Author Topic: Gravity - Primary - Secondary - End running  (Read 787 times)

Offline Grummore

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Gravity - Primary - Secondary - End running
« on: May 07, 2019, 08:36:04 PM »
Hi there!

I have actually two beers in carboy (secondary) for which I have the same question:

Are they ready to rack (bottle)? (I will add both recipes to the post)

I have what I think may be an American Brown Ale and an American IPA.

Both were brewed on same day and 7 days later were put in a respective carboy for secondary.

10 days later (tonight) I checked the Gravity wondering if I could hope for racking.

ABA
OG 1054
1st 1018
2nd 1016
The air lock was no longer venting CO2, but after moving the carboy and measured gravity, it started to bubble again. In the beer sample, I could see bubble too.

IPA
OG 1063
1st 1022
2nd 1020
The air lock was no longer venting CO2, but after moving the carboy and measured gravity, it started to bubble again. In the beer sample, I could NOT see bubble.

I think it's not ready to bottle, but it doesn't seem it will get to a much lower gravity anytime soon. Maybe it's ready to bottle?

What are your thoughts?

Thank you!

Offline Oginme

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Re: Gravity - Primary - Secondary - End running
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2019, 05:52:48 AM »
Let me start by stating that airlock activity is not a good way to judge if fermentation is finished or not.  However, given the amount of time you have been fermenting, you should be close to terminal gravity.

If these are hydrometer readings, then your ABA has an apparent attenuation of around 70%, which is low for US-05.  Did you taste the sample?  Did it taste overly sweet?

Your IPA comes in at around 68% apparent attenuation, which is on the low side for S-04 as well.  The same questions apply as above.  It could be that with your fermentation process, this is what you can expect given the base fermentibility of the extract and the steeping grains used.

Either way, give them both another couple of days and recheck the gravity.  If it is the same reading as your last measurement, then you are done and should bottle.

Recycle your grains, feed them to a goat!

Offline dtapke

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Re: Gravity - Primary - Secondary - End running
« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2019, 07:34:19 AM »
considering that you're pretty close to your target gravity, the best way to know if it's "ready" is with no gravity changes over several days. I suggest 3 days for most new brewers.

The bubbling when moving and doing things is just some co2 that's locked up in the beer being shaken out.

I would make sure your measuring device is accurate (check in distilled water) and you're compensating your reading for temperature.
32g eHERMS
Drinking: Dopplebock, NEIPA, Pils
Primary: empty
Secondary/Lagering:
Next Brew: RIS

Offline Kevin58

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Re: Gravity - Primary - Secondary - End running
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2019, 10:18:55 AM »
Somebody has got to say it but... using a secondary step is not necessary or even good for your beer. Your instructions may say to do so but those were probably written long ago and never updated. I've seen new kits with instruction sheets packed inside that are nearly identical to the ones written 20 years ago when I started brewing.

When you transfer to a secondary vessel you risk oxidation. You also risk removing your beer from the yeast before the yeast are finished doing their work. It's OK to leave your beer in the primary even after apparent fermentation is complete. Those are all petty good reasons to skip the secondary step.

Did you rack to secondary after 7 days because the instructions said so? A better way to find out when your beer is finished is to take gravity readings like @Oginme and @dtapke have outlined. For most ales of average strength I don't even think of doing this until the beer has been in the primary fermenter for 7 to 10 days. Sometimes longer. Your beer can sit on the yeast cake in the primary fermenter for several weeks without harm.

There is nothing wrong with how you did it. It's how we all started and you will have beer! We're just sharing the refinements we've learned over time to help you make better beer.

Best of luck and enjoy the process!
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Offline dtapke

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Re: Gravity - Primary - Secondary - End running
« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2019, 10:38:57 AM »
This is true, I've only ruined one mead because i forgot to rack it over and it sat on a yeast cake for 6+ months... ok so i totally forgot it even existed for almost a year...

even before i switched to conicals for fermentation, i wouldn't ever rack something to a secondary vessel unless i planned on having it there for several months for whatever reason (lagering?) even then, it's pretty much pointless.

Here's a fun read, Love these guys!
http://brulosophy.com/2014/08/12/primary-only-vs-transfer-to-secondary-exbeeriment-results/
32g eHERMS
Drinking: Dopplebock, NEIPA, Pils
Primary: empty
Secondary/Lagering:
Next Brew: RIS

Offline Grummore

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Re: Gravity - Primary - Secondary - End running
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2019, 11:07:23 AM »
First! Let me thank you for all your valuable insights!

When you're saying waiting 3 days, if there isn't anymore CO2 going out of the beer, won't my beer get oxidized?

You are giving me serious thoughts about secondary fermentation. I was actually doing it mainly to have a beer more clear (like a first filtration) without too many sediments.

I am using a plastic bucket for primary and glass carboy for secondary. You suggest that I don't do a primary in my plastic bucket (which obviously is always a place where there could be contamination) and should only do a primary right in the glass carboy?

For an unknown reason (to me), almost all recipes I made always had a hard time going below a gravity of 1018.

Offline Oginme

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Re: Gravity - Primary - Secondary - End running
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2019, 11:31:08 AM »
To address your concerns:

If your fermentation is finished, there is still CO2 in the beer and CO2 in the head space of the fermenter.  You will be fine.  I've left some of my beers in primary for 3 and 4 weeks before with no issues of oxidation (or from the yeast/trub cake either).

Which brings us to the secondary or not debate.  I almost never secondary and my most common fermentation for ales is 2 weeks, cold crash and then bottle/keg.  As stated above, I have had some bigger ales and standard lagers in primary for 3 or 4 weeks without issue.

I am not sure how transferring your beer off the yeast cake helps with clarification of the beer.  If anything, the disruption of the yeast cells flocculating and settling out would delay clarification.  The risk of introducing Oxygen would create a bigger issue, as Kevin58 has stated above, than any benefit you might gain in clarifying the beer.

If you are concerned or have issues with kicking up poorly flocculating yeast while siphoning your beer out of the carboy, try using some gelatin to help with yeast flocculation and clarification and that gelatin settling out will help keep the yeast cake from being stirred up as easily.

Recycle your grains, feed them to a goat!

Offline dtapke

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Re: Gravity - Primary - Secondary - End running
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2019, 11:56:50 AM »
First! Let me thank you for all your valuable insights!

When you're saying waiting 3 days, if there isn't anymore CO2 going out of the beer, won't my beer get oxidized?
No, there is layer of co2 existing as co2 is heavier than "air"

You are giving me serious thoughts about secondary fermentation. I was actually doing it mainly to have a beer more clear (like a first filtration) without too many sediments.
Clarity doesn't often change, read through that article i linked above. Clearing with gelatin is VERY effective, search the brulosophy website for Gelatin and you'll find a couple exBEERiments on it.

I am using a plastic bucket for primary and glass carboy for secondary. You suggest that I don't do a primary in my plastic bucket (which obviously is always a place where there could be contamination) and should only do a primary right in the glass carboy?
do as you choose, I use plastic conicals with no issue. many folks leave beers in plastic buckets with no issues, assuming Quality food grade HDPE buckets are being used and not being damaged/scratched by scouring pads.

For an unknown reason (to me), almost all recipes I made always had a hard time going below a gravity of 1018.
I don't brew extract but i question the ability of extract beers to ferment all the way. You're giving control of one of the main procedures that can effect attenuation in brewing to another person. This being said, proper oxygenation and good yeast pitch counts can certainly help when brewing higher gravity beers, which neither of these are... Perhaps you've been transferring to secondary too soon, also, make sure that you're calibrating your equipment to the temperature if using a hydrometer, and that you're accounting for refraction differences if using a refractometer. knowing your method of measurement would be helpful if you'd like help in figuring out this issue.



Also, as far as both kevin and oginme stated, oxidation is far more likely to happen when performing secondary fermentations than if you leave it alone. the pros of "clear" beer would be minimal when compared to the cons of oxidation. I think the common thought nowadays is that "secondary" is an hugely unnecessary risk with questionable returns on very few styles of beer. This is not to be confused with a true secondary fermentation as done in many belgian styles.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2019, 12:01:55 PM by dtapke »
32g eHERMS
Drinking: Dopplebock, NEIPA, Pils
Primary: empty
Secondary/Lagering:
Next Brew: RIS

Offline dtapke

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Re: Gravity - Primary - Secondary - End running
« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2019, 12:03:35 PM »
I'll go ahead and toss in the link to the exBEERiment on gelatin, just because I enjoy their style of posts. if you want clear beer, here ya go.

http://brulosophy.com/2015/01/05/the-gelatin-effect-exbeeriment-results/
32g eHERMS
Drinking: Dopplebock, NEIPA, Pils
Primary: empty
Secondary/Lagering:
Next Brew: RIS

Offline LuceKos

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Re: Gravity - Primary - Secondary - End running
« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2019, 06:46:44 AM »

even before i switched to conicals for fermentation, i wouldn't ever rack something to a secondary vessel unless i planned on having it there for several months for whatever reason (lagering?) even then, it's pretty much pointless.


Can you please tell me what conicals you use and why you chose them?   I am looking in to getting a couple SS Brewtech brew buckets or Chronical fermenters. 

I have 3 batches (extract kits) that over the past week I transferred to secondary (probably won't do that again after reading here and Brulosophy). 

Offline Kevin58

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Re: Gravity - Primary - Secondary - End running
« Reply #10 on: September 08, 2019, 07:50:39 AM »

Can you please tell me what conicals you use and why you chose them?   I am looking in to getting a couple SS Brewtech brew buckets or Chronical fermenters. 

I have 3 batches (extract kits) that over the past week I transferred to secondary (probably won't do that again after reading here and Brulosophy).

I have both the SS Brewtech 7 gallon brew bucket and a 7 gallon chronical. I have had the brew bucket the longest and I bought it because I couldn't afford the chronical at the time.

The brew bucket wil give you all of the advantage of fermenting in a plastic bucket... a wide mouth for getting wort in and for cleaning... stainless steel which cleans easy and with less worry of scratching... strong, light weight and wont break (as opposed to glass carboys). There aren't any con's that I've found with the brew bucket. Some people complain about the little ball valve but it has not been an issue for me.

I finally got a chronical not too long ago and have only used it twice. It offers the same advantages as the brew bucket and for the first time I have been able to experiment with using a dump valve to remove yeast and trub from the fermenter. The only con I can think of is price. Except for the bottom dump valve they both do the same thing. Collecting or reusing yeast from the bucket is not difficult... its just that I can't remove it while beer is in the vessel. I sometimes think I could have bought two more buckets for the price of one chronical but I have no regrets.
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Offline LuceKos

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Re: Gravity - Primary - Secondary - End running
« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2019, 08:16:41 AM »


I have both the SS Brewtech 7 gallon brew bucket and a 7 gallon chronical. I have had the brew bucket the longest and I bought it because I couldn't afford the chronical at the time.

The brew bucket wil give you all of the advantage of fermenting in a plastic bucket... a wide mouth for getting wort in and for cleaning... stainless steel which cleans easy and with less worry of scratching... strong, light weight and wont break (as opposed to glass carboys). There aren't any con's that I've found with the brew bucket. Some people complain about the little ball valve but it has not been an issue for me.

I finally got a chronical not too long ago and have only used it twice. It offers the same advantages as the brew bucket and for the first time I have been able to experiment with using a dump valve to remove yeast and trub from the fermenter. The only con I can think of is price. Except for the bottom dump valve they both do the same thing. Collecting or reusing yeast from the bucket is not difficult... its just that I can't remove it while beer is in the vessel. I sometimes think I could have bought two more buckets for the price of one chronical but I have no regrets.

Thank you for this.  Lots of questions or discussion points come to mind with your reply. I am going to be making my way in to BIAB.  So far I have not given any thought to collecting or reusing yeast.  I don't have any real reason other than "I don't even know what I don't know" about that whole process.  I am also contemplating electric brewing, too.  With that in mind, is there one or the other you would suggest? 

Plus why SSBrewtech or Spike? 
« Last Edit: September 08, 2019, 09:27:49 AM by LuceKos »

Offline Kevin58

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Re: Gravity - Primary - Secondary - End running
« Reply #12 on: September 09, 2019, 09:03:12 AM »
I switched from propane to electric about a year ago. I got tired of having my propane tanks run out on me or running to the store to exchange tanks and the rising price of exchanges. So I bought an electric 3 vessel HERMS system and love it. I definitely recommend electric. 

I did BIAB for about three years with the gas system but my new rig is a 3 vessel HERMS. Brew days are shorter with BIAB but I like working the process with the HERMS. An electric BIAB system will take far less space and cost less than a turnkey 2 or 3 vessel system. Both will make great beer. Oh, and you can still do BIAB on a 2 or 3 vessel system. Just because you have all those kettles doesn't mean you have to use them all.

I have no experience with Spike so I can't compare and my fermenters are all I have made by SS Brewtech. They didn't come out with their electric systems until after I bought my new setup. My rig came from High Gravity Brewing in Texas.

What I like about High Gravity is that they will customize your system. You can order a complete Blichmann, Spike or BrewEasy system or mix and match components. To save money on mine I chose less expensive Bayou Classic kettles and that allowed me to upgrade to Blichmann RipTide pumps and still stay within my budget.

There are a lot of options out there. Spend time exploring them. Find someone nearby who uses a system similar to what you want and offer your services as assistant brewer. A homebrew club is a good resource for information. Saturday, November 2nd is Learn To Homebrew Day and there may be someone, some group or homebrew store in the area doing a group brew. I know there are at least three that happen in my city every year.

Best of luck!
« Last Edit: September 09, 2019, 09:06:42 AM by Kevin58 »
If you?re stressing over homebrewing, you?re doing something wrong.
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Offline dtapke

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Re: Gravity - Primary - Secondary - End running
« Reply #13 on: September 10, 2019, 08:27:01 AM »
SSbrewtech Unitank if you're wanting to dump just an obscene amount of money for a really pretty and useful piece of equipment.

one of the many plastic conicals on the market for the cheap folks. I started by using an ace rotomold tank that I modified as I needed a 15g tank QUICK and couldn't afford anything nice at the time. I modified the lid with a thermowell, a co2 quick connect post, and an airlock connection. on the bottom I used a ball valve I found at tractor supply co, and I installed a rotating racking cane in the side.
32g eHERMS
Drinking: Dopplebock, NEIPA, Pils
Primary: empty
Secondary/Lagering:
Next Brew: RIS