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My ale batch (US-05) was fermented at 68ºF for 11 days, when I removed the sediment and moved it to a Secondary Fermentation with a much lower temperature (41ºF) for a week now.

Since yeast has to be active in order to refine the beer taste (which is kind of the point of secondary fermentation), I wonder if it would be useful to increase temperature now, back to around 70ºF. I dread letting all the last week work, which is creating cold break and more sediment, will be lost (or: will the sediment go back to the beer?). Could I add some table sugar to help the yeast get back to life a little bit?

Finally, can I just bottle right now and let the yeast do its work inside bottle, with the help of prime sugar?

What do you fellow homebrewers think? I will add the hops for dry hopping now. Can I increase the temperature either way?

Thaks a lot :)

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Dropping the temperature after fermentation does not create cold break. Cold break proteins coagulate when you quickly chill the wort from boiling to pitch temperature. You need the rapid cooling in order to create cold break. Cold crashing can help suspended cold break particles drop out though, if that's what you mean. –  mallan1121 Jan 7 at 17:27

3 Answers 3

The primary function of secondary fermentation is clarification, not fermentation. (Unless you're fermenting something which requires a secondary fermentation addition, like a special yeast addition or dry hopping.) I've found great success by making sure the fermenting wort gravity is within 2-4 points of expected final gravity before transfer to secondary.

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Secondary fermentation is far more important in Lagers than in ales. Ales are quick finishing P.D.Q. beers. If I'm not drinking my ales in 10 days there is a problem ( I have a keg system - no bottles) However lagers can, and should, sit for weeks at very low temperatures. With an Ale, especially a high hopped IPA type ale, you can get away with as little as 2 or 3 days. The main season I rack and secondary an ale is to get the finishing beer off the yeast cells and trube before they can affect the taste. What the yeast is doing to the beer during secondary fermentation is slowly digesting the last of the long chain Malt sugars. In a lager this gives the beer a dry crisp finish. This is not always desirable in a typical ale where these sugars are an important part of the flavor profile. If you start adding sugar back into the secondary you run the risk of getting some bad "off flavors' Be very careful dry hopping you run the risk of infecting your beer. I think it's far better to add a very healthy hop dose at the end of the boil, where the hops are sterilized, that adding dry hops at the start of the secondary ferment.

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Oh, I get it! Ten days seems too much, a lot of experienced guys praise the power of long fermentation (2 weeks) and age (either in a secondary or in the bottle itself). I got 40 IBU from 80g of pallet hops on the last 15 minutes of boil. Then I let it get colder, to around 176F, and add another 100g of pallet hops. Now on dry hopping there is another 100g, which makes that a 10oz hopped beer. Well, if hops is used to prevent infection, how could it give one? –  Rafael.Pinto Jan 6 at 4:36
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I had to downvote for a couple reasons. First, adding sugar to the beer at this point, while nlot a good odea, will not necessarily create off flavors. Second, the risk of infection from dry hopping is so low as to be inconsiderable. I have dry hopped hundreds of batches without getting an infection from it. It's also a common technique in commercial breweries. Third, the off lfavcors mentioned as a result of not racking to secondary take months to develop. –  Denny Conn Jan 7 at 16:37
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The need to avoid autolysis comes from commercial brewing practices that are not a concern to homebrewers. These days most homebrewers do not use secondaries and make great beer without them. –  Denny Conn Jan 7 at 16:38
    
10 days?! That's insanely fast. I find my ales don't reach peak flavor until six weeks after when the yeast was first pitched. –  fthinker Jun 5 at 1:20

This might be a little redundant but I feel there is a couple missing suggestions. I agree with everyones comments about cold break material, thats a chilling issue. And secondary being more for clarity and conditioning. And I absolutely agree with Denny on the the subject of autolysis too.

My suggestion for your next ale fermentation would be to ferment as normal (until you reach your desired FG) then before you think about a secondary, take your fermenter (still on the yeast) and chill it before you rack into bottle bucket/keg. This will drop out any trub and yeast and in turn leave you with a clearer beer without a secondary. I typically ramp up temp at the end of fermentation, this will keep the yeast active without adding off flavors and help clean up any off flavors that were produced during.

You mention yeast refining the taste in secondary... again redundant but thats a primary fermentation process and more specifically the first half. You also ask about sediment going back into the beer, I would suggest being careful what you transfer and know when you brew you will have to sacrifice some beer/wort all throughout the brewing process to avoid picking up debris and trub. I say bottle that thing and see what happens, its all a learning process so take notes, adjust, and listen with a smart ear to advice

Hope I make sense... I've been drinking...

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