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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Bottling/Kegging > Maturing in kegs
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Old 05-14-2008, 05:12 PM   #1
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Default Maturing in kegs

Howdy all,

I have some general kegging questions that I haven't found a solid answer on in all of my reading so far. I kind of expect to get a lot of different opinions, but I figured I would ask anyway...

I just kegged my first two batches this past Friday and early indications are that I managed to get things relatively well balanced. Since patience isn't an option when kegging your first batch, this time I did the 30 psi, shake for 100 seconds, settle for a few hours, bleed off to serving pressure method. I'm still a little under-carbed, but it's getting there.

Anyway, my question is more to the future. In all of my reading, one of the best take-aways was the fundamental concept of thinking of the keg as a big bottle. That's great, but I'm not overly confident that I fully understood how bottles should be taken care of. If you piece my other threads here together, you'll find that I've been struggling with some off flavors. I built the "Fermoire" last year to help with temp control of the primary and secondary, but honestly never really grasped how important/not important temp control is after bottling. Seems like it should be since you're starting up fermentation again, but mine typically just were left at room temp (low to mid 70's, but fluctuating some) from that point on.

Now that I'm not faced with filling 100+ bottles, I'd like to do 10 gal batches more regularly (if I can get time to brew again). I'm wondering how best to treat the second corny. I'm using a deep freeze and anticipate always being able to add a pair at a time, but would like to eventually get it full enough with different varieties that I need to rotate half of each new batch out. I'll probably switch to the "orce carbing at serving pressure for a week or so" ethod going forward.

So I guess I'm looking for some clarification on how temperature and time affects the aging/maturing process at this stage. If I left both cornies at serving temp and serving pressure for about a week and then removed one of them from the freezer to room temperature until it's brother is empty (weeks? months?), will I wind up with the same beer that I would have had if it had been left at serving temperature for the same amount of time?

I realize that it's probably splitting hairs, and would be fine either way, but I'm just trying to get a better understanding of what all is going on at this stage and if I have a choice, what temps are most adventageous.

Thanks as always!

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Old 05-14-2008, 05:27 PM   #2
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You want to age beer at least 3 weeks or longer (depending on the beer) at fermentation temp. usually 68*F for ale.
So the 1-2-3 rule of fermenting beer still holds true even if you keg. Because although you are able to force carbonate green beer it's still green beer.

Most beer will also benefit from cold crashing after the fermentation and aging process is complete.

And storage temp is an important factor anytime but especially so during the aging process.

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Old 05-14-2008, 06:02 PM   #3
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See, I guess that's where I'm still a little fuzzy....

I failed to mention in my first post that I decided I was switching to kegging while I had these first two batches in secondaries. I wasn't able to scrape all of the funds together for the hardware for several weeks, so these two spent about 5 weeks in the secondary rather than my normal 2. So in this particular case, I was past green, but I do understand that it still needs some maturing beyond the third week of life.

I assume in the future I'd be going back to about 2 weeks in the secondary, so it's what happens beyond that I'm looking for guidance I think. If both cornies are dropped down to serving temp to carbonate over the course of a week or so, I think my ultimate question is will the beer mature differently if it is moved to room temp after that first week of carbonating vs. leaving it at serving temp for a few more weeks?

Again, I'm probably getting too nit-picky... I'm just trying to get a better grasp of things to come up with a general "best practice" to plan space and timing around (and maybe learn something along the way!).

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Old 05-14-2008, 08:03 PM   #4
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How do you plan on carbonating the beer?

And yes the maturation process slows considerably at serving temp.
But for long term storage go with cooler temps. because that helps keep the beer fresh longer. For the maturation process keep it at fermentation temps.

What happens is when you place the beer in the fridge the yeast that's still suspended drops out and settles to the bottom.

Here's what I do:

1-2 week(s) in the primary. Then I rack to a cornie keg. where I let the beer sit at fermentation temp for another 3-6 weeks. Then I'll taste the flat beer if it tastes good, I'll drop it in the fridge and connect the gas after 5 days it's fully carbonated and ready to drink. If after the 3-6 weeks in the cornie I think it' ready but don't have room in the fridge I'll rack to another cornie & move it to a cooler place for storage. If I think it could use a little more aging I'll rack to another cornie to get it off any yeast that may be in there and continue to keep it at fermentation temp.

I've got some beer that has been aging for almost year it's just now really starting to get good I've almost dumped it a half dozen times or more but now I gald I didn't. It really depends on how strong the beer is as to how long it takes to age properly.

Using my method the first 4 -16 oz. of beer will have yeast in it depending on how good a job I did racking. So I modified some cornies that I use as secondaries by bending the dip tupe up slightly so that it won't pick up the yeast that's on the bottom.

Now if I'm planning on taking the cornie on a road trip I'll rack to a second cornie because I don't want the yeast to become resuspended. But usually I'll just drink out of the cornie that was also my secondary fermenter.

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Old 05-14-2008, 08:26 PM   #5
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Thanks Ab,

Your process is pretty much what I (inadvertantly) did with these last two batches since I wound up leaving them in the secondary so much longer than I normally do. I guess in a roundabout way while typing all of this up, I was starting to wonder if extending time in secondary would make my question/concern about temps after carbonating a moot point.

I'm pretty pleased with the way these two turned out so maybe I should just keep doing it this way and leave well enough alone.

In the situation you mentioned where if after 3-6 weeks you don't have room in the fridge, you'll rack to another corny, did I read between the lines correctly in that you are not carbonating at that point? In other words, you don't carb yours until it is going into the fridge for serving?

Thanks again!

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Old 05-14-2008, 09:05 PM   #6
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If you are asking if a keg stored at room temperature will age differently from one in use in your kegger, the answer is yes.

I don't carb until I'm ready to put a corny online. I have a conditioning cabinet in the cool room where aging cornies life & have had enough problems with slow leaks, that I just seat the lid and leave them.

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Old 05-14-2008, 09:08 PM   #7
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This raises a question in my mind... I wonder if you could force carbonate at fermentation temps and leave out to age until you're ready to cool and serve?

In any case, I just rack to my kegs after the secondary (Tertiary?). Hit it with 30 psi of gas and it's all set. I end up force carbing when i'm ready to drink it and after cooling the keg.

From other posts i've read, think of a keg as a nice 5 gallon bottle.

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Old 05-15-2008, 03:00 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jas0420 View Post
In the situation you mentioned where if after 3-6 weeks you don't have room in the fridge, you'll rack to another corny, did I read between the lines correctly in that you are not carbonating at that point? In other words, you don't carb yours until it is going into the fridge for serving?
That's right I don't usually carb until the beer is ready or I have room in the fridge. But that's just a matter of personal preference. And
because you can carb at a lower PSI in the fridge than you'll need if you were to carb at a higher temp. I don't think it makes any difference one way or the other taste wise.
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Old 05-15-2008, 03:08 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kimsta View Post
This raises a question in my mind... I wonder if you could force carbonate at fermentation temps and leave out to age until you're ready to cool and serve?

.
I kind of answered you question in my post above this one but just to make sure.

The answer is yes but you'll need either signifigantly higher pressure or a much longer period of time.
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Old 05-15-2008, 07:47 PM   #10
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I haven't had any problems with 2 weeks primary, 2 weeks secondary, rack to keg, wait another month or so, put the keg in the fridge on gas. Wait a few days, pour off the first pint or so of settled cake. Drink, or put back in the fridge carbed.

I guess i'm unlike a lot of people where I have 8 kegs in the rotation. I really have no need to rush anything so I end up waiting a long time to go from brew day to drink day. I think the beer comes out better that way, vs rushing everything.

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