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Racking - The Definitive Post

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deebee

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There is a lot of talk about racking to secondary and I notice there are a few different ideas on whether, how and when.

I aim to rack halfway between OG and FG. With ales, that's day 3 or 4 (if you pitch yeast on day 1, the next day is day 2 etc.) I let fermentation in secondary finish and, once I am sure it is finished, I rack again to bulk prime and bottle.

I try to let a little slurry through at each racking but only a little. I generally try not to leave much liquid behind if I can.

The main thing I have noticed is that my beer is much clearer in the bottle than it used to be. I am told it reduces the risk of autolysis but I never had that before I started racking.

I have not experimented with other ways of doing it. Just got advice and followed it. The only problem I have had is the odd stuck ferment straight after racking. This is usually fixed by raising temp a few degrees and giving a gentle rocking without breaking the surface of the brew.

I am interested to learn
How do others rack...
When do you rack?
How long and at what temps do you leave it in secondary?
Do you let the slops through the racking tube and how much?
How many of the answers to these questions change when you introduce dry-hopping into the practice?
And WHY to each of these questions...

Can't wait to hear what you all reckon...
 

Gough

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My racking procedure sounds pretty similar to yours. I've dry hopped each time and haven't really changed anything other than letting it settle right out (usually a fortnight) in secondary before racking again and bulk priming. I've mainly racked Lagers so far and usually do so at day 7 which has tended to be just a touch over half gravity each time. I always wait until the Krausen has peaked and is just starting to fall back in, following the Palmer book's suggestion. As for temps I just try and keep it as cold as possible for my Lagers both in primary and secondary. In my case that usually works out to between 11 and 14 degrees at the moment, with 12 being the most common. Usually let some slops through with the first rack but not too much the second time. As to why, well as a beginner brewer I do it this way through a combination of having learned from sites like this and the Palmer book, and through my own trial and error. I'm getting more confident with things now, but am certainly no expert! Racking has been the biggest single improvement to my brewing by a long way.

My 2 cents worth! :chug:

Gough.
 

Wasabi

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I'll third that!

When I started racking to secondary, my beer improved 10 fold and I do it pretty much the same way as you, though I usually use the primary for 7 days regardless, then secondary for 2-3 weeks.

Though as you may see in my other post, I'm doing my first lager and I may habe to rethink it, I'm not sure 7 in the primary will be enough.
 

GMK

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Racking.

I will usually rack at day 7.
I transfer to the secondary and i leave as much behind as possible.
I try and keep it at the same temp or cooler.
I always get new yeast sediment in the bottom of the secondary when it is time to keg.

I usually Dry hop the same day i rack.
Add hops to SS Mug - add boiling water for 2 mins.
Stir and pitch into secondary.

Usually i leave it in thesecondary for 2 weeks.
However, i have had a bock in the secondary for 4 weeks now.
Deciding when it is hoppy enough and whether to keg or bottle.

Racking, dry hopping and using malt instead of suagr are the three best improvements a beginner brewer can make.
 

Snow

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I rack my ales on days 5 6 or 7 depending on whether I have time, with most leaning towards 7. Secondary is always 2 weeks. For lagers (I've only done 2), I have racked on day 14 and after 2 days diacetyl rest, lagered for 6 weeks. I usually leave as much sediment behind as I can when racking.

- Snow.
 

kook

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I rack once I've noticed fermentation is *almost* complete. This is usually between day 6-9. Racking then means theres still enough yeast in suspension to finish off the fermentation, but not enough yeast to cover up dry hops :)
 

Jazman

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i only rack to bulk prime but im thinking to get my beer of the yest cake when finished i will leave in the shed in a jerry can for a couple of weeks then bottle as ken mentioned .

ken by doing this is their much chance of autolisys
 

GMK

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If you mean racking after 7 days in the primary reduces the chances of autolysis - then it does.

Since racking - unless left for a month at unuually high temps - should not get autolysis.
 

Nearly

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A question if I may about SG testing before racking. My little gurgler (Black Rock Lager - but really an ale) is sitting in a plastic tray on the floor with an aquarium heater keeping it warm (about 20-22 deg). This means the tap is under water. To tap off a test amount I will have to lift the fermenter out of the tray and up somewhere higher. The last time I lifted it with airlock in place it sucked all the sterilizer I had in the airlock down into the brew. :eek:

So is it OK to remove the airlock and suffer a bit of air getting sucked into the fermenter when I lift it? Next time I should leave a hose on and have the tray up on crates or something so I can test without moving anything. :(
 

Trev

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Nearly,

Yeah, had the same thought some little time ago. The way I look at it, the head space in your fermenter is now full of CO2. If you remove the airlock and move the fermenter around then obviously you will pump a little bit of air in and a little bit of CO2 out. I would think though that the amount would be quite small in relation to the head space and the bulk of the CO2 will stay stay in contact with the liquid so you should be alright.

I use boiled water in my airlock so I don't worry if I forget to loosen it when I move the fermenter.

Trev
 

deebee

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and if you lift it very gently and slowly it will bubble backwards but not suck anything back through.
 

Nearly

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Thanks guys. I think I will try the lift gently but if that aint working I will take the airlock out and not worry. Heres another silly question from someone who thinks WAY too much before doing....

Has anyone ever considered throwing dry ice into the secondary to create a layer of CO2 prior to racking? :unsure:
 

Moray

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adding dry ice for that purpose is often done in winemaking to prevent oxidation.

If you have access to dry ice give it a go.

It is probably overkill though.
 

jayse

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turn on some coloured lights while you do it ,crank some tunes and youve got a rock show in your brew space.
 

Gough

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This is Spinal Tap LOL

Gough.
 

Jazman

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thanks ken for that i will do as u do as before i used to rack into a cube and put into me old mans spare but at the moment i cant






and nearly get out the metal with jayse rock show and put on iron maiden and slam thy head
 

Nearly

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jayse said:
turn on some coloured lights while you do it ,crank some tunes and youve got a rock show in your brew space.
Good on ya jayse :rolleyes: Welcome to the long, long list of folk who have enjoyed putting sh^t on me. :) Anyone would think I'm some kinda plant that needs regular fertilizer... As it happens the rock show didnt come off because of logistics... but I will maybe try it next time. ;)

But on a more serious note, I think I am in need of advice. I am brewing a Black Rock Lager. I pitched on Thur night and the bubbling was very fast to start... about 2 hours. The bubling was fairly fierce at 22 deg. I decided to rack last night (Mon) when the bubbling was down to about every 20 secs or so. I think from reading that the Black Rock kit brews in 3 - 6 days at 23-28 degs.

The problem is that after racking into secondary (which was my brother in laws old fermenter) no activity since. Stuck fermentation?? I checked the grommet around airlock and there is no leak there. The tap is under water in 4 inches of heating water. The old rubber seal may not be sealed but I did put it on as tight as I could without engaging block and tackle.

I stuffed the racking process. When the beer was coming down the hose I expected it to solid fill the hose and drain quickly. It trickled out and foamed in the hose. The draining took about 20 mins with me playing with the hose the whole time trying to get it to speed up... sometimes it did and sometimes it didnt. I do have the slot doodah inserted in the tap that supposedly gets the inflow from the top rather than the trub on bottom. I checked with the spoon by rubbing it over the slot to clear any crap but that had no effect and at end I could see that there was no blockage. The whole beer was probably thoroughly airated. In desperation to get some quick CO2 on top I threw 4 carbonation drops into the brew before sealing. The beer tasted ok... flat and warm but ok. The SG was near impossible because of foaming but it looked really low maybe 1005 or 1010?

I am guessing that the fermentation was finished and there is no CO2 blanket and that my beer is oxidised. So fellas... what should I do? (sorry bout the long post.. thanks for reading)
 

Moray

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Nearly,

don't panic, I would leave the brew alone in the secondary for a week, then take an s.g. reading.
If it is in the range you mentioned, then it's ready for priming and bottling, or kegging.
 

Nearly

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Thanks for the advice... I will follow it.

If I have oxygenated the brew and a CO2 blanket doesnt form quickly enough what will happen to the beer? I have been busy trying to avoid oxygen whithout realising that I didnt know why...
 

Snow

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Nearly,

at that early stage of fermentation (racking on day 4) you will still have ample co2 production to form a blanket in the headspace, even if you don't see any bubble in your airlock. Even though you thoroughly checked your seals, you may still have a leak. Regardless of all this, if by some chance your beer is exposed to oxygen, it is not the end of the world. You may get some slight oxidisation but not enough to ruin your brew. You may not even taste any of the symptoms, as they can sometimes take months to show themselves and, being your first brew(?) I imagine theis beer won't last long in your household :p When you bottle it, Dave B and I will be only too happy to taste test it for you to see where you're going right or wrong!

Anyway, I guess my advice is to do as Moray says and stop having panic attacks about your "baby" :D

Cheers - Snow
 

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