new to homebrewing...do i need a secondary fermenter?

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new to homebrewing...do i need a secondary fermenter?

Postby corinne » Sun Jan 15, 2006 5:14 am

i am on my 2nd homebrewbrew....when i purchased my homebrew kit, it included a 5 gallon glass carboy and one 6.5 gallon plastic bucket (and told it was for the bottling process only). i've brewed with friends before and they use the primary fermentor (the glass carboy) from start (pitching yeast) to the finish (transfer to plastic bucket for bottling). after reading the site's intro to brewing, it sounds like i should transfer the beer to a secondary after a week. is this necessary?
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secondary

Postby Dutchbrew » Wed Jan 18, 2006 1:02 pm

Hmm what kind of beer did you make. I'd say if its a low gravity extract brew you should be fine without secondary fermentation. Secondary fermentation is used to transfer your beer off the dead yeast once primary fermentation is done. If it sits on the dead yeast longer than 2 weeks it will give your beer a rubbery taste. secondary fermentation also helps clarify the beer since you siphon the beer all the trub that has settled to the bottom of the fermentor... and it will also help the ingredients in your beer mold together better if say you have multiple types of specialty grain involved. If you enjoy the hobby and really get into it you will really want to start using secondary fermentation.
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Re: new to homebrewing...do i need a secondary fermenter?

Postby pcharles » Thu Jun 22, 2006 9:46 pm

corinne wrote:i am on my 2nd homebrewbrew....when i purchased my homebrew kit, it included a 5 gallon glass carboy and one 6.5 gallon plastic bucket (and told it was for the bottling process only). i've brewed with friends before and they use the primary fermentor (the glass carboy) from start (pitching yeast) to the finish (transfer to plastic bucket for bottling). after reading the site's intro to brewing, it sounds like i should transfer the beer to a secondary after a week. is this necessary?


My father never used a secondary, but the really nice thing is that you can move the beer to a secondary and mature in that for several weeks, which is something you want to avoid with primary fermenters. I would suggest investing in a couple of secondary fermenters (I use Better Bottles and have 4). I can brew a beer in the primary, move it to a secondary, and leave it for a month or two before bottling, which allows me to brew more in the primary. Any beer over 5% ABV will need a couple of months maturing and you will find that each additional 1% ABV requires about an extra month. My general rule is:

<5% ABV gets >1 month before drinking, which means you can probably bottle from the primary or just give it a week in the secondary. This helps clear some of the sediment.

I then add about one month per 1% ABV, which means my 7% IPA needs about 4 months before it is at its peak. I like to give it a month or two on dry hop and oak chips and then a couple of months in the bottle before sampling.

A 10% ABV needs about 9 months, which I would a large portion of in the secondary because I feel that bulk maturation is the way to go.
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Postby jawsfree » Wed Nov 15, 2006 10:17 pm

I used to do secondaries because that's what I was taught. "You gotta do a secondary to get the beer off all that yeast". Well the yeast need time to reabsorb the diacetyl . My rule of thumb is 10-15 days for an ale and 30 days for a lager. Then keg or bottle. I have noticed no off flavors since deleting my secondary. I would suggest a secondary for a mead or barley wine.

good luck

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Re: new to homebrewing...do i need a secondary fermenter?

Postby nikkormat » Sun May 22, 2011 3:13 am

pcharles wrote:I then add about one month per 1% ABV, which means my 7% IPA needs about 4 months before it is at its peak. I like to give it a month or two on dry hop and oak chips and then a couple of months in the bottle before sampling.

A 10% ABV needs about 9 months, which I would a large portion of in the secondary because I feel that bulk maturation is the way to go.


I completely disagree here. maturation is entirely style dependent. a 7% german pils should be lagered for 30 days minimum, but a 7% IPA should be racked off the yeast when fermentation is complete, dry hopped for not much longer than two weeks, then bottled/kegged and enjoyed fresh. after four months, you lose so much hop flavor. same deal with a saison or a wit. assuming nothing special's being done to the beer, from brew day to drinking should take a little time as possible. bottle or keg straight from primary since these aren't clear beers and drink asap. saisons, even low abv versions, can be kept for a while though since the beer will continue to develop because of that yeast. bigger beers, obviously, should age longer.

as far as bulk aging vs bottle aging, there are good arguments for both. the way i see it is that you should bottle earlier than later so that the yeast is still alive and not totally tired, so that you will get proper carbonation and a little bit more flavor development.

that said, i may be unique in that i use my plastic bucket to ferment and my carboy to secondary though. secondary isn't necessary for all beers though. it's up to you. I don't mind a cloudy beer but some people do, and secondary will help clear your beers up. i bottle a lot of beer straight from primary and get good results, but I don't brew styles that require clarity.
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Postby Capt Zero » Tue Apr 03, 2012 4:37 am

Now hold on guys,

I'm a new home brewer and I have a lot to learn, and I've just started to read this post and was taking it all in and thinking to myself that the AG brew I did last week should be racked off into a 2nd, when I got half way down the page to find you guys are on different sides of the camp, help!!
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secondary

Postby slothrob » Tue Apr 03, 2012 6:57 am

Fell free to secondary if you are more comfortable doing that. It can help you leave as much yeast behind as possible, but it doesn't do much else except for the rare beer that will benefit from extended aging. The reasons that people have moved away from secondaries are essentially that they are usually unnecessary, they add an additional step when contamination is possible, and it increases oxidation of the beer unless you take special precautions.

Another factor to consider is that, within reason, beer will often benefit more from a little more time on the yeast than it would from being removed from the yeast. The old schedule of fermenting the beer for a week, then transferring to a secondary can result in beer that was removed from the yeast before it has finished cleaning up byproducts of fermentation. Beer was traditionally put in secondary to avoid off flavors, but off flavors are probably more apt to result from pulling the beer off the yeast too soon.
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Postby Capt Zero » Tue Apr 03, 2012 7:54 am

Cheers on that Slothrob, I'll go with the last part of your post and just leave well enough alone.
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Postby slothrob » Tue Apr 03, 2012 7:47 pm

Give skipping secondary a shot. If you have trouble with getting too much yeast in your final beer, you can see if secondary helps reduce that. That really is just about all that secondary is for.
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