be disturbed by a little sediment in your beer. In fact, you're likely to be so trashed out that you wouldn't even notice.


He uses conicals, Mark, so all he has to do is lay down and open the valve...:)

Ahhh, thanks for pointing that out. Now that's a telling argument for the expense of a conical. May just have to go there.
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Offline maxieboy

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Re: Purpose of secondary fermentation beyond clarifying?
« Reply #24 on: April 10, 2011, 10:45:34 AM »
Verify your FG by the same 2 or 3 readings on successive days and comparing to the expected value. If equal and approx. the expected value, proceed to bottling or kegging.

I've found that just because I get consistent gravity readings doesn't necessarily mean that the beer is ready for packaging.  Often there's stuff the yeast needs to clean up or it needs more time to drop clear.

Agreed. The clearing part speaks for itself(easy in carboys, how about buckets?). How do you determine if the yeast need to clean up? Aroma, taste, both?
« Last Edit: April 10, 2011, 10:48:43 AM by maxieboy »
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Offline denny

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Re: Purpose of secondary fermentation beyond clarifying?
« Reply #25 on: April 10, 2011, 11:33:52 AM »
If I'm going to ditch using a secondary - how long should I keep the beer in the primary before kegging/bottling?  The full 14 days?  8 days?  10 days?  I'm not really sure. 

2-4 weeks is what I do.

Wow.  4 Weeks seems long - is that for certain styles?  I'll try 2 weeks.  That will mirror the time scale I'd been using when doing a primary & a secondary. 

Are you keeping the fermenters at fermentation temp for those whole 2-4 weeks, or do you drop the temp a bit before bottling/kegging? 

First 1-2 weeks at fermentation temps, then I raise the temp to be sure it's all finished.  IMO, you can never go wrong giving it a little more time.
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Offline denny

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Re: Purpose of secondary fermentation beyond clarifying?
« Reply #26 on: April 10, 2011, 11:35:40 AM »
Agreed. The clearing part speaks for itself(easy in carboys, how about buckets?). How do you determine if the yeast need to clean up? Aroma, taste, both?

I either open the bucket and look or, more typically, put some in a 20 oz. PET bottle with a carbonator cap.  I hit it with 30 psi and put it in the freezer for 30 min. or so.  Then I have a cold, carbed sample to base my decision on.
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Offline bluesman

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Re: Purpose of secondary fermentation beyond clarifying?
« Reply #27 on: April 10, 2011, 12:42:04 PM »
If I'm going to ditch using a secondary - how long should I keep the beer in the primary before kegging/bottling?  The full 14 days?  8 days?  10 days?  I'm not really sure.  

2-4 weeks is what I do.

Wow.  4 Weeks seems long - is that for certain styles?  I'll try 2 weeks.  That will mirror the time scale I'd been using when doing a primary & a secondary.  

Are you keeping the fermenters at fermentation temp for those whole 2-4 weeks, or do you drop the temp a bit before bottling/kegging?  

First 1-2 weeks at fermentation temps, then I raise the temp to be sure it's all finished.  IMO, you can never go wrong giving it a little more time.

Agreed. It's always better to go a little longer than not long enough. When my beer reaches terminal gravity I usually let it sit for another week or so to clean up. It certainly won't hurt to let it sit a little longer on the yeast. Autolysis takes more than four weeks to even start.
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Re: Purpose of secondary fermentation beyond clarifying?
« Reply #28 on: April 10, 2011, 02:25:26 PM »
Hey Major......Interesting approach. However, I'm thinking that you're going to have to leave a lot behind in the primary unless you tip it significantly. In which case it will stir up the sediment quite a bit. However, by the time you've drunk up the top part (wow, that's one looong pull), you probably won't be disturbed by a little sediment in your beer. In fact, you're likely to be so trashed out that you wouldn't even notice.


He uses conicals, Mark, so all he has to do is lay down and open the valve...:)

Don't kick me out of the club just yet! I still ferment in carboys and better bottles quite frequently.  ;)
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Offline chumley

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Re: Purpose of secondary fermentation beyond clarifying?
« Reply #29 on: April 10, 2011, 02:50:18 PM »
I probably seconday about 50% of the time.  I find that it drops a lot more yeast out of suspension, that would otherwise drop in the keg.

Yeah, if you never move your kegs until they're drained, you don't need to secondary.  But I only have one fridge for kegs, and it only holds 3, so I am rotating kegs in and out of the fridge all the time. And if you secondary before kegging, you don't have as much yeast to stir up when you move the keg.

A lot of times I secondary in a keg, then jumper cable the beer into a clean keg to get it off the flocculated yeast.  That seems to work best.