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Secondary Fermentation Question(s) (and help)

I just successfully racked my first beer to a secondary fermenter from the primary, and I’m worried I did something wrong in the process. I used the racking cane and the orange carboy bung to siphon the beer into the secondary carboy and I found it very hard to get consistent pressure enough to keep it flowing for a while. I would have to keep on blowing and blowing (haha) to keep it going and was really annoying and made me quite dizzy. With that I’m worried I may have oxidized the beer too much as it went into the secondary fermenter, hopefully not ruining what I worked so hard making. I am considering getting an auto-siphon now…

I also made sure I wasn’t siphoning very much trub into the secondary but of course a little bit got through, was wondering if that was a bad thing? I’m thinking I should let it condition in the secondary for a week or two (it’s a reddish/pale ale with wyeast 1056) but I’m not really sure how long it should be in there for. Will the yeast start to ferment again in the secondary fermenter??

The last question I had is that I’m using the orange carboy bung to seal the beer during secondary fermentation. I sanitized it after I siphoned from the primary, I put a three piece airlock through one of the holes, but I’m wondering if the bung is alright to use for this step in brewing? One of the rubber stoppers I recently purchased with a glass carboy seemed to fit when I first tried it, but it wasn’t cooperating with me when I needed it to.

I’m not sure how the carboy cap is supposed to work, I don’t have one. But I am sure how you used it is NOT right. For a siphon the tube goes into the liquid, you apply some suction to the delivery end and it must be lower than the surface of the liquid being transferred. Once it is started it should not stop unless air is introduced through the suction end or that end is higher that the output end.

I would be much more worried about infection from blowing onto the beer rather than any effects from aeration.

Your beer should have been fully fermented before transferring to secondary. Did you take gravity readings over several days to confirm that it was finished? Secondary fermentation is a misnomer. It is mostly for letting the beer finish cleaning up, both in any unwanted flavors and clarity. A lot of home brewers leave the beer in primary 3-4 weeks or more depending on style then bottle, skipping any secondary at all.

The little bit of trub transferred is of no worry.

Get the autosiphon, figure out how to use the carboy cap or get rubber stoppers, enjoy brewing and have fun.

Even with the problems this beer will probably be fine.

As mentioned, to have a siphon work the receiving vessel needs to be lower than the other one.

I have used the orange cap as you described. But, with the containers at the correct location you should only have to give 1 smallish puff. The amount of blowing you did you risk contaminating the beer. Depending on the beer, how long it was in primary (is it actually finished fermenting?) I would bottle it soon before an infection takes over.

On your next order, you may want to pick up an inline filter to keep germs out when blowing to start the siphon. ... ilter.html

Thank you guys for all the tips and advice! Yeah the only thing I’m worried about is the amount of air I was blowing into the carboy and the risk of contamination to the beer. I had spoken to some local homebrewers here in my town and they told me that putting your beer into secondary avoids the astringent flavors that dieing yeast cells give off. I believe my beer was done fermenting in the primary. It was in there for seven days, the airlock completely stopped bubbling (unless I agitated the carboy slightly), and the krausen disappeared. I even tried a little of the beer and it tasted great for something coming off a poor college student’s electric stove! When I racked to the secondary the primary carboy was up higher than the one I was transferring to, so I think I did that right…maybe it wasn’t high enough? I had it on top of my bottling bucket but now I’m thinking I should have put it higher. Is there any possible way I can avoid infection besides bottling so soon? And would I know from looking at the beer in the carboy if it is contaminated? Hopefully my yeast soldiers lowered the pH enough so that bacteria won’t find a permanent home in this beer. Anyways, thanks again guys.

You don’t have to worry about this unless the beer is sitting on the yeast cake for months and months. Don’t hurry to rack the beer off the yeast - lots of good things are going on and there’s no downside to waiting at least a couple weeks.

The way to avoid contamination is not to introduce it in the first place. Just make sure that anything that touches the beer cold-side has been cleaned and sanitized. If the beer is contaminated, then bottling quickly just means that any additional fermentation by the contaminating microbes will occur in the bottles, potentially leading to explosions.

If the gravity was stable near the expected FG, but the beer begins to ferment again, it’s probably contamination. Formation of a krausen or pellicle on the surface, combined with a reduction in gravity, would indicate contamination. At that point you would probably be able to taste that it was “off”.

I’ve been using the carboy cap with the racking cane, and blowing into the second port of the cap “method” to start the siphon. I’ve done it for my batches and it has not been a problem for the beer. The only issue I have is that the cap doesn’t fit very tightly so air leaks out and I have to blow harder to get the siphon started, and also hold the cap on to try to get a better seal. You might want to pick up another cap as it seems that they stretch out over time.

When I started homebrewing the carboy caps seemed like a great item, you can attach a blow-off hose to the smaller tube. The cap also allows you to switch to an airlock with the other port if you want to age in the carboy. Same as with trying to start the siphon with a leaky cap, I noticed earlier this year that the caps don’t make a great seal so they leak wort during the primary/blowoff phase. I’m not too worried about contamination as CO2 is blowing out, more the mess it makes. I’ve switched to a fat blowoff tube and one of those better cork/bungs and it is cleaner. Seriously doubt that the beer suffered at all.

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