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A few weeks ago, I brewed a Belgian double, its done fermenting and ready for the next step. I've noticed that the beer is still very cloudy so I prefer a cold-crash/lagering period before bottling first.

Now the 'problem': I don't want to transfer the beer twice ( primary -> sec -> bottling ) because of the increased risk of contamination, but also the extra work and time involved. I've cold crashed in the primary before, but once the beer is transferred afterwards, some trub and yeast still comes along and the beer would still be hazy.

So I thought, why not add the priming sugar to the secondary, let it cold crash with the sugar and then bottle?

My theory is that the yeast would not be active at the close to freezing point temperatures. After bottling the beer warms up and the sugars get fermented. I would let the beer already cool down in the primary, so once it is combined with the sugar it is is already cool.

Any thoughts or experience on this method?

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adding your sugar to secondary then cold crashing, the yeast may start eating sugar and fermenting again even at near freezing temps (not likely but possibility), and then you would need to add more sugar to bottle, but you would have to know what your SG is before and after cold crash, to calculate how much more to add.

what i would do is transfer to secondary, cold crash, then add priming sugar then bottle.

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So in the end I went along and just tried my suggested method. I let the primary cool down to 2 deg C (35F), made a priming solution and cooled this also. Then both where added to a secondary vessel to let it cold crash for a week. The temperature did increase a bit during transferring, to 4 deg C. The gravity with the priming solution was 1.016.

After a week I bottled directly from the secondary, from the tap on the bottom of the vessel. I moved the vessel from the fridge to the counter top and let is stand for a few hours. The gravity was still at 1.016 and the water lock had a ‘negative pressure’ suggesting there hasn’t be any fermentation (possible there had been some fermentation, but the CO2 will dissolve in the cold beer?). During bottling I’ve noticed that the first runnings where quite hazy. In the middle it was really clear but closer to the bottom it became hazy again. I marked the hazy ones to compare at a later stage.

Now, after a few weeks in the bottle, the carbonation seems fine, although a bit low. I like my Belgians foamy, so I usually aim around 3,0 vol of CO2, but compared to other beers it is not there (yet?). I took one of the hazy ones (also hazy in the glass), I want to save the clearer ones for better moments.

Conclusion. Was the experiment a success. Yes. It is possible to mix in the priming solution and let it cold crash at the same time. I agree that it is possible that some fermentation occurs, but due to the temperatures it will be minimal for most yeasts. Will I do it again? Probably not. Transferring and mixing beer just before bottling has a big plus and that is that it creates an even mixture of the yeast for each bottle. Right now I ended with lots of bottles with uneven amounts of yeast and therefore uneven clarity and probably conditioning times etc. For me, getting consistency across a batch weights more than increased infection risk etc. I need to check if one of the clear bottles really makes a difference but even if it does, I still have ~¼ of the batch not so clear.

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I do not have any experience with the method you suggest. But I would personally not do it this way.

You are going from Primary => Secondary then to Bottling, I am not seeing how adding sugar to your secondary before crashing removes any transfers from the process.

I would rack off your beer into the secondary, and allow it to crash down. I would then try and identify what is causing the hazy appearance.

And, once identified I would add the correct finings at this point. You may not be experiencing a haze from yeast , but potentially a chill haze from polyphenols, thirdly and worst of all it could be permanent haze.

OK so in order of severity:

  1. Permanent Haze - This as the name states does not go away and may be due to bacterial contamination or a faulty brew process allowing starches to end up in your final brew. You can test biological contamination with a cheap microscope and a little time, and starch contamination with the iodine test.

  2. Chill Haze - This is caused by the weak bonding of proteins and polyphenols. Easy to tell if you have this, take a sample and warm the brew, does the haze disappear, if so you can deal with this.

    You need to remove either the proteins, PolyPhenols or the complexes the form. You can remove proteins by fining with silica gel ( but it will kill head formation and retention). You can remove Polyphenols by fining with PVPP (PolyCarAT), a better way to preserve head forming proteins.

  3. Yeast Haze - Yeast in suspension cause a hazy appearance, you can test for this with spectorphotometer or a far more accessible manner a cheap microscope and cell count with a haemocytometer.

    Fix for this is more time and let gravity and cold do its thing, or fine the brew with isnglass or vegan alternative finings.

I hope I am still making some kind of sense.

  • It is not so much that I cannot get the beer clear, but more the extra steps and risks involved in transferring twice. Thats the reason I seek to cut steps out of the process and basically merge the secondary with the bottling bucket. I'm almost certain it is yeast in suspension that causes the haze. I just wrote my results of trying this method at the same time you posted. – JesseB1234 Mar 5 '18 at 12:19
  • Ah, I normally bottle from my secondary so I guess I had misunderstood your post. – Mr_road Mar 5 '18 at 16:45

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