I am brewing a Russian Imperial Stout (my first time brewing too). It says to primary ferment for 5-7 days, then to secondary in the glass carboy! However, much of what I've read says to leave it in the primary for two weeks. What should I do??
Kit instructions tend to be pretty bad and they tend to use the same instructions regardless of the beer you are making. Being a RIS, this should be a "big beer' with lots of fermentables and a fairly high alcohol content when completed. It will take more time than the lower gravity beers because of the extra amount of fermentables and the fact that the yeast work slower as the alcohol content goes up. I'd leave this in the primary fermenter for at least 3 weeks and perhaps 4 or more depending on the temperature where it is fermenting and what the hydrometer showed at the end of 3 weeks.
There is no real rush to move this beer to secondary. Indeed, there is reason not to. It needs that big yeast cake to complete the ferment and get the byproducts cleaned up.
i recently drank an RIS that was in the primary for 5 days, not secondaried, and bottle aged for 7 months. delicious. i think you'll find similar beer regardless of when you take it off the yeast, so long as primary fermentation has stopped.
__________________ Vessel - a 7.1 gallon stainless steel fermenter