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When is primary fermentation done?

I brewed a batch of Tombstone (extract kit) last Saturday (this is day 4). It had a good active primary fermentation, a nice head of krausen, etc. but no more bubbling (heart beat) in airlock. I’m thinking of racking to secondary tomorrow or Friday (day 5 or 6). I usually wait a week, but it seems ready. Any reasons why I should or shouldn’t do this? Thanks!

I’m one of those people that thinks a secondary clearing vessel is unnecessary. I’ll usually wait until about day ten after the fermentation became active to take a SG reading. This first SG sample usually still has CO2 suspending a lot of particles. Second SG reading about day 15 to 18. This sample is usually clear and confirms FG. I’ll bottle soon after that. As long as I don’t stir up the compacted trub layer with the siphon most of the beer styles bottled are clear.

I agree with Flars. I never use a secondary, but many very experienced brewers feel they get clearer beer by using what is usually referred to as a “secondary”, I do’t care a lot about perfect clarity and my cloudy beer discourages others from drinking my beer. More for me!

If you use a secondary - and everyone should try it to see if they like it - let the beer reach final gravity in the primary then give it a few more days. The primary has lots of yeast to eat up the sugars, then eat up the undesirable by-products they produced when they ate the sugars. If you transfer out of the primary before the yeast have eaten the undesirable stuff, you may end up with the undesirables still in the beer. To me that means a week in primary after the beer reaches final gravity.

If you’re adding fruit or something else containing sugar to the beer, the “secondary fermentation” is a real secondary fermentation and you may benefit from transferring as soon as you reach final gravity to take advantage of the higher quantity of yeast in suspension.

Remember: ugly beer means more beer for you!

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@old_dawg I can respect your stance on secondaries. I’m a proponent of secondaries and appreciate your advice at trying it as so many people against them absolutely refuse to suggest them.

I’ve seen first hand that secondaries work for MY brewery. YMMV. I suggest trying it and seeing. I don’t secondary wheats or wits, they are supposed to be cloudy!

There is a lot of research out there that shows beers that are to be dry hopped benefit from secondary to allow the yeast to settle. If dry hopping in primary the hop oils attach themselves to the yeast and fall out of suspension with the yeast.

This is why brewing is so interesting. Try things. Learn things. Do what works best for YOU.

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