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Why use secondary fermenter

In my first kit I’m at the step below.

What is the purpose of this vs just letting the beer sit in the 1st carboy for the rest of its time? What is the advantage, what is gained in this process?

There is no advantage, which is why thousands of homebrewers no longer use secondary. There is actually a greater chance of contamination if you do use a secondary, so why bother. The old school thinking was that the yeast cake would autolyze and give off-flavors to the beer, and that the beer would clear faster if racked to secondary. The clarity thing is completely false, and the autolysis concern is largely overblown – it would take 2-2.5 months on a homebrewing scale for signs of autolysis to appear. As long as you bottle or keg the beer within a couple of months, you are totally safe to keep the beer in primary. And another thing – I think a lot of beers are underattenuated when racked too early – basically the yeast quits and falls asleep and doesn’t wake up again if you remove 90% of it from the actively fermenting beer. It’s better to leave the beer to ferment 100% before you even start to think about racking… and then when you rack, it should be to the keg or the bottling bucket, not to a “secondary fermenter”. There is no need for “secondary fermentation”. It’s an old Papazianism that just never wants to die.

Transferring to secondary also helps your local or internet home-brew supplier sell carboys.

I disagree. When I first started 10gal batches I would have to use 2 carboys. Once I racked one to secondary and left the other in primary. Everything else was identical. The secondary cleared much better. I prefer to leave it in the carboy rather than racking it into my keg.
And unless you rack or sanitize haphazardly there is very little concern

This was my main concern as well. I have 3 other carbons so it wasn’t a cost thing and I love brewing so it’s not a problem to do the “work” of transferring. I just was reading the directions and thinking why? What’s the purpose? What’s to really gain vs not?

Pleas anyone else who has an opinion on this chime in.

I agree with Dave. I ferment under pressure in corny’s. I was initially doing closed transfers in the serving keg, but lately I’ve been simply moving the fermenting keg into the kegerator and serving from it. I’ve done this for both high and low gravity beers, and haven’t had any problems. I will typically blow a keg within 1-2 months, so I imagine I turn over kegs faster than autolysis occurs. Really the only side effect of this practice has been pulling off all the yeast on the first draw, but after that it’s clear sailing. What’s even more convenient for me (ie; allows me to be lazy) is that I no-chill in the fermenting keg as well, so it’s a single vessel from chilling to serving.

I suppose a secondary fermenter can be used where you wish to have less headspace. If you’re using a 6.5-7 gallon primary fermenter for a 5-5.25 gallon batch, well, that’s normal. The headspace will fill with CO2, and there will be no issues. I could see an argument for transferring your 5-gallon batch to a secondary, 5-gallon fermenter in order to minimize the headspace, especially during protracted aging.

Just a thought.

I just brewed my first batch of beer last week and by reading this forum and others I have decided to leave my beer in the primary and only use a secondary if I am going to dry hop a beer.

After all that being said, I am wondering how long should I keep it in my primary before I transfer it over to the corny keg? I have read some conflicting reviews, I am excited to try my beer but I am a firm believer in good things come to those that wait.

My plan right now is to leave my beer in the primary for 3 weeks, transfer to the corny for 2-3 days and then tap, sound good?

3 months? For the most part (extremely strong beers and wild beers excluded) you should be able to get your beer in a keg within 3 weeks.

sorry, typo, meant 3 weeks, hahahahaha, I edited the post, thanks.

I think 3 weeks is good. I aim for 3 to 3 1/2 usually even when the directions say move after about 2.

Also I used to move to secondary almost every time, now I hardly ever bother - I don;t think I have used a secondary on my last 10 + batches. Even if I am super careful about sanitation, etc it is just an extra step that has little value and can add more issues.

[quote=“Loopie Beer”]I disagree. When I first started 10gal batches I would have to use 2 carboys. Once I racked one to secondary and left the other in primary. Everything else was identical. The secondary cleared much better. I prefer to leave it in the carboy rather than racking it into my keg.
And unless you rack or sanitize haphazardly there is very little concern[/quote]

+1
I stopped doing secondaries for a short while, but went back to doing them because I liked the results better.
And I totally agree that the contamination risk is minimal (if not nil) if your sanitation is everything it should be.

Everyone’s taste (and level of patience) is different, but I find I get a significantly cleaner tasting finished beer when I do the secondary. The additional work and risk is minimal, and the end end result is worth it to me.

But, as they say, your mileage may vary. In the end, just do whatever delivers an end product that satisfies you.

[quote=“The Professor”][quote=“Loopie Beer”]I disagree. When I first started 10gal batches I would have to use 2 carboys. Once I racked one to secondary and left the other in primary. Everything else was identical. The secondary cleared much better. I prefer to leave it in the carboy rather than racking it into my keg.
And unless you rack or sanitize haphazardly there is very little concern[/quote]

+1
I stopped doing secondaries for a short while, but went back to doing them because I liked the results better.
And I totally agree that the contamination risk is minimal (if not nil) if your sanitation is everything it should be.

Everyone’s taste (and level of patience) is different, but I find I get a significantly cleaner tasting finished beer when I do the secondary. The additional work and risk is minimal, and the end end result is worth it to me.

But, as they say, your mileage may vary. In the end, just do whatever delivers an end product that satisfies you.[/quote]

I have to agree with these. My results are also noticeably better with a secondary. The beer is noticeably more clear and cleaner tasting, and I always get a (sometimes substantial) layer of yeast and sediment in the fermenter that would likely be in my beer otherwise. I don’t think contamination is much of an issue, as long as reasonable caution is excercised. At least I’ve never had a problem.

[quote=“tony269”]I just brewed my first batch of beer last week and by reading this forum and others I have decided to leave my beer in the primary and only use a secondary if I am going to dry hop a beer.

After all that being said, I am wondering how long should I keep it in my primary before I transfer it over to the corny keg? I have read some conflicting reviews, I am excited to try my beer but I am a firm believer in good things come to those that wait.

My plan right now is to leave my beer in the primary for 3 weeks, transfer to the corny for 2-3 days and then tap, sound good?[/quote]
My most recent IPA I took a gravity reading after 3 weeks, it was the same for 3 days so I dry hopped in the primary for 5 days then kegged it.

My experience is that a beer left say 6 weeks in primary and carefully racked to the keg will clear up just as quickly as a beer that spent 3 weeks in primary and 3 weeks in secondary before kegging.

The reason I rack to secondary is because I am space-limited. I just don’t have the space to store multiple primaries, nor do I have the space for a keg fridge, so I have to bottle. I have the 6.5 gallon primary and 5 gallon secondary carboys I got with my starter kit, plus one more 5 gallon carboy I got for free (I wouldn’t have otherwise bought one.) Racking to secondary frees up my primary for my next batch, plus I do extended conditioning and dry hopping. I store the PBW I use to clean the primary in one of the 5 gallon carboys and then reuse it when I wash bottles. The only brew I have not racked into secondary was a Cream Ale. It turned out good, but it was much better one month after bottling verses two weeks after bottling. Unfortunately, I needed it faster than I had originally planned, so I bottled it after 12 days in primary (after checking the SG, of course.) And you shouldn’t fear infection if you properly clean and sanitize your equipment and work space. That’s the one thing you should always do no matter what. A few extra minutes of your time now minimizes the chance you’ll end up pouring a brew you’ve waited six weeks for down the drain…

I am brewing the Petite Saison d’Ete extract kit - it’s my first 5 gallon batch. The recipe said to add water to the fermenter to increase the volume to 5 gallons after the wort had chilled. I hadn’t marked my 6 gallon carboy so I had no idea how much 5 gallons was. I know short poured - maybe 4.5 gallons. I guessed.

The batch has been fermenting for about two weeks. Here is my question:

Can I transfer it to a secondary fermenter and add water to get to the five gallons after fermentation has already started?

Thanks for your help!

Tim

Don’t transfer it to secondary. Just leave it in primary for another 10 days, then straight to bottle or keg. Leave all the yeast in there to finish its job.

You can add distilled water later… but if it tastes good, I wouldn’t. Just let it be what it wants to be. It’s up to you though. You could add a little water if you want more slightly diluted beer.

No one likes a watered down beer. I’ll let it go and see what happens. Thanks for the reply dmtaylo2.

I have always used secondary, probably always will. That thin layer on the bottom of the secondary came from somewhere.

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