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First-time brewer...Secondary Fermenter?

Hi, all. First-time brewer here.

I got a 5 gallon BIAB kit with the Amber Ale recipe. I got it boiled and in the fermenter on Sunday (1/7) afternoon. I had pretty significant (to me, anyways) bubbles out of the airlock on Monday (1/8) until Wednesday (1/9) morning. Since then, I’ve seen little or no bubbling, which from what I’ve read on here and in the instructions, can be expected.

My question is this: If I wanted to do a secondary fermenter, when would I do it, and why? I’ve seen some mixed comments on here about the benefits (mainly surrounding clearing the settled yeast and grains) and necessity (not unanimous, it seems) of doing it in the first place.

If I were to do it, when would I do it? Would I wait until I would otherwise be ready to bottle? And if so, how long should I leave it in the secondary? I’m assuming that if I were to do it, I’d be able to do it in the plastic pail that is usually used for bottling.

I know that’s a lot of questions…just looking for some input from more experienced (hard to be less experienced than I am!) home brewers. Thanks in advance.

Right now you’d want to keep it in the primary fermenter. If it isn’t, it should be in the 68-70 degree area now… It can sit just like that for a couple of weeks/month. Keep it away from light. Don’t agitate it. If you are planning to bottle, then in 2 weeks, perhaps up to 1 month, I’d put it into a fridge at 32* for a couple of days… It’ll clear up very nice, if you don’t agitate it… Gather your bottles and priming sugar, sanitize every thing thats coming in contact with your brand new brew. Now remove from the fridge, rack it into your bottling buck, very quietly add your priming sugar, gently, no splashing, stir it… Bottle a few, cap, gently stir again, and repeat until its done… Now put them bottles in a closet at 70+ degrees, in 2 weeks pull a couple out, chill at see where your at…
My advice, no transferring to a secondary… YOU WILL OXIDIZE YOUR BREW! :sunglasses: Sneezles61

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Great advice from Sneezles… I have only been brewing a year now, and in the beginning I did a secondary (just following the brew instructions that came with the kit). Then I got on this forum and just read and read and asked and asked…so now I never bother with a secondary and the beer has been great. And for sure doing that “cold crash” for a couple of days after the fermenting has finished (meaning after the gravity has dropped as far as it will go) the beer gets really clear/ clean. I tend to leave mine in the primary for 2 weeks, sometimes 3 if I am in no hurry and its a higher gravity beer. for me i usually see that it is done in the two weeks.

My advice is no secondary without a reason. Clearing is no a good reason cold crashing works just as well. Now if yo adding more fermentables like fruit or honey I’ll do it after about 5 days while it’s still a little fermentation going on this way it will keep fermenting with no lag and scrub any oxygen that may have gotten in. I’m more afraid of oxidation when fermentation is over. I also add my dry hops before fermentation ends. Alot of people may disagree but it’s worked for me so far

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I’m the dissenting voice around here on secondary (which is really a bright vessel unless you’re adding fermentables). I believe all but wits and wheats benefits from secondary. When I first started doing 10gal batches I had to use 2 carboys. A couple times I left one in primary and secondaried the other. The one in secondary cleared better and quicker. Plus, it allowed me to leave all that yeast and trub behind, rather than packaging it.

Many say it will oxidize your beer. I believe it doesn’t as I’ve never experienced that, nor have I had others mention it. Unless you rack haphazardly your at very very low risk. In addition, the dissolved CO2 will leave the beer and off gas preventing O2 uptake, unless of course you rack haphazardly.

You’ll need a second vessel other than your bottling bucket. You’ll add priming sugar to your bottling bucket and need to gently stir which means you’ll stir that all back into suspension.

You should rack to secondary when fermentation is over, or better yet, about 2 points above your target OG. This will allow the beer to push out a little more CO2 to purge any remaining headspace.

My advice is to try both ways and see what works for you.

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As a first time brewer, I would advise against the extra steps, until, the brewer becomes comfortable the how and why of racking/secondary fermenting procedures… Keeping it simple to start is very good… Even now I get confused :confused: Sneezles61

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Me do use secondary most the time. To clear things out. Or when i dryhop the beer. Me got used to this system. And and as well you can keep on brewing with your primary fermentors. Like my speidel fermentors. On the oxygen part. During transfer. Me never had any issues. But on this forum. Lots of. Usefull info. On how to improve your home brews. So on the end its how you gonna use this info your self

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Thanks for the info! I hadn’t considered this before reading your post, but I could put it in my kegerator (upright fridge that fits 1/6th barrels) for a couple of days for the “cold crash” you suggest.

So, my procedure from here that you suggest would be

  • Wait until fermentation is done (likely 2-3 weeks)

  • Place fermenter into fridge for a couple of days

  • Rack into bottler, and bottle beer

  • Let carbonation do its’ thing for a couple weeks

  • Put bottles back into fridge

  • Drink (hopefully) delicious beer

Seems simple enough.

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The keggorater is not cold enough need to cold crash much colder 32 is about right. The clearest beer I ever made I accidentally froze that beer turned out great

You know it’s interesting. I do secondaries (read LAGERING) on all my Altbiers and Lagers but tend not to with my regular ales unless I’m adding fruit. Granted I am careful with my racking but I’m not obsessive, and I have not noticed oxygenation with Alts and Lagers. Neither have any judges when I’ve entered them to competitions. And before someone points it out, I do tend to lager after I’ve reached FG, and leave it in a carboy in a frozen water bath in my garage for anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months. I’m not saying that oxygenation post fermentation is a myth, but if you’re careful, I think it is minimized.
So, longwinded as most of my posts tend to get, but if you want to ‘cold condition’ in a secondary vessel, go ahead. See what you think. Judge for yourself.

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I’m not worried about oxidation I just have other stuff to do. That said I keg so technically I secondary all my beer. I even use kegs as secondaries for beers I bottle. Put the fruit in the keg rack beer put in an airlock then rack for bottleing wouldn’t never bother with glass. Besides all my glass carboys are full of wine.

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I’m going to rack a citra/galaxy pale ale I brewed last weekend to secondary this Sunday because I’m planning a VERY high gravity stock ale and am going to dump it on the yeast cake. I think it has its place, and agree that it tends to clear a bit more quickly if you leave the yeast cake behind and rack it to a new vessel. If I’m dry hopping something, I’ll add the hops to the carboy and rack the beer on top of them. The hop particles create lots of nucleation sites that knock a bunch of CO2 out of suspension, and nicely purges the carboy of oxygen while you’re filling it. Or if I’m going to store something for awhile, it’s not a bad idea to rack it to an appropriate size carboy to minimize the headspace.

Like everything else, it has its time and place.

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