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Old 04-21-2011, 03:23 PM   #111
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To add to this experiment, I've got a brown ale that's been in primary for 6 months. Plan on kegging it early next week for kicks. I'll give you the run down on flavor once it's carbed.

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Old 08-25-2011, 06:31 PM   #112
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Originally Posted by HokieBrewer
To add to this experiment, I've got a brown ale that's been in primary for 6 months. Plan on kegging it early next week for kicks. I'll give you the run down on flavor once it's carbed.
Hokie,

How'd this end up?
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Old 08-25-2011, 09:18 PM   #113
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Originally Posted by ChshreCat View Post
Yes. The ONLY point of this thread is to try to demonstrate that people don't need to be worried about leaving their beer for a few weeks or a month on the yeast. Do I plan on leaving my beers in primary for 5 months? Hell no! I didn't plan on leaving this one anywhere near this long. Life just got in the way and I never got around to bottling it for a long time.

My first rule of brewing is that it's your own damned beer and you can do whatever the hell you want!

I was just making a demonstration for folks worried about autolysis. I never said you had to do a long primary to make good beer.
Right, but it does seem that there are some people that think their beers owe some of their greatness to the long cake-sit. That is, the extended primary contributed to the quality of the beer. I've not seen any evidence for this, assuming the beer was brewed properly. The points that revvy says have been beaten to death are those that involve long cake-sits not detracting from the quality of the beer. That's pretty clear. But I haven't seen any experiments that show the long cake-sits change anything.

Experiments:

2-week cake sit, 6-week secondary, one or two month cold condition
vs.
8-week cake sit, one or two month cold condition

Average gravity ale, no dry hopping.

I do long cake-sits often, but not because I think they help, only because I know they don't hurt. However, I do sometimes dump a good chunk out when I want fresh yeast for repitching.
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Old 08-25-2011, 10:41 PM   #114
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Originally Posted by StMarcos

Right, but it does seem that there are some people that think their beers owe some of their greatness to the long cake-sit. That is, the extended primary contributed to the quality of the beer. I've not seen any evidence for this, assuming the beer was brewed properly. The points that revvy says have been beaten to death are those that involve long cake-sits not detracting from the quality of the beer. That's pretty clear. But I haven't seen any experiments that show the long cake-sits change anything.

Experiments:

2-week cake sit, 6-week secondary, one or two month cold condition
vs.
8-week cake sit, one or two month cold condition

Average gravity ale, no dry hopping.

I do long cake-sits often, but not because I think they help, only because I know they don't hurt. However, I do sometimes dump a good chunk out when I want fresh yeast for repitching.
NOTE – EVERYTHING I AM ABOUT TO SAY IS MY ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE ONLY. ANY ATTEMPT TO CONNECT THIS REPLY TO ACTUAL SCIENCE WOULD BE ILL ADVISED

All that being said, I have had a couple of beers flawed with Acetaldehyde and the only real difference between the flawed beer and an identical recipe without the flaw is the amount of time spent on the yeast cake. I got bit by the Acetaldehyde bug twice in a row right after I started doing temperature controlled primary fermentation. I had always been a brew by the calendar guy for my ales. One week in primary, rack to secondary for a second week, then into the bottle for 3 weeks or so and start testing for carbonation. However, I had also been making most of those beers at room temperature (70-72F more or less).

Then I got a fermenting fridge and a temperature controller and thought, “great, one more variable I can control”. So I made a pale ale and fermented at 63F with my old schedule (1 week primary, 1 week secondary, into the bottle). The beer smelled and tasted of hops and green apples.

Then I made a blonde. Same fermentation temp. Same schedule. Again, green apples.

Then I read on HBT about long primaries. Common sense told me that yeast are biological organism and that many biological processes slow down at colder temperatures. Then I read that Acetaldehyde is actually produced as a matter of course during fermentation, but is later broken down into something else that we find less objectionable when we drink the beer (again, I make no claims to have studied chemistry much beyond high school).

So I made the same pale ale again. The gravity and finishing volume were spot on from my previous attempt. Same size yeast starter. This time I went 63F, but I did a 3 week primary and straight into the bottle. No green apples. It may have been anecdotal, but the beer seemed to condition faster. Not carbonate faster. But it tasted less green and more mature after 3 weeks in the bottle. It had a similar flavor and aroma at 3 weeks in the bottle that previous attempts had taken 5-6 weeks or more to obtain.

Since it haven’t had it hurt my beers, and it seems like it MIGHT have helped, I have gone routinely to a minimum 3 week primary (4 or 5 for bigger beers) and only using a secondary for dry hopping or other advanced aging. I have been happy with my results. YMMV.

I hate to open up another can of worms, but it’s at least related to the thread. For those whose concern is autolysis with long primaries, I have always wondered about bottle conditioning. I have had bottle conditioned beers (mine, others, and commercial beers) sit on the yeast sediment for a year or more show none of the characteristics associated with autolysis. If yeast going dormant and eventually dying and spilling their guts is a potential problem with a large yeast cake on 5 gallons, why do we not have the same concern with an eighth inch or so of yeast sediment in a 12 ounce bottle? Not flaming anyone for their opinions. It’s just something I have always been curious about.
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Old 08-26-2011, 08:14 PM   #115
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Originally Posted by Haputanlas

Hokie,

How'd this end up?
I went back to my notes, its actually been almost a year. I tried a gravity sample. Crystal clear, nagging Belgian off flavor I've been fighting, but no autolysis. And trust me, I know the smell and taste.
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Old 10-12-2011, 11:38 PM   #116
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I didn't read much of this, but I'll add my experience. I've had numerous experimental beers that for whatever reason sat in primary for up to 10 months. From my experience with sampling the beer here and there, the beer seems to get a weird fruity-like flavor after 6 months. It's not like esters from the yeast - I'm guessing it's autolysis? Typically around the 9 month mark it is very noticeable. I've had beers in glass and plastic buckets, same for each. Most of these have been Stouts btw.

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Old 10-13-2011, 02:00 AM   #117
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Originally Posted by ODaniel View Post
I didn't read much of this, but I'll add my experience. I've had numerous experimental beers that for whatever reason sat in primary for up to 10 months. From my experience with sampling the beer here and there, the beer seems to get a weird fruity-like flavor after 6 months. It's not like esters from the yeast - I'm guessing it's autolysis? Typically around the 9 month mark it is very noticeable. I've had beers in glass and plastic buckets, same for each. Most of these have been Stouts btw.
That kind of makes sense. It's been my experience that roasty beers in general tend to develop dark fruit flavors with age, that I believe are more related to oxidation, than autolysis.

As a side note, I just read through this whole thread. Very interesting debate. When I started brewing in 2009, the general consensus was to go with long primaries and no secondary so that is what I have always done. Works great for me, but mostly because I'd rather not rack my beer to a secondary (except for lagers). I've always looked at that as one more way to introduce oxygen. The question is, can one get away with a short primary? Say 8-10 days in primary only, then to bottle. I'm guessing the final product would be pretty yeasty, though.
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