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Old 11-11-2011, 07:34 PM   #1
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Default Fermenting in Plastic pails for months - how long?

I don't have any carboys, I use plastic pails (from MidWest Brewers) to ferment my beer in. So far I have not used a secondary fermentor.

How long do you think its ok to let beer ferment and sit/age in a plastic pail?
2 months?
3 months?
4 months?
From what I'be read, Autolysis isn't a problem for this short period of time (though I'd like to know when it starts to become a problem), but I wonder if there will be some Oxygen leakage?


The beers I'm interested in have initial gravities of less than 1.07.
http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/b...s/extract-kits
-Dawsons Kriek (recommended conditioning time at least 4 months - uses 2 containers of Cherry Puree)
-Chocolate Milk Stout
-Sinistral Warrior IPA
-Black IPA

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Old 11-11-2011, 07:39 PM   #2
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I've done 6 month with no problems.

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Old 11-11-2011, 07:40 PM   #3
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I would be leery of letting any beer sit on the yeast for 4 months. You may not have issues but some people do have issues from autolysis or other off flavors.

In the 4 month time range I don't think plastic vs glass is going to make much difference.

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Old 11-11-2011, 07:40 PM   #4
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Autolysis isn't a worry for really any length of time. People have left their beer in primary for upwards of a year.

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Old 11-11-2011, 07:43 PM   #5
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Default What about Oxidation?

Do you think there is a risk of Oxidation after 4 months? 5? 6?
In a plastic pail?

I would be bummed to age beer for 6 months only to have it taste like cardboard.

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Old 11-11-2011, 07:45 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foltster View Post
I would be leery of letting any beer sit on the yeast for 4 months. You may not have issues but some people do have issues from autolysis or other off flavors.

In the 4 month time range I don't think plastic vs glass is going to make much difference.
Prove it...show me ONE case of proven autolysis from doing that?

This is a great quote in regards to that from earlier today.

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Originally Posted by xjmox14x View Post
There was a thread on here regarding autolysis. I've asked if there has been a single case study pertaining strictly to beer regarding yeast and autolysis. The answer? No... no one could find one. Will autolysis happen eventually? Maybe, maybe not. When will it happen? 1 month? 2 months? 2 years? No idea.. Well, that to me is not good enough. If I can produce amazing beer sitting on the same yeast cake for 4-6 weeks+ (and other brewers for MUCH longer), then you can take your unsubstantiated hypotheses elsewhere, while I make great beer. ...
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Old 11-11-2011, 07:47 PM   #7
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Do you think there is a risk of Oxidation after 4 months? 5? 6?
In a plastic pail?

I would be bummed to age beer for 6 months only to have it taste like cardboard.
If you fiddle with it, maybe

But again, I've placed in contests with beers that sat for months in a bucket primary...

One of my brew buddies is a nationally ranked BJCP Judge, who often judges commercial. One of his favorite beers of mine, that he drools over sat in a bucket for 6 months. He's never mentioned it being oxydized OR autloysized, just that it's a damn good beer.

*shrug*
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Old 11-11-2011, 07:54 PM   #8
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Autolysis isn't a worry for really any length of time. People have left their beer in primary for upwards of a year.

Agreed it has worked out for most people. However, it certainly possible for yeast to die and cause off flavors. Yeast health and the environment(ABV, pH, temperature,e etc) are huge factors affecting the chances of yeast death. Most likely you will be fine after 4 months, but to plan on leaving the beer on the yeast that long without good reason is inviting trouble. IMHO anyway...
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Old 11-11-2011, 08:01 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by foltster View Post
Agreed it has worked out for most people. However, it certainly possible for yeast to die and cause off flavors. Yeast health and the environment(ABV, pH, temperature,e etc) are huge factors affecting the chances of yeast death. Most likely you will be fine after 4 months, but to plan on leaving the beer on the yeast that long without good reason is inviting trouble. IMHO anyway...
I'd be more worried about the coming zombipocalypes then actually having it happen these days.

When yeast autloyze, the yeast cells rupture, much like we do if we develop peritonitis and our intestines rupture. Think the monster that bursts out of the guy's stomach in the original Aliens.

But as Palmer and Jamil have said it is a RARE occurance these days that yeast actually dies anymore, let alone actually autolyses. It just goes dormant when the job is done and waits for the next round of sugar (much like when we pitch on top of the old yeast cake- which even some commercial brewers do for multiple generations.) The cells rarely rupture and die off.

Yeast ARE cannibals, but that's not a bad thing at all. In fact it is quite common to put old yeast, bread yeast, or "yeast hulls" into the boil, or into the fermenter to help the yeast, especially during high gravity brews. It works as an "appetite stimulant" to get them going.

It works really well for stuck fermentations.

You can buy "special" versions of this from any lhbs, but in reality dumping any old or new yeast into your boil kettle works just as well.

From BYO Magazine

Quote:
Yeast hulls (sometimes called "yeast ghosts") are essentially yeast skeletons. They’re the freeze-dried empty shells of yeast cells that have had the water and other liquid elements sucked out of them. Sounds a little gruesome, but yeast hulls provide extra nutrients that are critical to a fermentation.
Thing to realize is Dead yeast and autolysed yeast ARE NOT the same thing. Not every dead yeast has it's "intestines" exploded, just like we humans don't all develop peritonitis. It's rare in humans, and it's also rare these days, since yeast is much healthier to begin with. It's not like 30 years ago (when most of those opinions that you espouse about autolysis originated from) when our hobby was still illegal, and there wasn't a lot of yeast available to us. The yeast used in hobby brewing was usually in cake form, which came from Germany and England in hot cargo ships and may have sat on a store shelf for a long time....or the brewer just used bread yeast.

Palmer even said this in the broadcast I quote from above-

Quote:
So the whole health and vitality of yeast was different back then compared to know. Back then it made sense. You had weaker yeast that had finished fermentation that were more susceptible to autolysis and breaking down. Now that is not the case. The bar of homebrewing has risen to where we are able to make beer that has the same robustness as professional beer. We've gotten our techniques and understanding of what makes a good fermentation up to that level, so you don't need to transfer the beer off the yeast to avoid autolysis like we used to recommend.
Yeast in the 21st century is much healthier to begin with, and is less prone to have issues like their cells autolysing....just like our own health tends to be better these days.

It's so rare that you really don't need to worry about it....Even John Palmer has backed away from talking about it. All talking about it these days does is scare the noobs....

This topic has pretty much been done to death there. http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f163/sec...-weigh-176837/
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Old 11-11-2011, 08:15 PM   #10
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Revvy, I'm all for you're preaching regarding autolysis, but it does become a problem at a certain point in primaries for extended periods of time. I wouldn't want to leave my beer on a yeast cake for any more than 6 months at room temperature, especially if it was a higher gravity beer. I've had harvested yeast start to smell funky after 6 months in the fridge, I wouldn't want my beer on top of that, especially not at room temp.

Just because something usually isn't an issue doesn't mean that it doesn't ever happen. That's all i'm trying to get at. =)

Also, HDPE is oxygen permeable. Again, I wouldn't want to age a beer for extended periods of time in one(And this is coming from someone that loves his buckets). I know that people do it all the time, but that doesn't mean it's the correct or the best way to go. Glass or stainless is your best bet for long term aging (4 months +). Specific to the OP's question. 4 months in a bucket will be fine. Personally I'd rack your beer off the yeast cake after 1 month, then age it in another bucket for the final 3 months, but that's just me.

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