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Leaving in primary for an extra week - is that okay?

Hi All,

I’m a complete noob and I’m on my first ever batch at the moment. It’s the 5-gallon Caribou Slobber extract kit. I must say, so far it’s looking really good! I had an aggressive first 24 hours of fermentation and then it calmed down for a couple days. It smells amazing already, but maybe I’m just excited because it’s my first homebrew. Either way, can’t wait to try it in about 5 more weeks!

Anyway - it’s been in the primary for one week as of yesterday. Seems like active fermentation is completely over. No bubbles in the airlock and looks like the kraeusen has sunk down. My question is this: if active fermentation is over, is it okay if it sits in the primary for another 5 or 6 more days until I can rack to the secondary? I’m always really busy on weeknights, so my plan is to rack to secondary this coming Saturday. Just want to be sure I’m not doing it any harm by leaving it in the primary for the extra week if it’s not actively fermenting.

Thanks

As others on this site will probably tell you, you’re better off just leaving it primary for 3 weeks and skip transferring to a secondary vessel. Unless you plan on dry-hopping or bulk aging for a long time there’s really no benefit and you introduce an opportunity for infection. The less exposure to air the better.

Hmmm… thanks for the advice. I see what you mean, I am definitely adding risk by transferring it. My only motivation for transferring it to secondary is so I can start fermenting another batch. I’m not sure if I’m just eager because I’m new at this or what, but I’m already excited to cook up another wort :slight_smile:

I’ll consider this though. Maybe it’s better if I just take my time and play it safe.

Thanks

That’s another reason I didn’t consider :slight_smile:

I think the “risk” factor is sometimes overblown about racking to a carboy.

I rarely rack to a secondary anymore - mostly because I don’t feel like it and it is not really needed.

My three primary reasons for doing so would be a) if I dry hop. b) if I need the fermenter for something else c) if I need the yeast cake for something else.

If you are anxious to get on with the next beer I say go for it. Depends on how quickly you plan on drinking it. 19 l of beer ain’t going to last me 3 weeks, so that much lag time between batches don’t add up. I’m working on a 1 per week schedule right now to get ahead for the winter season.

But to answer your actual question… it’s fine to leave it in the primary longer. Just don’t rack it too early, before the major part of fermentation is complete (ie. 5-7 days).

If you are doing an open/semi-open fermentation however, you would want to rack it sooner rather than later.

Instructions on kits are designed to tell the user the fastest way they can complete the beer, not necessarily the way to make it best. They have to do it that way, as they need to compete for those customers who are most impatient for results. But my experience is that you are almost always better off taking more time. It almost never hurts to leave it longer. The exception is if there is something wrong going on, and they you need to be as fast as possible to correct the situation, but that isn’t your case. I’ll typically leave beers in primary fermentation bucks for 3-4 weeks before kegging or bottling. As far as I can tell, that just makes them better.

Thanks for all the advice, guys. Sounds like I’ll be fine letting it sit in the primary for an extra week, and it’s good to know that longer is better (if there are no problems). The only reason why I’ll be racking to secondary is to free up my primary for starting another batch, so I like the idea of investing in multiple primary carboys in the future. The more beer, the better :slight_smile:

Do yourself a favor, and forget about carboys for primaries. Buckets work just as well, are easier to store, easier to clean, weigh less, cost less and most importantly, not likely to break and cause injuries if you drop them.

'Ol Friar Tuck will disagree with you on this one. But I agree with you :cheers:

I’m really glad I opened this thread. I’m new as well and have been wondering why there’s a secondary because it doesn’t seem to apply to most beers and people I have watched always mess something up in the transfer.
Thanks for asking this question and for all the responses.

I’ve heard that a bucket isn’t ideal because the plastic isn’t absolutely secure against oxygenation and can throw off the taste some. Is that true or is it more of a traditionalist idea?

2 weeks in the primary is ideal for normal gravity ales. 3 weeks for higher gravities and lagers. Also, secondaries are not necessary. You can rack to keg or bottling bucket directly if you’re careful to leave the sediment behind.

That depends on what type of plastic it is, and how long you leave the beer in the plastic container. If you are using a bucket or plastic carboy that is food grade and was sold for brewing, there is absolutely no problem leaving it there while fermenting, and if you don’t open it up frequently and let a lot of oxygen in that way, no problem leaving it a month or two after fermentation is completed. If you plan to age the beer for months at a time, then yes enough oxygen could get in to cause problems.

If the plastic is not food grade or not clean, you can get off flavors or worse.

+1
Completely agree with this. Just got done aging a oak stout which was in a bucket for 3 months, tasted it last night and the beer is awesome and no sign of oxidation or plastic off flavors. Unless you plan on doing long periods of aging stick with buckets IMO.

Wish I read this before buying carboys!
Oh well…

If you’re changing to buckets, get one (or more) with a spigot near the bottom. They allow you to run off samples for testing specific gravity without opening the bucket and for racking to a bottling bucket or keg.

If you rack to a keg, you can use a hose over the spigot connected to a liquid disconnect and run the beer directly into a sanitized CO2-purged keg - no oxidation and very low risk of contamination.

This is all great info. I’m considering switching to buckets now… :shock:

Here’s a question for all you bucket fermentors who use a bucket with a spigot…

My bottling bucket (came with my NB deluxe starter kit) obviously has a spigot on it, but it often has a small leak. I’ve tested many times with just water in the bucket, trying to figure out if it’s how I’m putting on the washer/gasket, or if I’m over-tightening the gasket, etc. Can’t seem to figure out why this leak is sometimes happening and the bucket is only about 1.5 months old. Do you guys have the same problem? How do you avoid the leaks?

Buckets sound great, but I’d be royally pissed if the spigot was leaking during fermentation.

[quote=“BrewBum”]This is all great info. I’m considering switching to buckets now… :shock:

Here’s a question for all you bucket fermentors who use a bucket with a spigot…

My bottling bucket (came with my NB deluxe starter kit) obviously has a spigot on it, but it often has a small leak. I’ve tested many times with just water in the bucket, trying to figure out if it’s how I’m putting on the washer/gasket, or if I’m over-tightening the gasket, etc. Can’t seem to figure out why this leak is sometimes happening and the bucket is only about 1.5 months old. Do you guys have the same problem? How do you avoid the leaks?

Buckets sound great, but I’d be royally pissed if the spigot was leaking during fermentation.[/quote]

In the bottling buckets from NB, there is a hole on the spigot so when it is in the closed position, there is pressure to push out the liquid that may still be in the tube. You may get a small leak out of here if you close it while there is liquid coming out. Is this possibly where you are getting your leak?

If you put the gasket on the wrong side (inside when it should be out, or visa-versa) it will leak. Did that once years ago. Not sure how your bucket should be though. Also, scratches in the plastic or rough edges could be the problem. Food grade silicon grease is an option that will stop a very small leak, but kind of a pain to always have to remember to apply it.

Whew, super glad for this forum. I was about to buy a carboy for secondary fermentation but decided to just let the beer sit a bit longer and leave it alone.

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