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Old 07-16-2013, 11:54 PM   #1
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Default Bottling Early vs Sitting in Secondary...?

Quick question..... I've got a few high gravity Belgians in glass carboy secondary fermenters. The recipe reviews say to age the heck out them, like 6 months +. I'm wondering what the concensus is for bulk ageing in the carboys vs bottling after a month in secondary.

My anxiety to leaving it in a carboy for a long time is 2 fold:

1) Tying up a carboy that could be better used on keeping the pipeline going

2) Having all the yeast settle out/croak and they won't bottle condition, thus I'll have to add more yeast and possibly have a bunch of flat bottled brew.

Thoughts?

I guess I'd like to know if bottling sooner (which I'm ok with) will yield the same flavor melding, dissipation of higher alcohols that bulk ageing does.

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Old 07-18-2013, 06:11 PM   #2
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no takers? bump

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Old 07-18-2013, 06:22 PM   #3
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You could do almost anything you wanted. If it were me, I'd probably bulk age for maybe 2 months and then bottle. However, it really depends on how fast they clear up. At a few weeks past terminal gravity it's just more waiting. They will continue to age in the bottle anyway. I've had no problems aging in secondary for several months.

Just keep in mind that with beer, you don't usually top up the carboy and any air in the headspace is going to promote oxidation flavors. You can minimize this by filling the carboy up to near the neck level, or by flushing the headspace with CO2 if you have it.

If you don't have CO2, one way to help fill it to the brim is to make an extra large batch and have enough left from the 6 gallon primary, to siphon into a 5 gallon secondary and fill it up. Or make it a bit stronger and add a small amount of water to top it up.

With aged beer and bottling I try extra hard to not splash or in any other way, introduce more air into the beer. With normal batches and kegging the beer isn't in contact with air enough to make it a big concern.

Lastly, some beers are not technically out of style if there is some oxidation from aging. You just don't want any more than you can help.

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Old 07-18-2013, 06:32 PM   #4
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Oxidation is definitely on my mind.... two of the carboys i use are 6 gal and I'm making 5 gal batches. Big air in the head space. Haven't noticed any cardboard flavor yet but im worried about it for sure.

I do have access to CO2... what is the best way to deliver it in there?

Thanks for the reply, I might just start bottling a little early.

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Old 07-18-2013, 06:37 PM   #5
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The high gravity brews that I have done and aged I did a bit of both. I secondaried for a little over a month then bottle aged for a few more. The longest in bottles was not too good until 6 months and is at a year and a half now and very good.

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Old 07-18-2013, 07:12 PM   #6
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when should i be worried about adding yeast? do you basically have to go through the whole process by trial and error and hopefully there is carbonation.... or is there a general guideline that after 3 months or something like that you need to add yeast??

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Old 07-18-2013, 07:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by butterpants View Post
when should i be worried about adding yeast? do you basically have to go through the whole process by trial and error and hopefully there is carbonation.... or is there a general guideline that after 3 months or something like that you need to add yeast??
That depends on a few things like the strain of yeast, igredients, aging conditions (temps), etc. I've aged a Belgian Golden Strong Ale for many months and had a tough time with *some* of the bottles carbing up. But it was a very highly hopped beer, which didn't help.

That is why I would recommend not bulk aging for several months. If you can do 2-3 months and it's clear enough, go ahead and bottle. There will be more yeast that are viable and it will carb up nicely.

Remember, the stronger the beer, generally the longer it has to age before it's considered at it's prime. That might be 1 or more years for beers over 10%.

Keep in mind that this is just my opinion, from my experiences. There could very well be many others who have bulk aged their strong ales for many months that never had a problem with their yeast. I'm just saying I've had better luck with RIS's and Barlewines that were not bulk aged as long and were significantly better tasting in the end.

I'd say that with a month of primary (if necessary) and 2 months of secondary, you should still have very viable yeast and it should be pretty clear. There really isn't a sharp line drawn in the sand on this.
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Old 07-18-2013, 07:28 PM   #8
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Oh, I forgot to add that there is ZERO reason you can't add a few drops of fresh yeast at bottling time if you wish. It's definitely an option if you are concerned. It's just that I doubt most homebrewers will find they need to do that if their yeast and fermentation process was proper.

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Old 07-18-2013, 07:33 PM   #9
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Terrific. Thank you for the advice.

Right now I'm doing 2 week primary buckets and 2 months in secondary carboys. Glad I'm in line.

Wish I wasn't so damm impatient tho....

That Rochefort 8 clone smells good but has another 9mo in a bottle to go... grr

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Old 07-19-2013, 11:28 AM   #10
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It's a hard thing to wait to see how things turn out! But you will become patient over the next few years. At least until your pipeline runs dry. Then things can get a little antsy.

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