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Old 08-05-2011, 05:21 PM   #1
Germelli1
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Default My Minimal Primary Fermentation Method & Bottle Carbing in 1 Day

This is why I don't buy into the extended primary method for anything below 1.060 OG but if you are a new brewer or still am trying to get your processes down I wouldn't try this!

I want to start by asking you to bear in mind through this that I don’t hear someone say they leave beers in an extended primary for 3+ weeks and think to myself that their beers are automatically worse quality. I just personally cannot blindly take someone’s word for things without experimenting for myself.

So over the last few weeks, I have learned I am not alone with this method. It finally made me sack up and decide to post my method of fermenting beers below 1.060 OG.

Here is the skeleton version of my method:
Pitch yeast on Day 1
In Primary for 10-14 days
-3-7 days fermenting at 60-64 Degrees
-3-5 days "clean up time" while raising temp to 70-75
-Usually around 14 days total until I reach a weekend to bottle
Bottle on day 10-14
-carbonate for 1-2 days
-condition for weeks

Now the detailed explanation

I start fermenting at 60-64 degrees, and even then primary fermentation is done usually in 5 days (sometimes as soon as 2 days but sometimes not until 10-12 days). This may be a characteristic of my house yeast strain that I use in 70+% of my recipes (Pacman) since it is a notorious sugar guzzler, but I have found the same results with Nottingham.

This is where I differ from the extended primary method. People recommend the extended primary mostly to help clean up off flavors. Also it helps things settle out of suspension resulting in clearer beer and less sediment in bottles. I cannot dispute either of these facts as they are both proven and true. All I can do is offer my own methods and results of trying to achieve the same end result.

Once my final gravity is reached, I take it out of temperature control and let it rise to ambient (70-75) on its own over a course of 5 days.

There are two advantages I have found from fermenting like this:
1. Fermenting at low temps causes very few off flavors to begin with, so there are not many “byproducts” to clean up in the first place.
2. By raising the temperatures after the bulk of fermentation is done allows the yeast to work quicker at cleaning up but they throw no more off flavors since they aren’t actively fermenting. (Somewhat comparable to a diactyl rest in lagering)

This is where I the most interesting of my findings occur.

Yeast really isn’t going to hang around for more than 3-5 days once primary fermentation is over. There are simply not enough resources to make life worth living so they go dormant. It’s not that they won’t continue to clean up, it’s that [in my mind], they are going to be incredibly inefficient at cleaning up from here on out. The yeast at this is point lazy, sluggish and cleaning up at an extremely slow rate over a period of weeks. To me it is NOT worth letting the beer sit in the primary any longer.

What proof do I have of this? Keep reading.

So I bottle. Yes, I bottle typically 10-15 days after pitching the yeast. I ALWAYS bottle one beer in a plastic soda bottle. I squeeze out the head space and cap it so the bottle remains squeezed inward with no headspace. As the yeast eats the priming solution, they produce the C02 that pushes the bottle back to its original shape and reforms the headspace. It is also a great indicator of carbonation when things happen in this order.

1. You will see the bottle return to its original shape
2. The bottle will get rock hard with C02 filling the headspace
3. The bottle will get less rigid as the C02 in the headspace and the beer reach equilibrium.

Now the shock value: The beers are usually carbonated after 20 hours. I know it surprised the crap out of me the first 3 times. Not always does it do this, but my last 4 batches were carbonated the night after bottling.

So this is the main reason I feel the extend primary is not necessary…the yeast go dormant. By allowing them to clean up briefly and bottling while they are fully active, they carbonate immediately. My older batches with the extended primary took weeks and even months to carbonate leading me to believe: The longer you leave the beer in the fermenter before bottling, your wati time gets compunded since you have to wait almost twice as long for it to carbonate. Why not let the yeast do the conditioning AND carbonation at the same time? By keeping the yeast fully active longer I honestly feel I get better beer in a shorter time.

Here is where it all comes together. My aging and conditioning period does not begin until the beer is in the bottle. For the reasons I stated earlier, I feel extended primary is unnecessary and any benefits of the extended primary can be achieved by aging in the bottle. Think of it as a “Revised Secondary” if you will.

So even if the beers *CAN* go from grain to glass in 10 days, usually age them for at least 2-4 weeks in the bottles. Milds are ready the next day while other beers need more conditioning time. The other benefit of this you can sample the beers as they condition in the bottle, giving you some good data to tweak your process in the future. So your beers are already carbonated by the time they rech their peak. I also like to experiment so I compare bottles that conditioned in the fridge with those that conditioned at 70 for the same amount of time.

So a crude comparison using the methods where [say a 1.045 Pale Ale or Bitter] a beer reaches is in its “great" to "peak” state using minimal times for each is:
Extended primary= 3 weeks in fermenter + 3 weeks to bottles=6 weeks grain to glass
My method = 10 days in fermenter + 1 day in bottles + 2 weeks conditioning = 3.5-4 weeks.

To me it isn’t necessarily about time, but being efficient. I find my beers are the same quality at 4 weeks using my minimal primary method as the extended primary puts them at 6 weeks. So the difference in between the two methods results in a chance for the beers to condition an extra 2 weeks by the time they would just be carbonated using the extended primary.

With all that said, it should be clear my minimal primary method should not be performed if you are a pitch and forget brewer, or don’t control temps closely. Extended primaries without a doubt are the best option for brewer who can’t ferment in the low 60’s. Leaving it on the entire yeast cake for longer will help heal any mistakes you make along the way.

But if you are careful not to produce any off flavors in the first place, I encourage you to at least try this out.

My intent is not to ruffle feathers or provide indisputable scientific experiments or revolutionize homebrewing as we know it. I know how attached people get to their own methods, especially if it is widely accepted. I just want to share my experiences to encourage people to try out new thing and not always blindly follow the herd. You may just be surprised at what you find

This way you can drink your beer 10-14 days after pitching, save it for weeks to condition into its prime, or a healthy mix of the two.

If anyone wants me to experiment with certain things to advance understanding of this, I will do my best to oblige. If you just want to condemn my method without trying it, go right ahead, but don’t expect me to feel the need to prove anything to you!



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Old 08-05-2011, 05:28 PM   #2
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When do you dry hop?



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Old 08-05-2011, 05:37 PM   #3
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I should have included a disclaimer saying if I have a high gravity beer, or a beer that has ingredients added post fermentation (dry hops, chocolate, coffee, etc), I still rack over to a secondary. I don't add any ingredients to the primary because I usually wash the yeast

I have only ever dry hopped once and it was long before I started playing with this method.

Funny Side note: I am not a super hopped beer fanatic, but after doing this for a session mild recipe, I got to thinking "how could I get the most from beers featureing hop flavors". My issue is that the fresh hop flavors fade very quickly in IPAs and APAs. That is actually why I began trying to get a quicker beer without sacrificing quality

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Old 08-05-2011, 05:43 PM   #4
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Well this is interesting...... can't say I can accept it 100% but at the same time the reasoning seems solid enough that I wan't to try this method then as in true scientific form I will compare then probabaly say AWESOME!!! I think your bottles may be carbing so quicly due to the amount of yeast still in suspension within 10days as oppossed to 21 days. I'll repost this thread in 12 days and let you know how I make out. Thanks for posting this.

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Old 08-05-2011, 05:47 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aschecte View Post
Well this is interesting...... can't say I can accept it 100% but at the same time the reasoning seems solid enough that I wan't to try this method then as in true scientific form I will compare then probabaly say AWESOME!!! I think your bottles may be carbing so quicly due to the amount of yeast still in suspension within 10days as oppossed to 21 days. I'll repost this thread in 12 days and let you know how I make out. Thanks for posting this.
Dangit, that was another thing I forgot to include! This WILL result in more sediment in your bottles.

(General statement not directed at Aschecte) If that is an important aspect of beer for you then this is not a method you will like. I don't think any less of anyone trying to achieve less sediment...it is just not a priority for me
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Old 08-05-2011, 06:14 PM   #6
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I'm fully on board with what your doing. Actually I think many beers can be done even faster. I do a similar ferment and I think you could shave a few days off your times. It's not uncommon for my ales to be ready to bottle in 7 days. 3 days in the mid 60's 4 days in the low 70's and it's ready for carbonation. Depends on the yeast but once it has floculated, it's usually ready to bottle. There are many ferments that could be done in as short as 5 days. Typically I don't try to go this fast but I could and the beer is fine.

I carb in a keg. If I jack up the pressure I can have it carbed in a day or 2.

VERY IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER!!!!!!
For this to work properly you need to pitch the proper amounts of healthy yeast, oxygenate your wort and properly control the fermentation temps. If you not pitching at pro brewer levels, you will want a longer ferment to "fix" the problems in your beer. I see super long ferments, secondary, etc... as a work around for lower pitching rates. Back in the early days of home brewing nobody had good quality yeast and pitching rates were rather pathetic. Nowadays, the better home brewers are pitching at pro brewer rates and the beer is much much much better in much much much less time.

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Old 08-05-2011, 07:31 PM   #7
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Interesting....do you get any yeasty or 'green beer' flavors at first, and if so, how long before they go away?

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Old 08-05-2011, 07:32 PM   #8
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I have to say this is at least partly true. My sunset gold APA hit FG in 17 days,going from 19C to 24C in that time. That's when the heat wave started here. Went from OG 1.046 to 1.010 in that time. I let it clean up for 11 days,found I could have cut as much as 5-6 days off that & been good.
Carbed/conditioned in bottles for 7 days. Got thick,velvety head & good carbonation,flavor was toasty/biscuity with amber orange color.
But,carbonation did go fast,true. But after 14 days in the bottle,color was better,flavors a bit more developed. Carbonation was an upside down snow storm. So you have to realize that it is possible to push carbonation. But you can't push conditioning. Conditioning is a fancy way of describing developed flavors. In other words,a "mature" beer. This is straight out of my notebook.
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Old 08-05-2011, 07:43 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffjm View Post
Interesting....do you get any yeasty or 'green beer' flavors at first, and if so, how long before they go away?
Keep in mind everything in this thread is based on subjective tastes and nothing is scientific

I do get the green flavors a bit right when bottling. After a week or two in the bottles they are at the exact same levels as when you bottle after a 3 week primary but the main difference is they are already carbonated, and dont take another 3 more weeks to get there.

Every beer is differned. The two I had that were good to go in under 14 days were a 1.035 mild brown ale and a 1.040 ordinary bitter.

My 1.050 altbier on the other hand carbonated immediately after being bottled on july 3rd, but just came to it peak on july 30th. So every beer is different and it still depends on the OG!

Edit, I bottled my House Pale Ale (1.055 to 1.010 in 10 days) two nights ago and the fermenter smelled incredibly of green apples, but a I could not detect even a slight hint in the taste test.
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Old 08-06-2011, 03:56 AM   #10
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I'm surprised that this is a surprise to anyone.

Try doing it in the middle of winter.

I just think it is good practice to leave it longer, so that variables like ferment temp, carbonation temp, wort gravity, yeast, etc don't screw with your schedule.

I've done 2-week beers before, bottling, and been drinking at week 3. For years, I would rarely leave a beer fermenting for more than 3 weeks. I now leave them longer, and overall I think I get better beers when I leave everything for at least 4 weeks before bottling. When I do bottle at 4 weeks, it is a rarity due to having to re-stock quickly. Leaving it longer (in general) makes the beer better and clearer, and fits better with my schedule.



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