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Old 11-06-2012, 01:54 AM   #1
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Default Reduced Conditioning Time

I just racked my Belgian Tripel to a secondary Carboy to make room for a new brew in the primary. The Tripel had been in the primary for about 5 1/2 weeks and the gravity is stable at 1.019. Not as low as I'd like, but stable. I tasted the sample and it was delicious. The recipe instructions said to let it rest in secondary for two months. So, my question is, what's the harm in bottling now? Is it really going to improve that much if I let it sit for another six to eight weeks? I'm thinking 3 weeks bottle conditioning should be fine. What do y'all think?

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Old 11-06-2012, 02:25 AM   #2
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Yes it will help to let it sit. With big beers like this, they really need time to mature and mellow out. I brewed a tripel in March that is just now starting to become really good. I conditioned about 3 months then bottled. I tried one a few weeks after bottling and it was very boozy and harsh. I would say two months would be a pretty good amount of time to condition in the secondary. You can condition in bottles instead if you want to, but I think it is better to condition the whole batch together. If you do go ahead and bottle I would still wait at least two months before you start drinking them.
Brewing is a game of patience. There have been more than a few batches that I thought were just ok until I got to the last 6 pack and they were awesome. Good luck!

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Old 11-06-2012, 03:20 AM   #3
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I would go ahead and bottle it. There is no need for a secondary. Yes it does need some time to condition but that can be done in a bottle while it's carbing.

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Old 11-06-2012, 04:33 AM   #4
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Alright then. Excluding my own vote, we've got 1 for bottling and 1 for waiting. Care to be a tie-breaker? This could be fun.

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Old 11-06-2012, 04:50 AM   #5
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i will tip the vote in favor of remaining in secondary - but only slightly.

a long secondary is the preferable option, IMO, if you can do so cleanly and safely. i recently lost a batch because i had too much headspace in secondary and an infection developed. but the flavors in that beer will continue to develop for some time, and keeping it all together means that changes will even out. you'll reduce the chances of getting irregularities between bottles.

if you have any concerns about secondary'ing, like not having a vessel that will allow for no headspace, then go ahead and bottle. 5 week of primary is an excellent start.

and no matter which option you go for, if this is a proper tripel you'll want to age it for months, not weeks. my tripel (1.083 OG, 9.3% ABV) is now 4 months old and it isn't ready yet. your plan to wait 3 weeks before you batch is ready sounds doubtful to me.

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Old 11-06-2012, 04:59 AM   #6
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Can someone explain why in the world you need to primary for 5 weeks? I have been reading a lot about Belgian beers and can't find any breweries that do this.

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Old 11-06-2012, 01:08 PM   #7
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Is this a grain or extract recipe? If it's grain, I would want to push the yeast to finish fermentation and dry out the beer. 1.019 is going to get you a sweet beer with too much junk in the trunk.

I would rack to a secondary and kick up the heat with hopes of rousing the yeast. If that didn't work, I would consider tossing in some flocculant, neutral yeast.

As far as a lengthy secondary is concerned, tasting is the only way to be sure the beer is where you want it to be.

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Old 11-06-2012, 01:45 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phunhog View Post
Can someone explain why in the world you need to primary for 5 weeks? I have been reading a lot about Belgian beers and can't find any breweries that do this.
we're not running breweries, so what is done on a commercial scale doesn't apply to us. huge cylindro-conicals with hundreds or thousands of barrels of liquid in them are going to behave differently than our 5-gallon carboys. for example ester production is quite different under the pressure created by a 20-foot column of liquid. BMC's go grain-to-bottle in less than a month, doesn't mean that you can complete a lager in that time.

belgian yeast work slowly on a homebrew scale - especially when making big beers like a tripel. in my experience they munch through 90% of the sugars in the first week, then even longer to finish off the last 10%. put in some time for them to clean up, for flavors to meld and even out, and all of a sudden 4-5 weeks doesn't seem so crazy. you could bottle after 2 weeks, but i'd be concerned about potential over-carbonation and unevenness across the batch.

and this is a purely personal and philosophical thing, but belgian beers aren't meant to be rushed. the goal of making a belgian is to make the best possible beer. you should cut no corners. the monks that make the beers we love so much aren't in a hurry, why should we be?
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Old 11-06-2012, 02:00 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetcell View Post
we're not running breweries, so what is done on a commercial scale doesn't apply to us. huge cylindro-conicals with hundreds or thousands of barrels of liquid in them are going to behave differently than our 5-gallon carboys. for example ester production is quite different under the pressure created by a 20-foot column of liquid. BMC's go grain-to-bottle in less than a month, doesn't mean that you can complete a lager in that time.

belgian yeast work slowly on a homebrew scale - especially when making big beers like a tripel. in my experience they munch through 90% of the sugars in the first week, then even longer to finish off the last 10%. put in some time for them to clean up, for flavors to meld and even out, and all of a sudden 4-5 weeks doesn't seem so crazy. you could bottle after 2 weeks, but i'd be concerned about potential over-carbonation and unevenness across the batch.

and this is a purely personal and philosophical thing, but belgian beers aren't meant to be rushed. the goal of making a belgian is to make the best possible beer. you should cut no corners. the monks that make the beers we love so much aren't in a hurry, why should we be?
Hmmm....I have only brewed a few big Belgians but I have had no time trouble hitting FG in a 2-3 week time frame. IMO this is due to pitching the proper amount of healthy yeast, using pure O2, strict temperature control (gradually forcing the temperature up), and recipe formulation (lots of simple sugar).
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Old 11-06-2012, 06:13 PM   #10
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I agree that there is no reason to rush it out of the primary. Leaving it in there for 5 1/2 weeks is certainly not going to hurt it, and if it might help to make it a better beer then why not do it. It needs to age for a few months anyway so I don't think it makes a difference whether it's aging in the primary for an extra couple weeks or the secondary.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toccata View Post
Is this a grain or extract recipe? If it's grain, I would want to push the yeast to finish fermentation and dry out the beer. 1.019 is going to get you a sweet beer with too much junk in the trunk.

I would rack to a secondary and kick up the heat with hopes of rousing the yeast. If that didn't work, I would consider tossing in some flocculant, neutral yeast.
I also agree that 1.019 is pretty high for a tripel. Tripels are supposed to be pretty dry so they need to finish low. I think the style guidelines are between 1.008 and 1.014. Without knowing your recipe, it's hard to say whether it will drop any more but I would definitely try what Toccata suggested. I think 1.019 might be a bit cloying.
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