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Brewing Topics => Brewing Discussion => Topic started by: SleepySamSlim on June 17, 2009, 11:52:10 PM

Title: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: SleepySamSlim on June 17, 2009, 11:52:10 PM
I always do a secondary fermentation for improved clarity and a bit of mellowing. I've also always gone 14 days --- I'm now thinking for average ales that 7 days might be enough time. Some special ales might need 2 weeks

How many of you vary your secondary times ?
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: stadelman on June 18, 2009, 07:52:31 AM
I don't do secondaries at all anymore.  It's an extra transfer, wastes beer, is another vector for infection, usually pulls the beer off of the yeast too early and just isn't necessary.  I suppose you could make an argument for using a secondary with fruit, possibly dry hopping (although I prefer to do that in the primary) or lagering.

Generally moving to secondary is a waste of time and beer.  Leave it in the primary longer.
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: UselessBrewing on June 18, 2009, 10:39:22 AM
Everyone brews differently. I secondary usually for 2 weeks. If you use a fining agent like gelatin, you could pull it off secondary within 3-4 days. I like to bulk condition in the secondary for a couple weeks or longer depending on the beer.

Cheers
Preston
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: stadelman on June 18, 2009, 12:06:34 PM
What are the advantages of moving the beer to a secondary versus just leaving it in the primary for the extra time?
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: MaltLicker on June 18, 2009, 07:21:10 PM
I often see a dramatic improvement in clarity after moving to secondary, and it does not take long.  I've transferred "simple" beers and the clarity was so good in just days that I bottled much sooner than expected.  It is certainly not required, but I personally worry less about infection after it's beer.  The alcohol and acidity are not nearly as bug-friendly as wort.  And big complex beers that need conditioning time are better stored on less yeast than you'd have in primary (if you were talking months and not weeks).

And I don't secondary wheats or wits b/c clarity is not important and those styles are best drunk fresh.
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: SleepySamSlim on June 18, 2009, 10:41:53 PM
I'm going to try 7 days in secondary on my current batch and see how it goes. Partly I'm driven by the desire to kick out more beer and partly as we are heading into Summer here in Oregon. Meaning that maintaining 68-ish degrees will require the chilling chamber I just completed for both primary and secondary.

And even though I have two carboys the cooling chamber becomes the bottle-neck in the process.

In getting through my first year of brewing (in Oregon) I can see that Spring and Fall are perfect temps for brewing ... 60s - 70s. During Winter I'll use my temp controller and heat belt on Primary and can secondary 2 carboys at once. But Summer will be a bit trickier ... ohhh to have a basement.

With modern sanitizers like StarSan I don't worry too much about infections ... I still scrub and wash like hell, but feel I can create a fairly sanitary environment.

Brew On
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: stadelman on June 19, 2009, 07:31:31 AM
I still don't buy it.  I think the positive effects of using a secondary are mostly psychological.  I think it's also a case of... I read this somewhere once and it's what I do, so I'm going to keep doing it.

Let's take these one by one-
1.  Bulk conditioning/Mellowing.  You can bulk condition in the primary.  Autolysis (at least in the first month) has been proven a myth.
2.  Clarity.  Gravity takes affect both in the secondary vessel and in the primary vessel.  Leaving the beer in primary longer will produce similar results.
3.  I started numbering these thinking I would go through the previous posts and come up with a list of several benefits to using a primary, guess there were just two.

Downsides as I see them-
1.  More work
2.  Another place to pick up contamination
3.  You're picking up more oxygen and increasing or hastening oxidation
4.  Loss of beer!
5.  A lot of times this is done too soon, you're pulling your beer off of the yeast before it's done working

Also Jamil Z and many top homebrewers practice and advocate a no secondary process for most beers.  Obviously there are times that a secondary is useful or required, but it's my belief that those times are few and far between. 

Break free from the shackles of secondaries!
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: Wildrover on June 19, 2009, 11:07:33 AM
A lot of this discussion (and with some an argument) I think needs to be put in context.  I know those who do not secondary at all and it works fine for them and its true that many say it is not necessary as I believe it is not.  However, everyone brews differently and has a different process that works for them.  To suggest that a secondary isn't good for anyone simply because it isn't good for your process is a little short sighted in my opinion.   

I've taken beer straight from the primary to the keg and from the primary to the secondary and I've come to the conclusion that I prefer the secondary.  This is because in my home brewery with my equipment the secondary makes a great intermediate step for the beer while it waits for an empty keg and frees up the primary for another batch.  The secondary also helps with clarity as well as getting that gravity down that one extra point or so.

But the main reason I secondary is because I primary in plastic buckets, not glass carboys.  I only have five gallon carboys but seven gallon primary buckets.  The buckets are also easier to clean and versatile as I use them as measuring devices during my brew day.  I like the ease in use and cleaning and the extra space for when I underestimate the amount of wort I've produced as well as the fact I shoot for six gallon batches to compensate for the beer loss due to trub and spent yeast.  I couldn't make a five gallon batch if I primaried in a five gallon carboy.  I also don't worry about breaking them as they get moved around a bit during brew day and are subject to some quick temp changes, something that would crack a glass carboy (I'm speaking from experience). 

However, the bucket is permeable so when the wort becomes beer and the yeast settles to the bottom the plastic stands a much greater chance of letting oxygen get to the beer than the glass carboy.  The perfect solution is to rack the beer to the secondary.  As far as beer loss goes, if there is any left in the primary after I move the beer over I will bottle what's on the bottom of the primary.  I don't like to lose beer so bottling whatever is left on the bottom of the primary after I have my five gallons in the secondary is a great way to store the beer for posterity. I only have three taps so there are only three beers on tap at any one time but I have all kinds of bottled homebrew because I've started this practice. 

I don't worry about contamination either.  I keep everything really clean and do my best to give everything in the area a good cleaning before I move anything from something to something else.  Like Preston says, once its beer it can do a pretty good job of taking care of itself. 

I've gotten to the point of where I really enjoy the day where I move the beer from the primary to the secondary (as well as bottle a few beers) because it gives me a chance to try the new beer and give me an idea of how well (or bad) things are going to be.  So I don't see it as "more work" its "more fun" to me.  This is my hobby after all, if I didn't enjoy the process I'd go to the store and buy beer.

I'd also be willing to bet my next pay check that when I move the beer from the glass carboy to the keg, the carboy is about a hundred times easier to clean than if I had used it to primary in.   

Finally, as alluded to earlier, often times I'll make a beer and it will become ready but there won't be an empty keg or I'll have a beer ahead of it in the queue.  Often times beers are going to be asked to sit for 5-8 weeks and every once in a while even longer before they get to the keg.  I'd much rather have that beer off of that initial yeast if its going to sit for that long.  Not to mention how long I'd have to wait to brew another batch if I tied up my primary buckets that long.

So, in my home brewery the pro/con list favors the secondary despite the fact it might not have much effect on the beer, the secondary has a huge effect on my process. 

$.02     
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: stadelman on June 19, 2009, 12:51:31 PM
"Obviously there are times that a secondary is useful or required, but it's my belief that those times are few and far between"

is a far cry from...

"To suggest that a secondary isn't good for anyone"

I've distilled a couple of "pro primary" points from your post-

1.  To combat the oxygen permeability of a plastic bucket.  I have no real metrics on this, but I'm wondering if the oxygen the beer picks up through the plastic is more or less than the oxygen the beer is going to pick up in the transfer to secondary.  Even if you flush the vessel with co2, there is going to be some pickup.  There's no magic "blanket of CO2" that exists.  CO2 is going to mix with O2.  Inf fact, just the oxygen in the transfer tubing is probably more than the oxygen that permeates the plastic bucket.  However, I will concede that a plastic bucket doesn't seem ideal for a month or more of storage. 

2.  Storage.  I can't argue with this.  If you've purchased 5 gallon glass carboys as storage vessels, that's what you have to use.  I don't recommend using something you don't have for storage.

The question I'm answering is NOT "What should Wildrover be doing and what kind of equipment does he or doesn't he have?"  I'm answering the question "Have you changed your secondary approach?"  My answer to that question is... "Yep... I usually don't do a secondary because (generally speaking) it's not necessary and doesn't really help."
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: dhaenerbrewer on June 19, 2009, 05:55:41 PM
I personally have mixed feelings on secondary. The benefits of getting the beer off yeast before autolysis occurs are great, but like stated before it takes awhile for autolysis to occur. Even longer if the beer is cold. I generally just stick the whole carboy in the fridge when I'm ready to cold crash it, then rack it off into kegs about 4-5 days later. Never had a problem. I have to agree with the point about oxygen pickup. It is very valid. Although, if you have a conical fermenter and all you have to do is rack the trub and yeast off the bottom, by all means do it. That is by far the best setup. There is a good reason that professional fermenters are called Unitanks ( primary and secondary all in one ).

Darin
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: SleepySamSlim on June 19, 2009, 07:47:59 PM
Everyone needs to brew in a way that makes sense to them. I secondary based on the physical evidence that is presented to me every time I bottle or keg ... there is another 3/8" of trub at the bottom of the carboy. That means less suspended solids in the final product. I also know that time mellows the ale.

And as was voiced earlier - once its in the secondary it can stay there awhile should something come up.

Brew On
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: Wildrover on June 19, 2009, 10:13:57 PM
"Obviously there are times that a secondary is useful or required, but it's my belief that those times are few and far between"

is a far cry from...

"To suggest that a secondary isn't good for anyone"

I completely agree with this statement. You are right, that one statement you made, to me, is a far cry from suggesting that a secondary isn't good for anyone.

However, other statements attributed to you like:

"Break free from the shackles of secondaries!" 

or

“I still don't buy it.  I think the positive effects of using a secondary are mostly psychological.  I think it's also a case of... I read this somewhere once and it's what I do, so I'm going to keep doing it."

followed by a point by point refutation of a previous posters reasoning for conducting a secondary, to me, isn't a far cry from suggesting that a secondary isn't good for anyone and seems to take aim at other people's processes rather than just commenting on your own.   

My apologies if I misunderstood the point you were trying to make and misread your comments.
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: MaltLicker on June 20, 2009, 06:36:58 AM
Break free from the shackles of secondaries!

For me, it is more a question of trying things I believe will improve the current batch, rather than sticking with a set process.  I see many posts online that appear to be shackled by assumptions and personal preferences rather than a mindset toward improving the brew at hand.  Each brewer and process are unique in myriad ways, so it's impractical to say any single path is "the best."  Better to say this works for me and this is why. 

I still don't buy it.  I think the positive effects of using a secondary are mostly psychological.  I think it's also a case of... I read this somewhere once and it's what I do, so I'm going to keep doing it.

Also Jamil Z and many top homebrewers practice and advocate a no secondary process for most beers.  Obviously there are times that a secondary is useful or required, but it's my belief that those times are few and far between. 

So, you read someplace (presumably JZ) that secondary is not needed, you agree and don't do it yourself, and you're going to keep doing it that way?  Perhaps the positive effects of avoiding secondary are also psychological?   ;)   Meaning every brewer does what they think is right and makes them comfortable.
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: tommiwommi on June 20, 2009, 09:09:39 AM
If I'm working with a something that isn't going to take more than 2 weeks or dry hopping  (or you can dry hop in your primary)etc.  I skip the secondary on occasion (especially with wheats or darker suds), where clarity isn't much of a concern to that style.
  When I do pale or red ales I rack to a secondary. And there is a difference for sure. But even if you don't mind alittle extra sediment in your bottles, you can just stick to the primary method, it all settles out in the end.

 There is no perfect way to create a great beer, That's why its so fun and that's why there is a million people on here trading info, tricks and ideas all the time.

Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: econolinevan on June 20, 2009, 06:51:52 PM
question on wildrovers statement on bottling leftover beer in primary after getting your five gallons into secondary.  I usually have beer left over after transferring to secondary.  Bottling the left over beer is something I've never thought about.  Is there a good rule of thumb for how much dme or corn sugar is needed for however many fl.oz of beer @ what ever specific gravity?  I just hate pouring out such tasty liquid I've spent time to make.  AS far as the origional question.......I've never not use the secondary approach.  I'm a newer homebrewer (150gallons,5gallons @ a time) and going with secondary is the way I learned and I've never made a batch I wasn't proud of and I have a box full of 36" waist Levis I can't get into to prove it.  Now with what I've read today on this subject, I have something new to try, a beer bottled straight from the primary. Man, what a hobby!!!
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: Wildrover on June 21, 2009, 09:11:36 AM
Sure thing, the right way to do this is to take what beer you have left over in the primary and siphon it into some sort of bottling bucket but given the small amount of beer you have left you could probably use a nice sized pot or something.  The important thing is to figure out how much beer you actually have so you'll know how many bottles to use and how much priming sugar you need.  If you siphon off into the bottling bucket and its marked with gallon, half gallon marks and you feel good about estimating the volume based on those marks than great.  Same if you use a gallon container.  You probably won't end up with anything near a gallon, at least I don't but if you feel good guesstimating with your eyes based on your known volume (e.g. the gallon container) than run with it.  You could also siphon the left over beer into your bottles before putting the beer into the priming container.  This way you'll know exactly how many bottles and how much sugar you'll need. 

After you have your volume of beer you need to figure out how much priming sugar you need.  You'll probably do best to scale down from 3/4 of a cup of priming sugar per five gallon batch based on how much beer you have.  You could also scale up (probably a little easier) from 1/2-1 teaspoon of priming sugar per bottle.  You should boil the sugar in as little water as possible to make sure there is no contamination and that the sugar is sanitized.  After you boil the sugar you can move it to the left over beer and then bottle as you would normally. 

Now, having said all that, you can do it my way (many many many people will cringe using my way however so read with caution).  I usually just add something just over 1/2 teaspoon directly to my clean and sanitized bottle.  With some experimentation I've found the 1 teaspoon number to over carbonate a bit and the 1/2 teaspoon to be just under what I'm looking for (of course make adjustments depending on the beer your are bottling, maybe a little more for wheat or lighter beers and and a little less for heavier, fuller English beers, experiment a little to figure out what amount works best for you).

I like this way because there isn't as much guess work.  I can bottle until I run out of beer.  Having said that, I'm not really taking into account the potential for contaminated priming sugar and carbonation is going to be inconsistent between and among bottles and batches.  Having said that, I've never had a problem with contamination and since all I'm usually bottling is somewhere between 2-6 bottles of left over beer that used to go down the drain, the fact I've found a viable use for it makes me happy enough to trump and concerns I may have had about the consistency regarding the level of carbonation.  It works for me!  To put an experimental spin on it, it gives you the freedom to mess with different levels of carbonation to figure out what you like best with each kind of beer.  Much better to put varying amounts of sugar in each bottle to see what they give you than to try and mess with a five gallon keg.  Just be careful to not prime too much, we don't want any bottle bombs!!  I would say, with my experience, there is never a reason to go above 1 teaspoon per bottle no matter what kind of beer and how much you want it carbonated. 

On a final note, this method of bottling my left over beer developed because the volumes of my primary and secondary are different.  If they were the same I wouldn't have the extra beer and thus, wouldn't bottle anything.  But since I formulate my recipes for six gallons (to account for trub and spent yeast loss) and my kegs and secondaries are only five gallons it means I usually have some left over, depending on original yeast count, the type of yeast, its flocculation, attenuation and my starting wort volume (usually between 2-6 bottles). 

Since I'm taking the beer from the primary I do not expect it to be as clear as if I had taken it from the secondary.  But again, I can't understate that this is the beer that was once going down the drain.  The fact that I've found a way to keep it is worth the extra haze and sediment at the bottom of the bottle. 
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: econolinevan on June 21, 2009, 09:34:54 AM
Sounds good.  I don't worry so much about contamination when bottling, except my bottles, caps and equipment.  I feel the alcohol in the beer should take care of any germs which may be present in the process at this stage.  I bottle all my beer and I have used hot tapwater to disolve and mix my dme and c.sugar into the bottling bucket and I've never had a beer I've had to label as a biohazard.
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: DrinksWellWithOthers on June 21, 2009, 10:43:39 AM
I've changed my secondary approach several times since I've started brewing.

When I first started I did a 1 week primary and 1 week secondary per instructions of my brewing kits.

Then I switched to a 1 week primary and 2 week secondary for better clarity and then I switched that to a 2 week primary and 1 week secondary so the beer would spend more time on the yeast to ensure complete fermentation and let the yeast clean up after itself.

Now I just use a 3 week primary and only secondary if I'm dry hopping or aging a high alcohol beer like a barleywine or RIS. 
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: MaltLicker on June 21, 2009, 03:51:29 PM
...Bottling the left over beer is something I've never thought about.  Is there a good rule of thumb for how much dme or corn sugar is needed for however many fl.oz of beer @ what ever specific gravity? 

I think the general rule of thumb is 1 tsp per 12 oz, but I'm sure you could fine tune that in BSmith
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: econolinevan on June 21, 2009, 08:20:48 PM

I think the general rule of thumb is 1 tsp per 12 oz, but I'm sure you could fine tune that in BSmith
[/quote]

I looked at BSmith carbonation tool and unless I'm missing something, there is no conversion from weight in ounces to teaspoons.  I have no way to measure or weigh out .09 oz of corn sugar or .13 oz of dme.  So, I think with your rule of thumb is where I would start and adjust if necessary.  As always, thanks for sharing your wisdom.
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: tommiwommi on June 21, 2009, 10:05:54 PM
Now I have to try bottling that little extra bit sometime (something new to try again  ;) )
 Generally I don't have too much left over, So I've always used the extra with my hydrometer readings and maybe have a good taste to see where the suds are headed before carbonation happens, just to kinda enjoy the difference from point A to point B, I always have enjoyed the rewards of taking a taste when its flat and then seeing how cool it is a few weeks later when its finished!
 I'll definately have to try to throw some of that extra into a bottle or two sometime wildrover, I never even thought about that
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: stadelman on June 22, 2009, 07:33:49 AM
You're point is well taken.

My bigger issue is the fact that we as a community generally latch on to unproven and sometimes questionable facts and processes.  Someone writes something in a book or on a web page and it becomes a hard coded fact.  For instance, it's my understanding the John Palmer has drastically changed his advice on the use of secondaries from v. 1 of "How to Brew" to the current version.  We all bought the first revision, we read it and we memorized it as fact, but with more experience and information, he's actually changed his view.  Did we all get that update?

Though this thread has grown, I still haven't gotten any good reasons to go back to using secondaries for most beers.  I have gotten a lot of "it works for me."  Bloodletting "worked" for a lot of people too. 


Break free from the shackles of secondaries!

For me, it is more a question of trying things I believe will improve the current batch, rather than sticking with a set process.  I see many posts online that appear to be shackled by assumptions and personal preferences rather than a mindset toward improving the brew at hand.  Each brewer and process are unique in myriad ways, so it's impractical to say any single path is "the best."  Better to say this works for me and this is why. 

I still don't buy it.  I think the positive effects of using a secondary are mostly psychological.  I think it's also a case of... I read this somewhere once and it's what I do, so I'm going to keep doing it.

Also Jamil Z and many top homebrewers practice and advocate a no secondary process for most beers.  Obviously there are times that a secondary is useful or required, but it's my belief that those times are few and far between. 

So, you read someplace (presumably JZ) that secondary is not needed, you agree and don't do it yourself, and you're going to keep doing it that way?  Perhaps the positive effects of avoiding secondary are also psychological?   ;)   Meaning every brewer does what they think is right and makes them comfortable.
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: MaltLicker on June 22, 2009, 08:55:24 AM
My bigger issue is the fact that we as a community generally latch on to unproven and sometimes questionable facts and processes.  Someone writes something in a book or on a web page and it becomes a hard coded fact. 

Amen to that.  And often we read half of the paragraph and neglect the other factors, etc.  I find it impossible to know the other 20 things the brewer is doing that might be a bigger cause of his current problem, so I focus on what he wrote in his question.  For ex, I bottle exclusively, so I suspect secondary/clarity helps me much more than someone who kegs, since the beer is still in volume and yeast that settles in the keg can be blown out.  And I judge and compete, and so know that appearance in the glass does affect judges' perception as to overall quality.  So there's geeks like me at one end, and people that brew 4-6 times a year on the other, and every possible variation in between. 
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: MaltLicker on June 22, 2009, 10:26:36 AM
I think the general rule of thumb is 1 tsp per 12 oz, but I'm sure you could fine tune that in BSmith

I looked at BSmith carbonation tool and unless I'm missing something, there is no conversion from weight in ounces to teaspoons.  I have no way to measure or weigh out .09 oz of corn sugar or .13 oz of dme.  So, I think with your rule of thumb is where I would start and adjust if necessary.  As always, thanks for sharing your wisdom.

Sorry...I believe I was thinking about 'fine-tuning' the volumes of CO2 for your beer style, but that was a poor answer.

Curious, I weighed some corn sugar and checked against BSmith and it's actually very accurate.

My corn sugar was 5.5 oz for a settled, level cup.  On the gram scale, one tsp was 0.11 oz, and as a check, one tbs was 0.33 (3 tsp = 1 tbs). 

For a 5 gal batch size, BS calculates 4.93 oz CS to get 2.7 volumes, which is typical for many brews.  So that is roughly 1 oz CS per gallon, or 128 oz of beer, or 10.6 12 oz bottles.  Changing the batch size to 0.11 (128oz/12oz=10.66, rounded up) led BS to calculate 0.11 oz of CS, or one tsp per bottle (to get 2.7 volumes CO2). 

So the "rule of thumb" of one cup corn sugar per five gallon batch actually pans out for a typical level of 2.7 volumes CO2.

So, if you set BSmith batch size to 0.11, and then pick the volumes of CO2 you want, you could bottle prime with 1 tsp Corn Sugar, plus/minus as needed to hit any style carbonation from mild to hefe.  Be mindful of bottle bombs though: measure carefully, make sure the beer hit its terminal FG, etc. 

I've done this a few times, and when these early "sample" bottles tasted good, I figured the rest in secondary was ready to bottle. 
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: SleepySamSlim on June 22, 2009, 02:40:10 PM
For instance, it's my understanding the John Palmer has drastically changed his advice on the use of secondaries from v. 1 of "How to Brew" to the current version.  We all bought the first revision, we read it and we memorized it as fact, but with more experience and information, he's actually changed his view.  Did we all get that update?

Though this thread has grown, I still haven't gotten any good reasons to go back to using secondaries for most beers.  I have gotten a lot of "it works for me."  Bloodletting "worked" for a lot of people too. 

Thats a good observation -- I think I have Palmers latest (3rd edition) and read over the section(s) on secondary fermentation prior to posting. I used the term section(s) because he touches on in several areas and I felt he was waffling a bit from "hardly needed" to "it helps in general" ...   So thats why I posted in the first place to get some feedback, however I really totally forgot how this can be a hot-button issue (as I've seen on other brewing boards). That was not my intent to push buttons - but I was really questioning what I had heard and read "secondary for 2 weeks blah blah". 

We all brew for our own reasons when all is said and done. I do think its beneficial to review processes and ideas from time to time so that you evolve as a brewer. Lots of good comments and food for thought ... and yes ... I may even go from primary to bottle on a future batch :o
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: stadelman on June 22, 2009, 03:02:47 PM
I would really like to see some sort of experiment on this.

Basic Brewing Radio and BYO recently did a collaborative experiment on the effects of leaving beer on the yeast for an extended period of time.  Similar, but not quite the same thing we're talking about here.

It would be easy enough to brew a batch a beer siphon half of it off to a secondary container and let both the primary and secondary vessels sit until bottling.  A little blind taste test action and we'd have some results.  Having several brewers do this with their varied techniques and equipment and brewing various styles would make the results more valid.


For instance, it's my understanding the John Palmer has drastically changed his advice on the use of secondaries from v. 1 of "How to Brew" to the current version.  We all bought the first revision, we read it and we memorized it as fact, but with more experience and information, he's actually changed his view.  Did we all get that update?

Though this thread has grown, I still haven't gotten any good reasons to go back to using secondaries for most beers.  I have gotten a lot of "it works for me."  Bloodletting "worked" for a lot of people too. 

Thats a good observation -- I think I have Palmers latest (3rd edition) and read over the section(s) on secondary fermentation prior to posting. I used the term section(s) because he touches on in several areas and I felt he was waffling a bit from "hardly needed" to "it helps in general" ...   So thats why I posted in the first place to get some feedback, however I really totally forgot how this can be a hot-button issue (as I've seen on other brewing boards). That was not my intent to push buttons - but I was really questioning what I had heard and read "secondary for 2 weeks blah blah". 

We all brew for our own reasons when all is said and done. I do think its beneficial to review processes and ideas from time to time so that you evolve as a brewer. Lots of good comments and food for thought ... and yes ... I may even go from primary to bottle on a future batch :o
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: Wildrover on June 22, 2009, 05:22:54 PM
You're point is well taken.

My bigger issue is the fact that we as a community generally latch on to unproven and sometimes questionable facts and processes.  Someone writes something in a book or on a web page and it becomes a hard coded fact.  For instance, it's my understanding the John Palmer has drastically changed his advice on the use of secondaries from v. 1 of "How to Brew" to the current version.  We all bought the first revision, we read it and we memorized it as fact, but with more experience and information, he's actually changed his view.  Did we all get that update?

Though this thread has grown, I still haven't gotten any good reasons to go back to using secondaries for most beers.  I have gotten a lot of "it works for me."  Bloodletting "worked" for a lot of people too. 



I think you're missing the point.  No one on here is trying to convince you to go back to using a secondary.  All we have done is present the reasons why we do it when we do.  In fact, if you go back and re-read this thread you are the only one on here trying to convince anyone of anything.  A number of people who claim to secondary also concede that it isn't necessary but then explain their reasons for doing it and why it works for them. 

I'm a little confused by what appears to be an incessant need to convince all of us who use a secondary that we should stop and its a waste of time?  We get it, you don't like to use a secondary and its not generally apart of your process.  Great, if you are happy with the beer you are making then run with it.  If someone is making beer that they like and are proud of and their process has a hundred extra steps that aren't needed, so long as they are enjoying the hobby and the beer they are making, I'm not gonna tell them they're doing it wrong.  I don't think this hobby works like that.  If they are making good beer that they like, they are doing it right.  If they are making bad beer that they don't enjoy then they are doing it wrong.  Everything else is a matter of what works best for you in my opinion. 
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: SOGOAK on June 22, 2009, 06:32:43 PM
I don't secondary anything routine.
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: stadelman on June 22, 2009, 07:20:38 PM
I'm not sure why you're trying to make this into an argument.  This is the second post you've made in an attempt to try and make this an argument.  I ignored the first post.

In the last post that I made on this topic I indicated that I'd really like to see some experimentation on this subject.  Yep, I'm sending the message loud and clear- I'm dead set on my view and I'm incessantly trying to convince everyone.  I don't know about you, but I'll concede I have a bunch to learn.  "This-is-how-I-do-it-and-I-feel-good-about-it-and-I-have-no-other-reason-for-doing-it-but-it-works-and-don't-judge-me" posts aren't conducive to learning, for me.  Do you like how I put that "for me" in there?  That was super inclusive, because maybe you like those types of posts and I didn't want to be judgemental.  

Apparently you're not up to the task of a back and forth discussion on this topic.  You're instead dead set on taking it off topic and making it personal.  


Do whatever you want.  I sincerely hope you enjoy your hundred extra steps, I'm sure you're beer is delicious.


You're point is well taken.

My bigger issue is the fact that we as a community generally latch on to unproven and sometimes questionable facts and processes.  Someone writes something in a book or on a web page and it becomes a hard coded fact.  For instance, it's my understanding the John Palmer has drastically changed his advice on the use of secondaries from v. 1 of "How to Brew" to the current version.  We all bought the first revision, we read it and we memorized it as fact, but with more experience and information, he's actually changed his view.  Did we all get that update?

Though this thread has grown, I still haven't gotten any good reasons to go back to using secondaries for most beers. I have gotten a lot of "it works for me."  Bloodletting "worked" for a lot of people too.  



I think you're missing the point.  No one on here is trying to convince you to go back to using a secondary.  All we have done is present the reasons why we do it when we do.  In fact, if you go back and re-read this thread you are the only one on here trying to convince anyone of anything.  A number of people who claim to secondary also concede that it isn't necessary but then explain their reasons for doing it and why it works for them.  

I'm a little confused by what appears to be an incessant need to convince all of us who use a secondary that we should stop and its a waste of time?  We get it, you don't like to use a secondary and its not generally apart of your process.  Great, if you are happy with the beer you are making then run with it.  If someone is making beer that they like and are proud of and their process has a hundred extra steps that aren't needed, so long as they are enjoying the hobby and the beer they are making, I'm not gonna tell them they're doing it wrong.  I don't think this hobby works like that.  If they are making good beer that they like, they are doing it right.  If they are making bad beer that they don't enjoy then they are doing it wrong.  Everything else is a matter of what works best for you in my opinion.  
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: tommiwommi on June 22, 2009, 09:16:10 PM
I never seen where Wildrover is creating a an argument about whether it's the right way to use a secondary or not. I think after you make a million batches of beer at home it's a matter of preference really.
 I believe both approaches are great methods, After that, It's up to the person making the beer.
 Say, if you were making a barley wine, Would you let it set in a primary to condition for 8 months? It's not gonna work
 My thoughts (and with how I was taught) are that if it's gonna take longer than 21 days to complete, it goes to a secondary because of the yeasts dying off to prevent off flavors (my grandfather brewed his own for 50 years, A sencondary was only used if needed)
 I agree with both approaches, but why should there be any argument at all, I homebrew because it is one of the most laid back, rewarding, fun hobbies ever.
 Exchanging ideas is fun, But I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks if you beat him long enough to retrain him.
 I haven't seen yet as to why using a primary only is the know all be all way to do things. Show me scientific facts as to why only that method is the only way to go.  I use a seconday on a 50/50 basis (when needed) more often than not.
   I'd like to see some informative liturature that changes how I can approach the way I make the suds that I enjoy daily (that I'm happy with, and everyone else I know thinks is wonderful as well) 


Tomato...Tomoto,  They all taste good in a crock pot tommorrow morning, Who gives a Sh*t!
 
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: SleepySamSlim on June 22, 2009, 10:00:41 PM
""Apparently you're not up to the task of a back and forth discussion on this topic.  You're instead dead set on taking it off topic and making it personal. 

Do whatever you want.  I sincerely hope you enjoy your hundred extra steps, I'm sure you're beer is delicious.""


Don't make me pull this thread over ... because dammit I'll send MaltLicker back there to straighten things out !   
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: Wildrover on June 24, 2009, 02:14:15 PM
I'm the one turning this into an argument and personal?  Oh brother  ::)

Well for what its worth, yes actually my beer is delicious as evidenced by the compliments I get and the fact they have done well in competition.  But the biggest indicator is that I enjoy the beer I make.  I also enjoy all the steps in the process however many there may be.  I also hope you enjoy the beer you make however few steps you employ. 

If your process works for you then great, run with it.  My process works for me and until I have a good reason to change it I'll run what I do.   
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: UselessBrewing on June 29, 2009, 03:09:31 PM
Sheesh
I go on vacation and miss a nice discussion like this. Guess Ill quit going on vacation!  8)

Disclaimer: The opinions and ideas expressed in this posting are my own, If you subscribe to them, so be it, If not :  :P

 ;D

I still don't buy it.  I think the positive effects of using a secondary are mostly psychological.  I think it's also a case of... I read this somewhere once and it's what I do, so I'm going to keep doing it.
No There are very clear reasons to go to a secondary which are not psychological and there are clear reasons not to.
1. The addition of misc spices, fruits, and hops that you don't want the yeast to accost.
2. Big beers that need bulk conditioning. My personal rule of thumb is anything bigger than 1.060 should go to secondary for bulk conditioning.
3. Autolysis, It is not a myth, you may want to do more reading. Or speak to  professional brewers like dhaenerbrewer, AndrewQld, bonjour and hear their thoughts.
4. Adding fining agents like Gelatin
When not to go to secondary.
1. Small/Normal/Ordinary beers (IMO: under 1.050) after a sufficient amount of time has lapsed after primary fermentation has completed to clear the beer. Your call
2. Cloudy beers like wheat beers often do not need a secondary.
Quote
Let's take these one by one-
1.  Bulk conditioning/Mellowing.  You can bulk condition in the primary.  Autolysis (at least in the first month) has been proven a myth.
No you can not bulk condition in in the primary. Bulk conditioning requires several months and I personally have bulk conditioned for over a year. Lagers take a minimum of 3 months and I usually do a tirtiary for that!
Quote
2.  Clarity.  Gravity takes affect both in the secondary vessel and in the primary vessel.  Leaving the beer in primary longer will produce similar results.
Not sure which one you are talking about here Clarity or Gravity so I will address them both.
Clarity: Yes after a sufficient amount of time the beer will clear. However if you leave the beer on the primary yeast cake there will be more live yeast cells still in suspension because the beer is sitting on more live yeast cells. If you feel this is untrue, think about bottle conditioning your beer. You don't see the yeast, but there is some in there!
Gravity: the only thing I have to say about this, is your beer should be finished before you transfer it to secondary. If not then you are transferring to early. Trust your Hydrometer. It really works!
Quote
Downsides as I see them-
1.  More work
2.  Another place to pick up contamination
3.  You're picking up more oxygen and increasing or hastening oxidation
4.  Loss of beer!
5.  A lot of times this is done too soon, you're pulling your beer off of the yeast before it's done working
1. Your hobby not mine. IMO: Your making beer how bad can it be!
2. Cleanliness is godliness, Yes! However, The PH and the alcohol content at this stage in your beer's life are not very conducive to bacteria growth.
3. O Come on! your kidding right? It takes ALOT to oxidate a batch. I have not succeed yet to do it. I once kegged a batch and forgot to purge before I started shaking the keg for carbonation. There was a good 6" of air on top of that batch and I still did not notice any off flavors.
4. Compensate like most of us do. Add an additional 1/2G and you wont have anything to worry about.
5. Trust the Hydrometer. 2 readings over 3 days. If no change, Transfer.
Quote
Also Jamil Z and many top homebrewers practice and advocate a no secondary process for most beers.  Obviously there are times that a secondary is useful or required, but it's my belief that those times are few and far between.
I don't claim to know more than or less than anyone, I have presented clear facts as I believe them to be true. Take it how you like, or not at all.

The fact is this: There are no Hard Fast Rules. All you can do is read what others do and derive your own processes from that. It is your hobby do as you like.
Quote
Break free from the shackles of secondaries!
Ya right!

Cheers
Preston
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: Maine Homebrewer on June 29, 2009, 05:24:56 PM
Good post Wildrover,
Lately I have not been using a secondary.  I had a string of infections, so I've been going overkill trying to minimize new ones.  Without a doubt infections can occur while siphoning, either from contaminated equipment or air containing bacteria laden dust.
It all depends on what I'm making and the audience.  If the S.G. is under 1.040 and I don't plan to share it with anyone who I want to impress, I'll go two to four weeks in the primary (plastic bucket) then into the keg.
If I'm making anything more potent I tend to rack it into another bucket, or a glass if I think it will need to sit around for a while.
The only problem I run into when I don't use a secondary for clarification is excessive wind I attribute to yeasties eating sugars in my belly.
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: UselessBrewing on June 30, 2009, 05:26:26 AM
The only problem I run into when I don't use a secondary for clarification is excessive wind I attribute to yeasties eating sugars in my belly.

I will put that one down as a positive effect for secondary. Excessive Wind! SWMBO calls it differently and can hear it across the house over all the other noise/ruckus going on in the house. Bionic hearing I tell you! Seriously!

Cheers
Preston
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: stadelman on June 30, 2009, 03:16:20 PM
Quote
No There are very clear reasons to go to a secondary which are not psychological and there are clear reasons not to.
Agreed there are some reasons to go to secondary.

Quote
Autolysis, It is not a myth, you may want to do more reading. Or speak to  professional brewers like dhaenerbrewer, AndrewQld, bonjour and hear their thoughts.
What I said was autolysis shouldn't be an issue in the first month.  I didn't deny the existence of autolysis.  Even if autolysis is a big issue, which I doubt, moving it to secondary won't help significantly, because- 1.  There is yeast in supension and 2.  There is going to be a thin layer of yeast on the bottom of the secondary.  Whether it's sitting on 1/16th of an inch or two miles, it's going to be roughly the same amount of surface area that is in contact with the beer.

Quote
No you can not bulk condition in in the primary. Bulk conditioning requires several months and I personally have bulk conditioned for over a year. Lagers take a minimum of 3 months and I usually do a tirtiary for that!
Are you seriously saying that the beer doesn't bulk condition while it's in the primary?  Or, is that a joke?  As long as the beer is being stored in bulk, it's conditioning in bulk.  Unless you've got the ability to stop time, the beer is going to condition.  Again, I wouldn't tell you to leave a lager on the yeast cake for 3 months, there are clearly reasons to use a secondary fermenter.  Also, primary fermentation and secondary fermentation processes are occurring in tandem.  The beer doesn't say hey, I'm in the secondary now, I'm going to start secondary fermentation.  On a side note, during the Basic Brewing/BYO collaboration experiment, one tester left their beer in the primary for months with no perceived off taste.

Quote
Gravity: the only thing I have to say about this, is your beer should be finished before you transfer it to secondary. If not then you are transferring to early. Trust your Hydrometer. It really works!
I'm talking about the kind of gravity that keeps you from floating away into space.  Hopefully that's still working where you're at.

Quote
1. Your hobby not mine. IMO: Your making beer how bad can it be!
I'll tell myself that the next time I'm scrubbing out my brew kettle.  Hey, maybe I'll dirty it up again for no reason or cause a boil over so I can have more fun- how bad can it be??

Quote
3. O Come on! your kidding right? It takes ALOT to oxidate a batch. I have not succeed yet to do it. I once kegged a batch and forgot to purge before I started shaking the keg for carbonation. There was a good 6" of air on top of that batch and I still did not notice any off flavors.
Sweet!  I can disregard everything I've read or heard about oxidation because this one time UselessBrewing shook up a keg with oxygen in it and he said it tasted good.  By the way, when I made the list of downsides of using a secondary, I didn't preface each one with "This would be the absolute worst thing in the world."

Quote
4. Compensate like most of us do. Add an additional 1/2G and you wont have anything to worry about.
Here's a news bulletin... if you make more beer and waste some of it, you're still wasting some of it.  Again, I didn't say the world is going to end.

Quote
The fact is this: There are no Hard Fast Rules. All you can do is read what others do and derive your own processes from that. It is your hobby do as you like.
Thanks for the permission to do as I like.  Sweet
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: tommiwommi on July 01, 2009, 08:43:57 PM
I like doing all the steps I do while making my own suds, They taste great and I enjoy doing it,
  This thread is like arguing about how we put our socks on, Everyone talked about how they like to pull them on (and why), And I guess we comfortably walk around all day with no problems. Now them flip flops are wierd ::)
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: SleepySamSlim on July 01, 2009, 10:57:17 PM
Well actually .... I wear socks during primary fermentation and flip-flops during secondary. Is that going to be a problem ?

You should all be happy I don't do a tertiary ....
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: UselessBrewing on July 02, 2009, 07:10:31 AM
Stadelman
Snide Comments are not necessary! We are all friends here. We are here to help each other learn this great software, and make better beer of course! If you want me to respond to you, don't try to slam me because that is not productive. I did not slam you, I merely attempted to answer your questions. Ask a question, like What do you mean by that, or whats your take on that. It's about perspective, Yours is different than mine. I went back through some of your other posts in an attempt to get a feel for what kind of brewer you are and you obviously have a grasp on brewing. So I would hope to see more posts from you. Remember, none of this is a personal attack on you or your brewing methods and methodology.

Cheers
Preston
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: tommiwommi on July 02, 2009, 06:43:28 PM
Quote
flip-flops during secondary
......Awesome!!! I thought I was the only one man ;)
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: FastWilly on July 11, 2009, 03:57:17 PM
After many years of using a glass secondary I grew tired of the bother and somewhat apprehensively tried the single plastic fermentor approach.  After several batches of different styles, I can make the following objective comments and observations:

 (1) Clarity has not been affected, whether I use a fining agent (i.e.: Polyclar) or not.  And it's certainly easier to add the finings to a plastic vessel.

 (2) Oxidation does not seem to be an issue.  I say "seem" because I tend to fine tune or change each batch, so it's possible that increased oxidation has occurred making subtle changes to the taste.  I am very sensitive to this and have sent back many a stale beer at the pub.  It does not seem to be an issue so far, as each batch has turned out fine with no perceived defects.

 (3) In all cases I limited the time in plastic to two weeks.

And now some comments.  I would hesitate to condition beer in plastic much longer than two weeks or so due to oxidation concerns.  But until I try it, I can't be certain.  It makes sense to keep your temperature at the lower end of that recommended for your yeast to minimize oxidation and autolysis concerns.  Assuming clarification has not been an issue in your glass secondary, it shouldn't be an issue when using a single plastic fermentor. This assumes your beer is sound. Clarification is a physical (gravity) process that proceeds the same in either vessel.  On the other hand if your technique is faulty and you need finings, they are much easier to use in a plastic vessel.  And lastly, it's much easier to dry hop, which I usually do, in the plastic vessel.

So overall, my experience has been guardedly positive.  I intend to split a batch with a blind taste test to see what the differences are.  I'd suggest anyone with lingering concerns over this issue to do the same. Keep an open mind - even old dogs can learn new tricks.


Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: Wildrover on July 11, 2009, 10:02:47 PM
Stadelman gets some credit for keeping an otherwise slow board alive with some energy.  I'm not so sure I completely dig his vibe but kudos for keeping a thread alive as long as you have.  I went on vacation myself thinking this thread would be a memory by the time I got back and low and behold, it's still here!  This board doesn't often get that.  Anyway, to further the conversation I found the following post on another brewing board.  I hope I'm not breaking any sort of message board etiquette by posting it here but it seems to fit as this seems to be a pretty universal debate on pretty much every brewing board I've looked at.  Why its a debate is beyond me as just about all but one person has said, you should do what works for you, but I digress.  The following is a summary from what appears to be a knowledgeable brewer on why he does a secondary:

Originally Posted by Texlaw
Oh, boy. Here comes this fun again. There are a few reasons why "secondary fermenter" is not a misnomer. For many brewers, some fermentation does occur in the secondary.

First, fermentation does not always complete in the primary. Racking beer to the secodnary rouses the yeast and often results in further attenuation. Getting those last few points out can be very important if you are bottling. Most bottle bombs are not the result of overpriming, in a sense, but of failing to reach full attentuation before priming. Even if you are kegging'>kegging and want the clearest beer you can get, that little bit of fermentation in the secondary will help you along.

Second, some beer styles (or recipes) call for a second fermentation by adding more fermentables. In those cases, the brewer usually wants to rack off the old trub before adding those fermentables.

Finally, the practice of an extended primary fermentation, followed by immediate packaging, has only recently become common. Back before a homebrewer could reliably get excellent quality yeast, you wanted to get your beer off the inital trub as soon as possible or risk nasty consequences (e.g., autolysis). Often, that meant racking after fermentation had slowed but not completed, usually within the first several days after pitching. Fermentation clearly continued and completed in the secondary. Because many brewers who have been around for a good while don't like to fix things that ain't broke, they still follow that practice.

I still advise and use a secondary, even though I have high confidence in today's yeasts. I find [racking to a secondary] makes my brewing more consistant and, frankly, better. I also leave beer in the primary for at least 10 days after visible yeast activity begins, so that there is plenty of time for the yeast to both have its party and clean up, afterwards. I've tried a couple batches where I just leave the beer in the primary for three to four weeks and then kegging'>kegging straight out, and I was slightly less happy with the results, both in the beer and in the perceived convenience (i.e., I did not see any extra convenience, as it was a greater hassle keeping trub out of the keg). On the other hand, I know many brewers who go straight from the primary to the package (or bottling bucket) with great results. Do what suits you.

Just as an aside, there is virtually no risk of introducing contamination when racking to the secondary, so long as you practice proper sanitation. You have a finished beer, there, still with quite a bit of yeast suspended within it. That is not a happy place for intruders to find refuge. You do, however, need to consider oxidation, but that also is not a problem with proper practice (e.g., avoid splashing, use a properly sized vessel). If you can purge your secondary with CO2, do that. If not, the CO2 that comes out of solution when you rack should provide plenty of protection.

As another aside, comparing homebrewing to industry brewing is a poor analogy, unless you have analgous equipment and practices. For those homebrewers with conical fermenters and who very quickly repitch slurry, the secondary might be a true bright tank. For the rest of us, not so much.


Now for the rest of you, if you secondary or primary in bare feet, flip flops or regular old tennis shoes, so long as you dig the scent coming from down yonder, run with it (no pun intended)
Title: Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
Post by: SleepySamSlim on July 11, 2009, 10:37:11 PM
Nice post Wildrover .... and yes I've thinking this thread needed to be shot-gunned for a mercy killing.

But as they say - you say TomAto and I say Tomato - both taste great on a salad (or a burger)

With the wide range of Ales out there, I think its totally brain-dead if you never go to secondary or if you always secondary. The bottom line is to question -test and evolve.

My original question was, do I need to secondary for exactly 2 weeks ?  Where did that come from ? And I've noticed that after 7 - 8 days there is a ton of sediment at the bottom of the carboy. I had planned to bottle at 7-8 days but a small family emergency popped up and the brew sat for another week. So next batch I'll only go 7 days --- and I will try a direct primary to bottle.

Ok ..... I'm turning the lights out .....