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Old 07-20-2009, 07:25 PM   #1
stageseven
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Default Ideal time in secondary?

I'm sure this has been asked before, but multiple searches gave so many unrelated results that I gave up looking through them all. I know the 1-2-3 week schedule is generally accepted as sufficient for most beers, but I was wondering more what specific advantages there are to leaving beer in the secondary longer. I've seen a couple threads where people say the more patient the better off you are, and that beer can sit in a secondary for a couple of months and be fine, but I was wondering more what's the best length of time depending on style. Obviously beers like hefes that don't need to sit in a secondary at all don't benefit at all, but is there more of a benefit to leaving say a strong ale in secondary for longer than 2 weeks? Does the ABV of the beer affect the ideal time in a secondary?

The majority of the reason I'm asking is that I have a dubbel in secondary right now, and it's been there for 14 days, so I could just go ahead and bottle but I also could stand to leave it longer. Of course, if it doesn't make a difference I'd just go ahead and bottle so it can start carbing up. Thanks!

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Old 07-20-2009, 07:28 PM   #2
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So I generally like to let my beer sit in secondary for longer (especially for bigger beers and Belgians). This allows them to clear more and for the yeast to "cleanup" some. Add that to the fact that for most big beers, they have to age for a while anyway, I just let it age in secondary until I need the space.

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Old 07-20-2009, 07:28 PM   #3
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It'll be clearer and maybe a little cleaner.

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Old 07-20-2009, 07:48 PM   #4
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It really varies based on the beer, but for most common beers I don't secondary at all. I'd rather do 2 weeks in primary and 3 in the bottle/keg than 1-2-3 for most beers; ideally I usually do 3 weeks primary and 3 in bottle/keg.

With tough-to-clear lagers and really big beers I'll secondary (and crash-cool if I need to), as I will with things I'm dry-hopping or adding fruit/oak/etc to.

I have one hefeweizen that I've bottled after just a 1-week primary and was drinking 2 weeks later.

I did Northern Brewer's #8 Belgian strong dark ale, and it had 2 weeks in primary, 4 weeks in secondary, and then took 5 weeks in bottles to carb and another month to reach the "drinkable" stage. It's still aging in the basement 6 months later.

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Old 07-20-2009, 07:51 PM   #5
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The ideal time is from 2 weeks to 18 months.
Bulk aging makes for a clear, fine tasting beer. Longer is almost always better than shorter with a few exceptions. Three to four weeks is a good general amount of time.

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Old 07-20-2009, 07:56 PM   #6
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I use a primary fermenter for a month (4-5 weeks) and that's it. If I'm going to dry hop or store a big beer for an extended time (2-3 months) I'll use a secondary. It seems counter intuitive to to remove the beer from the yeast and then expect to get all the full benefit of yeast's cleaning capabilities.

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Old 07-20-2009, 08:00 PM   #7
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I wrote this blog dealing with secondary fermentations. I think bulk aging has many benefits and often leave my beers in the secondary for at least a month.

http://blogs.homebrewtalk.com/Boerderij_Kabouter/Secondary_fermentation_and_why_it_makes_me_crazy/

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Old 07-21-2009, 12:30 PM   #8
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Thanks for the replies. Your blog article was very informative Boerderij_Kabouter. I'll have to keep in mind next time to transfer to the carboy sooner to get more of the benefit of leaving it in the secondary. I'll leave the beer in the secondary for a few more weeks until I need the room for something else then.

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