Fermenting in the 2ndry Fermenter

The directions on my beer say to keep in the primary 10-14 days. I moved it to the 2ndry after 10, planning to let it clarify for another week or so. The temp in my basement has been a few degrees lower than optimal during most of the 10 days of fermentation, so I’m worried I moved it too soon. Will the extra time in the 2ndry have the same effect as leaving for another few days in the primary?

yes… and no.

Racking off the yeast cake limits the amount of yeast able to do the job. There are other things the yeast do besides eat sugar and make alcohol. They produce some bad byproducts. Which later they go back and “clean up”.

1st, it’s best to let the beer tell you when to transfer. The beer will talk to you by way of the hydrometer. 2-3 test of the SG that are the same and the yeast have finished fermenting. Another week and they should have finished their “clean up”.

Then if you want to transfer to an aging vessel it should be fine. Or leave it in the fermenter for 3-4 weeks. Then bottle.

Sense you have transferred it, not much you can do but let it sit. 14-21 days would be fine. If you don’t have a hydrometer, pick one up. Take a reading and then another in 3-4 days.

What do you mean by lower than optimal temps? Many people (myself included) skip a 2nd and leave it in the primary for 3-4 wks.
Did you take a gravity reading when you racked?

The suggested temp range for the yeast was 68-72, but for a few days, it set between 63-65.
As for a hydrometer, I usually take a reading, but mine is shattered… But I did taste the beer, and it had no sugary taste to it.

[quote=“BamaDan528”]The suggested temp range for the yeast was 68-72, but for a few days, it set between 63-65.
As for a hydrometer, I usually take a reading, but mine is shattered… But I did taste the beer, and it had no sugary taste to it.[/quote]

I’m going to have to change my plan for fermentation rooms… the cozy spot under my stairs has an ambient temperature of 53 now… the porter I have in there kept steady, slow bubbling for two straight weeks. I’m trying to skip the secondary on that one to give the yeast a chance to do their thing slowly…

[quote=“BamaDan528”]The temp in my basement has been a few degrees lower than optimal…it set between 63-65[/quote]That’s actually optimal, maybe a little high in fact, your beer is going to be 3°-5° or higher than the ambient temperature during active fermentation. I ferment my ales at 60° ambient.

That’s about what the temperature is right now in the closet I use for fermenting. I’ve had good luck with just bundling the fermenters up. A nice cozy sleeping bag or something like that is usually enough for the beer to warm itself up into the right range. If not, I give it a little help by stealing my wife’s electric heating pad.

Good information! Now, I’m not worried about my timing so much. It was evidently done with active fermentation, as there was almost no positive pressure on the airlock.

Thanks much for the feedback, and merry Christmas!

for future batches, judging by airlock activity is a bad habit. hydrometer readings over a few days will let you know when to move to a secondary.

most beers don’t NEED a secondary. A lot of us on the forum - leave our beers in the primary for an extended period instead. Also the secondary is meant (for the most part) for conditioning rather than fermenting so you want to be sure fermentation is complete before you move it

Hydrometers are a PITA because they are so fragile. There are some good refractometers on ebay for ~$30.

You do need to use a calculator (many online ones) to adjust for the skewed reading when alcohol is present.

IMHO, racking to a “secondary” vessel should only be done by brewers who fully understand the fermentation process. I can’t for the life of me understand why kit instructions call for “secondary” fermentation as a general rule. It does nothing but confuse new brewers and introduce opportunity for mistakes. The more I’ve learned the less I’ve used a secondary vessel. That said, when I use one it’s for a specific reason, never blindly following some one page instruction sheet that came with a kit…

Further more, there are only two times you should “rack” to a secondary. They are:

-1: Immediately after high kruesen has fallen

-2: after fermentation is complete

Option 1 transferrs the still actively fermenting wort off of the trub and the weakest yeast cells and doesn’t interfere with the rest of the fermentation.

Option 2 allows for extended aging off of the trub and dormant yeast, preventing potential off flavors. Bear in mind these off flavors from decaying yeast are extremely rare in time frames less than 2 months.

Most home brewers transfer some time between option 1 and 2 and actually do more harm than good. Not only do they interfere with a perfectly good fermentation they introduce an opportunity for infection or oxydation. Not to mention wasted time and effort that detracts from their beer quality more often than it improves it. Again, I ask the question why “secondary” is in so many kit brewing instructions? Maybe they just want you buying more carboys, syphons and tubing. I say that’s short sighted. They should want you to make the best beer possible so you’ll be a reapeat customer!!!

You beat me to the answer. :shock:

Nice, thanks! It gets frustrating reading about new brewers being provided with antiquated information, especially when the better technique is also simpler and easier!
-Attention new brewers: Ferment your ales to completion in one vessel!!