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Basic Brewing Secondary Experiment

The Basic Brewing Radio
guys did an interesting experiment to see if secondary has any affect on beer. Of course, clarity was one of the main attributes they were testing for.

The procedure:

  1. Brewed 5 gallon batches of Belgian ale (WLP500) and pale ale (US05)
  2. After about a week in primary, racked half of each batch into secondary
  3. Bottled

Their findings:

  • Secondary cleared the beer faster (photos)

  • There was no difference in appearance after bottle conditioning

  • In terms of flavor and aroma, the results were split: the unracked Belgian had more pronounced flavor, whereas they could not detect a clear difference in the pale ale

Personally I think the procedure is flawed, because it does not follow standard procedure for conducting a secondary and both samples are exposed to a significant amount of oxygen via the remaining head space after racking. I may be splitting hairs, but to perform the test properly IMHO, you would need to split each batch into two appropriately sized primaries, then rack one full carboy into secondary.

I believe secondary clears faster, but I do not fully trust the falvor and aroma findings.

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