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Old 02-10-2011, 01:33 AM   #1
Alsace
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Default Ordinary Bitter - How Long in Primary?

Hi All,

I brewed an ordinary bitter yesterday (actually finished today at 2 am!) and it is bubbling away in the ale pails. I know this is one of the faster maturing beers out there and in fact I chose to brew it because my recent brews are more high gravity/roasty and they need more time -- and I need something to drink in the meantime! I want to take it grain to glass pretty quick but I don't want to end up with butter beer, etc. I know a lot of people on HBT advocate a 3-4 primary for most beers, but I'm hoping I can get away with less than that.

Assuming I've hit my final gravity in 4-5 days, will the yeast have cleaned everything up one week from now? 10 days? 2 weeks? What do you all do for your ordinary bitters? I'm thinking I'll go closer to 10-14 days, but i'd love to hear some other opinons.

I brewed it all grain (OG 1.040) and I have it fermenting in two separate buckets -- one with WLP002 and one with Safale 04. I got really good hot and cold breaks and whirlpooled, so I'm thinking the beer should brighten up pretty quick.

Thanks!


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Old 02-10-2011, 02:09 AM   #2
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I've been testing my brews after two weeks for SG (see if it's at the FG target, or where it is relative to that) and flavors. Give it another few days, or a week, and test again. If the SG has remained the same, taste it again. If it tastes good, then bottle/keg it up. No harm in letting it go a little longer though.

I plan any <1.070 brew for 2-4 weeks on the yeast. Over 1.070 I have been planning 1-4 months on the yeast. Ultimately, though, as long as the SG is within the target area, and remains constant, taste will tell you when it's ready. You want to be sure it tastes ready to be bottled before you go through all that.

If you're uncertain, then get a second opinion on the brew. I would go to someone else that also brews, so that you're asking someone that also has a baseline for how things should be when they're ready...

Do keep in mind, that yeast marches to the beat of an epileptic drummer...

These methods have been helping me to make better and better brews...


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Old 02-10-2011, 02:18 AM   #3
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You're probably right about tasting to know when it's ready. Assuming I'm not feeling particularly lazy I'll do that. I am hoping to get this bottled asap though because I know you can get away with a fairly quick grain to glass with this style of beer and I don't have anything drinkable right now.
Thanks for your ideas.
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Old 02-10-2011, 02:35 AM   #4
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I left my bitter on the yeast for two weeks. It's been bottled for 4 days and is already clearing, so may be ready do drink around day 10.
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Old 02-10-2011, 02:39 AM   #5
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I feel your pain from not having anything ready for drinking... I didn't start additional batches soon enough after my first two, so there's been a long delay between then and having more ready for drinking... I have an English IPA that's almost ready (will be 3 weeks in bottles on Sunday). I have an Irish Red Ale that's been in bottles for almost two weeks now (taking some to a family party on Saturday anyway). I bottled a barleywine last Sunday, but that won't be ready for at least a month or two. The Boddington's Pub Ale clone was started almost two weekends ago (will be two weeks come Saturday) so it's going to be on the yeast for at least another week or two. I AM brewing on Sunday, so that I maintain my 2 week interval.

Do yourself a huge favor... IF you have some space to allocate, get more primaries... Have enough to have three or four batches running at the same time. That way, you can brew every two weeks and maintain your pipeline to a happy level. It also means that you can also have one 'big brew' running while you continue to brew for daily drinking...

I need to get one more primary in order to do that, myself. I'm also going to get a few more corny's to use for long term aging of big beers. I could use the corny I'm using to age an old ale for another primary, within a few more weeks. It's been aging on oak until now... I plan on checking on it this weekend to see where it's at. If it's closer to being ready, I'll get bottles next week and bottle it up on the weekend. Then it will be time to plan my next 'big brew' batch...

The fun just NEVER STOPS!!! Well, until you're horizontal from having too much good home brew (if you can ever really have 'too much')
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Old 02-10-2011, 02:41 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El_Exorcisto View Post
I left my bitter on the yeast for two weeks. It's been bottled for 4 days and is already clearing, so may be ready do drink around day 10.
Chances are, it would have cleared just as well, if not better (not as much bottle trub) if you had left it for another week on the yeast cake.

General rule: 3 weeks at 70F for bottle conditioning/carbonating... Test after 2 weeks if you can't wait, then again at 3 weeks... There will be times when you need to let brews go longer...
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Old 02-10-2011, 03:14 AM   #7
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golddiggie, I mean clearing after refermentation in the bottle. The beer from the bucket was crystal clear going into bottles. It rings in at a whopping 3.5% ABV, so it didn;t take the yeast long to chew through it.
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Old 02-10-2011, 03:04 PM   #8
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I've just recently brewed a special bitter and bottled after 2 weeks. The beer didn't have any off flavors and I have almost no yeast sediment in the bottles. If you get a good fermentation going at the right temperature, and use a yeast with very good flocculation characteristics (both S-04 and WLP002 are), there is no reason you can't bottle a good clean beer in two weeks. But it's important you take gravity readings and taste your beer to check if its done.

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Old 02-11-2011, 04:33 PM   #9
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Thanks for your reply. Glad to hear that worked out well. It does seem like under good fermentation conditions and the right yeast you should be able to bottle a small beer in 2 weeks assuming you've checked taste and gravity.
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Old 02-11-2011, 07:01 PM   #10
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Check out the 10der & Mild project from a couple of years ago. We did an English Mild swap where the challenge was to produce an excellent beer that went from grain to glass in 10 days. That's NOT 10 days in primary. That's 10 days to a carbonated, bottled product. I will say that mine was pretty damn spectacular, as were the ones I received.

I make a lot of low gravity beers, especially English beers under 1.040. The last one I made went 14 days in the fermenter, the last couple of which were in a fridge to clear the beer. It took 1st in English Ales at the Piedmont Brewer's Cup. Not trying to be self aggrandizing (or not much anyway ) but beers like this don't require or even benefit from weeks and weeks of sitting on the yeast. There is another thread, British Yeasts, Fermentation, etc. which points out that extended time on the yeast can diminish some of the British character of the beer.

In short, check it at 10-12 days. If it's at terminal gravity and doesn't taste like butterscotch, crash cool it and keg it. If it still needs to drop a point or two, let it go a full 14 days and check it again.


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