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Old 08-01-2011, 09:39 PM   #1
Gopher40
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Default Secondary for Imperial Stout??

Whether to secondary or not is an endless topic. How necessary is it for an Imperial Stout. I will be brewing my Morebeer extract kit in the next few days, and would like some opinions on the need for a secondary.

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Old 08-01-2011, 09:52 PM   #2
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There are a lot of people that secondary, and a lot that don't. There aren't really any benefits per se of either, other than that not secondarying means that you don't need to spend time sanitizing and racking a second time. The so-called "off flavors" from dead yeast particles are now widely accepted as a thing of the past (due to the high quality of yeast products now out there), though that used to be the main argument for using secondaries. Nowadays, people will just use secondaries to clear their beer or to add flavors, like dry hops or fruit. There are no disadvantages to secondary (other than the off chance that you are careless and oxidize your beer), so if you are worried about yeast-derived off flavors, just do secondary.

The real issue of importance here is bulk aging. For sours and higher gravity beers (and lagers), it is of great advantage to age your entire batch of beer in the same vessel (fermenter) rather than bottling it too soon. So, if you are like me and have both a 6.5 and a 5 gallon carboy, it is sometimes a good idea to secondary just to free up your bigger fermenter for the krausen space that is required in primary fermentation.

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Old 08-02-2011, 06:05 AM   #3
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For a big beer like an imperial if you have the spare carboy and space, you should rack it to the secondary and let it do most of it's aging there. Most people I know will secondary a big beer like that for 2-3 weeks and then they need that carboy for something else so they bottle/keg and let it continue to age. Actually, aging in a keg is the best choice as you can purge all the oxygen from the head space and let it sit for as many weeks/months as you want w/o the worry of oxygenation.

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Old 08-02-2011, 11:20 AM   #4
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I tend to stay in the primary for 4 weeks and then with something like an Imperial it will hang out in secondary for another month or three.

But this is one of the rare times I use a secondary - i too want my primary free....

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Old 08-02-2011, 01:07 PM   #5
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I'd want to age a RIS for a while - months - so I would use a secondary. Don't be too quick to push this beer along. I've found bigger, darker beers really benefit from bulk aging. I've had an "Imperial" porter (~10% ABV) aging for about 5 months now and while I don't think the 5 months have been truly necessary, I am pretty sure this is going to be one hell of a good beer. I knew I wanted to age it for at least a couple of months, but then I just kept putting off bottling it because I knew it would be OK and I could attend to other things - like brewing and bottling "regular" beers. A big, dark beer like a RIS 1) can benefit from an extended aging period, and 2) can handle the extended aging without a problem (assuming you keep the air lock filled).

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Old 08-02-2011, 01:19 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JLem View Post
I'd want to age a RIS for a while - months - so I would use a secondary. Don't be too quick to push this beer along. I've found bigger, darker beers really benefit from bulk aging. I've had an "Imperial" porter (~10% ABV) aging for about 5 months now and while I don't think the 5 months have been truly necessary, I am pretty sure this is going to be one hell of a good beer. I knew I wanted to age it for at least a couple of months, but then I just kept putting off bottling it because I knew it would be OK and I could attend to other things - like brewing and bottling "regular" beers. A big, dark beer like a RIS 1) can benefit from an extended aging period, and 2) can handle the extended aging without a problem (assuming you keep the air lock filled).
Great advice. I pushed a RIS to quickly out of primary and never hit final gravity. My RIS was in secondary for 4 months before I bottled and will age in bottles until December. About 11 months from brew day to drinking.
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Old 08-02-2011, 01:37 PM   #7
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Great advice. I pushed a RIS to quickly out of primary and never hit final gravity. My RIS was in secondary for 4 months before I bottled and will age in bottles until December. About 11 months from brew day to drinking.
11 months from brewing to drinking is something I plan on for at least 1 beer a year (this year's is the aforementioned porter, plus I'm experimenting with a sour beer this year as well). The key, of course, is to have enough other beers brewed and ready during those 11 months!
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Old 08-02-2011, 02:36 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by JLem View Post
11 months from brewing to drinking is something I plan on for at least 1 beer a year (this year's is the aforementioned porter, plus I'm experimenting with a sour beer this year as well). The key, of course, is to have enough other beers brewed and ready during those 11 months!
Pipeline is key here. Get a few going, brew your big beer and then get more quick turn around beers going.
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