Author Topic: Have you changed your secondary approach  (Read 24891 times)

Offline Wildrover

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Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
« Reply #15 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. 

Offline econolinevan

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Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
« Reply #16 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.

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Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
« Reply #17 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. 

Offline MaltLicker

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Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
« Reply #18 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

Offline econolinevan

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Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
« Reply #19 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.

Offline tommiwommi

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Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
« Reply #20 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

Offline stadelman

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Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
« Reply #21 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.

Offline MaltLicker

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Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
« Reply #22 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. 

Offline MaltLicker

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Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
« Reply #23 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. 

Offline SleepySamSlim

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Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
« Reply #24 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
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Offline stadelman

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Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
« Reply #25 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

Offline Wildrover

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Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
« Reply #26 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. 

Offline SOGOAK

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Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
« Reply #27 on: June 22, 2009, 06:32:43 PM »
I don't secondary anything routine.
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Offline stadelman

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Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
« Reply #28 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.  
« Last Edit: June 22, 2009, 07:22:32 PM by stadelman »

Offline tommiwommi

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Re: Have you changed your secondary approach
« Reply #29 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) 


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