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To Secondary or not to Secondary

Greetings home brewers one and all. I am brewing my first home brew ever with NB Deluxe kit and Irish Red Ale. Decided to do a full 5 gal boil with my new 8 gal SS pot. Followed recipe. I did add the Golding Hops at :40 instead :30 by mistake. Ended the boil 6mins early thinking this might compensate hop boil time but I doubt it.
Notes and issues:
1: Gas kitchen stove is marginal to rapid boil 5 gal. Lid had to be partially on so hope condensation drip back didn’t occur much. Need brew burner. 2: Rapid cooling not rapid, need imm. chiller. I sat the pot in deep snow but it was snowing so had the lid mostly on again. Was at 76F and into fermenter @ 1hr. Thnx to snow!
OG. 1.047 vs 1.044 recipe. Pitched rehydrated Nottingham @ 69. Fermenting well 12 hrs later @ 68F. Now 7 days in primary with a bubble every 2 - 3mins.
Have decided to leave in primary 2-3 weeks - no secondary after reading John Palmer and yeast lab advice that today, there is no downside to leaving in primary up to 3 weeks and longer.
Seems many now skip moving to secondary with excellent results unless additions are being added requiring second fermentation or extensive lagering time or for high gravity beers. Would like to hear comments on this point and any of the above. I’ve found a new passion. Hope the Irish Red turns out well. Cheers!

I’ve been brewing for about 2 years, maybe 25-30 batches. I have racked to secondary for all but two of these brews. What is it necessary? No, I think it’s just a matter of preference.

I like the clarifying that happens and I am frequently waiting for one of my two kegs to free up. I think it will be fine to not rack to secondary, but try it for a batch or two at some time and see what you think.

Welcome to homebrew!

[quote=“My1stPony”]I’ve been brewing for about 2 years, maybe 25-30 batches. I have racked to secondary for all but two of these brews. What is it necessary? No, I think it’s just a matter of preference.

I like the clarifying that happens and I am frequently waiting for one of my two kegs to free up. I think it will be fine to not rack to secondary, but try it for a batch or two at some time and see what you think.

Welcome to homebrew![/quote]

Thanks for reply. I was planning to rack to secondary just for the experience this time but had to be away till prime time to do so had past. ( less that 1 bubble per minute in primary) but will try it sometime. I know it is a debate that has been around a long time but my searching seems to reveal a trend more towards not using secondary and eased my mind that I would have a better beer had I done so. :blah:

When I bumped up to 10 gal batches I brewed 5 batches and spilt between 2 carboys (I now have a 14 gal conical). I had always done secondary so with this I decided to rack one to secondary and leave the other in primary. I can say without a doubt that the SECONDARY cleared much much better. I wish I would have taken pics… My advice is try it both ways and determine what works best for you.

@ Josh,
Is it ok to rack to Secondary now that the Primary has slowed to a bubble every 2-3 mins? Has been 8 days since pitching. I would like to free up my Primary and to have the clearest Red possible.

Joe

I would wait until primary fermentation to complete before racking it. Bubbles in the airlock are not a good way to tell if fermentation is complete. Those yeasties are still active well after bubbling stops as they are cleaning up.
If you want clear beer find a way to cold crash and add gelatin. You canfind a lot of useful info on this site about those techniques.

I agree, on both points.
I also routinely transfer to secondary now for ALL of my brews. As far as the yeasties doing their “cleanup”, that process continues in the second vessel, because you are still carrying some yeast over in the transfer.

Anyway, the advice to try it for yourself both ways is especially spot-on. That’s what I did, and that’s what convinced me that there was a noticeable difference in the finished beer, in both clarity and character. It involves little extra effort and if done properly, minimal risk.

Prof I couldn’t agree more about the risk. Unless you haphazardly sanitize and rack sloppily contamination and infection are of VER LITTLE concern. I think the risk is highly overrated.

The experiment that the Basic Brewing guys did with Chris Colby a couple years ago showed the same thing while the beer was in carboys, however in their experiment there was no difference at all in clarity of the packaged beer. That was my anecdotal experience as well. There may be other valid reasons to use a secondary, but IMO clarification in the final beer isn’t one of them.

It’s been a while since I listened to the podcast, but I believe the taste tests were inconclusive.

Although I haven’t listened to that I will believe you. However I look at it as if I get it to clear in carboy there is less sediment in my kegs.

To be fair, they bottle conditioned theirs, which would impact clarity independently when the yeast get active again from the priming sugar.

When I first started kegging, I essentially did a secondary to reduce yeast in keg:
A. Rack the beer from “primary” to a keg that had a shortened liquid dip tube
B. Introduce the keg to cold storage
C. Add finings and continue cold storage
D. Push to a fresh keg
E. Carb and serve

A-C would generally span about a week.

I stopped doing that after several kegs, because I got tired of cleaning so many kegs and because I didn’t feel that there was enough ROI. Sure the yeast was reduced, but there was still plenty left in the new keg after additional time in cold storage.

It may be possible that a beer will clear more quickly if you secondary, but I can say from experience that if your process is under control and you are not in a rush to drink the beer, 3-4 weeks in the primary will yield a crystal clear rack into the keg.

And if you use buckets like I do for primaries, it’s easy and cheap to purchase new ones if you want to brew again before the last one is ready.

As stated above, try both ways and decide for yourself. I did - that’s why I no longer secondary.

Note about using snow to chill.

The problem with chilling your wort with snow is that it can actually have an effect you’re not expecting. The snow can actually start acting like an insulator and keep the heat in the kettle except for what is escaping through the top, kind of like an igloo. An ice bath is a much better way because you can actually pull the heat out through the water and the ice will keep the water cold.

Not to say you couldn’t try putting snowballs in a bath… might work well. :slight_smile:

I’m thinking of racking to my secondary this weekend. English Pale Ale has been in primary for 2 weeks. Will one week in secondary make a large difference? Or will it require another week or two to clear it up a bit?

Cheers!

:cheers:

[quote=“RyChannel”]Note about using snow to chill.

The problem with chilling your wort with snow is that it can actually have an effect you’re not expecting. The snow can actually start acting like an insulator and keep the heat in the kettle except for what is escaping through the top, kind of like an igloo. An ice bath is a much better way because you can actually pull the heat out through the water and the ice will keep the water cold.

Not to say you couldn’t try putting snowballs in a bath… might work well. :slight_smile: [/quote]

+1. Using snow around a brew pot to chill is counter productive. Seems look a good idea, but it’s actually a insulator and will help keep the pot warmer longer. You’d be better off just letting it sit out in the cold air.

The snow directly around the pot melts and can then even freeze up again once there is a small opening between the pot and snow. The heat from the pot fills this area and actually works to keep the pot warm. Like mentioned above, it’s like an igloo effect.

[quote=“UM2UVA”]I’m thinking of racking to my secondary this weekend. English Pale Ale has been in primary for 2 weeks. Will one week in secondary make a large difference? Or will it require another week or two to clear it up a bit?

Cheers!

:cheers: [/quote]
If you cold crash it (place it at refrigerator temperatures) for that one week, it will make a huge difference for clarity. Of course, you’ll get the same effect if you just cold crash it in the primary.

[quote=“rebuiltcellars”][quote=“UM2UVA”]I’m thinking of racking to my secondary this weekend. English Pale Ale has been in primary for 2 weeks. Will one week in secondary make a large difference? Or will it require another week or two to clear it up a bit?

Cheers!

:cheers: [/quote]
If you cold crash it (place it at refrigerator temperatures) for that one week, it will make a huge difference for clarity. Of course, you’ll get the same effect if you just cold crash it in the primary.[/quote]

Unfortunately, I don’t have the equipment to cold crash. It’s included in my master plan, but not yet. Not yet.

[quote=“UM2UVA”]
Unfortunately, I don’t have the equipment to cold crash. It’s included in my master plan, but not yet. Not yet.[/quote]
A word of advice: skip the cold crashing investment and go to straight to kegging–even if you have to save up for it. Basically has the same effect with a lot of other obvious benefits.

[quote=“kcbeersnob”][quote=“UM2UVA”]
Unfortunately, I don’t have the equipment to cold crash. It’s included in my master plan, but not yet. Not yet.[/quote]
A word of advice: skip the cold crashing investment and go to straight to kegging–even if you have to save up for it. Basically has the same effect with a lot of other obvious benefits.[/quote]
Kegging IS cold crashing, as long as you put the keg in the fridge…

I use snow here in Northern Wisconsin…we have an abundance…however, i use the snow in place of ice. I use a big plastic bin fill half with wate and add snow to make a super cold slush. went from boil to 75 degreed in 20 minutes. Hope this helps.

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