Racking to secondary "Bad"?

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by AGbrewer, Apr 18, 2021.

  1. AGbrewer

    AGbrewer Well-Known Member

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    If it's been 2 weeks in the primary, why not rack it over to secondary once you are close to FG? Barring any arguments of introducing oxygen or potential contamination issues. Is there any other reason?

    For context, I currently have a stalled fermentation at 1.046 SG which was supposed to end at 1.030. OG was 1.126 and has been in the primary for about 2 weeks and hasn't moved on SG for about 5 days now.

    My thought is that whatever yeast that is still alive should be suspended in the beer itself. Yeast cake would theoretically at this point just be dead yeast. Racking it over would just give the yeast a bit of oxygen and a good swirl which at this point wouldn't really hurt anything (again assuming we don't inject a ton of oxygen or contaminate).

    I can always add some more yeast, but more interested in the thought of just racking over to secondary to see what happens.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. HighVoltageMan!

    HighVoltageMan! Well-Known Member

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    I stopped transferring to secondary years ago. I was one who swore by secondary. But the risk of oxygen ingress forced me to stop. There have been no downsides. I don’t like to keep the beer on the trub too long, but I also lager on trub, up to 6 weeks.
     
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  3. Megary

    Megary Well-Known Member

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    I think transferring to a secondary would be a gamble. If I understand you correctly, you are hoping that any introduced oxygen from the transfer would get scavenged by the rejuvenated yeast, the yeast then lowering your gravity to a more acceptable level.
    The risk is...what if the yeast does nothing? Now you have introduced oxygen to the beer with none of the reward.

    Personally, I would just give the fermenter a swirl and let it go another week or two. After that, the gravity is what it is.

    Good luck. Keep us posted.
     
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  4. AGbrewer

    AGbrewer Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I've already swirled it a bit a couple days ago. Guess I'll let it ride for another week or so. If nothing gets better, then I'll get a small starter going of WLP 099 and pitch it at high krausen with fingers crossed.
     
  5. Megary

    Megary Well-Known Member

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    Have you had success adding more yeast to a “stuck” fermentation? I hear a lot of people mention this, but I don’t ever recall anyone elaborating on how it turns out.
     
  6. AGbrewer

    AGbrewer Well-Known Member

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    I've done it about 6 times and it worked about 3 times. To me, at 50% success, it's worth a shot.
     
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  7. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    It doesn't. If conditions in your beer would support fermentation, the yeast that are already there would be fermenting. Unless you introduce a completely different strain, repitching may net you a couple points before they, too, give up and sink to the bottom.
     
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  8. Bubba Wade

    Bubba Wade Well-Known Member

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    Agreed. There are some situations, however, where a second strain might be useful. If the first yeast strain is approaching its alcohol tolerance, adding something like a champagne yeast with a high tolerance can assist in completing fermentation. But adding more yeast of the same strain will not help.
     
  9. AGbrewer

    AGbrewer Well-Known Member

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    If you have a beer that is within the normal conditions that the yeast should ferment, then I would agree with @Nosybear that pitching more of the original yeast probably won't help.

    However, and to @Bubba Wade 's point, if you have a beer that has increased in alcohol past the ability of the original yeast strain, pitching Champagne yeast, WLP 099, or even a wild yeast that is able to ferment at higher alcohol levels probably would actually help you drop the Beer to your desired FG. A side effect of using a different strain than the original strain can be a change in flavor and a lower FG, so you have to be ready to accept those risks.

    So in a sense, both @Nosybear and @Bubba Wade are correct.

    The main point is that it's really dependent on your situation as to whether pitching more yeast will help. My suggestion is that if you are going to pitch more yeast, find something that is a high abv workhorse and be ready for a different outcome than the original beer you had in mind.
     
  10. Donoroto

    Donoroto Well-Known Member

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    Hmmm, I dispute that. I collect the yeast from the bottom of my fermenter and repitch it with great success.

    So my only reason for moving to secondary is to free up the main fermenter for another brew. If I don't need the fermenter, I just leave it in primary as long as it takes.
     
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  11. Minbari

    Minbari Active Member

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    Never have used a secondary. Don't plan on it
     
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  12. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

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    For me it's the opposite way of looking at it. What does transferring to secondary get you? The yeast that have dropped to the bottom are unlikely to have died. When they run out of food they just become dormant. If they're dormant and were relatively healthy then it's a long time until you need to worry about autolysis. Autolysis is mainly a worry if you think the yeast stopped due to stress rather than just ran out of the food they can use.
     
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  13. AGbrewer

    AGbrewer Well-Known Member

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    Good Point! Perhaps "Dead" was a poor choice of words on my part.

    Let me try to clarify. My understanding is that once they floc out, they are typically going into hibernation. I'm sure that there are still some that floc out to the bottom that are still "active", but my guess is that most of them are probably dormant after a couple weeks or so. As such, nobody is doing much of anything at that point as far as fermentation of my beer is concerned.

    If I'm wrong, I'd happily accept anyone giving a correction.
     
  14. AGbrewer

    AGbrewer Well-Known Member

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    Totally forgot about autolysis! Good call brother. :)

    That's why I love this forum. Someone that has a different perspective than me always chimes in. Always a good opportunity to learn something.
     
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  15. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    Are you kegging, or bottling this batch? Any chance the balance of the sugars are not fermentable?
     
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  16. Donoroto

    Donoroto Well-Known Member

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    My understanding as well. Hibernation due to boredom - no more fermentables means there is nothing to do, so they flocculate and drop.
     
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  17. Zambezi Special

    Zambezi Special Well-Known Member

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    I like that " hibernation due to boredom": I'm sure tgat could happen to me too ;)
     
  18. AGbrewer

    AGbrewer Well-Known Member

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    I bottle everything I make. I'm sure there are sugars in there that aren't fermented, but if I only put CBC, it should be too risky at 12% abv as they will be stored in a fridge after proper carbonation.
     
  19. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    In that case, you're right. Also, if you add a strain that can ferment sugars and dextrines our normal S. Cerevisiae cannot, you'll get some more fermentation. I think we're all on the right track. Some English strains are so flocculant that they drop out before all the sugar is consumed, in that case rousing the yeast works, or adding new yeast (of a less flocculant strain). I've come to the conclusion there are no easy answers in brewing, just good ones for the current set of circumstances.
     
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  20. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    @Nosybear
    The ABV is currently at about 10.5% based on the OG, and current SG. Would the alcohol at this percentage make it fairly bullet proof as far as potential for infection? I'm just thinking about @AGbrewer 's original question about racking to a secondary. Sounds like this brew would be difficult to oxidize.
     

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