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Silly question from a beginner

I just ordered the basic brew kit. A buddy gave me an extra glass carboy too and a bunch of bottles.

I therefore have a primary and secondary fermenter. However, my friend didn’t have a bung or air lock for the glass carboy he gave me. My questions are (and remember I’m totally new to this) should I use the glass carboy for primary or secondary?
And, Do I need a predrilled bung (and air lock) or a solid stopper?
Help. I plan on making some basic beer this weekend. Thanks for the help.

What size carboy? If it is 5 gallon, do not use it for primary. If it is 6.5 gallon you can use it for primary. The biggest thing with whatever your primary fermenter is, is the size - you want 1 gallon+ of headspace for active ferment so it does not overflow. However, many folks on here (myself included) would tell you not to worry about secondary fermentation at all. Lots of people go primary only for about 3 weeks, transfer to bottling bucket, add sugar, and bottle. One less step - one less chance to cause problems with your beer.

Yes, you will need a drilled bung of appropriate size to accommodate an airlock for your carboy to let off CO2.

+1 to the above.

I do love using my carboy for secondary ‘fermentations’… and by that, I mean to impart flavor, clarification if necessary. (Oak Chips, Gelatin, Irish Moss, etc.)

…and it’s always nice to have a vessel on standby so you can go right ahead and make another batch!

I’ve never heard anyone say they have too much!

if you don’t have an airlock just use aluminum foil. that all i use anymore.

I still rack to a secondary and agree with all of the above posters.

+1 Aluminum foil sprayed with sanitized wrapped loosely over the top of the carboy opening. No more slippery sanitized bungs sliding up and out the opening and onto the floor. You do miss out on the bloop-bloop-bloop of the airlock during fermentation though.

I only secondary beers that will be sitting more than 8 weeks.

I do not rack to a secondary and agree with all the above posters.

Especially Braufessor; “Lots of people go primary only for about 3 weeks, transfer to bottling bucket, add sugar, and bottle. One less step - one less chance to cause problems with your beer.

:cheers:
VK

I’d recommend using a secondary.

Don’t use one when experience tells you why you don’t need to.

I use one periodically and I know by looking at the recipe if I’m going to want one or not. Start old school and learn your process. Streamline it when you understand what you are streamlining. :slight_smile:

:cheers:

Thanks for the help eveyone. I appreciate it.

So secondary fermentation is not a necessity, even when the recipe calls for it?

[quote=“woody34”]Thanks for the help eveyone. I appreciate it.

So secondary fermentation is not a necessity, even when the recipe calls for it?[/quote]

It depends on what you’re doing.
As many have stated on here (myself included), secondary fermentation is great for processes to impart extra flavors, or to age your beer if desired.

There’s really no right or wrong way to do it. Your way is, well… your way. That’s the beauty of it.

I made an Oak Aged Bourbon Porter last year. After primary fermentation was done, I racked it into a secondary, and put the bourbon soaked oak chips in to sit for a month or so… I’m sure you could do that after your initial fermentation finished in your primary, but each brewer has their own comfort level.

If you’re new to it, follow the recipe 'till you feel you’ve got the hang of it. It’s like cooking. When you start out, you’re a slave to a cookbook for things because you’re not sure what flavors go with what - or what processes yield the results you’re looking for.

Once you’ve got that down, the book goes out the window, and you make your food based on your tastes, and what you know (or feel) will work well.

Same goes for beer.

Thats what makes it so much fun!

[quote=“woody34”]So secondary fermentation is not a necessity, even when the recipe calls for it?[/quote]If the recipe is from a LHBS, you might consider the idea that calling for a secondary is just a thinly-veiled ploy to have you spend money on another fermenter. Or if could be simple adherence to “tradition” without putting any thought into how using a secondary will enhance the quality of the beer. As others have stated, you will need to decide what works best for you, your equipment, and your beer and the only way to do that is to brew tons of beer and sample, sample, sample! :wink:

No, but my wife says I do…

…Ohh… you meant beer…
I got it now.

…Ohh… you meant beer…
I got it now.[/quote]

I must be getting old… it took me a few seconds to get that. :oops:

You can use the 5 gallon glass carboy for primary if you want. I brewed for years in one, just be prepared for a fair amount of blowoff in the first 2-3 days. I just got the 6 gallon better bottle and still get some blowoff. You can ferment in the bucket, but you might have a logistics/equipment problem if you primary in the bucket, skip secondary, and then need to use the bucket for bottling. But it sounds like you have two buckets so that isn’t going to be a problem.

I recommend skipping the secondary for at least your first dozen batches. Keep It Simple. You have a ton of other variables to deal with and for the starting brewer it complicates things and there is a chance of infection. You’ll get comfortable with your own technique. Then temperature control seems to be the next thing to improve, it is easy in most cases if you have a basement (temps are stable and usually right in the ale range.)

Good luck, you’ll do fine. The worst thing that can happen… is that you’ll make beer. May not be the best one ever made, but it will give you something to learn from.

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