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Old 10-19-2011, 05:30 PM   #1
ale1
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Default How long is to long?

So I just started brewing this year. The I have made a one gal. batch from a kit I got for fathers day and I am loving this whole thing(I also have a gal. of wild yeast cider in the fermenter right now). The problem is that I work on tug boats and go to sea for months at a time, so my questions are:
Is there any danger in leaving a brew in my carboy that has already reached its F.G. for a extended period of time? I am only set up for a single stage presses, will the lees, or dead yeast or what ever, and sitting in my brew give it a funky taste? Will I still be able to bottle condition or will a long time sitting make my yeast unusable for carbonation? And what about leaving it in the bottles for longer than nesasary?Does that increase my risk of bottle bombs, or does that only depend on how much priming sugar used?

Any thanks for your help, this forum has been great!

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Old 10-19-2011, 05:52 PM   #2
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Many here will tell you the longer that you leave it alone in the primary, the better your beer will be because you will allow the beer to age and allow the yeast to clean up after themselves. I've left beer in a primary for about 6 weeks and it was one of the clearest, best tasting beers I made, so I wouldn't worry too much about leaving it there for a while, but I will leave the question of months at a time to someone more experienced then myself. The more time you give it in there, the longer you give the yeast a chance to settle and clean up the flavor of your beer. Don't worry, when you bottle you will bring yeast back into suspension and it will carbonate your bottles, it might take a little longer, but it seems like you have plenty of time to let the beer condition in bottles.

As for bottling, you only really need to be worried about bottle bombs if you bottle your beer before its done fermenting. What happens is that if its not done fermenting, and then you put it into bottles and add more sugar for the yeast to consume, it will most likely end up creating bottle bombs because there is still very active fermentation going on and nowhere for the CO2 to go, so the pressure is too great for the glass bottles to handle. That being said, if you are letting it sit for a long time in a primary, and then bottling, you shouldn't have much to worry about, and once you bottle the beer it is potentially good for months or much longer--depending on the style. I have a few bottles that is now 8 months old, from my first batch I ever brewed, and I slowly drinking them. They have aged very well.

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Old 10-19-2011, 05:53 PM   #3
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For the first question, I think you'll find a range of answers. Personally I have left homebrew in primary fermentation vessels for upwards of 6 weeks without noticeable negative effects. I believe there is an upper limit however because of autolysis. The term means self-consumption, and eventually the yeast can/will produce off flavors because of it.

You can store homebrew in bottles for ages - many beers will benefit greatly from lengthy bottle conditioning, though I think those benefits vary from beer to beer. I don't bottle anymore myself, so that info is just from what I've read. Bottle bombs are only a problem, as you suggested, if they are over primed. Yeasties can only produce as much CO2 as the sugars available to them will allow, so time alone isn't your enemy.

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Old 10-19-2011, 06:07 PM   #4
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Thanks alot!
Now if I can press you on your knowledge/opinions for just a little longer... If I do get some self consumption stuff and get bad beer... Well it probably needs to be really bad for me to not drink it,(especially if I have invested a month or two in to it). So will the yeast kill it self in this process leaving nothing for bottle conditioning? Bad beer is one thing but bad flat beer is just too much.

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Old 10-19-2011, 06:12 PM   #5
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I have a beer in the primary right now that has been there for over 2 months. Took a sample the other day. It is the clearest and best tasting beer I have ever made.

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Old 10-19-2011, 06:46 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ale1 View Post
Thanks alot!
Now if I can press you on your knowledge/opinions for just a little longer... If I do get some self consumption stuff and get bad beer... Well it probably needs to be really bad for me to not drink it,(especially if I have invested a month or two in to it). So will the yeast kill it self in this process leaving nothing for bottle conditioning? Bad beer is one thing but bad flat beer is just too much.
NO problems. Unless you actively filter them out, there will be plenty of yeast to perform the carbonation step - they'll go dormant, but once you add the priming sugar and bottle, they'll wake up and do their job - they may take 3-4 weeks, but they'll do it.

and, FWIW, it is a rare beer that doesn't sit in my fermenters for 6 weeks...
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Old 10-19-2011, 06:56 PM   #7
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If you're going to leave it in the fermenter for a long period, I would recommend racking it into a secondary fermenter to get it off the dead yeast. Also if you have a kegerator you can crash it in there after you rack it and it will keep even longer I've found.

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Old 10-19-2011, 07:24 PM   #8
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Thank you gang! So just for safety sake, does all this good advise aply to my cider going right now? I mean, I if get to F. G. then all the fermentable sugars are gone, and adding sugar to prime is safe? I only ask because there is a lot of sugar in this apple juice... I guess I am worried that my yeast chills out and takes a nap, but has left some sweet apple super behind. Then I come home and see no fermentation and prime and bottle. yeast wakes up because of the racking and well boom. (if I seem overly worried about that it is because I think if my wife cleans up glass and sticky alcohol, than its the end of brewing)

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Old 10-19-2011, 10:44 PM   #9
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Do you have a hydrometer? That is really the best way to determine when your beer, or cider in this case, is done fermenting. If you get a consistent reading over a few days, say after 2-3 weeks, and possibly longer for a cider as I am not too sure how long it takes for cider, then you can be a little more confident you will not create bottle bombs. Another alternative is to get plastic PET bottles. They are much less likely to explode since the plastic is flexible, the only thing you will need to worry about then is if they turn rock hard, be careful when you open them up.

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Old 10-20-2011, 02:09 AM   #10
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Seconding the hydrometer. Final gravity doesn't necessarily mean it's done. When your readings are consistent for a few days, your yeast have done their job to the best of their ability. At that point, the likelihood of bottle bombs is determined by your ability to measure priming sugar

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