I'm working in my first high gravity beer. Its been in primary for two weeks in the yeast cake. Looking for pointers on when to secondary.. How close to f.g. should I be before I transfer for the rest if the 6+ weeks..

2 Answers 2


There is no reason to secondary that beer. Most homebrewers these days don't bother with secondary unless adding fruit or something else that will cause fermentation to restart. Here's what John Palmer, Jamil Zainisheff and others have to say...."Therefore I, and Jamil and White Labs and Wyeast Labs, do not recommend racking to a secondary fermenter for ANY ale, except when conducting an actual second fermentation, such as adding fruit or souring. Racking to prevent autolysis is not necessary, and therefore the risk of oxidation is completely avoidable. Even lagers do not require racking to a second fermenter before lagering. With the right pitching rate, using fresh healthy yeast, and proper aeration of the wort prior to pitching, the fermentation of the beer will be complete within 3-8 days (bigger = longer). This time period includes the secondary or conditioning phase of fermentation when the yeast clean up acetaldehyde and diacetyl. The real purpose of lagering a beer is to use the colder temperatures to encourage the yeast to flocculate and promote the precipitation and sedimentation of microparticles and haze.

So, the new rule of thumb: don’t rack a beer to a secondary, ever, unless you are going to conduct a secondary fermentation." https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=15108.msg191642#msg191642


I very much disagree with Denny Conn. I always do a secondary fermentation unless I forget or am lazy. It's good to get the beer off the sediment to reduce off flavors and have an opportunity to taste the beer and take a hydrometer reading. I also usually do the primary in a plastic bucket which I don't like to leave my beer fermenting in for long periods of time. Basically, you can move the beer to the secondary anytime after the initial fermentation is over. I feel like higher gravity beers need this most since it gives the beer some time to develop flavor and mellow out.

  • 1
    Please elaborate on why "it's good to get the beer off the sediment to reduce off flavors and have an ooportunity to taste the beer and take hydrometer readings". Can you cite/verify what off flavors you have received from leaving it on the yeast cake? Why wouldn't using a wine thief to extract beer for sample work? Recent semi-scientific experiments have shown no benefit what so ever to racking to a secondary
    – Scott
    Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 3:42
  • Palmer and Jamil are two of the most decorated authors/homebrewers around, and both major yeast banks agree with them that racking is harmful. Perhaps in previous times it was necessary, but all the experiments I've seen seem to indicate that its just not necessary any more.
    – GHP
    Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 13:11
  • I will note that you can take a sample from your bucket to get a current specific gravity and have a taste with a sanitized wine thief, turkey baster or similar tool. All without racking to another vessel. Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 16:38
  • What about if your primary is a plastic bucket? I would at least do the extended fermentation in glass.
    – daniella
    Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 20:55
  • I think this post best explains the benefits of secondary fermentation. homebrew.stackexchange.com/questions/68/…
    – daniella
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 19:25

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