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Secondary Fermentation in a Bucket (?)

I went into my LHBS today to pick up a lid for a bottling bucket (drilled for an airlock). In our conversation, the cashier asked what I was going to be doing with the lid. I responded that I was going to use it make the bottling bucket into a secondary fermenter for a fruit ale that I am brewing.

She told me that it was not a good idea to use the bottling bucket as a secondary fermenter because the seals aren’t as good on the lids, and without CO2 being produced from the yeast - the risk of oxidation is very high.

I was going to use the bucket, because I’m tired of having to push one frozen piece of fruit through the neck of the glass fermenter at a time when I brew this beer (which my in-laws love). My recipe calls for a fruit secondary for 2 weeks.

Could I get some help with this? I do keg my beers, so I could consider giving it a blast of CO2 from the tank after placing the lid. Also, the fruit does tend to cause a short lived fermentation to occur…

What are the thoughts from the panel? Should I be worried about it?

Your fine. Like you said, the fruit will cause fermenation and CO2 production.

On a personal note, I have 2 carboys with a Saison going on 5 weeks (no secondary). No air lock. Just AL foil. So there is no “seal” happening there either. The beer is just fine and will be kegs tomorrow.

I agree w/nighthawk.

I question the “seal’s aren’t as good” statement. I find I can grab a carboy stopper and remove it with minimal effort; a bucket lid is a pain in the butt to get off. Bucket lids are definitely tighter. it’s a question of how well the lid’s tightness is transferred between the bucket rim and the lid’s gasket. (i.e. make sure the lid is clean.) If pressure were to build in either vessel, I think the carboy stopper would go first. Now, I do know (first hand :oops: ) it’s easier to screw-up sealing a bucket lid.

So, how well sealed does it have to be? It only needs to be a better seal than the bubbler; right?

With a bottling bucket, I would worry more about leaking from around the spigot. Ours leaks, but only a few drops during bottling. Not even a teaspoon, but that’s over an hour or two. Over a week or two, that leak could amount to some significant volume.

[quote=“JMcK”]I agree w/nighthawk.
I question the “seal’s aren’t as good” statement. I find I can grab a carboy stopper and remove it with minimal effort; a bucket lid is a pain in the butt to get off.

My local supermarket expanded recently and started selling various size plastic buckets. Along with the buckets they now also sell bucket openers, kind of like a bottle opener but made to use on buckets.

How long are you planning to leave the beer in the bucket? If it is less than a month, no worries at all. Remember, you are adding fruit, and there will be some CO2 produced that will tend to blanket the beer. And my experience is that the seals are plenty good on most buckets if the lid is installed well.

I’ll be in the minority and agree somewhat with the LHBS lady. Once no CO2 is being produced, air will get in on top of the beer and oxidation is inevitable. With that said, as long as theres CO2 being produced from fermentation of the fruit then your beer will be protected. Unless you want to save yeast, I would put the fruit in the primary towards the end of activity and then rack to a carboy when things slow down again once the fruit sugars are mostly fermented.

I’m on an anti-oxidation kick these days because I think its why my malty beers have never shown as well as some of the better commercial examples.

I made a peach wheat a few months back. Sinc I only own a 5 gallon carboy, I opted to do a true secondary fermentation in another 6.5 gallon bucket. I needed the room because I used 8 lbs of peaches. No oxidation occurred due to the production of co2 from the secondary fermentation. Use a bucket. You will be fine!

thanks for sharing, ya dick. :mrgreen:

Still have a quarter of a keg! Going to bottle the remainder when I get home. Got a bottle with your name on it!

I take it you’re going to hit him over the head with it?

You can count on it!

Tom, did I upset you little buddy?

I’ve got the same problem with a beer I plan to make soon, but I won’t be adding fruit. I’m looking at racking on top of toasted coconut in the secondary. I’ve done some reading and would like to put the coconut in hop bags, which pretty much means I’d have to use a bucket for the secondary. I’m assuming the coconut won’t cause as much fermentation as the fruit, so should I be worried about oxidation?

During the racking process, some CO2 will come out of solution. I wouldn’t be concerned with oxidation.

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