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Secondary fermentation of Saison


I brewed a saison a 4 weeks ago and it has been fermenting at about 83F. I had a short period with krausen and the SG only went from 1.058 to 1.040 in this time. After four weeks I had no activity and the yeast start to sink. I then transfered to seconday, the SG was 1.011. I put the fermentor in the fridge to cold crash. Now when the beer is only 41F it seem to have started fermenting again, I have not taken a reading but there is airlock activity.

I used Wyeast 3711 and 3724 (Belgian and French Saison).

Can it be that transfer to secondary restarted the fermentation and that the yeast in some way manage to do something at that low lemperature?

I guess I wait with bottleing until the activity stops any way, but it seems really strange…


It’s likely just CO2 coming out the beer as the temp rises - ale yeasts don’t do much fermenting in the fridge.

Ok, this beer got weird. As said I used Wyeast 3711 and 3724 @ 83F. I used a bit of rye (13%) and wheat (15%). Half of the wheat was not malted.

It smells a bit like the yeast you use for bread. It is quite sour and taste of vinager. It is not horrible, but quite bad. I mean there are some good flavours in there as well.

Is it infected to just a bad beer?

Vinegar = acetic = likely infected, it’s not something you usually taste in a beer fermented with a regular yeast.

It was my 29:th beer, so I guess it was about time for me to toss one.

You need to do a quick inventory of your equipment and either clean and sanitize or discard everything that touched that beer post-boil. Hoses are cheap, toss them, but make sure you get rid of the infection now or risk losing another batch.

You certain it’s a vinegar taste? Saison yeast, especially fermented in the 80’s are gonna give off some funky flavors… not vinegar, but maybe your just tasting a yeast biproduct and don’t know it. Got any other beer geek friends around that can give it a taste? I’d get a few other opinions before you dump it.

Maybe that dreaded transfer to secondary bit you on the behind. There’s seldom a good reason to do that with normal strength ales. Saison yeast is a bit finicky though; I had one recently seem to quit in the 1.020’s and elcted to RDWHAHB and just left it alone for 2 more weeks. With no observable activity it dropped to 1.011 and is quite tasty. With vinegar taste though I think you may be S.O.L. …

It is on bottle so I guess I can share it with my enemies. :[

Out of curiousity, how long was it from pitch to bottle? And how long was it in “primary”?

6 weeks in primary and about 1 week in secondary (cold crash). Have been on bottle for a bit over a week.

Was there a reason you couldn’t cold crash in primary? If not, then really no reason to secondary it for a week. If you were going to bulk age it a few months then it makes sense.


Secondary for a week has really no adavntage, and may be where your beer got either oxydized or infected somehow…

It has been a couple of weeks since I last tasted the saison. I had some bottles standing in the fridge and I tought that I have a taste before throwing them out. To my suprise it was actualy quite pleasant. There is not so much of the sour flavors, and there is much more spices and fruity flavors. I’m going to keep this. I think this might be quite good if I lager it for some time.

I think I need to buy a bottle of vinager to get a taste of what if really taste…

Now my problem is that I already made a new beer which I now dont have the bottles for… :slight_smile:

[quote=“FredrikHagman”]Now my problem is that I already made a new beer which I now dont have the bottles for…[/quote]Sounds like an opportunity to buy a case or two of decent beer and you’ll be saving $3 a six-pack by not buying new bottles. :wink:

And if you tend to drink 2-3 beers at a time, buy some 1L generic club soda bottles for $0.50 each and use those for bottling, too - not only do you same some time when bottling but you also can monitor the progress of the carbonation just by squeezing the PET bottles. If you do this, fill them to about an inch from the top, then squeeze the sides to make the beer rise to the lip, and screw the cap on - the beer level will drop as it carbs.

Don’t you need some headspace for proper carbonation?

[quote=“Demus”]Don’t you need some headspace for proper carbonation?[/quote]With kegs, yes, because the CO2 is being forced in from outside the beer, but with bottle conditioning the CO2 is created within the beer and as the pressure rises it’ll slowly create and fill the headspace in the PET bottle to balance with the beer. Try it sometime, it’s really very cool to watch.

New brewer here with a rookie question regarding secondary fermentation. I’ve got a saison in primary right now. The recipe calls for secondary fermentation and bottling approximately 6 weeks after brew day. Based on what I’ve been reading on this forum I’m planning on just leaving it in the primary. My question is how long should I leave it in the primary if I’m going to skip secondary fermentation? The full 6 weeks or a reduced period since it will be sitting with the full amount of yeast during that time? Thanks

Recipes and kits will always give you numbers so you have something to expect. These are ballpark numbers. Also, fermentation is fermentation wether you transfer to “secondary” or not. In other words the beer is done when the beer is done regardless of wether it’s in a pail, carboy, bottle or keg. The term “secondary fermentation” gets confusing and mixed up with the stages of fermentation ALL beers go through regardless of our decisions on transferring to “secondary” vessels. I hope this clears it up a bit…

Thanks Demus - so in other words 6 weeks is just a rough estimate from the brewing company but I would not be “hurting” the wort by skipping transfer to secondary and leaving it in the primary fermenter for that amount of time correct?

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