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Old 08-27-2012, 12:45 AM   #1
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Default Big Beer, When to Bottle?

I have a Belgian Strong Dark fermenting away. It started out at 1.107, I intended lower but boiled off more than anticipated. After 21 days it is down to 1.022. It tastes awesome and I would love to bottle it now, but in the last five days has dropped a point. I know on point could be a difference in temp or reading error, but should I let it go? I would like to free up room in my freezer but I don't want to finish this beer too early. Any advice?

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Old 08-27-2012, 12:54 AM   #2
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I did a BDSA with OG of 1.093 and waiting 21 days to bottle. After 7 days in the bottle I couldn't wait to drink it and it tasted great. 2 weeks more in the bottle after that an it is a fine beer now. I'm not sure what my FG was when bottling. I get a little inpatient and want to clear room to brew and drink the beer.

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Old 08-27-2012, 01:23 AM   #3
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Put it in a secondary carboy and forget about it for a few months. Ales this big really need a few months of conditioning before they start to shine.

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Old 08-27-2012, 01:25 AM   #4
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It really depends on what your grain bill looks like. Its possible that you have a lot of unfermentables, or at least very-slow-fermentables. On a brew like that I think the taste would def be good but Id be concerned with extended aging and bottle carbonation. I had a heffe (now, a hheffe is a LOT different) continue to ferment in the bottle and I had crazy bottle carbonation. If you only have a point decrease over a week, and need the space, I say GO! Maybe just prime a bit less than normal, if you are bottling.

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Old 08-27-2012, 12:06 PM   #5
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The grain bill was simple, pils and pale malt, and some dark dme for color. What are the advantages of a long secondary vs. a long bottle conditioning?

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Old 08-27-2012, 09:16 PM   #6
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Belgian yeasts are diferent than most other yeasts. They start off and drop gravity pretty quickly, but then very slowly continue to drop.

Here is a great quote from Brew Like a Monk.

"Let the fermentation finish, perhaps at a higher temperature. It can often take as long to bet the last few points of attenuation as it does for the first 80%"

For a brew that big I would let it sit for several more weeks. If you need the fermenter,then rack to a secondary for another month or two. You really want to make sure that it is truely finished. Also some age will help the beer a lot.

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Old 08-28-2012, 05:50 AM   #7
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Just remember, you are typically priming bottles with 2-3 gravity points worth of sugar, so if your beer isn't finished fermenting, and drops more than 2-3 points (without adding any priming sugar) you could have bottle bombs. Let it finish for sure, and it will benefit from some bulk aging anyway.

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Old 08-28-2012, 07:01 PM   #8
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My barley wine sat in secondary 6 months+ before i added the dry hops last week. It was tasting right

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Old 08-30-2012, 02:54 PM   #9
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I would also add that Brew Like a Monk recommends a cold conditioning period of a couple of weeks (I think it is that long) at lager temps (30s-40s) after primary fermentation and racking to secondary for a period of time. Personally, I just brewed one and left it in the primary for a couple of weeks, got down to 1.008, then racked to secondary for a couple months. Then I cold conditioned at 35 degrees for two weeks, pitched some champagne yeast and bottled. Will let it sit in the bottles until Xmas. It is a Belgian Noel AG kit from AHS, so I wanted to give some out to my dad/brother-in law as a gift. I will let you know how it tastes. From everything I have read, bottle conditioning lends dimension to Belgians, even if drinkable at a month. Almost every recipe in Brew Like a Monk for a Strong, Tripple and Dubbel beers include cold conditioning (if memory serves), I would give it a go if you have the patience. Cheers.

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Old 08-31-2012, 12:39 AM   #10
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My BDS has been in primary at 68deg for a month. I just took it to 75deg for two days to make space for it in the fridge, now it will sit a couple weeks at 40ish. Then I'll bottle and sit on it for a while, hope to have it ready for the holidays and beyond. Already it is 11.5%abv!!!

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