Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com

Secondary fermentation for American wheat

I have always used a secondary for brewing. On my previous 3 batches, there was secondary activation. Meaning the air lock was burping in the secondary. I recently went from the primary to the secondary with my American wheat and there has been no burping in the air lock. I transferred after 7 days in primary and it was burping once every 2 minutes. This is a NB extract kit. My question is, should I be seeing action in the secondary or not?

Secondaries are for aging, clearing and adding fruit or other items.

Let the beer finish fermenting in the primary where all the yeast are. You can even leave the beer on the yeast for over 1 month with out risk of it “going bad”.

If you happen to see air lock activity in a secondary, it can be either:

A) temperature has risen and CO2 is coming out of solution

B) contamination has caused rogue bacteria to eat the sugars that the beer yeast didn’t.

There is also a third reason your airlock may be burping, and I would take a guess at this as the most likely source:

With only 3 days in the primary and the colder temperatures of winter, your yeast have still not yet had a chance to fully ferment everything in your primary fermenter. This happens to me every winter where I refuse to heat my house at night, no matter how cold it gets, because I know tomorrow its just goona be 60-70 and sunny again.

I would guess that because of the cold air temps your yeast went active/inactive/active/inactive over the course of the your first 7 days.

Easy way to confirm or disprove this: Take a hydrometer reading and compare it to what FG’s you gotten with this or similar (same yeast, similar grain profile) in the past. If its high, its not done. If its too low, then you may have an infection.

I my suspicions are right, leave that beer and let it ferment out. I would suggest rousing the yeast and trying to move it to a warmer room in the house. Also, I would prolly let it go for another week at least, prolly 2. Check the gravity of the beer periodically. I’d let it sit on the full yeast cake for 4-7 days to let those yeasties clean up before racking again to either your secondary for clearing/fruiting/whatever your secondarying for.

I already racked it to the secondary and that is where I am not seeing the fermentation. I had good fermentation in the primary, but nothing in the secondary. I was wondering if you should see fermentation in the secondary or not.

Normally no, there would be no airlock activity in a secondary/bulk aging vessel.

Did you take a hydrometer reading when you transferred it?

It’s best to leave the beer in the primary until it has reached terminal gravity. Depending on the temperature it is at, that can be anywhere from 3-20 days. The only way to know if it’s done is with a hydrometer reading.

Take a reading and report back.

Any sugguestions for pulling a sample. I don’t have a beer thief. I am pretty new to this and still figuring stuff out. In the past I have had a lot of activity in my secondary airlock. From what you said, I am guessing that this is not good and all fermentation should be complete before transforing to the secondary.

A “new” turkey baster works ok for drawing samples. If you are in a carboy (guessing so as we are discussing secondaries) you may need to put a piece of tubing on the end.

I just pulled a sample and the hydrometer reading was 1.01. I believe that is where it should be so I think things are good. Honey Brown on the stove right now.

That sounds like a pretty good FG to me.

I am adding the cherry extract to this kit before bottling. Can I add any fresh cherries to it in the secondary to add some extra flavor.

It certainly can be done, though personally I don’t know that I’d do both. I prolly just use one or the other.

Sounds good, I will just go with the extract since I haven’t experimented with any fresh fruits yet. I don’t want to mess this one up since it is for my wife, gotta keep her happy so I can keep on brewing, lol. Thanks for all of your help. The honey brown is making the sweet sound of good fermentation as I am typing this. One of my personal favorites from my college days.

How did the Cherry Wheat turn out? I am about to make one myself. How much extract did you add to the bottling bucket in oz.?? Trying to figure out how much I want to use.

I used 4 oz. of Cherry Extract, at the recommendation of Northern Brewer. There is only a very slight hint of cherry flavor. If I make this again I will double the cherry extract. Right now I am adding a couple of mericino cherries and a tablespoon of the juice to each glass.

Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com