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Old 08-17-2012, 10:05 PM   #1
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Default How do you KNOW a long fermentation is best?

Ignoring the 3-week rule or OG to FG readings. I'm talking about knowing this beer will be better if it remains in the fermentation vessel for X amount of time.

I started thinking about this when I got a kit from Midwest supplies. Instructions say keep it in the carboy for 2 months. it's a simple belgian witte with some orange peel.I did one last month that was drinkable within 3 weeks but this one takes 2 months? Why?

I know Barleywines and 10%+ stouts can improve with some extra time. I know wild yeast need time to do their work (12-18 months) and pale ales are best fresh but, as a brewer, what makes you think this beer is better with time? Is it purely dependent on style?

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Old 08-17-2012, 10:11 PM   #2
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the "instructions" in those kits probably are trying to be safe and avoid someone bottling too early. i go by hydrometer readings and how much time i have to bottle or keg. right now i have 4 fermentors with beer in them, one has been in there since march (a sour) and the others are all older than a month, no time to bottle/keg.

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Old 08-17-2012, 10:20 PM   #3
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Take those directions and toss them out...I have never heard of a 3 week rule and wouldn't put much consideration to one if proposed. If you do what it takes to keep the yeast happy a normal ale will ferment out in under a week, lagers around 10 days, and big beers can slowly chug along for a while. So yeah, there are some style considerations, but the actual fermentation is done pretty quick. There's nothing wrong with letting the beer sit for a few a week or two on the yeast to let the yeast clear out fermentation byproducts, we can get away with this as homebrewers because we don't have to worry about things like hydrostatic pressue killing the yeast. There are those who say leave it on the yeast for a couple of months, and sure, no ill effects will happen but I don't know that is needed the commercial brews you drink don't sit around on the yeast to get rid of off-flavors. The biggest thing is to let the beer sit long enough for the yeast to clear out, whether that is done in the primary before kegging, during bottle carbonation, or giving the keg time to clear for most styles not having yeast floating around is important to flavor. For your witt, you want some yeast in suspension.

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Old 08-17-2012, 10:21 PM   #4
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You can ignore the 3 week rule but ignoring gravity readings will leave you to only speculate whether the beer has finished or not. However, I believe the answer to your question is more dependent on yeast strain than anything attenuation rates and all that jazz.

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Old 08-18-2012, 01:37 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by H-ost
You can ignore the 3 week rule but ignoring gravity readings will leave you to only speculate whether the beer has finished or not. However, I believe the answer to your question is more dependent on yeast strain than anything attenuation rates and all that jazz.
Totally agree,especially about attenuation, some yeast just take forever to drop those final few points but in saying that, it's better for them to do it on the yeast, not in secondary
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Old 08-18-2012, 02:02 PM   #6
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I have never had any activity (gravity changes) even close to 3 weeks out. Mine are usually done in less than a week, but I leave them for 3 weeks. This stops me from cracking the primary to take a bunch of gravity readings. I always take a final gravity to make sure nothing went really wrong in the process. If you are at your FG, you can calculate how off you would need to be to create various CO2 levels. Since some beers require 4-5 volumes of CO2 in bottles, my 2 to 2.5 volume target would need a bunch of remaining activity to get to that level. I don't know the pressure level for bottle bombs, but I'm guessing it's a good bit over many of the wheats.

I think 3 weeks is a safe overkill, especially if you let the fermenter warm up at the end for a few days.

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Old 08-18-2012, 02:12 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Newgene View Post

I think 3 weeks is a safe overkill, especially if you let the fermenter warm up at the end for a few days.
I agree. I don't know of any beer (lager or ale) that should take more than about 7-10 days to totally ferment out. Maybe if the beer is severely underpitched, or somehow stressed. But then it won't really be a very good beer anyway, even if you let it sit for months afterwards.

I think a properly made beer is ready for packaging much faster than many of us package, but I also believe that most kits tell brewers to rush to bottle. Not the "quality" kit makers, but Cooper's and the like that tell you to bottle in 5-7 days.

It's true that there are some beers that need some aging time- like barley wines or beers that are oaked. Making a sour is an exercise in patience!

But for the most part, a couple of weeks for an ale to ferment and then clear is adequate before packaging.
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Old 08-18-2012, 02:14 PM   #8
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I disagree here. Win crap kits i would totally agree. Not so familiar with Midwest kits, but NB kits have been time-optimized so that if you follow the instructions you will get the intended product. Can you drink it sooner? Sure, it's your beer, but it will not necessarily match the advertised product. Some beers just take longer time to condition and have the flavored mature properly, also, the time may be designed to allow more yeast/particulates to precipitate.

In this case, I think they gave the instructions to get you the best product - so you will buy from them again.

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Old 08-18-2012, 02:15 PM   #9
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In other words, I think they "know" be abuse they tested various times and this was he best.

If it were from second rate store, I'd agree with the "throw out the instructions" approach, but Midwest is just down the street (so to speak) from NB, and I think they want to compete favorably.

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Old 08-18-2012, 03:18 PM   #10
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Thanks guys. I think the question though is being missed so maybe I suck at asking

What I mean is, a Barley wine is "done" when the FG is stable. With great pitching, that could be within a week or slightly longer but whatever. however, I know that barley wines improve with age. I had a 2007 barleywine last week and it was amazing and far less hot than a fresh one. So, my question is, when I'm creating my own recipes (not following kits), is there a standard set of rules for how long until I should enjoy the beer.

This kit says 2 months but the ingredients used are nearly identical to the saison I brewed last month. At 3 weeks mark, it was drinking fantastic and instructions say it can improve up to a year. So is midwest just saying 2 months so I get the best flavor out of the beer? How are they sure 2 months is the right amount of time to wait..say fermentation is done in 10 days, then I keg it, I'm supposed to wait 2 months? I just don't understand what ingredients are in there that make that argument valid.

Sweet Orange peel
coriander
Honey
Belgian Wit yeast
6 pounds of DME
some crystal malt

That's pretty much it. It must be that time makes the flavor more balanced so they recommend waiting...sort of like barley wines or stouts.

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