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New to this - Primary fermentation lengths?

Hey guys,

So I am doing my first brew with the deluxe kit/caribou brown. I am just wondering how hard set the parameters on the primary fermentation are. Circumstances right now would require me to let the primary run about 3 weeks before transfer to the secondary carboy. However, from what I have read the value of the secondary fermentation is debated from the perspective of risk vs. benefit, but for my first go at it I was thinking just follow the instructions… Anyway, just mainly curious if a 3 week primary and a 2 week secondary is acceptable before bottling.

I have a Caribou Slobber fermenting, going on day 4. Like almost all of my beers, it will be in the primary for three weeks, then bottled. I haven’t used a secondary in over a decade. Three weeks in the primary allows the time needed for the particulates suspended in the beer to drop out. Keeping the siphon above the trub layer, when racking to the bottling bucket, will give you clear beer in the bottle.

I am never in a rush to bottle. I have had beer in the primary for four to six weeks without developing off flavors.

Hi! New to this forum and new to brewing myself.

Not using the secondary; is there any gain or loss in flavor? Why do they provide a secondary in the packages and instruct usage then? Thanks for your input?

Welcome to the new brewers! Never hesitate to ask questions; there is always someone on this forum that is happy to answer.

For the issues of secondaries, it use to be the conventional wisdom that you will get clearer beer with less risk of off flavors if you used them. However, a lot of that was likely due to the poor quality ingredients that were being used when the conventional wisdom was being set. These day, with better quality ingredients, there is no compelling reason to use a secondary for most beers (dry hopped beers and fruit beers are the main exceptions, though even that is not set in stone). But the people who make beer kits and write the instructions for them have not yet caught up with the brewers.

It is generally a good idea to follow instructions, and only deviate from them AFTER you understand the logic behind them. So despite what I wrote above, I would advocate that new brewers follow the instructions exactly for the first few batches. That way, you are almost guaranteed to make decent beer. Later you can figure out how to change your process to make great beer with less effort.

Should be fine for an ale.

If I might offer a beginner some extra advice though I would say that in addition to your kit beers, maybe try doing something simple like a blonde with one malt and one hop and just change a little something about the brew each time to see how that effects the beer. Pick a yeast that ferments well in your environment if you don’t have temp control. Then change a hop from one batch to the next, or change when you add your ingredients to the wort. Even fermentation times and conditioning can have a significant impact on your beer. Follow some norms or you could end up with crap, but get to know how everything you are doing effects your final product. You could spend a year or more in this exercise, but you will walk away really knowing your equipment, ingredients, and process.

I’ve been brewing long enough that I understand my equipment and process, so now if I want to try a new yeast for example I will do a blonde ale to really get a feel for performance, flavor, how that yeast conditions, etc. Then I can build on that.

Good brewing to you!

[quote=“Stxs9”]Hey guys,

So I am doing my first brew with the deluxe kit/caribou brown. I am just wondering how hard set the parameters on the primary fermentation are. Circumstances right now would require me to let the primary run about 3 weeks before transfer to the secondary carboy. However, from what I have read the value of the secondary fermentation is debated from the perspective of risk vs. benefit, but for my first go at it I was thinking just follow the instructions… Anyway, just mainly curious if a 3 week primary and a 2 week secondary is acceptable before bottling.[/quote]

When you are at about day 15 in the primary, take a hydrometer sample for specific gravity reading. You may have some CO2 bubbles in the sample. The CO2 can float your hydrometer a little higher than it should be. Spin the hydrometer to release the bubbles for a correct reading. CO2 can also suspend some particles in the beer. The sample might look a little hazy. A few days later take another sample. If the SG has not changed you are at final gravity. You will probably notice the sample has no CO2 bubbles and the beer is clear. The beer will clear in the primary, just as well as in a secondary vessel given enough time. That is the reason I quit going through the work of using a secondary. Except for some very high gravity beers, aging in a secondary has no benefit for improving the flavor. (Another thread about Caribou Slobber titled "caribou slobber fermenting temp… ) I bottled my CS yesterday. The experiment with raising the temperature finished the fermentation a couple days early and forced the CO2 out of solution, clearing the beer. I’ll know after about four weeks of bottle conditioning if this temperature increase affected the flavor.

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