Secondary fermentation or not

I am a newbie, and I have done 2 one gallon brews to try all this out. Both of them I did a secondary fermentation on. Is this necessary? Is It a good thing to do? Suggestions or thoughts please.

When I first started, I put every batch in secondary vessel because that’s what the instructions told me to do. Then I started only doing a secondary when I had dry hops to add. Now, I just leave it in primary for 3-4 weeks and transfer to keg and dry hop there. Some people swear by secondary, technically as the transferred beer sits in a keg until a spot opens in the kegerator, I am using a secondary vessel at cellar temperature just in a keg instead of a carboy. I haven’t noticed any negative impact from not using a second carboy for secondary fermentation.


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I never use a secondary vessel [anymore] for clearing the beer. Secondary fermentation is a misnomer. No fermentation should be expected in a secondary vessel when brewing beer. This may not be true when making wine.

I leave my beer in the primary for at least two and a half weeks, usually three. By that time the CO2 has off gassed allowing particles to drop out of suspension. The yeast/trub layer is compacted making siphoning over the top of it very easy. It is best to be holding the siphon for the final ounces of beer. Having the fermentor tilted decreases the surface area when nearing the bottom to get the maximum siphoned.

Every brewer has their own personal preference.

I agree with @flars only in the fact that a “secondary” is a misnomer. Unless you are adding additional fermentables you aren’t going to see additional fermentation. A bright vessel is a better term, but it is just commonly referred to that so I digress.

But, I do find them beneficial. When I started doing 10gal batches years ago I would have to use 2 six gallon carboys. A couple times I would take one and leave it in primary and take the other into “secondary.” The “secondary” cleared much better and quicker. It also left that much more trub in the fermenter rather than in the keg.

There is a lot of evidence too that dry hops should be added to “secondary” beers as the hop oils cling to the trub in suspension and are eventually dragged to the bottom when they settle out.

The only time I didn’t do a “secondary” was when I wanted a hazy beer (wheats, wits).

My suggestion is that you try it both ways and do what works for YOU.


I see no reason to use a ‘secondary’. My process is much like @radagast 's.

I dry hop my IPAs in the keg. Bigger beers and lagers tend to get conditioned in a keg.

As for primary time it depends on the beer, my pipeline and my time. So generally speaking, 3 weeks or more on the yeast. I’ve had a few beers that sat on the yeast for 3-4 months with no issues.

As suggested by @loopie_beer give it a try and see what you think.

It is correct that suspended particles may scrub some of the hop oils from the beer as they drop. I dry hop in the primary after the beer has cleared. An IPA may be in the primary a total of four to five weeks. Cold crashing would shorten the primary time, but I don’t have the means to cold crash.

I just get another beer or two going while I wait.

For my one gallon batches, I typically skip transferring to secondary. I will do a ‘secondary’ when I’m trying different amounts for dry hopping – split the gallon batch (in primary) into two 64 oz growlers (in secondary).

My wife and I keep debating whether to do secondary or not. She thinks we should always do it. I prefer to transfer only when trying to save the yeast, especially before dry hopping.

I definitely feel it’s easier to keep sediment out of the bottling bucket after secondary than primary-only. Anti-secondary folks talk about risk of oxidation, but I’m not sure how terrible that is.

I think your risk of oxidation and infection is low unless you fail to sanitize your equipment and rack haphazardly.

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[quote=“jmck, post:8, topic:7751, full:true”

I definitely feel it’s easier to keep sediment out of the bottling bucket after secondary than primary-only. Anti-secondary folks talk about risk of oxidation, but I’m not sure how terrible that is.
I might feel differently about it if I bottled. I can see how it could be a benefit from that perspective.

Seems for the most part, it’s a matter of personal preference if you rack it out of the primary (I agree, secondary is a bit misleading). I’ve both bottled right out of the primary and used a “secondary.” I prefer the secondary if I want a clear beer with minimal sediment in my bottles. It’s what seems to work well for me, so I’ll stick with it.

The only way to see what works best for you is to try both and see. I don’t secondary everything I brew but I do use them. There are plenty of opinions on either side of the fence. IMHO either is fine. I certainly wouldn’t tell someone not to secondary but I also wouldn’t tell someone they have to. It depends on the type of beer I’m brewing. There is just something about glass carboys they look really cool.