Secondary Fermentation Question

Have a question or want to show off your project? Post it! No Registration Necessary.  Now with pictures!

Threaded View
I just moved a creme stout from my primary to a secondary fermenter.  I put
approximately 5 gallons into a 6 gallon carboy.  The beer is quite still.
Is it ok to leave such a large head space?  I'm a winemaker and this would
be a cardinal sin to wine.  I do have a 5 gallon carboy but hated to move
the beer again if not necessary.

Re: Secondary Fermentation Question
On Sat, 19 Jul 2003 14:43:02 -0500, "youdaman10"

Quoted text here. Click to load it

If you are asking for my knowledge about biochemic chemistry and
biology I would reply: "I don't know!.." But if you are asking for my
intuition and experience what about homebrewing I'd say that you are
taking tremendous risks, especially for we are in summer now.. (I
assume you're living in the nothern hemisphere?)
What you did is a cardinal sin in winemaking but in beermaking it's
even a much bigger sin. Beer is so much more perishable than wine is
and you will soon find out -if things go wrong- how serious it is what
I'm saying here when you will see the first peels of acetic
fermentation floating on the surface of the wort in your carboy during
the days to come.
I suggest you put your secondary fermentor IMMEDIATELY in the fridge
at much lower temperatures (let's say 4.. 6 C) AND, when you have a
gas cylinder with CO2 than blow some CO2 over the surface of the wort
and immediately after replace the air lock.
When *I* don't do it this way, not even after thoroughly sanitizing my
carboys, I am not able to make drinkable beer here in Belgium during
summer. From October to May your method is less risky but it isn't

Kind regards,

Norbert (from Flanders, Belgium)

Re: Secondary Fermentation Question
If you can keep the temp. as low as you can get it, you will be O.K.  What
you are brewing is an ale, and they will take a little heat.  I don't think
that you will get oxidation in your beer, due to the fact that the ferment
is still going on.  You will have a CO2 blanket over your beer in just a
short time.

Let it run it's course, and when it is done, bottle it or keg it.  In the
mean time, relax, don't worry, and have a home-brew.


Quoted text here. Click to load it

Re: Secondary Fermentation Question

Quoted text here. Click to load it

How long was it in the primary?  There should have still been "some"
fermentation going on when you transferred to the secondary.  If not, you
transferred too late.  In either case, you should leave very little
headspace.  I typcially have only a couple inches between the the openning
and the top level of the beer.  Just enough to make room for floating dry

Tom Veldhouse

Re: Secondary Fermentation Question
youdaman10 wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it

I typically use a 6 gal. carboy for the secondary of a 5 gal. batch.  In
spite of the dire warnings you will hear, the reality is that it has
never been a problem.

Life begins at 60 - 1.060, that is.

Re: Secondary Fermentation Question
Quoted text here. Click to load it
I've had good luck splitting 5.5 to 6 gallons of wort into two 5 gallon
carboys for primary. Then, after fermentation is about done, rack into
another 5 gallon carboy, right to the top. Sediment gets left behind, and it
works out perfect. If for some reason you do find yourself with too much
headspace, you can purge with CO2. A few other benefits are that it's easier
to move the partially full carboys, they can be stirred, shaken, or
oxygenatated easily, and you never have to mess with a blowoff tube.
Ken A.

Site Timeline