Author Topic: Too long in Secondary Fermenter???????  (Read 5952 times)

Offline cycleak

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Too long in Secondary Fermenter???????
« on: October 28, 2011, 08:52:05 PM »
Aloha fellow Beer Enthusiasts!!!  I brewed a Belgian Ale about two weeks ago and after 5 days transferred to a Secondary Fermenter.  I was going to bottle the Belgain after 5 days but was unable to because of my work schedule.  My Belgian has now been in the Secondary for about 11 days.  I've never left one of my beers in Secondary for that long before and I'm a little worried if it's OK to bottle.  I was planning on bottling tomorrow (Saturday) but was wondering if anyone had any experience or prior brews that sat that long in Secondary????  Many Mahalos!!!!!!!

Offline wiley

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Re: Too long in Secondary Fermenter???????
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2011, 10:31:23 PM »
I don't see any reason for concern with the timing you've mentioned regarding yeast autolysis (which I think is what you're referring to). I've noticed some off flavors from autolysis after leaving the batch in primary for 3+ weeks, but that was a batch that got neglected and left on the cake for the entire duration at ambient temps. I've brewed Corsendonk and Chimay clones that aren't ready for bottling for 3+ months in secondary. As a rule of thumb, I typically go 7 days in primary and 14 days in secondary when maintaining ambient temperatures in the 65-70 F range -- less when I've got my glycol flowing because I can crash cool and drop suspended yeast pretty quickly. If anything, I would worry more about a completed fermentation with your timing rather than autolysis. Make sure to check your gravities or you might wind up with gushers / bottle bombs!

For more on autolysis, check out John Palmer's online book, "How to Brew". Here's one of his summary thoughts on autolysis:

"As a final note on this subject, I should mention that by brewing with healthy yeast in a well-prepared wort, many experienced brewers, myself included, have been able to leave a beer in the primary fermenter for several months without any evidence of autolysis. Autolysis is not inevitable, but it is lurking."

RDWHAHB

Offline realbeerguy

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Re: Too long in Secondary Fermenter???????
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2011, 10:40:38 PM »
Not a problem
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Too long in Secondary Fermenter???????
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2011, 12:05:10 AM »
11 days is "that long"?  :)  I've left beer for much longer without issues.  It will be fine from an autolysis perspective, the much bigger concern is under attenuation from only a 5 day primary.  Personally, I would have left it on the yeast for the full 2 weeks (or more), and then crash cooled and packaged it.

But if your system has been working for you, that's cool.  Don't worry about 11 days in secondary.

Tom Schmidlin

Offline mabrungard

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Re: Too long in Secondary Fermenter???????
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2011, 05:01:49 AM »
Let's use this opportunity to further reinforce that beer transfer to a secondary vessel is not required or desirable.  The purpose of a secondary vessel is primarily clarification for most brewers.  It is not a second fermentation unless another fermentable is added to the beer.  If the beer temperature is properly low, then there is little chance of damage from an extended stay in the primary fermenter.
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Offline tubercle

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Re: Too long in Secondary Fermenter???????
« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2011, 05:36:26 AM »
Let's use this opportunity to further reinforce that beer transfer to a secondary vessel is not required or desirable.  The purpose of a secondary vessel is primarily clarification for most brewers.  It is not a second fermentation unless another fermentable is added to the beer.  If the beer temperature is properly low, then there is little chance of damage from an extended stay in the primary fermenter.


  I have been saying that very same thing since I have been on this form!!!


 I just hope everyone doesn't rip you a new one like they do me every time ::)
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Offline majorvices

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Re: Too long in Secondary Fermenter???????
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2011, 05:48:48 AM »
The thing that concerns me is not the eleven days in the secondary, its that you transferred only after 5 days from the primary. Are you sure the fermentation was even finsihed? Racking early is a great way to stall out a fermentation prematurely and cause a higher than desired final gravity. You should leave the beer in the primary fermenter until the beer is completely finished an then give it a day or two to let the yeast clean up some of there byproducts. You will have cleaner, better tasting beer that way.

In fact, you may find you beer is better if you skip secondary all together and just leave the beer in the primary fermenter for 10-14 days, then bottle or keg. Like these guys above are saying, secondary fermenters are not often needed.
Keith Y.

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Offline Mark G

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Re: Too long in Secondary Fermenter???????
« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2011, 05:49:15 AM »
Definitely a RDWHAHB... Like Tom and Keith said, I'd be more worried about the beer being finished with the short time in the primary, especially since we're most likely talking about a Belgian yeast strain. And to echo others here and on the forum, I don't know that a transfer to secondary was necessary. Make sure your gravity is stable before packaging.
Mark Gres

Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Too long in Secondary Fermenter???????
« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2011, 06:44:35 AM »
Almost always a month in the primary, rarely a secondary (unless I need some slurry from a primary to pitch).  Just how I roll. ;)
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Offline cycleak

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Re: Too long in Secondary Fermenter???????
« Reply #9 on: October 29, 2011, 04:07:33 PM »
Thanks to everyone who replied!  I've made this recipe before the first part of the year and 5 days in the primary and 6 days in the secondary got me a Gold Medal at a beer competition.  So I decided to brew it again and stick to the same procedure.  However, life got in the way.  I'll take all your comments  and do the next batch solely in primary and then bottle and see how it goes.  Thanks again!!!! Hope everyone has a great weekend!  Happy Brewing!!

Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Too long in Secondary Fermenter???????
« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2011, 09:41:03 AM »
FWIW, Drew Beechum has an article in this month's Zymurgy magazine about express brewing - usually light ales that can finish quickly and are great when consumed early.  So, it certainly can be done.  I just let the beer take its time and ferment a little on the cooler side, so speed is not part of my program.

Cheers to a winning with a quickie, though!
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Offline davidgzach

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Re: Too long in Secondary Fermenter???????
« Reply #11 on: October 31, 2011, 01:35:51 PM »
Thanks to everyone who replied!  I've made this recipe before the first part of the year and 5 days in the primary and 6 days in the secondary got me a Gold Medal at a beer competition.  So I decided to brew it again and stick to the same procedure.  However, life got in the way.  I'll take all your comments  and do the next batch solely in primary and then bottle and see how it goes.  Thanks again!!!! Hope everyone has a great weekend!  Happy Brewing!!

I just had this debate on another forum.  Question for you.  Did you make a starter or pitch slurry?  If packets or vials, how many did you use or just one?
Dave Zach

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Too long in Secondary Fermenter???????
« Reply #12 on: November 01, 2011, 07:53:15 AM »
In the past month I have made two really quick batches and they both turned out quite good.

Both were more or less english milds or ordinary bitters and both were done grain to glass in 7-8 days. I only pitched one smackpak into each
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Re: Too long in Secondary Fermenter???????
« Reply #13 on: November 01, 2011, 08:01:18 AM »
I don't think I've ever bottled a beer in 16 days. I rarely get to it in 3 weeks now.
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Offline FRACKER

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Re: Too long in Secondary Fermenter???????
« Reply #14 on: November 08, 2011, 02:00:52 PM »
Agreed. I usually do 7 day primary and 14 day secondary. I've left them in secondary for as long as a month and never had a problem. As long as your brewing methods are nice and sanitary, you don't have anything to worry about.