Brewing a Pale Ale, the golden color in the Primary went into the Secondary and in 24 hours it turned completely black. I keep the carboys covered from light and stored at 68 to 72 degrees. The reading was at 1.0009. There was a small amount of Star San foam in the Secondary but they claim that it won't have any adverse effects, (don't fear the foam). The ale is very clear with nothing floating on the surface nor in suspension. The aroma is typically ale/hopish as usual with no off odor. The airlock is holding with a little activity every few minutes. Has this ever happened to anyone else? I know that they darken some while in the secondary, but mine went from a nice golden to black as coffee. I contacted my Brew Supplier with my recipe and the steps taken and they want me to send them a picture. The basic recipe was 6 Lbs. of L.M.E. and 4 Ozs. of Crystal 90 and 8 Ozs. Munich. Centennial and Cascade hops, Nottingham dry yeast. Thanks for any advice.

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    Do you have Pitcures? Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 17:47
  • Never seen or heard of such thing, but I'd love to see it.
    – Mołot
    Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 19:10
  • Sorry, no smartphone. I did shine a flashlight thru it near the carboy shoulder. The beam penetrated about 4 inches and was a dark brownish-orange. In a few days I'll check it again and if the aroma is still fresh and hoppy, I'll bottle. If you see an obit about me....well, have one for me. Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 23:04
  • @MarkScharlow was your primary a clear glass carboy, and secondary a vintage blue class? I have several of both, the blue glass does more than just add blue, it seems to block a lot of light that would normally reflect back from the beer. Easily adding 10 SRM to the color. Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 0:17
  • Interesting point! The primary used is a 6 gallon clear plastic, in use 3 or 4 times a year for 2 years. Secondary is clear 5 gallon glass, used 6 or 7 times/year. All equipment is Star San treated. Secondary has a good 6 inches of head space from shoulder to neck. For what it's worth, I use a large brown paper bag from the grocery store with a slot cut in the bottom and invert it to cover over the airlocks of the carboys. Guessing 98% light blockage? I'll wait 7 more days and check the color each day. Then I'll bottle it or toss it depending on my sensory perceptions. Thanks! Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 1:42

1 Answer 1


Cleared beer in a carboy always look darker than when it was fermenting.

Beer that has suspended particles in it, namely yeast, will reflect more light back at you making it seem lighter in color than it is. After you racked to secondary this stuff continued to settle out. Not to mention that primary fermentation coats the walls of a fermenter in a bit of yeast so the primary ferment if done in a clear vessel will seem lighter as well.

  • Thank you! I hope this answers my problem. I have never seen the color change so drastically. I must have had more hop particles drifting around in the primary than ever before. Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 20:25
  • With the lights down low, I shone the flashlight throughout the carboy and it was a clear Ruby Red" beam all over! The aroma smells 'normal' so tomorrow, Easter, I'll prime and bottle it. Then around the 7th of April I'll try one. Commented Mar 26, 2016 at 18:45
  • Great. Its a weird phenomena, but once you see it for yourself it makes total sense.
    – brewchez
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 12:04

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