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I want to create a fruit saison, I used some interesting hops (centenial and citra) and intend to rack to secondary ontop of the fruit puree (I will also dry hop with citra).

The question I now have is when do I need to rack to secondary? The questions here Fruit Beer: When to rack to secondary?

states 2-3 weeks, but does not really say what I'm looking for to see (e.g. a certain gravity). Saison is notoriously slow for fermentation (wyeast 3427).

So if anyone could give me some indication what to look out for that would be great.

Another thing that I would need help with is: how much fruit (apricots in syrup) do I use? My batch is about 30 liters.

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If you're racking onto fruit then a second fermentation from the fruit is expected, so the main thing you need to wait for is a noticeable active fermentation to end. The main reason for this is that heavy fermentation will pull off the fruit aromas you're trying to keep as the CO2 leaves solution. For a fast fermenting yeast you might need to wait 3 days, for a slower one maybe 2+ wweks. If you're looking for the simplest answer, then I'd say as soon as the krausen has subsided you're good to go.

Having said that; racking to secondary is not necessarily required. Pulling your brew off the trub is more of an issue with breweries, as yeast autolysis occurs more quickly when there is higher volumes of beer. On a homebrewing level, you should not start to see significant autolysis for multiple months.

  • As per my comment above, is there any evidence that suggests flavour can be removed from solution by CO2 during fermentation? Where do the removed flavours go? Its an interesting idea but not one I have found in my experience of fermenting fruit beers or wines. – GrainMother Aug 9 '17 at 9:57
  • Just to clarify, we're primarily discussing aroma and not flavour. They are similar, but (especially in this case) very different components. To answer your question: The chemical components that actual create aromas are inherently volatile (i.e. they are actually leaving the solution, which is why you can smell it). I haven't seen studies on this, but it is generally considered to be a fact due to the ease of creating empirical experiments on the subject. Further evidence of this as a "fact" is that almost all major brewers rack onto fruit after primary for this exact reason. – DamienMann Aug 10 '17 at 15:38
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In general you should wait for fermentation to be completed in the primary, then rack to your secondary. So it means waiting to have a stable specific gravity for 3 days.

In my opinion, I don't think you need to wait any longer to allow yeast to clean the byproducts of fermentation, as it can be done in the secondary as well. Yeast will do it's job, no matter if it is a primary or a secondary...

It has also been discussed here : If/When to move to secondary fermentation.

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There is really no right or wrong answer here, especially with the anecdotal (and some scientific) evidence coming to light over the past years. Most books on homebrewing, and indeed most advice online, on adding fruit repeats the advice given for dry hopping: Wait until active fermentation has stopped (no bubbling out of the airlock, gravity is stable over a couple of days) in order to minimize the amount of flavor compounds lost through CO2. This advice mainly aims at introducing "pure" fruit aroma which might fade pretty quickly with time. Recently more and more people have started adding fruit either at the time of pitching the yeast or some other time during active fermentation in order to get an interaction between yeast and fruit aroma compounds. The same trend can be seen in dry hopping where this is usually referred to as biotransformation. I have definitely had good experiences with either process but I suggest that you try out what works best for you on a small scale. Especially with something like a puree which can easily be split, I would recommend using small fermentation vessel (resealable food containers, or similar) to try out different times to add fruit and different exposure times.

  • What is the evidence for losing flavour through CO2 generation/escape? Does the flavour dissolve in the CO2 somehow? – GrainMother Aug 9 '17 at 9:55
  • I think a lot of it is based on anecdotal evidence. Whenever I checkup on my fermentation in the first couple of hours of yeast activity there is a room-filling smell of fruit with fruited beers and hoppy-aromas when brewing heavily hopped beers. These flavor compounds obviously do not make it into the final beer. I am unsure about the exact mechanism by which the escaping CO2 carries flavor compounds but it might simply be the agitation of the liquid similarly to swirling in a glass. – ritterasdf Aug 14 '17 at 13:42

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