My last batch of American wheat fermented in a little over a week and I gave it another week-10 days (roughly a week and a half total) uninterrupted in the primary. I have a fear of doing a transfer to a secondary because of it being another place to gain an infection. My question is why would you rack off of the primary into a secondary, and also is my method exceptable? anyone else do it my way? I guess if anyone has any insight or science reguarding the “why you do X” it would help me out a lot.
I think most people don’t do secondaries anymore. I don’t. I just leave it in the primary for 2 weeks then keg it. Some will do it 3 or 4 weeks.
My understanding is that a secondary is only meant to help clear and condition the beer. I will usually leave the beer on the yeast for two weeks and then cold crash it to help it clear faster. Then I transfer to a keg which really just doubles as a secondary/serving container. Depending on the type of beer I can then lager, age, or serve.
Short answer is that you don’t need to transfer to secondary.
I continue to do so because I like having beer in the keg that has already acquired most of the age I want on the brew, and which then goes into the keg clear-bright and stays that way from from the very first pour to the very last sad sputter of foam.
Essential? Absolutely not.
Effective? In my own experience, yes, definitely. If done carefully and properly the risk of infection or oxidation is not even an issue.
Try it both ways and decide what best suits your setup and your personal tastes. That’s what I did, and that’s why I went back to doing a secondary after a few months of brews where I skipped it.
Your assessment may differ. Do what works best for you.
The main reason for a secondary, as I understand it, is to remove the dead yeast from the beer before it begins to decay (autolysis) and impart off flavors. I just heard an old show on the brewing network where Jamil Z said that he thought that the “secondary” idea that was initially put forth by Charlie Papazian because, back then, most people were using dry yeast and not rehydrating it before pitching. JZ’s impression was that this caused immediate death of about 50% of the yeast mass and you didn’t want all that dead yeast in your beer while the beer was conditioning after fermentation. Now that most people are using liquid yeast and/or starters you aren’t adding dead yeast to your beer. The healthy live yeast shouldn’t autolyze for at least several weeks after they are dormant. So for most beers that you are going to bottle/keg within a few weeks of brewing, a secondary is not necessary. As a matter of fact, it is now generally accepted that you should leave your beer on the yeast cake for a while after active fermentation has finished to clean up the undesirable by fermentation by products like diacetyl and acidaldehyde. I usually leave my beers on the yeast cake for 10 -14 days after the air lock has stopped bubbling. By then all most all of the yeast has dropped and is ready to keg/bottle without further cold conditioning or filtering.
If I have a big barleywine or a mead then I will transfer to another vessel after 3-4 weeks for bulk storage/condtioning which I guess you could call a “secondary.” Anymore that is the only time I do it. For me its just extra work for no additional benefit.
When you say cold “COLD CRASH” after 10-14 days are you putting your primary bucket in ice or some sort of refrigerator. and does this help to clear the beer? thanks
Yes, putting it in a frig or ice bath and yes, it helps to clear the beer by making things drop out due to the lower temps.
I don’t secondary very often, however I usually leave beer in the primary for 3 to 4 weeks then keg. It’s usually pretty clear when I keg it and it sits in the keg for at least a week, usually longer, before getting tapped.
Since the OP has a wheat beer, I wouldn’t bother, they’re supposed to be somewhat hazy and are good fresh.
When you cold crash, I have heard that you need to do it slowly (read 1 deg per hour) to keep the yeast from freaking out and throwing on a protien jacket which will impart off flavors and create haze in your beer. I read somewhere on the forum that folks will then bring their beer back up to fermentation temps after they cold crash, presumably to reinvigorate the yeast to clean up any remaining diacytal or acidaldyhyde (sp?).