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Secondary?

First brew (caribou slobber extract kit) is in the primary, and has already settled down. Because of what I have read on the forum, I am between waiting a few more days and then transferring to the secondary vs just keeping it in the primary for a month. What do you guys think?

Is it worth transferring to secondary for increased clarity? Could I just use some biofine clear instead? When then, should a secondary even be used? It it worth doing because its my first brew to get the technique down? Also,would a secondary be a better idea if I am bottling, rather then kegging? Let me know. Thanks guys.

  • Jeff

I always do a secondary just to get the beer off of all the dead yeast and crud on the bottom, I know that some people don’t I’m not a believer in it.

When I first started brewing i did a secondary. Now I don’t and don’t see much of a difference…aside from the time i save by not doing a secondary. :cheers:

I’ve always read it’s not worth it for those beginning brews (I have yet to use a secondary). I wouldn’t recommend it–the end part, bottling and such, is aggravating enough.

But it all depends on what you like–if you want to jump right into kegging, go for it. I’m still holding off until I’m producing recipes, on a regular basis, that I like.

Anyway, definitely not necessary for the Caribou Slobber.

I’m not a big believer in racking to a 2nd carboy for the sake of clarifying beer. IMO, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure where excess trub in the fermentor is concerned, and I ain’t afraid of yeast.

I do it because I dry hop almost every beer and I want to reuse the yeast and not wash it. If you don’t want to reuse the yeast I hear there is no reason to secondary, but it’s like 2nd nature to me now.

When I use carboys (usually use my conical) I secondary. IME the beer clears quicker. YMMV.

Whether or you use a secondary fermenter or not is probably not going to make a huge amount of difference, but whatever you do, there’s no good reason whatsoever to keep your beer in the primary for an entire month, IMHO. There will be some here who disagree with me on this point, no doubt. This is a topic that seems to come up pretty frequently here. I’m sticking to my guns on this issue, though, and I’m far from the only person who will second my vote. When a beer is done fermenting, it’s time to get it out of the fermenter and into whatever serving vessel you’re using, whether you’re using a secondary fermenter or not. It’s that simple, believe me. And now, let’s hear the dissenters…

I would simply say that gravity is merely one aspect of finishing the project, staying on the yeast allows the yeast to finish off some post fermentation processes and to flocculate and fall clear. I let most beers sit for a month, but some small beers are done more quickly and can go from grain to glass in as little as 21 days! Those are the exceptions for me. YMMV, of course.

You’ll find a process that works for you, so try 'em all if you’d like. IMO this is kind of a non issue. Way more important are: proper sanitation, avoiding oxidation, proper carbonation and in my opinion the most overlooked aspect: controlling fermentation temperature (personal experience here).
Rack to a secondary or don’t. You’ll make good beer with either method if everything else is right.

[quote=“Hades”]You’ll find a process that works for you, so try 'em all if you’d like. IMO this is kind of a non issue. Way more important are: proper sanitation, avoiding oxidation, proper carbonation and in my opinion the most overlooked aspect: controlling fermentation temperature (personal experience here).
Rack to a secondary or don’t. You’ll make good beer with either method if everything else is right.[/quote]
Very true. With the exception of a few types of brews that really should get transferred to secondaries (like if you are adding fresh fruit after primary is done), there is not much of a difference in the finished beer if you transfer to a secondary or leave it for an extended time in the primary. Do whichever you prefer, and focus on the more important issues.

If transferring to secondary, there is at least a slight risk of oxidation and contamination, since the beer is being moved. Transferring once minimizes this, as does transferring under CO2 with highest sanitation practices. In the end, however, I found it unnecessary, so one more potential problem to avoid. On the other hand - don’t leave it in the primary for weeks on end, as the risk of autolysis or oxidation (if in plastic) is a real threat, as well. Clearly fermentation in stainless where yeast removal from the cone is available achieves the best of all worlds…I’m just too cheap to make that move.

:cheers:

[quote=“ynotbrusum”]If transferring to secondary, there is at least a slight risk of oxidation and contamination, since the beer is being moved. Transferring once minimizes this, as does transferring under CO2 with highest sanitation practices. In the end, however, I found it unnecessary, so one more potential problem to avoid. On the other hand - don’t leave it in the primary for weeks on end, as the risk of autolysis or oxidation (if in plastic) is a real threat, as well. Clearly fermentation in stainless where yeast removal from the cone is available achieves the best of all worlds…I’m just too cheap to make that move.

:cheers: [/quote]
Leaving it in primary for weeks on end will not cause problems with autolysis, that would take at least a couple months. Same with oxidation with a plastic bucket. I know because I’ve gone a couple months in primary with plastic buckets and seen no ill effects.

There are reasons to do it and reasons not to do it. Unless you are adding stuff - dry hops / fruit etc - the main case made for a secondary is for clarity.

There are some pretty top notch brewers that swear by it for clarity (see Ken Leonard’s web site for instance), so I would not tend to disagree about that so much.

In my case, I go either way depending on whether I feel like racking.

Sometimes my laziness outweighs any need for crystal clear beer - it can still come out fairly clear regardless. Sometimes it does not. The best beer I ever drank in my life was in a very rustic brew pub in Ottawa - no longer around - where all the beer was cloudy as shite. Tasted like a gift from the gods.

Trick you can use to create a bed of CO2 to transfer under if you don’t have kegging equipment:

Mix baking soda and vinegar in a pitcher. After it’s done fizzing, you will now have a pitcher of CO2. Pour it into the container - might work better if you use a funnel if you’re trying to do this in a carboy, so that most the gas doesn’t just “bounce out”.

You can watch the kids from the Blair Witch Project demonstrate the idea here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcZppeGaJkA

[quote=“Brew Meister Smith”]There are reasons to do it and reasons not to do it. Unless you are adding stuff - dry hops / fruit etc - the main case made for a secondary is for clarity.

There are some pretty top notch brewers that swear by it for clarity (see Ken Leonard’s web site for instance), so I would not tend to disagree about that so much.[/quote]
I have to disagree. Clarity is enhanced by time spent sitting still so anything that is suspended in the beer has time to settle out. Doesn’t matter if that is done in primary or secondary, time spent clarifying is time spent clarifying. Unless your primary gets bumped around so that the sediment is continuously stirred up…

[quote=“Brew Meister Smith”]
[size=80]I have to disagree. Clarity is enhanced by time spent sitting still so anything that is suspended in the beer has time to settle out. Doesn’t matter if that is done in primary or secondary, time spent clarifying is time spent clarifying. Unless your primary gets bumped around so that the sediment is continuously stirred up…[/size][/quote]

It’s a matter of opinion I guess, and always will be (the same discussion has raged on ever since I first joined the boards!).

Over the last 43 years I’ve done it both ways and have always gone back to the secondary method. For some beers, I’ve even gone back to doing a classic, traditional “double-drop” (transferring the fermenting beer to a second vessel a day or two after fermentation has begun, much as Marston’s still does for some of their brews).

All I can say is that it’s worth trying both ways…with secondary and without. You may decide that it’s a waste of time, or you may decide (like I did) that it’s well worth the extra (minimal) effort and the very minimal risks involved.

In the end, it’s a call that can only be definitively decided by trying it both ways. And opinions on it will always vary.

I agree with Ken and the Prof on this one. My beers clear much better in secondary. Ken has pics on his site to prove it.

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