Author Topic: When to rack from 1st to 2nd?  (Read 10855 times)

Offline GLRRA47

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When to rack from 1st to 2nd?
« on: March 30, 2014, 11:03:52 AM »
I generally rack from 1st fermentor (glass) to 2nd (glass) at 2 weeks.  Often see slow airlock movement about this time.  (lifts every 15 - 30 seconds)  Once racked into the secondary often the yeast settles-out within hours and airlock movement all but stops and remains non-active.  Beers (all grain, all types and SG's) always taste great, but it seems I'm always chasing a lower FG.  Am I waiting too long before racking from 1st to 2nd - or not long enough.  Possibly I'm good?

Offline tom_hampton

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Re: When to rack from 1st to 2nd?
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2014, 11:14:11 AM »
My first response when someone asks when to rack to secondary is "never."  Leave it in the primary until its done.  Taking the beer off of the bulk of the yeast before you reach your desired FG will not help get what you want. 

Regarding your FG question:  Exactly what do you mean by "chasing a lower FG"?  Do you mean that your FG doesn't match the recipe?  if so, its going to be a question of how well are you managing your yeast.  the usual factors, in no particular order are:

1.  size of pitch
2. health of pitch
3. Yeast nutrition
4. Wort Oxygenation/aeration
5. Pitching temperature
6. Fermentation temperature
7. Fermentation profile (diacetyl rest, etc)

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Offline GLRRA47

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Re: When to rack from 1st to 2nd?
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2014, 04:39:05 PM »
Last several batches, I've started making a yeast starter with stir plate about 24 hrs. in advance, even for dry yeasts - which appears to be helping achieve a lower FG.  I also recently started adding minerals for water profile - per Beer Smith - rather than just adding gypsum and buffer to my RO mash and sparge H2O.  (I have never checked pH's)  I "aerate" using a cordless drill and mixing wand until too much foam.  Pitch temp is generally around 80 F or just under.  Fermentation - I keep my glass fermenter in a circulated water bath with heater and digital thermometer - maintains a constant 69 - 71 F.  My efficiency is generally greater than 80% and I often end up with a starting gravity that's considerably than what the various recipes predict.  Mostly make ales (at least the majority of the 600 gallons brewed 5 gal. at a time the - last 16 years.)  Lots of good beer - just looking to take it to the next level.

Thanks for the reply!

Dan

Offline Maine Homebrewer

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Re: When to rack from 1st to 2nd?
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2014, 07:19:31 PM »
The general consensus on this forum is to not use a secondary unless there is a need. In my case, I've only got only one primary vessel (large glass carboy with head room for a vigorous fermentation) and several five gallon carboys, so I guess I've got a need.

I rack when the yeast tells me to rack, not because the calendar tells me to. A nice thing about glass is that you can observe what's going on inside. I'll let it go until it's fairly clear and there is minimal foam on the top. That way I'm confident that the yeast done.  With ales that has rarely been more than two weeks, though with lager I can't say the same thing.

Unless you are adding dry hops, or like me you can't start a new batch until you free your primary, there really aren't any advantages to using a secondary. 

If you're chasing a lower FG, the first thing that comes to mind is lowering your mash temperature.  Keep in mind though that a lower FG means a more watery beer. If you're fine with that then go for it.
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Offline haerbob3

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Re: When to rack from 1st to 2nd?
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2014, 11:39:02 AM »
Can you post a sample recipe?   One of the main reasons FG is not reached is because of too many unfermentable sugars. 

Offline dharalson

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Re: When to rack from 1st to 2nd?
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2014, 08:42:19 AM »
+1 to haerbob3.  Based on your description of your fermentation protocol, I would look back at you mash process.  If you are getting too many long chain sugars in the mash the best yeast and the best fermenation won't convert them to alcohol, resulting in a high FG.  What temperature do you use for your typical mash and how long do you mash?

D

Offline GLRRA47

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Re: When to rack from 1st to 2nd?
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2014, 06:32:07 PM »
I generally use pale malt and then add crystal as needed to complete the color profile.  Run through my JSP mill.  Good crush, never a stuck sparge and excellent efficiency.  (Usually not much in the way of unfermentables)  I begin with a 20 min grain rest at about 120 then, stirring constantly, raise temp to 150.  Depending on what I'm brewing - 60 to 90 minutes at this temp.  From there - stirring, I raise to 158 and hold for an additional 20 minutes.  Then raise to 170 for 5 mins and begin sparge.  I stop sparging around 1.008.  After a 60 to 90 minute boil and cool, I usually find I go over the target SG by at least 5 points - sometimes more.  Yield after cooling is always over 5 gal.  sometimes close to 6 gal.  Possibly, starting with a higher SG - the yeast bring it down as rated % attenuation and I end up being a bit on the high FG side?  Regardless, always "tasty".

Offline Freak

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Re: When to rack from 1st to 2nd?
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2014, 09:18:41 PM »
I have to agree with Tom. Let it go. No need to secondary unless you are going to add the evil fruit or something. Just primary.
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Offline GLRRA47

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Re: When to rack from 1st to 2nd?
« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2014, 07:39:23 PM »
Thanks everyone

Offline RiverBrewer

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Re: When to rack from 1st to 2nd?
« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2014, 07:04:13 AM »
Keep in mind though that a lower FG means a more watery beer.


A lower FG produces a dryer tasting beer, not a more watery beer.
Enjoy good beer daily.....Hell is a dry town!

Offline Maine Homebrewer

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Re: When to rack from 1st to 2nd?
« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2014, 03:52:48 PM »
Quote
A lower FG produces a dryer tasting beer, not a more watery beer.

Those two aren't mutually exclusive.  A lower FG in a low alcohol beer can mean little unfermentable sugars which means less mouthfeel and less viscosity - more watery beer.
"To alcohol! The cause of - and solution to - all of life's problems!" -Homer Simpson

Offline RiverBrewer

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Re: When to rack from 1st to 2nd?
« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2014, 06:00:43 PM »
Lets agree to disagree!
Enjoy good beer daily.....Hell is a dry town!

Offline GLRRA47

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Re: When to rack from 1st to 2nd?
« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2014, 07:05:37 PM »
Well - they generally start out in the 1.050 + range  So I'd tend to say drier - at least in that range.

Offline Maine Homebrewer

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Re: When to rack from 1st to 2nd?
« Reply #13 on: April 05, 2014, 07:26:50 AM »
Quote
Lets agree to disagree!

Works for me!
"To alcohol! The cause of - and solution to - all of life's problems!" -Homer Simpson

Offline jtoots

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Re: When to rack from 1st to 2nd?
« Reply #14 on: April 07, 2014, 11:01:12 AM »
Hey all!  First time posting here, just getting my feet wet with BeerSmith 2 and loving it so far.  I have humble opinion that favors racking to secondary:

Any time you transfer from one vessel to another, some amount of yeast is going to come with it.  Racking to secondary simply allows this yeast to settle against a new bottom, which will reduce the amount of yeast going into your keg or bottles.

As for "when", I've been doing this once I see the air lock stop moving.  I give the top of the bucket a small nudge downward until the cap in the air lock settles to the bottom of the lock.  If it never comes back up (no more pressure is being generated by yeast creating CO2), then I'll rack.  Sometimes this happens as quickly as a week, which I see most think is too soon, but if it's not fermenting any more is there any reason to leave it in place?

Looking forward to connecting with you all over this forum in the batches to come!