Author Topic: Purpose of secondary fermentation beyond clarifying?  (Read 4873 times)

Offline jivetyrant

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Purpose of secondary fermentation beyond clarifying?
« on: April 08, 2011, 05:02:21 AM »
The title says it all.  Is there any reason besides clarification for racking to secondary?  I've got a Dark Belgian Strong in primary right now and I'm not intent on clarifying the batch.  Would that be in character for this style?  If not, is there any other reason to rack to secondary?  Thanks!

Offline Mark G

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Re: Purpose of secondary fermentation beyond clarifying?
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2011, 05:10:11 AM »
I'm sure you'll get lots of varying opinions on this, but I would say there's no need for a secondary unless you're adding fruit, dry hops, oak chips, etc., or planning on bulk aging for an extended period. Heck, I even dry hop in primary. A beer will clarify just fine in primary if given time and/or cold crashing.
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Offline jeffy

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Re: Purpose of secondary fermentation beyond clarifying?
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2011, 05:14:27 AM »
It depends on how long you're talking here.   Eventually, (months?) the dead yeast will start to autolize and cause funky flavors.  Other than that I think it should be fine.
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Offline jivetyrant

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Re: Purpose of secondary fermentation beyond clarifying?
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2011, 05:39:07 AM »
It depends on how long you're talking here.   Eventually, (months?) the dead yeast will start to autolize and cause funky flavors.  Other than that I think it should be fine.

I was planning on keeping this one in primary for about 2 weeks and feeling it out from there.  I don't plan to keep it in the carboy for more than a month.

Offline Crispy275

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Re: Purpose of secondary fermentation beyond clarifying?
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2011, 05:43:20 AM »
I find myself racking to secondary with virtually all of my brews after two weeks or so, so I am adding some risk to aerating or contaminating my beer. But I am also careful when I do perform these transfers, and to date, I have not run into these sort of issues.

Granted, I will leave a Kolsh or Blonde Ale alone in primary and these can be directly bottled or kegged. But even with my house pale ale or triple, I just find myself compeled to transfer. I suppose part of it is to remove the beer from the trub, cold break and floculated yeasts. Due to the frequency that I brew, I am not always on a "schedule" of when I will be able to bottle or keg at a specific time. I can have 10+ carboys fermenting at any given time.

I find personal satisfaction when I see the beer moved over to the secondary, in a carboy that doesn't have krausen spooge above the beer, or a ton of settlement on the bottom. For several years I have read that this step is not necessary, so am I just following directions that I learned over 15 years ago when I started? Probably. But odd to say, I enjoy doing this, getting the hydrometer reading and tasting to determine how the beer is coming along. If I see any airlock activity I wait to transfer, being careful not to transfer too sone.

Better brewers than I say it is ok to just leave your beer alone and just use one carboy, so if nothing I have said resonates, go for it.
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Offline richardt

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Re: Purpose of secondary fermentation beyond clarifying?
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2011, 05:51:07 AM »
Given your BDS is a strong beer, it is good to let it sit on the yeast for a few weeks and "finish up."  There will still be some yeast in suspension when you bottle and add priming sugar at that time.  The yeast may be "tired and stressed", but they'll still be able to carbonate the bottled beer and further the conditioning process.

If you dry hop IPA's, it may be best to rack your beer to a secondary fermenter and leave most of the yeast cake behind so that the hop oils end up in the finished beer, and not adsorbed onto the yeast and left behind when you bottle or keg the beer.  It also allows you to recover your yeast from the primary fermentor w/o hops comprising part of the slurry (and being carried over into the next batch--which may or may not call for that type of hops in the beer style you make next).

Good questions.

Offline denny

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Re: Purpose of secondary fermentation beyond clarifying?
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2011, 08:30:25 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."
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Offline Beer Monger

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Re: Purpose of secondary fermentation beyond clarifying?
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2011, 08:42:51 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."
Wow.  Surprising.  I guess I need to change my brewing practices a bit.  I've always racked my beers off the yeast after 7-8 days.  I guess I won't do that anymore unless I'm doing a seondary fermentation or dry-hopping (But I do tend to dry hop a lot.  lol).

I would, of course, still have to rack the beer to a bottling bucket if bottling directly from the fermenter (though I usually keg first & counter-pressure bottle). 
« Last Edit: April 08, 2011, 09:07:54 AM by Beer Monger »
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Offline denny

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Re: Purpose of secondary fermentation beyond clarifying?
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2011, 09:50:03 AM »
I would, of course, still have to rack the beer to a bottling bucket if bottling directly from the fermenter (though I usually keg first & counter-pressure bottle). 

Yeah, that's a different situation.
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Offline Beer Monger

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Re: Purpose of secondary fermentation beyond clarifying?
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2011, 09:56:06 AM »
I would, of course, still have to rack the beer to a bottling bucket if bottling directly from the fermenter (though I usually keg first & counter-pressure bottle). 

Yeah, that's a different situation.

Just call me Cpt. Obvious.  lol 
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Offline bluesman

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Re: Purpose of secondary fermentation beyond clarifying?
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2011, 10:03:33 AM »
I have found conical fermenters to "scratch the itch" if you will. They are versatile in this regard because the yeast can be dropped out after primary ferment and then the beer can undergo a secondary ferment with dry hops, fruit, etc.. With the exception of cost there's a real benefit to having them in the home brewery.
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Offline denny

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Re: Purpose of secondary fermentation beyond clarifying?
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2011, 10:17:28 AM »
I would, of course, still have to rack the beer to a bottling bucket if bottling directly from the fermenter (though I usually keg first & counter-pressure bottle).  

Yeah, that's a different situation.

Just call me Cpt. Obvious.  lol  

« Last Edit: April 08, 2011, 10:19:28 AM by denny »
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Purpose of secondary fermentation beyond clarifying?
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2011, 11:27:30 AM »
krausen spooge

Nice.

I tend to transfer most of my beers to secondary (not all) for a lot of the same reasons.

I'll also do it to free up a 6.5 gal carboy so I can have more brews going at once.
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Offline Rhoobarb

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Re: Purpose of secondary fermentation beyond clarifying?
« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2011, 11:49:46 AM »
I used to brite-carboy (secondary is a misnomer) my beers all the time - for ~7 years.  I stopped once I began kegging ~ 6 years ago.  Even when I was still doing a secon - I mean - brite carboy, I was never in a hurry to transfer.
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Re: Purpose of secondary fermentation beyond clarifying?
« Reply #14 on: April 10, 2011, 05:46:02 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.
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