I am fairly new to beer making (5 batches) and have good success, but am trying to fine tune my process. I have an IPA which fermented well and cleared nicely in the primary with gelatin and a cool cellar. I am an experienced wine maker and used my vacuum system to transfer the beer to the secondary. The transfer went well, but at the end I sucked up a little trub at the bottom, just enough to cloud the beer a bit. The recipe recommends a three week secondary with dry hopping the last week. I really like a clear beer, will it clear in the secondary over three weeks or settle in the bottle during conditioning? Thanks...
The beer will clear with a secondary. The trub will precipitate within a week.
I have found that the best route to clear beer is to get a strong boil, strong hot break, and strong cool break. This will create larger protein strands that will coagulate and precipitate in the brew kettle. If you plan to use gelatin in the future I would suggest adding it to the secondary because you can reuse the yeast in the primary.
If you have temp control, crashing the beer to ~33-35 degrees overnight after primary fermentation work wonders.
Hope this helps.
You can get clear beer without secondary, including IPAs with dry-hopping. Secondary can improve your beer clarity, but it doesn't necessarily improve clarity. Some people say that the hops can interact with the yeast in the primary and produce unpleasant flavors, although I've never experienced this. You will find tons and tons of threads telling you to dry hop in secondary. You definitely don't have to.
My opinion is that if you're new to brewing, don't bother with secondary unless you're doing secondary fermentation, i.e. adding fruit or souring. Dry hopping is not secondary fermentation. Fermentation should be complete by the time you dry hop. The reasons for forgoing secondary are documented elsewhere and mainly come from John Palmer, Jamil Zainasheff and Chris White (White Labs), who advocate not moving to secondary unless you are doing secondary fermentation (fruit, souring). See this question: If/When to move to secondary fermentation
For the sake of having a complete answer, the reason to skip secondary is that it will expose your beer to oxygen unless you're taking extra steps that complicate things and add more work and equipment - like flushing the secondary fermenter with CO2 first or transferring in a closed system and pushing the beer out with CO2.
I would try other things to clear you beer - cold crashing as @LastBoltonBrewery is a great way to do it if you have a fridge/freezer. It works well. Kegging and letting it sit in the fridge also does wonders. The first few pours will be a little cloudy, but after that the sediment is poured off and the beer gets nice and clear.
Finings or clearing agents are another option; vegan = clarity ferm, biofine; animal = gelatin or isinglass. I understand people's desire to have crystal clear beer, but personally I'd rather have an IPA that's a little cloudy than add that stuff...it's homebrew :) With good ingredients and processes it will taste and smell great. For a long time Green Flash West Coast IPA was cloudy - I think it was better back then, before they started adding isinglass and filtering it to get it clear.