Why Move Beer From Primary To Secondary?

Question

What determines when I should move from primary fermentation in my 7 gal bucket to carboy secondary fermentation?

My instructions ( Sierra pale ale ) say 5-7 days in primary but another source says they wait 9-14 days.

I’m not even sure why i have to move to a secondary fermentation container? Is that just to free up the bucket to brew another batch or what.  Transferring the wort is all I am doing when I go to secondary Fermentation?

Answer

Transferring to the secondary fermenter is simply to remove the fermenting wort from being in contact with the yeast that has settled out thereby helping to prevent the development of off-flavors associated with yeast autolysis.

It also helps with clarification in that there is less sediment to stir up at bottling/kegging time. Agents to help with the clarification (i.e. gelatin, isinglass, polyclear etc.) are generally added to the secondary fermenter after the beer has been transferred.

Some people use secondary fermenters while others do not. Some people will transfer to the secondary fermenter once the rate of bubbling of the airlock/blow-off tube drops to about 1 bubble per minute.

I’ll typically just wait until it appears that fermentation has stopped but I don’t transfer until the wort has been in the primary fermenter for at least a week.

Generally speaking, I tend to adhere to the 1,1, 2 principle of brewing. That is to say, one week in the primary fermenter, one week in the secondary fermenter and two weeks in the bottle/keg before trying it.

Of course, if you keg and don’t naturally carbonate you could start to consume it that same day.

When making lagers or high gravity beers then the above times generally need to be extended.