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How long to wait after primary fermentation before racking.

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Tim H.

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Post Sun Feb 26, 2012 10:44 pm

How long to wait after primary fermentation before racking.

I brewed an extract kit of Lakefront's Fixed Gear last week using Wyeast 1056, and the primary fermentation seems to be complete - no action in the air lock. The standard primary phase per the recipe is two weeks, with two weeks in a secondary carboy before bottling. Seeing as how the primary fermentation seems to be complete though, I was thinking of racking it early to get it off the trub and prevent autolysis. Is it safe to rack it into the secondary fermenter before the two week primary phase? I have only brewed a few batches so far, but I've already noticed one batch go through a mini secondary fermentation phase in the primary carboy, where fermentation kick-started again after about 10 days. If that is going to happen, and is a good thing, I'd rather leave it. But if not, I kind of want to rack it sooner than later. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
Tim H.
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sharksky

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Post Mon Feb 27, 2012 10:58 am

Re: How long to wait after primary fermentation before racking.

What is the room temperature? Probably best to take a gravity reading before racking. You should probably wait until between 1.010 and 1.014. If I were bottling, then I'd wait 2-3 weeks and then rack for 1-2 weeks or skip secondary all together. But since I keg, 2-3 weeks in primary and straight to secondary aka pressurized keg.

Don't worry about autolysis. 3 weeks is very common for primary.
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Silentknyght

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Post Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:32 pm

Re: How long to wait after primary fermentation before racking.

Tim H. wrote:I brewed an extract kit of Lakefront's Fixed Gear last week ...


I know it's tough, but in my experience, patience is a virtue in this. Most beers benefit from additional time in the primary... at least an additional week, perhaps 2-3 weeks as suggested by others.

While primary fermentation may be over within a few days, and almost certainly within one week, the yeast aren't inactive. They will continue to do their thing, which includes cleaning up some undesired flavor compounds.
Andrew Willing
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brewerbender

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Post Mon Feb 27, 2012 7:36 pm

Re: How long to wait after primary fermentation before racking.

+1. Leave it in the primary for at least another week or two.
brewerbender
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Scottish 60 and 80
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grainbelt

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Post Tue Feb 28, 2012 7:57 pm

Re: How long to wait after primary fermentation before racking.

primary for 2-4 weeks (depending on beer) and then right to bottling or keg. Secondaries are not needed for basic ales
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dmtaylo2

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Post Tue Feb 28, 2012 8:32 pm

Re: How long to wait after primary fermentation before racking.

Here's what you do. If you think fermentation is complete, then check the specific gravity right now today. Then wait 3 days. Then check the gravity again. If the gravity doesn't change at all in 3 days, then it's ready to bottle or keg. If it decreases by a point or two, then wait another couple days and check gravity again. Repeat until the gravity stops changing. Then it's done.

Racking to secondary is not necessary. Skip it and go straight to bottle or keg as soon as you're sure fermentation is done.
Dave

"This is grain, which any fool can eat, but for which the Lord intended a more divine means of consumption. Let us give praise to our Maker, and glory to His bounty, by learning about... BEER!" - Friar Tuck (Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves)
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Tim H.

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Post Tue Feb 28, 2012 10:51 pm

Re: How long to wait after primary fermentation before racking.

I'm hesitant to continually check the gravity since I only have a hydrometer and not a refractometer. Each measurement with a hydrometer uses a significant amount of wort/beer. I will be getting a refractometer at some point, but for now a hydrometer is all I have.

I'm also curious as to why so many sources say to rack to a secondary fermenter, yet so many people suggest skipping this step. If the "experts" suggest doing so, but so many people suggest otherwise, what am I to think of this step? Is it unnecessary, or am I perhaps being lazy for skipping it?
Tim H.
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Foxy74

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Post Wed Feb 29, 2012 3:12 am

Re: How long to wait after primary fermentation before racking.

The way I see it, primary fermentation is exactly that - fermenting the wort until it ferments no more. The time it takes to do this will vary somewhat, but once it's done, it's purpose is fulfilled. I don't know of any taste advantage to leaving it there longer. I would happily leave mine longer if I saw some evidence to suggest it was worthwhile. I 'open ferment' so I tend to pull it out fairly quickly once it's finished fermenting.

Depending on your intent, you can rack to a secondary or bottle/keg from there. If you aren't going to a secondary to add further ingredients, or to clarify your beer, then you might leave it in the primary a little longer to achieve some clarification there. A note on clarification, beer was cloudy before it was clear - to me it's more authentic if it's not clear (just my opinion). Of course there are many arguments for and against, but it boils down to personal choice.

I was bored on Saturday and felt like experimenting. I picked up a can of Coopers Pale (normally I brew AG) and steeped some homemade Crystal and added a tin of Saunders Malt Extract and some hops. It went from 1.047 to 1.016 in under 24 hours, I tracked it until today and not much is happening, so I'll keg it tonight and let it sit for a month or so there. I wouldn't bother putting this in a secondary, but the Porter I intend to brew this weekend I will use a secondary with.

Try it with and without the secondary and see how you go.
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dmtaylo2

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Post Wed Feb 29, 2012 7:00 am

Re: How long to wait after primary fermentation before racking.

The concern of leaving beer in the primary for too long was always yeast autolysis. This is a bigger problem for commercial brewers, where the yeast that settles on the bottom of the fermenter is at relatively high pressures due to the great depth of beer above it. Like when you swim to the bottom of a 10 foot deep swimming pool and your ears can feel the higher pressure. The yeast cells feel the same thing and it doesn't make them happy, so many of them die. But at a homebrew scale where the beer is only a couple feet deep at most, we don't have this problem. My own experience shows that autolysis is a real effect, but not until the beer has been in primary for like 3 months or more. For 3 or 4 or even 5 weeks, your homebrew is going to be just fine in primary. I guarantee it.
Dave

"This is grain, which any fool can eat, but for which the Lord intended a more divine means of consumption. Let us give praise to our Maker, and glory to His bounty, by learning about... BEER!" - Friar Tuck (Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves)
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grainbelt

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Post Wed Feb 29, 2012 8:07 am

Re: How long to wait after primary fermentation before racking.

dmtaylo2 wrote:Here's what you do. If you think fermentation is complete, then check the specific gravity right now today. Then wait 3 days. Then check the gravity again. If the gravity doesn't change at all in 3 days, then it's ready to bottle or keg. If it decreases by a point or two, then wait another couple days and check gravity again. Repeat until the gravity stops changing. Then it's done.

Racking to secondary is not necessary. Skip it and go straight to bottle or keg as soon as you're sure fermentation is done.


I would not want to be checking my beer that often and oxidizing it, 99% of the time if you just wait 3 or 4 weeks, and go to bottling or keg it is done. Yes check your gravity to make sure. But if it is high at 3 or 4 weeks you probably have other issues and it is not going to drop any further
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Tim H.

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Post Wed Feb 29, 2012 8:37 am

Re: How long to wait after primary fermentation before racking.

Thanks for the input guys. The recipe calls for a dry hop in the secondary fermenter 7 days before bottling so I'll for sure need to rack it. I will probably just wait the prescribed two weeks to see how the recipe does at copying the real thing.
Tim H.
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Here's to feelin' good all the time!
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grainbelt

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Post Wed Feb 29, 2012 8:43 am

Re: How long to wait after primary fermentation before racking.

Tim H. wrote:Thanks for the input guys. The recipe calls for a dry hop in the secondary fermenter 7 days before bottling so I'll for sure need to rack it. I will probably just wait the prescribed two weeks to see how the recipe does at copying the real thing.


you can dry hop in the primary to

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