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Quick Question

What exactly does secondary fermentation do. I’ve read awhile ago that’s it’s not entirely necessary. why would somebody say that?

Because it’s true - using a secondary for anything other than aging a big beer or for sitting on fruit doesn’t do anything special for the beer that just letting it sit in primary won’t also accomplish. In fact, premature racking to secondary because the “recipe said so” or “I’m following the 1-2-3 schedule” is the cause of quite a few threads here in which the poster can’t figure out why the beer is stuck at 1.030 and wants to know if pitching more yeast will fix it.

I like that answer thank you

+1 to the above said.

Even though I have been reading more and more that it is not necessary, I still do it. But I will say that I no longer consider it secondary “fermentation”. I notice that when I rack to secondary, I always end up with 1/4 to 1/2" of sediment on the bottom of the carboy after a week. This along is what keeps me doing that stage. Sure I could be more careful when transferring to not pick up any of the sediment from primary, but you are still going to get some and I just prefer to keep as much as possible out of my keg.

The other reason I like it is I just have a visual of when it is really done that I don’t get in an opaque bucket. When my carboy has zero bubbles on the surface of the liquid and everything has settled to the bottom, I know it is time to cold crash and keg. In some ways too, it is like pouring a beer and holding it up to the light and admiring it. Without the transfer to a carboy, I would miss that part of the brewing stage. As I am in the hobby longer, that may lose its appeal and if I go to bigger batches, I could see it being a real hassle.

I rack to “secondary” purely to pour myself 12 ounces and get a sense of where it’s at. I’ve not done a big beer, so, there’s no other excuse, er, reason. Not that I need an excuse to sneak a taste, but there it is.

When you transfer to secondary, you are racking the beer before giving it enough time to drop all the yeast out. So if you were to leave it an additional two weeks in the primary and then rack it to secondary, you would get almost no sediment collecting on the bottom of your carboy. But do whatevery you feel comfortable with.

When you transfer to secondary, you are racking the beer before giving it enough time to drop all the yeast out. So if you were to leave it an additional two weeks in the primary and then rack it to secondary, you would get almost no sediment collecting on the bottom of your carboy. But do whatevery you feel comfortable with.[/quote]

I understand that and visually seeing that is one reason I like secondary. But also I pick some up off the bottom of the primary and I cannot see avoiding that if I rack directly to a keg. Unless I am willing to waste a bit of beer :shock:

This is why I design all my recipes to put 5.5-6 gallons of wort in the fermenter - easy enough to rack off the top of the yeast cake and get a full five gallons in the keg. The dregs in the bucket are used for gravity samples and if the yeast dropped nice and compact, poured in a glass and enjoyed while cleaning up.

Yea, that will be a little easier to do when I finally get to full all grain mode :oops:

Even if you’re buying kits, you can purchase DME in bulk and a lb of bittering hops like Magnum, and beef up a kit by 10-20%. I know it would cost more, but I’m willing to trade a little money for time spent drinking rather than racking. :wink:

That’s a good point. I actually have a cream ale that I brewed that I was thinking about racking right to a keg, eliminating a secondary. I brewed a week ago, it had a nice healthy primary from all indications. My plan was to bring it up to room temps on Monday or so to finish up. How long would you wait to cold crash and keg for a simple beer like that?

I wouldn’t even take a gravity reading for at least two weeks. Fermentation is not the only process here - post-fermentation clean up occurs as the yeast start to re-absorb certain things in the beer that, if left in place, would lend to off flavors in your brew. Give them time - it is all you have to give them usually. Your brew will thank you for it.

:cheers:

So skipping a secondary will not save any time, just a step…?

Pretty much. Less chance of infection and oxidation. Brew more beer, clean equipment, keg, bottle, plenty of other things to do with your time. I know racking to 2nd doesn’t take much time, but it does leave you with more cleaning. So it does save a bit of time.

Exactly! The yeast need enough time to ferment, clean up after themselves and then drop out of suspension. That takes about the same amount of time regardless of if you secondary or not.

Pretty much. Less chance of infection and oxidation. Brew more beer, clean equipment, keg, bottle, plenty of other things to do with your time. I know racking to 2nd doesn’t take much time, but it does leave you with more cleaning. So it does save a bit of time.[/quote]

I generally time my batches so that I brew a batch and during the boil rack a primary to secondary and a secondary to keg. Lately I have been doing two batches in each session with all of the above steps which means I kind of have a production system going. (I would love to see a time lapse of my on brew day. I would look like an ant running around in all directions) Ultimately it means that I can have more beer in process however cause I need the primary fermentors to brew more.

So ultimately, I am just adding a small step of washing the carboy before sanitizing it to receive the primary. I guess I could just pause the process and eliminate the middle step. I also could primary in (BB) carboys, but I have never done that due to the limited head space. I will give it a shot with my Cream Ale and skip the secondary step.

I don’t do a secondary, per se. Since I go straight to a keg, I can use that as the secondary. BTW, eliminating trub from a keg is as simple as pulling the handle! Pour until clear - usually less than a full glass for me. BAM!
Even if you plan to add flavors in a secondary, there are ways to do that in a keg as well. I agree with the school of thought that says secondary is not that necessary and puts the batch at greater risk. So keg conditioning is a nice way to accomplish further aging without the added risk.

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