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I've had my beer (Belgium witbier) in primary fermentation for about a week. I'd like to rack to secondary, then keep it in secondary for 3 weeks. Advisable? I could keep it in primary for another week or so, but I'm worried that sediment (there was a ton with the two types of hops, orange peel and coriander I used) might start to cause off flavors if I let it go too long in the primary (p.s. primarary is a bucket, secondary is glass carboy). Based some upcoming vacation plans, it will be in secondary for at least three weeks.

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4 Answers

The need to rack to secondary is a somewhat controversial topic, but here's my opinion: leaving the beer on the lees, in the primary, for another three weeks will have no adverse effects on flavor. In fact, transferring to secondary introduces a small risk of infection, and offers little or no benefit and so should be discouraged.

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I agree with the above in most cases. If you're okay with doing so, I might rack to secondary in this case if you have a lot of adjuncts sitting there (more than a couple tbsp each of bitter orange peel/coriander), but I highly doubt it will be a problem.

I leave most of my brews in primary for 3-4 weeks and only ever rack to secondary if it's going to sit around for more than about 6 weeks (I just tried leaving a Belgian Brown in primary for nearly 5 months and bottled it last week--it tasted excellent. I was surprised).

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What are the adjuncts? –  brewchez Jan 8 '12 at 20:01
    
Bitter Orange Peel and Coriander. He mentioned that he had a "ton" in there alongside hops. I'd personally probably leave it for 4 weeks without a second thought unless that "ton" is actually significant (more than a couple tablespoons of each). –  Hop the Mad Alchemist Jan 10 '12 at 15:23
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Wheat beers in general don't require secondary regardless of where you sit with the secondary debate. If you have time to rack it, maybe it would be better to bottle it and then you can be drinking it when you get home from vacation.

Other than that sitting on the primary is probably a better place for it than secondary, IMO.

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Good answer, but a word of caution, Wit yeast can be very finicky and can drop out prematurely. Bottling it now to try to have it ready by his return could lead to bottle bombs. –  Graham Jan 9 '12 at 20:28
    
I can't say that I have ever experienced wit yeasts settling out early. By nature wit yeasts are poor flocculators which contributes to their cloudy character. –  brewchez Jan 10 '12 at 2:17
    
Having done so too early in the past, I won't be bottling before the vacation. About a year ago, I returned home from a trip to a basement full of exploded beer bottles. I had kept the beer in primary about a week, racked to secondary for two, then bottled. Way too soon! I've under-carbonated my last two beers as a result of this experience. Now I just give it plenty of time in fermentation and use carb drops. –  cara Jan 10 '12 at 13:20
    
Agreed. I've made a couple of bottle bombs and generally wrecked a couple of batches by bottling too early in the past. I virtually never bottle before ~2 weeks anymore. If you DO bottle too early, however, you can recap all the bottles (something I wish I knew a few years ago when I made such mistakes). –  Hop the Mad Alchemist Jan 10 '12 at 15:26
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I typically do a secondary rack just the clarify the beer.

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If you leave it in primary 3-4 weeks, it should clarify without the need for secondary. –  Denny Conn Jan 9 '12 at 18:19
    
Try your next few beers in secondary for 3-4 weeks like Denny says. Its much easier, and it will give you the same results. In fact, I think the taste is often cleaner that way. –  brewchez Jan 10 '12 at 2:18
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Thanks for the comments. I'm going to skip the secondary (easier anyway!). –  cara Jan 10 '12 at 13:16
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