I have been reading a lot about not racking to a secondary for continued fermentation while the beer mellows-out. Does anyone just use a single-stage fermentation process? Are there any techniques or benefits? What about dry-hopping (does it work better in a secondary)?
Yes a lot of people skip the secondary on most beers. Racking too early to a secondary could potentially cause problems and many would argue the benefits are questionable to begin with. The main advantage to not using one is…simplicity, which means less chance to screw something up, just stand back and let the yeast do their thing. You can dry hop in the primary once most of the activity is done, if you want to reuse the yeast you’ll want to use something to hold the hops so they don’t end up in your yeast. Secondaries can be useful for longer term aging and post fermentation additions. Bottome line the secondary is totally optional at least for most beers.
The only time I secondary is for prolonged aging, wanting to dry hop but collect the yeast, adding fruit, wood, spices, etc… I’m a kegger, so clearing up the beer isn’t necessary. A few weeks in a keg, cold, does the job just fine. I’m also not overly crazy about clear beer. If it clears, great. If not, oh well. As long as it tastes good.