Dry-hopping in the secondary

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Dry-hopping in the secondary

Postby rcsoccer » Mon Aug 17, 2009 12:53 pm

Last Thursday (8/13/09) I added 1 oz Rainier and 1 oz Cascade leaf hops when I racked to the secondary. I've noticed that fermentation has slowed down (maybe stopped). When I shake the secondary, there seems to be a little activity. I used top-fermenting Pacman yeast from Wyeast. It is the same kind that the Rogue Brewery uses for their dry-hopped red ale, which I am trying to mimic. I was wondering if I needed to get some more yeast and add it to this secondary, or just let it sit for another week or so. I was planning on dry-hopping for at least 2 weeks, but I'm afraid that the yeast is going to be dead by the time I try to bottle this beer.

Any suggestions?
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Postby Suthrncomfrt1884 » Mon Aug 17, 2009 1:25 pm

Your yeast will be fine. Dry hopping idealy should be done when primary fermentation is completely done. The gases created by fermentation will carry all those vital aromas right out of your beer.
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Postby rcsoccer » Mon Aug 17, 2009 1:37 pm

[quote="Suthrncomfrt1884"]Your yeast will be fine. Dry hopping idealy should be done when primary fermentation is completely done. The gases created by fermentation will carry all those vital aromas right out of your beer.[/quote]

So I should have racked to the secondary, wait until the fermentation was complete, then dry-hopped?

If I leave the beer in secondary for 2 weeks total, will there still be enough yeast activity to carbonate in the bottle?
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Postby Suthrncomfrt1884 » Mon Aug 17, 2009 5:25 pm

You're yeast will do fine. I've had beers carbonate fine after 3 months in fermentors. Yes, the yeast will probably fall out of suspension to a point, but I bet that just moving your carboy to wherever you bottle is going to shake up enough yeast to get your bottles going. Without fining agents, I've never had a beer completely clear of yeast in the carboy. It's not usually until I chill them that my yeast settles well and I get a perfectly clear beer.

As far as dryhopping... it's just my personal opinion that hopping in secondary is better. I usually throw them in once I've hit my final gravity. This is by no means a "must do". You're beer will probably turn out fine.
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Postby rcsoccer » Mon Aug 17, 2009 6:19 pm

Thanks for the comments! I'm going to leave it in the secondary for another week and a half, at least. It should be delicious...... I love hop aroma! :)
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Postby Suthrncomfrt1884 » Mon Aug 17, 2009 10:51 pm

Just a tip. Depending on what hops I use, I sometimes only leave them in for 7-10 days. Any more than that, and you can sometimes have a very grass-like veggie taste. I would taste it every few days to decide when to take it out. Better safe than sorry.
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Re: Dry-hopping in the secondary

Postby slothrob » Tue Aug 18, 2009 7:28 am

rcsoccer wrote:Last Thursday ... when I racked to the secondary. I've noticed that fermentation has slowed down (maybe stopped).

I have nothing to add about the dry hopping, but I wanted to mention that the secondary is really just to clear the beer (or for adding things like dry hops). Fermentation should be complete before you transfer the beer out of the primary, or you risk stressing the yeast and getting off flavors. Actually, it's best to leave it at least a couple days past completion to allow the yeast to clean up fermentation byproducts.
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Re: Dry-hopping in the secondary

Postby Suthrncomfrt1884 » Tue Aug 18, 2009 12:55 pm

slothrob wrote:

I have nothing to add about the dry hopping, but I wanted to mention that the secondary is really just to clear the beer (or for adding things like dry hops). Fermentation should be complete before you transfer the beer out of the primary, or you risk stressing the yeast and getting off flavors. Actually, it's best to leave it at least a couple days past completion to allow the yeast to clean up fermentation byproducts.[/quote]

I agree with this slothrob, but I've actually heard differing opinions on it. I've always racked to secondary after fermentation has hit it's F.G. or very close to it. But, recently I had a discussion with another homebrewer who swears by racking while primary is still active but at the last stage. He claimed he racks once the krausen starts to fall back in. I'm not sure what's correct and what's not. Any ideas?
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racking to secondary

Postby slothrob » Tue Aug 18, 2009 8:46 pm

I'd say the jury is still out, and I'm sorry if I stated it as if it was clear fact, but the arguments for avoiding an early transfer are strong. If anything, transferring after peak activity, but while the yeast is still in suspension is probably best, which your friend may be doing. Wouldn't that mostly remove the benefit of clearing the beer in the secondary as most of the yeast will end up being transferred?

Possible exceptions include beer that is exposed to elevated temperatures that might speed breakdown of the yeast or transfer of a large quantity of break and hop material into the primary fermentor. Those can add off flavors and clarity problems that could be reduced by an early transfer, but at the risk of other flavors.

If he's doing it to get the beer off the break and hops, that's not unlike what pro-brewers do by dumping the trub once fermentation becomes active. Finding a way to leave as much of that behind in the kettle is probably a better solution to that problem

It's certainly an old practice to rack early. A lot of breweries seem obsessed by it, but they are often using in-line chillers and conicals and are concerned with dumping trub.

There was a decent experiment published in BYO last month that demonstrated that leaving the beer for a week or two on the yeast after fermentation was complete had little effect and no significant contribution to off flavors. This doesn't test whether there are off flavors generated during fermentation, but does imply that weeks on the yeast have little adverse effect.

On the other hand, transferring the beer early can lead to diacetyl and (as I've experienced) acetaldehyde. Any action that decreases yeast activity prematurely, such as an early temperature drop, insufficient yeast pitch, or an early transfer all risk either leaving these and other fermentation byproducts in the beer, or requiring extended aging to clean them up due to low yeast counts (which happened in my case). This is also one of the reasons highly flocculating yeasts tend to leave higher diacetyl levels in beer.

Since a lot of that is theory, and I'm unfamiliar with direct experiments testing early transfers, consider the fact that many highly award winning brewers have stopped transferring to secondary almost completely.
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Postby Suthrncomfrt1884 » Wed Aug 19, 2009 9:05 pm

I actually just got that issue of BYO a few days ago. It was a good issue for me since I'm getting started on yeast culturing. I also liked the article about leaving it on the yeast.

Personally, I prefer to leave it for 3-4 weeks and then keg. I only use secondary if I'm adding some sort of adjunct or dryhops to the beer.
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on yeast

Postby slothrob » Wed Aug 19, 2009 10:21 pm

I almost always go 2-4 weeks primary, myself. Shorter for quick finishing beers like Ordinary Bitters and Weizens, longer for slow dropping yeasts. I don't really use any of the procedures that call for secondary, so I rarely use one anymore. If you're bottling, secondaries are a good way to minimize the yeast that gets into the bottles, though.
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Dry Hopping

Postby conman » Sun Aug 23, 2009 8:14 am

I also have nothing really to add regarding dry hopping other than I started using the little stainless steel dollar store tea balls and I add the hops directly to the keg for the duration (usually only a few days.....lol). but I thought it was worth mentioning that it does seem in my experience that a beer the is just beginning to clear will benefit from racking to a secondary as it seems to speedup clearing. now, I dont know if that is because of the act of transferring or simply a change in temperature or pressure the yeast is exposed too. I would be interested if others had observed the same thing or if I just have some super special and unique beer ingredients and yeast...hhhuuumm? :roll:
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Postby rcsoccer » Tue Aug 25, 2009 6:48 pm

Thanks for all the talk on transferring and such. I have heard that leaving the beer in the primary for too long can give a yeasty, bread-like taste.

I did have a problem when I brewed a Fat Tire clone that I bought from Austin Homebrew. After I bottled the beer the temperature in my apartment got up to around 90 degrees for a few days (I live in Oregon and don't have an A/C in my apartment). It was 108 degrees outside. It has been a few weeks and the beer still has a kind of sour taste/smell to it. Is this caused by the diacetyl that you talk about? I'm a biochemist, so it makes sense that any acetyl compounds would be like having vinegar in the beer. Any suggestions on what to do with it? It is drinkable.... but just because it has alcohol in it..... :D
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hot ferment

Postby slothrob » Wed Aug 26, 2009 9:07 pm

Diacetyl is more of a pungent butter-like smell.

Sour sounds like it could be acetaldehyde or just a lot of esters. Some acetaldehyde can age out after a couple months. It's hard to imagine that a beer that fermented close to 90°F will ever ever be great, though.

Temperature control of some kind is crucial. You may need to brew during cooler weather or buy a fridge or freezer and a temperature controller.
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Re: hot ferment

Postby billvelek » Thu Aug 27, 2009 8:16 am

slothrob wrote:snip ... It's hard to imagine that a beer that fermented close to 90°F will ever ever be great, though.

Hi, slothrob. I'll go one step further and say that it's hard to imagine that it wouldn't be terrible. The few times in my beginning years when I fermented close to _80_, the fusels were so bad that I would get a headache after just a _couple_ of beers, and they were very estery IIRC. However, rcsoccer did say that the temp was that high after he bottled, so hopefully for his sake it wasn't that high during fermentation. I'm sure that the yeast will also produce esters and fusel fuels from the primer, but at least that is only a small percentage of the fermentables which should help. But I'm with you -- temperature control is crucial, even if it's just a matter of sitting the carboy in a tub of cool water and adding a few ice cubes when necessary.

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