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Old 03-23-2009, 07:22 PM   #1
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Default 8 weeks to contest. What's the best use of the time?

Yesterday I brewed a Strong Scotch Ale that I'm entering in a contest that judges 8 weeks from now. How do I get the most out the time? I was thinking 2 weeks primary, 2 weeks secondary, 4 weeks in the bottle or swap out 1 week in secondary for another week in the bottle or primary. This beer wasn't as high gravity as I was hoping. OG was just 1.072 but still in the range for the style. I pitched two smack packs of 1338 European and each were in a half-liter starter for 18 hours before pitching. I pitched at 74F and let it get started. There was already action by that night so I started cooling it via condensation in the bathtub. Today it is at 64F but I can't get it any cooler even though it should be for this kind of beer. I've heard that these beers can take a long time to ferment but a large part of that is due to the high gravity(which I'm barely in) and colder fermentation temp(which I'm not as low as recommended). This is a 5.5 gallon batch. It's fermenting in a glass carboy with a blow off hose. I threw in a white labs Servomyces in the boil too. I think I aerated pretty well via splash during transfer and shaking after it was in but it didn't foam like a lot of my beers do.

Any advice? Did I leave anything out that you need to know?

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Old 03-23-2009, 07:26 PM   #2
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I'd stick with your original 2-2-4 plan myself. That's pretty much my normal schedule and it's a rare brew that isn't good and ready in that amount of time.

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Old 03-23-2009, 07:27 PM   #3
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I assume you are bottle carbing, so hence the long bottle time.
If you can force carb I would extend the primary to 4-5weeks and rack to secondary for a crash cool then force carb.
Not to be an a$$, but I would hold onto it for a comeptition later on, or at the least do a side by side competition (the one 8 weeks from now and one maybe a month ot two later) comparison to see how it has improved with age.

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Old 03-23-2009, 07:30 PM   #4
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I'd agree. If you're rushing it, the beer won't come out as good and with a big beer, you need time. You're going to end up turning in a pretty green beer and that will be reflected in your scores.

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Old 03-23-2009, 07:30 PM   #5
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A strong scotch ale for a contest? In only 8 weeks???

BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

Sorry, but I don't think you can pull it off...I brewed a Belgian Strong Ale, It's been in the bottle for about 5 or 6 weeks, and it still tastes like rocket fuel....and it's barely carbed yet.

Higher grav beers take time....You want a beer you enter in a contest to be at it's best if you are entering it. And pushing it is not the best process....

A wise brewer last year told be something interesting...He said, "Don't brew your beer for a contest. Instead brew the best beer possible, and then when it's ready, decide if it's good enough to enter."

Considering I leave my beers for a month in primary so they are at their best in terms of clarity and crispness, then I know it's gonna be 3 weeks @ 70 degrees (minimum for a Normal Grav Beer, eight weeks is just not a window I would feel comfortable with for a higher grav beer.

You gotta leave plenty of time for bottle carbing and conditioning unless you are kegging and bottling from there....and that you can't "push." It's gonna take as long as it needs to to be ready....

Good Luck....But before you drop them off, be sure it's where you want it in terms of flavor....

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Old 03-23-2009, 07:44 PM   #6
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Ok. So no one thinks that's enough time. Wow. I've never given any of my beers that much time. The beer I brew drank pretty good don't it? Sorry for the insulting question I suppose. I didn't think it sounded outlandish to get this done. I'll definitely leave some bottles out of the fridge to condition for longer. But I am going to enter it just to get judge feedback. I just have some friends who say, "that's good beer" every time so I'd like to hear from someone with more experience. I really brew for myself and have been happy with what I've been brewing in many cases. I'm just entering for the feedback and experience.

Sooo... that brings me back to the real question I had which was what the best way to maximize the time was. Any other ideas or does everyone seem to think this is just going to suck after 8 weeks?

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Old 03-23-2009, 07:55 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Belmont View Post
Ok. So no one thinks that's enough time. Wow. I've never given any of my beers that much time. The beer I brew drank pretty good don't it? Sorry for the insulting question I suppose. I didn't think it sounded outlandish to get this done. I'll definitely leave some bottles out of the fridge to condition for longer. But I am going to enter it just to get judge feedback. I just have some friends who say, "that's good beer" every time so I'd like to hear from someone with more experience. I really brew for myself and have been happy with what I've been brewing in many cases. I'm just entering for the feedback and experience.

Sooo... that brings me back to the real question I had which was what the best way to maximize the time was. Any other ideas or does everyone seem to think this is just going to suck after 8 weeks?
It's not an insulting question, it's a good one....but it's the truth, higher grav beer often take longer to carb and bottle condition than lower ones...Heck it take 4-6 weeks for most of my stouts and porters to come up to snuff.

Like I said my Belgian Strong Ale is still a LOOONG way from being drinkable. I wouldn't think of brewing something like that and expecting it to be ready in such a tight timeframe.

If you were brewing something like an amber or pale ale, something no higher than 1.060 or so, I would Primary it for a month, then bottle it, and after three weeks in the bottle I would see, and pray that if it weren't carbed or conditioned, it would be before the delivery date on the 8th week....but for me and contests, I like a 10 week minimum window so if it need 4-6 weeks to carb and condition I have it...

Heck, I have some stuff I brewed in November that I am hoping will be great come summer contest season... A contest is a place to showcase your best work...so I want it to be my best work.

If you haven't read my blog on Bottle conditioning...

Revvy's Blog- "Of Patience & Bottle Conditioning.

All I was saying is you are cutting it awfully close for a strong beer. Closer than I would consider.
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Old 03-23-2009, 08:04 PM   #8
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Didn't mean to rain on your parade, you did post a what's the best use of time so i'll give my $0.02.

I would primary for at least one month. Then gelatin fine it for one week (if it's dark enough I would skip it). Bottle it up and hope it's carb'd in three weeks.
To help speed the carbing I would gently rouse (ie swirl) the bottles every other day for a week or two and make sure they were at 70F minimum.

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Old 03-23-2009, 08:13 PM   #9
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Quote:
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Didn't mean to rain on your parade, you did post a what's the best use of time so i'll give my $0.02.

I would primary for at least one month. Then gelatin fine it for one week (if it's dark enough I would skip it). Bottle it up and hope it's carb'd in three weeks.
To help speed the carbing I would gently rouse (ie swirl) the bottles every other day for a week or two and make sure they were at 70F minimum.
I would disagree with adding finings. At a month in primary you wouldn't need them. Or cold crash if you can. I don't like using finings and I get clear beer just fine.
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Old 03-23-2009, 08:14 PM   #10
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^Agreed,
Usually my long primaries and/or darker brews don;t need them, but if it looks hazy it wouldn't hurt, I'd hate to get docked a few points for not to style haze...

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