Secondary fermenter or not?

Hello all. I recently brewed my first 5 gallon batch from an extract kit and it turned out OK, but had kind of a cidery/medicinal finish. I was concerned that it might have picked up bacteria from my use of a secondary fermenter. I’ve done other research on whether to use a secondary or not and it seems to be about 75/25 against, unless you’re dry-hopping or adding additional fermentables.

I noticed that many of the Northern kits recommend using a secondary and wanted to get opinions for and against. Thanks.

I think you’ll really have to try it a few times and see for yourself. I personally secondary most beers currently (I only skip a secondary for stouts/porters/etc). I think it gives me better clarity. However, I’m getting a kegging system in play, and will probably start skipping the secondary more often. For me, the benefits of a secondary are:

Clearer beer
Opens up my primary for another batch
Dry hop without adding a bunch of hop residue to my yeast cake (for repitching)

The downsides are:

Contamination risk(mitigated by good sanitation practices)
Potential for oxidation (oxygen in the headspace of your secondary)
More “futzing,” more work, etc
Possibly end up with less packaged beer (by leaving some behind twice instead of once)

It’s mostly personal preference. I prefer it for most of my beers because I feel it gives me a cleaner beer and it opens up my primary to re-use my yeast cake.

I’ve found that if you practice good cleaning and sanitizing processes, it seems to be fairly low risk. Just make sure you don’t splash the beer into the secondary because that will cause oxidization.