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April 27, 2005, 10:15 am
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Does anyone have any advice to offer about 'racking' a beer ?
I have read (on the net) that racking a beer can make the single,
biggest difference to the flavour of a brew. Does anyone know what
temperature the beer should be stored at in the secondary fermentor ?
And for approximately how long before bottling ?
thanks in advance !
If you are doing single stage, you'll notice the improvement racking
I doubt there's a single good answer. Normally I rack at the end of
vigorous fermentation, 3-5 days is the usual. I can only heat to keep
the temperature up and set most of my fermenters at 50-60 degrees F.
The recipe (type of yeast and style of beer) will give you the
temperature and time. Lager demands low temperatures and long times,
but I think that ales do benefit from cooler and longer too (my
opinion). Likewise high gravity, high alcohol beers require longer
time in the secondary, and benefit from longer time in the bottle.
This time of year the ambient is 70 degrees, so the heaters aren't
coming on, and I use ale yeasts. Soon I'll be shutting down for the
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I think racking is overrated. It helps to clear the beer of yeast and
sediment, but I don't think it has an enormous impact on flavor, except for
lagers, of course, which require long periods of aging at cold temperatures.
But for ales, the only reason I might rack is to clear it a bit if it is
cloudy. Rack after primary fermentation appears to be complete, and leave
it in the secondary for a couple of weeks at a cool temperature... anything
around 60 F is fine for this purpose, or even colder if you like. But as I
said... it's completely optional for ales, and more useful for lagers. One
other thing to keep in mind is, wheat ales such as Bavarian hefeweizen and
Belgian wit should NOT be racked because the yeast and haze is part of their
character that you do not want to get rid of.
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