During the secondary fermentation stage of the brewing experience the beer is siphoned into another carboy for a second fermentation period.  During which, the Irish moss(Chondrus Crispus – a red algae) works it’s magic and begins to clarify the beer.  Hopefully taking it from an opaque cloudy mess to a clearer fresh looking beer, fingers crossed.  It’s hard to tell at the moment how clear it’s getting because the beer is so dang dark.

Primary fermentation is complete and it’s time to siphon the beer over to the secondary fermentation vessel, for us a glass carboy.  You can tell when it’s time when the kraken(that’s the huge bubbly foam that is created from the fermenting yeast) falls back in on itself, leaving only a dark ring around the top of the fermenter.

As with every previous step, it is absolutely crucial that all equipment be thoroughly sanitized and cleaned.  Any dirt, mould or other grossness can easily find its way into the beer.  At this stage the beer sits for a couple weeks at room temperature to clarify, well inside the bacteria-growth danger zone of 4-60 degrees celsius.

Unlike the other stages there are only a few pieces of equipment that’ll need sanitizing.  The carboy, auto-sipon and siphoning hose as well as the airlock.  Be sure to double check the airlock, they are not universal!  My airlock for the plastic primary fermenter was way too large for the opening on the secondary glass carboy, a second smaller airlock was needed.

The auto-siphon is placed on the bottom of the primary fermenter, be sure not to disturb the sediment as much as possible, there will be quite a large mass of it.  This is all the dead yeast as well as any hop sediment that may have found its way through during the first siphoning stage.  It’s okay if a little gets through, the beer will be siphoned a third time during bottling.  Also, be sure the primary fermenter is above the secondary during siphoning, it’ll work easier and more smoothly.

 It’s important the siphoning hose is resting gently at the bottom of the secondary fermenter and is not disturbed while the beer pours smoothly, air should not be incorporated during this stage, it can cause off flavours and an undeveloped product.  It also, if there is any present, will aid in bacterial growth.  Once the beer is all transferred it needs to be topped of with more brewing water, luckily there was tons left over, the glass carboys are generally a few litres larger than the plastic.  Cap on the sanitized sealing stopper and place the airlock inside that has been filled with either sanitizer solution or boiled water.  Cover the beer with something that will not let light in!  Very important.

The beer is all ready for it’s two week crash course in secondary fermentation!


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