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Secondary Fermentation Necessary?

Getting ready to brew a wheat beer recipe that calls for a two week secondary fermentation with an option to dry hop. I’m not planning on doing the dry hop. If that’s the case, then is there a need to rack to a secondary fermentor? Or could I just go straight to bottling once the FG is reached? Are there any benefits to secondary fermentation if you’re not dry hopping or adding yeast?
Any input helps!

I only transfer. To secondary when i dry hop. Other wise do leave my beer in primary fermentor. I harvest the yeast. From the collection jar. At bottom of my fermentor. And let the beer condition. Before i keg. But on the other hand i dont mind to transfer to the secondary and leave it there for condition. Some people argue. You should not longer use secondary. Due to serveral. Things what can happen with your brew

It’s not necessary for Homebrew; it’s a preference. Go ahead and leave it in primary for the extra time.

Some of those who prefer to secondary say it helps clear the beer, others debate this. But you’re making a wheat beer anyway.

I do it when I’m planning to reuse the yeast, because I use a plastic bottle fermenter; no collection jar for me. I used to dry hop in secondary, before kegging, now I dry-hop in the keg.

The downside to secondary is the risk of oxygenating the beer enough during the transfer to cause nasty flavors.

The original reason for secondary was to get the beer off the yeast because the weight of the beer in a brewery can be enough to squeeze the yeast literally to bursting. It’s called Autolysis, which I probably misspelled. This makes the beer taste like rotted meat, which is not good for business. 5-gallons of Homebrew is <50 lbs whereas a 5-barrel batch is closer to 1500 lbs. Your yeasties can stay at the bottom of your fermenter without bursting for at least a few months.


I’m very pro-secondary… just ask around. :smirk:

However one beer I NEVER secondary is a hefeweizen.


None whatsoever…

Only reason I would ever use a brite vessel is for aging with wood, fruit or other additions that I don’t want mixed in with my yeast. Having said that, I keg. If I bottled I might feel differently.

Thank you @jmck! Once I learned that autolysis didn’t come from a few extra weeks in primary, I have often wondered what caused it.

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Few extra weeks would be fine. However, too long could cause issues as the yeast will essentially start eating itself. Of course this would take a long while.

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Agreed. Initially I thought a beer would be ruined if it sat in primary for 5-6 weeks. I only primary 3-4 weeks but, if I for some reason I can’t get to it when I planned to, I don’t worry.

I’ve left beers sitting in the fermenter for months. Longest I recall was 5 months and it was fine. I dont’ do this as standard practice but I get busy (or lazy) sometimes…

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Can’t remember where I read it but I think it mentioned a year before autolysis would be evident. That’s a long time. It is also slowed by temp so lagering would take 18 months. Wish I could find it to confirm…

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But, if I’m not going to transfer to a secondary and I’m not going to dry-hop, then is there a need to keep the brew in the primary for an additional two weeks? The kit says that you should let it sit for two weeks and check your FG. Once the FG is stable, then it says to let it sit an additional two weeks? Is that necessary?

You want the beer to be at final gravity.
You take readings over consecutive days looking for a stable reading.
Or you can be patient and lit it sit. Far easier.

Really depends on the beer. Some will be finished in less than two weeks. If you’re in a hurry to get it packaged for drinking then you just need to make sure fermentation is complete, especially if you’re bottling.

So once things have settled down, around the 10-14 day mark, take a gravity reading, then a day or two later take another. Once you get 2 identical readings it’s safe to assume that fermentation is complete. Then you can bottle.

If you bottle a beer that’s still fermenting you risk a chance of exploding bottles. Very messy, dangerous and a waste of beer. So if you don’t have a hydrometer, get one, or wait at least 3 weeks.

I got ya. Thanks for the help! I have a hydrometer and I’ll take the readings as normal. But, this kit seemed to recommend that you let the beer set for an additional two weeks after you have already reached your FG? I imagine that this has something to do with dry hopping. But, if I’m not going to do that, then I wasn’t sure if there is any benefit to having it set in the fermentor after your FG is reached and measureD with the hydrometer?

If it’s an NB kit that’s pretty much their standard instructions, 2 weeks primary, 2 weeks secondary, for every beer kit they sell. It’s just a starting guideline and not really applicable to every situation with every beer to be honest.

Even if you were dry hopping you only need 3-5 days contact time before botling. What’s the beer?

It’s the obi Ron wheat from NB. My plan was to let it sit in the primary and once the FG readings are stable, then bottle it. I just didn’t know if there was any reason to let it sit longer or if that was just a precaution for people without hydrometers

it’s just a precaution.

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