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Old 07-24-2010, 05:15 PM   #1
jldc
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Default Belgian Strong Dark: Secondary or no?

I'm brewing a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. I'm about to start chilling the wort as I'm typing this. I usually keg, and basically never secondary my beer. Three to four weeks in primary, then into the keg. I usually let it sit in the keg for 3-4 weeks before chilling/carbing/drinking.

This is going to be a strong ale with an OG of 1.090+, by far the strongest I've ever brewed. I'm planning on bottle conditioning and aging for a few months at least. Should I secondary for a while before aging? If so when and for how long? I'm leaning toward 3 weeks in primary, 3-4 weeks secondary, 3 months in bottles.

L

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Old 07-24-2010, 05:33 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jldc View Post
I'm brewing a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. I'm about to start chilling the wort as I'm typing this. I usually keg, and basically never secondary my beer. Three to four weeks in primary, then into the keg. I usually let it sit in the keg for 3-4 weeks before chilling/carbing/drinking.

This is going to be a strong ale with an OG of 1.090+, by far the strongest I've ever brewed. I'm planning on bottle conditioning and aging for a few months at least. Should I secondary for a while before aging? If so when and for how long? I'm leaning toward 3 weeks in primary, 3-4 weeks secondary, 3 months in bottles.

L
FWIW, I primaried mine (BDSA OG 1.103) for 5 weeks, and has been in the keg for almost 3 weeks, I plan on leaving it in the keg for 3 more weeks and chilling and carbing for 2 before drinking. I do plan to bottle a few for long term storage.

One of our local brew club members won the NHC pro-am for our area with a BDSA, and he said age it for about 8 weeks before drinking, so I planned on 6weeks in the keg, and 2 weeks chill and carb making a total of 8 weeks post fermentation.
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Old 07-24-2010, 07:31 PM   #3
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Secondary for bulk fermenting, for me at least, on bigger belgians. I only primary for like 5 days though, ramping up to a high fermentation temp (82) for it to finish nice and dry.

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Old 07-25-2010, 03:21 AM   #4
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Yeah, I would rack that to secondary and let it finish fermenting and start to develop its flavors. If you can wait, could let it sit in secondary for a couple of months. That one will take some time to age (easily a few months) before it is really good.

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Old 07-25-2010, 06:34 AM   #5
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It certainly won't hurt. I've noticed big beers often drop 5+ gravity points in a 3-4 month secondary. Some may leave you with another thick layer of trub that just didn't seem to precipitate out in the primary for whatever reason. Flavor development definitely takes place (and in a good way) over a good secondary sitting. Maybe that would happen just as well were it bottled instead, but I'm not experienced enough to really know.

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Old 07-26-2010, 01:41 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by GuldTuborg View Post
It certainly won't hurt. I've noticed big beers often drop 5+ gravity points in a 3-4 month secondary. Some may leave you with another thick layer of trub that just didn't seem to precipitate out in the primary for whatever reason. Flavor development definitely takes place (and in a good way) over a good secondary sitting. Maybe that would happen just as well were it bottled instead, but I'm not experienced enough to really know.
You are right that flavor development would occur in the bottle. But, if you bottle too soon, as you all know, bottle bombs. There is a lot of sugars in a big beer. I think you would be much safer letting the yeast do their work in secondary for a couple of months and the risk of bottle bombs would be reduced.
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