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How to go from Primary to Secondary

Catch-22

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Good afternoon.  This is my first post here, so I will admit that I'm a newbie all around.

I just brewed my first batch today, so I have my ale in a 7.9 G Speidel fermenter for the next couple of weeks.  I had planned on trying to do a secondary, but I have a few questions.

First, should I use the siphon that came with my equipment, or will using the spigot work just as well?  I ask because it just looks like the spigot is pretty far down, and I'm worried about too much of the trub going through to the secondary.

Second, I have a 5 G glass carboy that I was going to use for my secondary, since most of the fermentation should be over at that point.  Do I need to worry about a certain amount of head room on a full 5 G batch when doing a secondary?  I have a stopper and airlock for the 5 G carboy, but I didn't know how much room I'd need on top. There's about 5.5 in the primary, but I know some of that will settle out over time, giving me close to 5 G. 

Any help for this newbie would be greatly appreciated.  Obviously I have a little time before I have to worry about this.
 

durrettd

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I use a bucket with a spigot at the bottom. Yes, you'll get a LITTLE sediment if you use the spigot, but you can avoid it when you rack to the bottling bucket or keg. If a little gets into your keg or bottles, it will settle out. You're going to get some additional sedimentation in the bottles or keg anyway.

Most participants in this forum usually say you don't need a secondary - unless: 1. you only have one fermenter and you need to free it up for your next batch, 2. you want to dry hop in the secondary and want to harvest yeast from the primary for a future batch, 3. you are convinced a secondary will lead to clearer beer, or 4. Damn! I forgot what was number 4!

Your batch will probably fit into the 5-gallon carboy. You don't need any significant headspace in the secondary, unless you want room to dry hop. If it doesn't all fit, bottle the excess with a half-teaspoon of sugar in each bottle.

If you haven't already, start devising ways to keep your fermenting beer (not the ambient air, the beer itself) in the mid-60s. Check Nighthawk's signature line for suggestions on controlling fermentation temperature.
 

Scott Ickes

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Only use the spigot, if you can hook up a long piece of tubing to it so that the outlet of the tubing is at the bottom of your carboy.  Avoid splashing the beer as you transfer to the secondary.  Splashing will lead to oxygen, causing off flavors in your final product.

I like to siphon out of my primary into my secondary, but only because I don't have a spigot at the bottom of my primary buckets.

 

Mtnmangh

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I also like to siphon for the same reason as Scott.  Avoiding any splashing  keeps oxygen out, and helps with long term stability of the finished product.  I have had beers in bottles for over 2 years that were still good.  I also use oxygen absorbing caps, which helps too.
 

RiverBrewer

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Catch-22 ......You listed a First and Second......... Third, what you need to consider is WHY do you need a secondary? Just to say you did it isn't really a qualifier. As a beginner, you need to realize, the less you dick with your beer the better the chances of success! I use secondary only for fruit beers, barley wine, and cider. Just concentrate on the first three fundamental of brewing! Sanitization, Sanitization, and Sanitization!!!!!!
 

ihikeut

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The debate goes on about using a secondary. I find it depends on how long the beer is going to ferment, and weather your going to bottle or keg. The yeast book recommends only leaving the beer on the yeast cake  for a max of three weeks. When I make a lager it can take up to 8 to 10 weeks in the primary and secondary. When I keg I,m dry hopping directly in the keg, basically using it as a secondary.
 

Slurk

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For my Pilsner/Lager type of beers I use a secondary. Cold and long fermentation without racking could give some yeast related off flavours from my experience. Since I am using a secondary for my Pilsner/Lager type of beers I noticed that yeast related off flavours are minimized. For my other beers I use in principle only a primary (if I am not dry hopping).
 

Catch-22

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I certainly appreciate all of the replies.

Prior to attempting my first brew yesterday, I tried to read as much as possible, including the debate about whether or not to use a secondary.

The setup that I purchased came with a 5 gallon glass carboy, so I knew I could not put a 5 g batch in there without problems.  Therefore, I added a 7.9 Speidel to my stock. 

This is the main reason I thought about using a secondary because I could put 5 g into the carboy as a secondary, because the majority of the active fermentation should be over at that point.  At the same time, it would allow me to age it a little longer while freeing up the primary for my next batch.

When I'm able, I will probably get another Speidel.

But my question still remains, whether I don't use a secondary or not.  Let's just say I go right from the Speidel to my keg and do not utilize a secondary.  Should I siphon or use the spigot at the bottom of the Speidel?
 

RiverBrewer

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Cold crash to drop the yeast if you can do this. It will also helps settle the trub pile. The spigot may be ok if their is room between the spigot and the trub. The auto siphon available at the LHBS's, is a must have tool for the home brewer, and my personal preference. The spigot is used on the cold side of brewing where most contamination enters the system, so I wouldn't use it unless you know it is sanitized.  I sanitize my auto siphon by spraying the individual components with Star San and then pumping it through the unit and hose.
My vote is no on a secondary fermentation.
 

MaltLicker

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If it's an ale, and it's not over 1.070 OG or so, then I'd say keep it in primary for three weeks or so, and then package it. 

Lagers need lagering time, and high-gravity ales benefit from cold conditioning time, but "standard" ales typically do not need to be put in secondary just for clarity's sake.  You can achieve the same clarity by leaving in primary for longer, and then when the beer is stored at 45F for serving, the last remaining gunk will settle. 

Yeast strain does affect some beers, however, such as Wyeast 1007 in an altbier.  It's a non-flocculent yeast that can benefit from cold storage just like a lager. 
 

Slurk

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MaltLicker said:
Yeast strain does affect some beers, however, such as Wyeast 1007 in an altbier.  It's a non-flocculent yeast that can benefit from cold storage just like a lager.

Thanks Maltlicker! You gave me a new idea.
R, Slurk
 

Mtnmangh

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Catch-22 said:
The setup that I purchased came with a 5 gallon glass carboy, so I knew I could not put a 5 g batch in there without problems.  Therefore, I added a 7.9 Speidel to my stock. 

I regularly use a 5 g carboy for my 5.5 gallon batches.  They barely fit, but they do fit.  You want as little headspace in your secondary (if you choose to even do it.)  This is again to prevent oxidation.  All I can say is I always have, and probably always will mostly for harvesting sake and because it is just habit now.

But my question still remains, whether I don't use a secondary or not.  Let's just say I go right from the Speidel to my keg and do not utilize a secondary.  Should I siphon or use the spigot at the bottom of the Speidel?
[/quote]

Auto-Siphons are pretty cheap $15ish and worth ever penny.
 

grathan

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The speidel's spigot is a weird diameter to fit a hose onto. Might need a hose clamp.


I don't secondary ferment. Airlock activity done I give a couple more days then into a keg it goes.


I use the siphon, no special reason why I don't use the spigot. actually I think I use the spigot on top with a blow off tube and the solid cap on the bottom because this gives a lower profile to fit in the small chest freezer I have.

 

Maine Homebrewer

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Fellow homebrewing coworker of mine has spigots on his plastic carboys. Says they work great. I siphon between glass carboys.  Whatever works.
 

BILLY BREW

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Morning all. Don't know if I am late to this conversation, but wanted to chime in.
I always go to secondary and never use plastic. Consequently I siphon with tubing and hot water starter. As for the size of the vessel, I usually do 6 gal batches, but the story is all the same, you will be able to fit most all of the wort into the secondary, and what little you may lose is your sacrifice to the brew gods.
I never let my initial sit on trub longer than 7 days, as I have found there is little benifit and the beer will clarify better in the secondary when it is pulled a bit early. I suspect it is because the little yeasties do a little more work to clear out and settle what suspensions are left behind.
 

Bajaedition

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Catch-22 said:
I certainly appreciate all of the replies.

Prior to attempting my first brew yesterday, I tried to read as much as possible, including the debate about whether or not to use a secondary.

The setup that I purchased came with a 5 gallon glass carboy, so I knew I could not put a 5 g batch in there without problems.  Therefore, I added a 7.9 Speidel to my stock. 

This is the main reason I thought about using a secondary because I could put 5 g into the carboy as a secondary, because the majority of the active fermentation should be over at that point.  At the same time, it would allow me to age it a little longer while freeing up the primary for my next batch.

When I'm able, I will probably get another Speidel.

But my question still remains, whether I don't use a secondary or not.  Let's just say I go right from the Speidel to my keg and do not utilize a secondary.  Should I siphon or use the spigot at the bottom of the Speidel?
no reason for a second Speidel, get another 5 gallon. Normally you will only have one beer in primary, and 5 gallons are great for secondary fermentation, also for aging or lagering.
I use a 7.9 Spiedel for my primary also and love it. Have been using it for years. I used to use a 6.5 but had blow off problems a few times with high gravity beers. That was when I got the Spiedel. That was a good thing you did buying it. OH I use a racking cane to limit the trub transfer.
Good luck
 

durrettd

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Catch 22, Just re-read the thread and noticed you're using kegs. Kegs make great secondaries. I generally don't secondary, but have on occasion. Slide a hose over the SANITIZED spigot of your fermenter, attach the hose to a liquid keg disconnect (you may need an adapter to transition from the spigot size to the liquid disconnect size), and run the beer into a CO2-purged keg. Yes, you may get a little sediment, but you'll probably get some sediment from the beer as it finishes fermenting/conditioning/aging. Purge and pressurize the newly-filled keg.

It's easy to rack from the secondary keg to the serving keg using two liquid disconnects.
 

tom_hampton

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durrettd said:
Catch 22, Just re-read the thread and noticed you're using kegs. Kegs make great secondaries. I generally don't secondary, but have on occasion. Slide a hose over the SANITIZED spigot of your fermenter, attach the hose to a liquid keg disconnect (you may need an adapter to transition from the spigot size to the liquid disconnect size), and run the beer into a CO2-purged keg. Yes, you may get a little sediment, but you'll probably get some sediment from the beer as it finishes fermenting/conditioning/aging. Purge and pressurize the newly-filled keg.

It's easy to rack from the secondary keg to the serving keg using two liquid disconnects.

I wholly disapprove of secondary, as a general rule to be blindly followed.  It does NOTHING good for the beer, and excess handling is a primary vector for infection, or O2 take-up.  Be that as it may....

I don't disagree that kegs can serve this purpose.  They can also be used for clarification (aka, bright Tanks).  In both cases, its good to have a slightly shorter dip tube to prevent sucking up the sediment when it comes time to transfer.  You can buy replacement dip-tubes, and cut them short...so that you don't have to DEDICATE a keg to this function. 
 

Bajaedition

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Tom
I do not agree about secondary fermentation
I like to get my Ales off of the trub about 4days and my Lagers after about 10 days, however I like to keep my Ales going another week and lager about 2 weeks before I hit my target final.
Getting it off the trub of primary makes for a cleaner beer. IMO
I then will kill fermentation and filter the beer into a container for aging or dispensing.
I have had extremely few cases of infection and have been brewing for decades
Infections are caused by poor sanitation practices, not secondaries
with good sanitation practices infections are not an issue in secondary fermentation
I clean and sanitize after use and again before use of items touching wort or beer as a blind follow rule and cannot remember an infection problem I could not trace back to skipping that process.
 

bucknut

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Bajaedition said:
Tom
I do not agree about secondary fermentation
I like to get my Ales off of the trub about 4days and my Lagers after about 10 days, however I like to keep my Ales going another week and lager about 2 weeks before I hit my target final.
Getting it off the trub of primary makes for a cleaner beer. IMO
I then will kill fermentation and filter the beer into a container for aging or dispensing.
I have had extremely few cases of infection and have been brewing for decades
Infections are caused by poor sanitation practices, not secondaries
with good sanitation practices infections are not an issue in secondary fermentation
I clean and sanitize after use and again before use of items touching wort or beer as a blind follow rule and cannot remember an infection problem I could not trace back to skipping that process.

I think you hit the nail on the head here "I Like to get my Ales off the trub". That's how you do it and like it, doesn't make it right or wrong. I will say that I almost never use a secondary and my beers are not only clear but taste good. I do believe some styles can benefit some from the filtering and aging but ales ain't one of them. You can remove to much of the proteins and flavors that your ingredients give your beer by filtering, IMHO. Oh yea to the original poster, I'd try the spigot but would recommend the auto siphon only because that's what I use and that's what works for ME. ;)
 
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