When and How to Transfer the Wort
Many homebrewers have doubts and make mistakes when they have to transfer the wort to the second fermenter for two-stage fermentation. Many do it when it is still too early, others make mistakes that lead to the formation of infections in the finished beer. How to make a correct transfer?
WHEN IS THE TIME TO TRANSFER THE WORT?
The decanting of the wort into the second fermenter should only be done when the beer has reached the final density or at least is very close to it, especially when producing beers with a high alcohol content. The fermentation must therefore be concluded mainly in the first fermenter and not in the second. In fact, racking into the second fermenter only serves to deposit all the residues on the bottom to make the beer as clear as possible, but if you decant too soon you could leave most of the yeasts in the first fermenter, making it difficult to continue fermentation.
Fermentation is something that can vary a lot by changing even a seemingly small factor like a couple of degrees of temperature.
For this reason, even if the instructions indicate a generic time of 7 days before carrying out the transfer, we cannot take this period as an absolute rule.
The only way to understand whether the fermentation has ended or not is to measure the density to see if it has reached the final density. Even better, it would be worth measuring the density again after 24/48 hours, to see if it has remained stable. If after 7 days the density is still high, don't worry! Just wait a few more days and you will see that it will go down.
HOW TO CORRECTLY MEASURE DENSITY?
Measuring density might seem simple, but mistakes are often made that lead to false density readings. This may suggest that fermentation is over when in reality it is not. The first thing to do to make a correct reading is to take a sample of must correctly.
We must first remove the bubbler to prevent the liquid in this content from ending up inside the beer, because when you open the tap a depression is created in the fermenter.
We don't have to open the tap all at once, but we have to regulate the output flow. Often many newbies ask us how to understand at the first time how much must must be put into the test cylinder. It's very simple, if you already put the hydrometer inside it will be easy to understand and you will avoid waste.
If the sample you have taken is too cloudy, it means that too many residues have ended up in it which could distort the density reading. Then remove this first part of wort and take another sample for your test. If, on the other hand, you notice a lot of bubbles, you will first have to degass the sample, perhaps putting it in a glass jar and shaking it repeatedly, otherwise the CO2 will prevent the hydrometer from floating correctly.
TRANSFER WITHOUT SPLASHING THE WORT
In addition to timing, many make a common mistake that could compromise all of your beer. i'm talking about splashing the wort during decanting. This is very dangerous because it allows the must to take in oxygen, subsequently creating oxidation or infection problems.
To carry out a correct transfer it is necessary to connect the transfer tube to the tap, while the end of the tube must be placed on the bottom of the receiving fermenter. Placing it on the bottom not only prevents the wort from splashing, but also minimizes the contact of the wort with oxygen.
You will not have to open the tap all at once, but try to turn the lever gently, to regulate the flow of beer and ensure that it is not too impetuous. When the wort is almost completely decanted, you can slightly tilt the first fermenter to avoid throwing away the good wort, but without pouring the residues on the bottom!