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Can all brews be improved by secondary fermentation?

I have been looking forward to brewing NB speckled heiffer which I’m hoping will taste a lot like New Glarus Spotted Cow. It is now fermenting for two weeks. Can I improve it by secondary fermenting for another week or two while we finish the British Bitters that is currently in the keg.?

No. Now someone else will post “yes”. :wink:

Best bet is to try it yourself and decide if you think racking to a secondary is worth the time and effort.

[quote=“Shadetree”]No. Now someone else will post “yes”. :wink:

Best bet is to try it yourself and decide if you think racking to a secondary is worth the time and effort.[/quote]

I agree. In most cases secondary “fermentation” will not necessarily improve a beer. I tend to leave beers in primary 3-4 weeks, then keg or bottle.

I agree with the others. Leaving the beer in the keg for a couple weeks under pressure and cold seems to really make a huge difference, though.

I’ve never understood the supposed need for ales, especially if you’re bottle conditioining. When you bottle condition you are growing more yeast so what does it matter if theres 1/16" of sediment or 1/8"? Either way you have to pour carefully. Plus once bottle conditioned you still have to wait for it to settle out, so why let it settle out and then do it again?

The one positive aspect is moving the beer from a container that might not be airtight, to one with little head space and air tight. But ales are usually done before they are going to get oxidized and if you don’t just let it sit there still for two weeks before bottling, thres no reason not to bottle. Bottles can be your secondary.

1+ No need to rack to a second fermentor. I stopped that years ago with no ill affects. From what I have gathered this was a common and possibly necessary practice when most folks used dry yeast that was stuck to the top of a “kit & kilo package.” That yeast was generally mostly dead before it hit the wort, so you had to rack it off the fermenting beer, into a “secondary” to keep from getting off flavors. With modern fresh yeast, either dry or liquid, this method is now very obsolete.

Another way to look at it…professional brewers who make ales, like brew pubs and craft brewers almost never use a secondary vessel unless they are dry hopping or adding some other fruit type flavoring.

+1 to what the others have said. I very, very rarely use a secondary fermenter. Primary for 3 weeks and then to keg or bottles. Only use secondary for beers that need long ferments, unique additions, etc. I think I have brewed around 30 batches this year so far and I have used a secondary one time - for a barleywine that sat for 6 months.

Primary 2-3 weeks then keg no secondary.

I am going to say yes, maybe.

I brewed a 10 gallon batch of a slightly modified version of Speckled Heifer about 6 weeks ago. Everything went fine, but since it was low gravity, I decided to take 5 gallons and go straight to keg after just over two weeks. It makes no sense but after over 3 weeks in the kegerator, it still pours cloudy.

The other 5 gallons, I let secondary for 2-3 weeks before kegging. Beer was crystal clear going into the keg.

I am sure that some will say that If I waited 4-5 weeks in primary before going to the keg, it would have been crystal clear, but this was the first batch that I did not secondary in about 75 batches.

This is all great information and I think it has been mentioned or at least eluded to for awhile now (I’m still pretty new to brewing/this forum) but it is interesting that so many of the NB extract kits recommend a secondary. It sounds like a lot of that isn’t really necessary? Too bad I have 2 x 5 gal glass carboys now…

Two buckets would have been cheaper and allowed the same throughput as far as ales are concerned.

I’ve only used secondary twice; one is in secondary now.
The other was a NB extract/specialty grain (The Surly Cynic).
Since it was a more expensive kit, I followed the instructions to secondary.
It was a beautiful and clear beer.
I decided to secondary an all-grain wheat ale this week, because it had gone through a very
volatile fermentation requiring a blow-off tube, probably due to being fermented with a yeast cake from a previous batch.
I figure this will really let it clean itself up. We’ll see in 2 weeks.

In older brewing books, a 2nd was a step towards better brewing. Liquid yeast, full-wort boil, specialty grains, etc. were for the " intermediate" brewer. I stopped doing a regular 2nd about 6 years ago, but can’t tell a difference. My beer is better now, because of temp control, proper pitching, Star San, on and on.
Those 5 gal carboys are great for smaller strong or experimental beers. :cheers:

[/quote]Those 5 gal carboys are great for smaller strong or expenimental beers. :cheers: [/quote]

I feel the same. i tried my best to do proper research before buying anything and i kinda feel scammed by the whole secondary thing… I did read alot of pros to doing secondary but maybe from too many places that were selling beer kits,

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