Author Topic: Dark Bier Primary Fermentation Times  (Read 1443 times)

Offline RaymondMillbrae

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Dark Bier Primary Fermentation Times
« on: May 30, 2020, 11:32:05 PM »
O-Tay, Folks...I have a question.

So I am primarily brewing porters and stouts.

I have them in the primary fermenter for 2 weeks, then in the secondary fermenter for 2 weeks.

After this they are kegged, carbonated, then placed on nitro.

So here?s my question:

I?ve always done this routine - Two weeks primary, two weeks secondary.

Do you think it?ll be okay to place it in primary for only one week, then secondary for two?

Do you think it?ll finish fermenting in primary after seven days? (Are seven days enough to completely finish fermenting it)?

I?m brewing 5 gallons at a time. I use fresh Imperial ?Darkness? yeast. (And I always do a yeast starter for 3 or 4 days prior to adding the yeast).

Just curious, as if it?s okay, it?ll cut my fermentation time by seven days.


Offline Oginme

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Re: Dark Bier Primary Fermentation Times
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2020, 03:36:32 AM »
Honestly, I see no reason for you to be transferring to secondary.  If you are not adding a large amount of fruit or other additive, you risk possible contamination and oxidation in going to a secondary fermenter.

If you want to shorten up your fermentation time, going to three weeks in primary would be fine.  Most of my ales are 2 to 3 weeks in primary before being bottled or kegged.  Lagers will spend a good 3 to 5 weeks in primary before being bottled.
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Offline Kevin58

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Re: Dark Bier Primary Fermentation Times
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2020, 07:06:33 AM »
For more on secondary fermentation here are some exchanges from the guy who wrote about and advocated using a secondary step in one of the more popular homebrewing books, John Palmer's "How To Brew". However after that book was written much changed in the homebrewing world. Myths were dispelled and new knowledge gained leading John (and others) to completely change his mind on the need for the practice. The risks outweigh the perceived benefits.

The following exchange came from a section called ask the experts at March 15, 2013...

Tom from Michigan asks:
I have a few questions about secondary fermentations. I've read both pros and cons for 2nd fermentations and it is driving me crazy what to do. One, are they necessary for lower Gravity beers?

Two, what is the dividing line between low gravity and high gravity beers? Is it 1.060 and higher?

Three, I have an American Brown Ale in the primary right now, a SG of 1.058, Should I secondary ferment this or not?

Your advice is appreciated, thanks for all you do!

Allen from New York asks:
John, please talk about why or why not you would NOT use a secondary fermenter (bright tank?) and why or why not a primary only fermentation is a good idea. In other words, give some clarification or reason why primary only is fine, versus the old theory of primary then secondary normal gravity ale fermentations.

Palmer answers:
These are good questions ? When and why would you need to use a secondary fermenter? First some background ? I used to recommend racking a beer to a secondary fermenter. My recommendation was based on the premise that (20 years ago) larger (higher gravity) beers took longer to ferment completely, and that getting the beer off the yeast reduced the risk of yeast autolysis (ie., meaty or rubbery off-flavors) and it allowed more time for flocculation and clarification, reducing the amount of yeast and trub carryover to the bottle. Twenty years ago, a homebrewed beer typically had better flavor, or perhaps less risk of off-flavors, if it was racked off the trub and clarified before bottling. Today that is not the case.

The risk inherent to any beer transfer, whether it is fermenter-to-fermenter or fermenter-to-bottles, is oxidation and staling. Any oxygen exposure after fermentation will lead to staling, and the more exposure, and the warmer the storage temperature, the faster the beer will go stale.

Racking to a secondary fermenter used to be recommended because staling was simply a fact of life ? like death and taxes. But the risk of autolysis was real and worth avoiding ? like cholera. In other words, you know you are going to die eventually, but death by cholera is worth avoiding.

But then modern medicine appeared, or in our case, better yeast and better yeast-handling information. Suddenly, death by autolysis is rare for a beer because of two factors: the freshness and health of the yeast being pitched has drastically improved, and proper pitching rates are better understood. The yeast no longer drop dead and burst like Mr. Creosote from Monty Python?s The Meaning of Life when fermentation is complete ? they are able to hibernate and wait for the next fermentation to come around. The beer has time to clarify in the primary fermenter without generating off-flavors. With autolysis no longer a concern, staling becomes the main problem. The shelf life of a beer can be greatly enhanced by avoiding oxygen exposure and storing the beer cold (after it has had time to carbonate).

Therefore I, and Jamil and White Labs and Wyeast Labs, do not recommend racking to a secondary fermenter for ANY ale, except when conducting an actual second fermentation, such as adding fruit or souring. Racking to prevent autolysis is not necessary, and therefore the risk of oxidation is completely avoidable. Even lagers do not require racking to a second fermenter before lagering. With the right pitching rate, using fresh healthy yeast, and proper aeration of the wort prior to pitching, the fermentation of the beer will be complete within 3-8 days (bigger = longer). This time period includes the secondary or conditioning phase of fermentation when the yeast clean up acetaldehyde and diacetyl. The real purpose of lagering a beer is to use the colder temperatures to encourage the yeast to flocculate and promote the precipitation and sedimentation of microparticles and haze.

So, the new rule of thumb: don?t rack a beer to a secondary, ever, unless you are going to conduct a secondary fermentation.
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Offline RaymondMillbrae

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Re: Dark Bier Primary Fermentation Times
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2020, 08:03:13 PM »

Well, I "am" adding cacao nibs, hazelnuts, or coconut, to the porters and stouts when placed into the that cannot be avoided.

Plus I need the 6.5 gallon Speidel fermenter (my primary) to get the next brew day going. (The secondary is a 5.5 gallon Speidel fermenter).

But since asking the question, I've had a bit more time to research this, and I have found the following:

1) Wait for the carbonation bubbling to stop. About 1 bubble every 90 seconds should show almost complete fermentation.
2) Look for any movement of the yeast within the fermenter. If it is still active, then it is still fermenting.
3) Take hydrometer reading every day, at the same time, for three days straight. If the gravity stays the same, then its done.

I agree with #3.

The others sound kind of "fly by the seat of your pants" and ghetto. But I guess they'll work in a pinch.

In closing, I'll switch it around a bit. I''ll let it ferment in primary for just short of two weeks, and then let it sit in secondary for just short of two weeks.

We will see how that works.

Thanks again. I did learn something.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2020, 08:05:06 PM by RaymondMillbrae »