Thoughts on secondary?

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Thoughts on secondary?

Post by Suthrncomfrt1884 » Thu Jan 22, 2009 10:50 pm

I'm wondering what everyone's thoughts are on racking to secondary?

What types of beers need it or should be concidered for it? Are higher gravity beers better off if put into secondary for a few extra weeks? Etc..

I've got an Imperial Nut Brown in primary right now... 7 days so far and it's still bubbling. I was going to rush through this and bottle as soon as I hit my FG in order to have it done for my ski trip in a few weeks, but this beer has my mouth watering and I think I'd like to take it slow and easy to get a better finish.

Anyways... it's around 8-8.5% ABV rough estimate (blew my airlock right off). I'm concidering secondary to let it clear a little more, but I don't want to waste my time with it if it won't significantly improve the finished product.

Any thoughts?
Primary - Belgian Dubbel, Belgian IPA
Secondary - Cherry Lambic
Bottled - Bourbon Barrel Coffee Porter, Double Chocolate Raspberry Stout, Imperial Nut Brown, Apfelwein, American Amber Ale w/Homegrown Hops, Breakfast Stout
Kegged - Bass Clone, ESB

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Re: Thoughts on secondary?

Post by Legman » Fri Jan 23, 2009 5:46 am

The thing to remember that there is no right or wrong answer to your question. It's just an opinion and a personal preference.

Personally, I don't ever secondary. To me it's just one less step I have to do, less equipment I need to clean/sterilize and one less time I have to move the beer around and possibly exposing it to infection or oxidation.

I always leave it in the primary until I'm ready to bottle or keg. If I'm bottling I only leave it for 3 weeks so there's still enough yeast suspended for carbonation. If I keg, which is most of the time, I'll leave it for a month. When I finally do rack, the beer is crystal clear and this is basically what a secondary does. Also, during fermentation a lot of byproducts are produced that in the end, the yeast eats them up when it runs out of fermentables. By leaving the beer on the big yeast cake longer, I've found that it clears these byproducts (which cause off-flavors) faster than if I transfer the beer to a secondary.

The old school thought is to get the beer off the big yeast cake as quickly as possible so autolysis does not occur. But newer research has shown that it may be beneficial to leave it there and that autolysis takes a lot longer to occur than previously thought.

The only time I would personally use a secondary is if I'm going to make a fruit beer or something like that. Otherwise, I don't bother with it. I even dry-hop in the primary.
So really, the choice is yours.

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Post by slothrob » Fri Jan 23, 2009 6:28 am

I do still secondary yellow beers that I want very clear and big beers that I want to age for months. Lagers might benefit from a secondary, as well.
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