Primary to secondary. A definitive time?

Brewing processes and methods. How to brew using extract, partial or all-grain. Tips and tricks.

Moderator: slothrob

Primary to secondary. A definitive time?

Postby fully_krausened » Mon Feb 12, 2007 11:36 am

Help me out here. I have read many descriptions, opinions, and thoughts on when the "correct" time to rack from primary to secondary is. I still do not feel I know when is the right time. Most of the descriptions/explanations I have read say rather vaguely something to the effect of "when initial fermentation activity slows or stops"

Does this mean when the kraeusen is beginning to fall back in? After it has fallen? After it has settled? When bubling in the airlock stops or is very infrequent?

Can anyone give me an easy to understand way to determine when it is ready? I would like to know for both ales and lagers how to judge this.

Generally I have a lot of trub in the primary to begin with as I have yet to master seperating it when transfering from the brewpot, so that is a consideration as well.

Thanks.
User avatar
fully_krausened
Light Lager
Light Lager
 
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Jan 17, 2007 8:42 pm
Location: Vermont U.S.A

There is no definitive time...

Postby cozrulz » Mon Feb 12, 2007 11:45 pm

I haven't seen anything that says when you should.

I've seen give it a week in the primary or wait until airlock bubbles are 90 seconds apart. I have also seen rack when your hydrometer reading is 80% to 95% of what you want your final reading to be.

I'm giving my first brew a week in the primary, but I will also be watching the airlock and the krausen.
User avatar
cozrulz
Pale Ale
Pale Ale
 
Posts: 56
Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2007 3:38 pm

When I secondary, it's usually after 7-10 days primary

Postby billvelek » Tue Feb 13, 2007 8:54 am

First, I don't always secondary; I like my beers just fine without it, but will do it in two specific instances: if it is a beer that I want to pay special attention to, such as my recent cherry wheat or barley wine for which I had planned a secondary in advance, or if I am unable to bottle for some reason and feel that I really need to get the beer off the trub (not enough empty bottles at bottling time, or not enough time to bottle, etc.). Consequently, I'm not real familiar with any established rules of thumb or knowledgeable sources about it, but the beers that I've put in secondary have usually been racked from primary in 7 to 10 days; maybe there have been a few before or after that, but that had been determined by convenience. The way I see it, there are really only two considerations: first, getting your beer off the trub before autolysis begins (death and decay of yeast) which I don't believe can possibly happen to any extent before 10 days (I think it takes a few weeks), and second, still having enough active yeast at the end of secondary so that you can still naturally condition the beer. With regard to the later, I've never had a problem when my total time from brew day to bottling was 2 weeks, and in those few times when it was longer, I added just a little bit of the starter from my next batch to my bottling bucket as a precaution.

Cheers.

Bill Velek
Visit www.tinyurl.com/bvelek - portal to my brewing sites: 3,100+ members on 'Grow-Hops', and 1,350+ brewers on my 'BrewingEquip' group.
Running BTP v1.5.3 on WinXP 2005 SP3 w/AMD Athlon 64@3800+, 1GigRam, Res 1024x768
User avatar
billvelek
Imperial Stout
Imperial Stout
 
Posts: 801
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2004 10:44 am
Location: Arkansas, USA

Postby slothrob » Tue Feb 13, 2007 10:42 am

Autolysis isn't really considered a concern in less than a month or two unless the temperature is higher than you want to be fermenting anything other than a Belgian. So a lot of people have switched to a single ferment as Bill describes.

There used to be a policy that the primary should be transferred to secondary just before the active fermentation stops so that enough CO2 was produced to purge the headspace of the secondary container. Some still follow this rule, but it is generally considered bad advice. Racking too soon can lead to stuck fermentations and off-flavors.

You really want the beer to finish before you move it off the big yeast cake until it's done. Done is typically something like 3 days after the active fermentation is finished, so that the yeast have time to clean up some of the fermentation byproducts like diacetyl. One rule of thumb is 3 days at FG. You can check this by taking a gravity reading when you think it's done, then another 2 days later. If they're the same, it's done, and you can secondary if you want. If not, wait another 2 days. Don't underestimate the value of tasting the gravity sample, either.

Familiarity with a given yeast strain and recipe can make a lot of this reasonably predictable.
BTP v2.0.* Windows XP
User avatar
slothrob
Moderator
Moderator
 
Posts: 1768
Joined: Mon Apr 10, 2006 1:36 pm
Location: Greater Boston

Postby jctull » Tue Feb 13, 2007 2:44 pm

You are much better leaving the beer on the yeast for 1-3 weeks than you are moving it off the yeast. Yeast is actively scrubbing some off flavors, like diacetyl, as it sets back into dormancy at the end of a ferment. The exposure of the beer to the yeast has benefits that are greatly reduced, or lost entirely, if you move to a secondary too soon.

Personally, I allow my ales to be in the fermenter from 1-3 weeks, depending on the target gravity and measured gravity. This is influenced by temperature of ferment and initial gravity, among other things.

My lagers get 2-3 weeks. I do not have problems with diacetyl using a 46-50 fermentation temperature on lagers, and I attribute that to patience.

Also, all my beers go from a conical to a keg. A reasonable yeast load often makes its way into the keg that is stored at 33-38 F. This allows any residual yeast to drop out, and I manage clean poors as long as I do not move the kegs around too much. So I do not use a secondary at all any longer, unless I have a problem beer that is underattenuated and needs a repitch to bring it back to life. (This has only happened once recently with a high gravity Belgian style beer that needed considerably more attenuation.)
OS X 10.5, MBP, 2GB
jctull
Pale Ale
Pale Ale
 
Posts: 61
Joined: Sat Dec 30, 2006 3:18 pm
Location: Reno, NV

What about sediment other than yeast?

Postby fully_krausened » Tue Feb 13, 2007 3:04 pm

Thanks everyone. That makes sense. However, is this advice assuming there is little/no trub or sediment other than the yeast cake?

If it is, how do you get your beer off of the trub and still have the yeast cake?

Thanks again, I am slow, but I think I am starting to understand. :?
User avatar
fully_krausened
Light Lager
Light Lager
 
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Jan 17, 2007 8:42 pm
Location: Vermont U.S.A

Postby slothrob » Tue Feb 13, 2007 5:20 pm

That advice is for even if you have a mess of trub.

If you want, you can try the wirlpool technique, stirring the wort a bit while cooling in the boil pot to get the trub to collect in the middle of your pot, then siphoning from the edge, but it's a minor concern compared to giving the yeast time to finish.

Another thing I've heard of people doing is to transfer the wort to one carboy, after cooling, allow the trub to settle, transfer to a second, leaving the trub behind, then add the yeast. That seems like a lot of trouble to me, though.
BTP v2.0.* Windows XP
User avatar
slothrob
Moderator
Moderator
 
Posts: 1768
Joined: Mon Apr 10, 2006 1:36 pm
Location: Greater Boston


Return to Techniques, Methods, Tips & How To

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Yahoo [Bot] and 2 guests

cron