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Secondary fermenters - 5 gallon vs 6

hullo all - ok, let’s get this out of the way: hi. my name is jen. i’m a noob. i also have a deep distrust of capital letters. or shift keys. possibly, i’m just lazy.
ok, now for the question: i have a primary fermenter, 6.5 gallon. i’m looking to get a secondary, and i can see that everywhere has ‘secondary fermentors’ listed at 5 gallons. is there actually a reason for this? my preference would be to just get another 6.5 bucket and use it for either secondary or a second primary batch, as the case may be - it just seems like a more versatile option. that said, i don’t want to bung up out of the gate by getting the wrong equipment, so if there is some mysterious reason for the secondary to be less capacity, i’ll go that route. i’ve searched the forums, and it’s possible i’m missing it, but i haven’t seen this particular weirdo question asked. can anyone enlighten me?
oh - and i’m already hooked. my first batch (nut brown) is conditioning in bottles, second batch (st paul porter) is bubbling happily in the fermentor as we speak. i’ve already ordered a hydrometer, a copy of how to brew, and enough star san to get me thru 6 mo of brewing. i’m in for the long haul on this, so i want to make sure i do it right! :cheers:

Well first you are going to get a lot of people on here saying you don’t need to use a “secondary” fermenter. I use qoutes because unless you are actually adding new fermentables you are just using it as an aging vessel or bright tank.
Now for size. What do you want to use it as. If an aging vessel or bright tank you want a 5 gal carboy to limit the O2 in the headspace. This will limit any oxidation that may occur. Remember O2 BEFORE fermentation not after.
If you are going to use it to add new fermentables you can go with a bigger carboy to prevent blowoff. Blowoff is when the yeast and krausen rises to the airlock and spewing out the top.
As for plastic. Plastic should be avoided for long term storage as it is O2 permeable.
Should you do a secondary? That’s up to you. For me I see my beers clear quicker. Now I have a heated/cooled SS conical which makes “secondary” a dump away.

At least hit the enter
key once in a while.

Will make your post easier understand.

For my ales (my go to ale is Elevenses) I just do 2-3 weeks in the primary (plastic 6.5 gal bucket) and rack straight to a keg. For porters such as a Bourbon Barrel Porter, I always rack to the secondary carboy after about 7 days (when fermentation is done) then I leave it in the secondary for several weeks. 5 gallons for a secondary is fine for 5 gal batches.

thanks guys - i think that i’ll get a 5gal for the batches i do a secondary on, but i’ll try to keep racking to secondary for beers with additions etc, as i’ve seen mentioned before. i’m looking to do the bourbon porter next, and from everything i’ve seen i should definitely do the secondary for that.
this is a great community - i’m learning lots!

Plastic is permeable to O2, but it is VERY slow. So unless you are going to be bulk aging for more than a month or two, plastic buckets are fine.

I would not advocate using glass or racking to a secondary without a good reason for it. The vast majority of beers don’t need either. The exceptions are if you want to bulk age for a very long time (many lagers benefit from this), or you are adding fruit or some other bulky ingredient. For the later situation, it is just easier to place the fruit into a new bucket first, then rack the beer onto it. And as you are adding a bunch of solids that will need to be racked off of, it doesn’t hurt to get rid of the initial fermentation trub so as you will be able to rack the finished beer off easier before bottling.

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