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I have a India Pale Ale which is just finishing fermentation in a sealed bucket under airlock, I want to skip the secondary. How long should I wait before carefully racking and bottling? Will the beer be clear at that point or should I extend that time?

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4 Answers

While there are no drawbacks to leaving it in the primary — I do all the time — try not to let it sit on the trub for more than four to six weeks. Off flavors can start to develop the longer it sits on the trub. So if you're planning to let your beer sit for a longer period of time, consider racking to secondary. Otherwise, if you're just going to have it in the carboy for four weeks or less, you're fine leaving it in the primary.

You can get clear beer in the primary, both by cold-crashing and using something like Biofine, ClarityFerm, or Gelatin Finings. I've used them all, and they all do a sufficient job helping produce a clear beer.

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Off flavors from leaving wort on trub is a myth, at least according to Jamil and Palmer (even though both admit to previously perpetuating it). www.homebrewtalk.com/f163/secondary-not-john-palmer-jamil-zainasheff-weigh-17683‌​7 –  Wyrmwood Dec 25 '13 at 4:10
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No draw backs.

Check that the final gravity has been reached and then move to the bottles. Let it sit for a few weeks to carbonate and it will clear at the same time.

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No drawbacks. Wait one or two more weeks. Clarity will depend on the yeast flocculation, but if you can bring the temperature down before racking (cold-crash), that will help the yeast and anything else settle out of suspension.

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My garage is cold, 38F currently, may make it to the low 40's next week, would that work? How long should it be kept cold, if this is an option? –  Quentin Dec 19 '13 at 2:24
    
Most active (ie: refrigerated) cold-crashing is going to be in the lower 30s because efficiency, but high-30s/low-40s is better than 60s, for sure. A few days should do it. –  jsled Dec 19 '13 at 15:03
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You'll get more off flavors by not using a secondary. If you rack to the secondary after 5 days or so, you'll get a much better brew. It can then sit in the secondary much longer.

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While it's true that you can leave a beer in secondary for longer, primary is just fine for the 3 or 4 weeks needed for a typical beer. There's no reason to think it will introduce off flavors. –  Tobias Patton Dec 21 '13 at 16:12
    
You'll pick up off flavors from the trub that settles at the bottom. Sure you don't have too- but that's the reason pretty much every book recommends using a secondary. –  mpurkeypile Dec 21 '13 at 16:49
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It takes months for yeast autolysis to affect the flavour of the beer. The primary benefit of racking to secondary is clarity, not flavour. Older books on home brewing recommend always racking to secondary. Contemporary books recognize that it's not always necessary and brings some associated risks. howtobrew.com/section1/chapter8-2-3.html –  Tobias Patton Dec 21 '13 at 18:18
    
FG was right on the mark, moved the PF to the garage for a few days, Christmas will be below zero, so, I'll move it to the cellar, plan on 2 weeks post fermentation, then racking to bottling. –  Quentin Dec 23 '13 at 2:20
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