I’m on my third attempt at extract brewing. I have a Mini Big-Mouth Bubbler as my primary fermentor because it will be easier to clean than a carboy. My extract kit recipes typically only have about 3 weeks or so in the fermentor. I was considering transferring to a secondary carboy after primary ferment, but I’m wondering if its worth the extra exposure to oxygen. If I leave it in the primary, I’m solid. But even if I siphon very carefully into the secondary, I’ll be exposing it to oxygen during the transfer and adding a whole new head space of O2.
For 3-4 week fermentations, is it worth transferring to secondary, or should I just stick with a primary? I’ve heard 3-4 weeks isn’t really long enough to develop off flavors from sitting atop the trub/cake.
And a related question: what duration of fermentation do you feel it becomes important to utilize a secondary?
The main issue with oxidation from transferring to a secondary is splashing your beer and mixing the oxygen into it. As long as you rack carefully, it really isn’t a problem. That said, there’s no need to transfer to a secondary. Some folks leave beer on the yeast cake for a couple of months or more with no ill effects. I still secondary a few of my beers, but it’s mainly for two things: One, I like to get it off the yeast cake so I can harvest the yeast and two, getting it off the yeast cake to cold crash just seems to help the clarity a little bit (but maybe it’s just me).
I honestly think you would have to do a tremendous amount of splashing your beer around when transferring it to notice any O2 problems. That said, I agree just be careful and “quietly” transfer.
Some reasons you might want to do a secondary. You need the fermenter back for the next batch. Want to harvest the yeast or rack the next beer on top of the yeast cake. You are adding fruit or dry hopping. You can dry hop in the primary, I do not. It is a big beer like a Barley wine that might sit for months.
I’m old school and used to rack every beer to secondary. Now I almost never do. You can teach an old dog new tricks
Yes, this is exactly what I was thinking. I have a (Mini) Big Mouth Bubbler, two glass carboys and several 1-gallon kits ready to brew. So I was thinking I could do an assembly line in which I do all the primary fermenting in the Big Mouth (because it will be much easier to clean all of the krausen from the initial vigorous fermenting). Then, after primary fermenting has died down, I would transfer to the carboys for secondary ferminting, which frees up the Big Mouth for the next kit.
I’m currently doing an IPA kit, so I need to open the primary anyway after 2 weeks to dry hop. Since at that point, I will lose the CO2 “cushion” in the jar’s head space, I may as well go ahead and siphon to a secondary at that point.
I’m not too worried about agitation or splashing. I’ll be careful. My main concern was basically losing the CO2 cushion once I open the primary fermenter and introducing a new O2 layer into the headspace of the secondary.
THis is kind of interesting. Something happened to me recently that makes me wonder. A week ago I kegged my nut brown ale. When I keg, I transfer to the keg and then purge the headspace a few times with the CO2. Then I do the shake method for a minute just to get things going. Anyway, this time for some reason, I forgot to purge. And I began shaking. I recognized the error quickly but I have to assume I incorporated at least as much in my second or 2 of shaking as would be incorporated in the splashing during transfer. I tasted the beer yesterday and it was very good. If I have oxidation, when would I expect to experience the impact of it? And what would that impact be?
It is not necessary and I would argue it’s not even useful to rack to another vessel before packaging, unless you are dry hopping. Some people think it makes beer clear faster, but I don’t buy it based on my experience. Check out the experiment that was done by the Chris Colby and the Basic Brewing radio guys. Bottom line: beer racked to the carboy seemed to clear faster than the unracked beer, but there was no difference after bottling.
Oxidation is an issue that affects shelf-stability, so the effects would not appear after only a week. I’m not sure how long it takes, because I’ve never experienced the problem. I assume you’re keeping the keg in cold storage for dispensing, which would prolong the time it takes for effect to appear. I expect that whatever O2 was introduced in that short time will have minimal effect–especially if you keep it cold and finish it off in a couple months.
I like to use secondaries because it frees up a couple huge yeast cakes and I don’t need to clean out the primaries; just transfer and put the new batch in the primaries. Of course, this only applies once per occasion and then it is time to retire the yeast and clean the primary.
I’ve done it both ways. Without secondary I noticed quite a bit of crap in the bottom of my kegs. Lately I have been racking to secondary but I purge the carboy with CO2 prior to racking. I then cold crash right away for about 3 days at around 34deg. I am amazed at how much crap drops out in those three days. I purge my kegs with cO2 before racking from secondary. This process has been giving me really clear beer and I feel I am keeping as much oxygen out as possible.
Those yeast cakes in primary have a lot of trapped CO2 inside of them. If left in primary, the CO2 escapes for a long time in medium to large bubbles, bringing with it a geyser of yeast back into the otherwise clear beer. Racking it to secondary gets it off the yeast cake and allows the yeast to settle out without anything else churning it back into suspension.
True, but I’d still argue that going through the intermediate step of secondary will result in less gunk in your bottle or keg.
At the end of the day, though, it’s all personal preference. You won’t hurt my feelings by skipping a secondary! :mrgreen: I have a gose fermenting right now that I’m going to keep in primary the entire time, but that’s partially because I want to keep the lacto contained to the one fermenter.
[quote=“porkchop”]True, but I’d still argue that going through the intermediate step of secondary will result in less gunk in your bottle or keg.
At the end of the day, though, it’s all personal preference. You won’t hurt my feelings by skipping a secondary! :mrgreen: I have a gose fermenting right now that I’m going to keep in primary the entire time, but that’s partially because I want to keep the lacto contained to the one fermenter.[/quote]
This is the one thing about a secondary (call it a bright tank or whatever) that’s unarguable in my experience. I have definitely noticed less goo in my kegs whenever I’ve done a secondary, which has to equate to faster clearing.
Exactly. Secondary is not necessary in almost all cases, and does open you up to a (very) slight risk of oxidation and infection. Both of these can be entirely avoided with basic technique, and if you have a reason to use a secondary vessel, by all means do so. If you don’t have a good reason, then leave it in primary. :cheers:
Exactly. Secondary is not necessary in almost all cases, and does open you up to a (very) slight risk of oxidation and infection. Both of these can be entirely avoided with basic technique, and if you have a reason to use a secondary vessel, by all means do so. If you don’t have a good reason, then leave it in primary. :cheers: [/quote]
Not exactly, but very close. Your beer will clear just the same either way. The difference is between a tiny amount of yeast sediment in the bottom of your keg or bottle vs. a slighly smaller amount. No difference in the overall quality of the beer.
If you wish to reduce the amount of sediment without using a secondary, the other things you can do are use a more flocculant yeast or cold crash in the primary (or both).
No matter what we say, I suggest trying both methods for yourself and draw your own conclusion.