Latest consensus seems to indicate that racking to a secondary when making beer in small scale is not recommended anymore. Is racking to a secondary still recommended for making ciders or wines? If yes, what makes it desirable for ciders and wines but not for beers?

2 Answers 2


I wouldn't say it is a consensus, although it is not required all the time, there are cases where racking is usefull for beer as well: What's the point of secondary fermentation?

A big difference between the process of making beer and wine is the time that the must/wort sits in the container (bucket/carboy/demi-john). Because wine will need more time before bottling, it has to be racked to prevent potential problems.

Autolysis, is a process where yeast cells are destroyed under the weight of the liquid/sediments, unleashing unpleasent flavor. This is not a problem with beer because it takes several months to a year before autolysis starts and most beers are bottled before 6 months. However, wines and ciders may be aged a lot longer before bottling.

Also, because of the aging time, it is good to move the wine from a primary fermentor (usually a bucket) to a secondary fermentor (usually a carboy or demi-john) before the end of fermentation. The reason is because there is more air contact (head space) in a bucket compared to a carboy, there is a bigger risk of oxydation in a bucket. So a bucket is good as a primary fermentor because some oxygen is required to start the fermentation, but not so good for aging.

If you do not splash your liquid during racking, there is very little risk of oxydation, specially if you do it before the end of fermentation (active fermentation will produce carbon dioxide to fill the head space and protect the wine from oxydation).

  • I was going to answer this myself, but this is a good answer. +1.
    – Escoce
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 20:58
  • Good, so we're still doing it the old way :)
    – cyco130
    Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 8:05

When I think of "raking to a secondary" I can think of two reasons you would want to do this. #1-Clarity; racking gives the beverage more time for sediment to settle out. #2-Aging; depending on the beverage racking give it more time to age.

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