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Old 04-29-2008, 06:29 PM   #11
GilaMinumBeer's Avatar
Jan 2008
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IIRC, even in the commercial brewery unitanks it still takes up to something like 5 months before signs of autolysis begin to become evident. And in those tanks the pressures on the fallen yeast are much, much greater given the volumes. Not that pressure on the cell wall is a factor of autolysis.

If you arent familiar with Autolysis, read about it. In summary it's a function of the yeast depleting it's internal food stores (glycogen primarily) and then getting to a point where it digests itself. Okay, that is really summarized but, to the point.

Even White Labs ensures viability in their package for up to 4 months and remeber, the package has little to do with how hungry for how long the yeast go.

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Old 04-29-2008, 06:58 PM   #12
Mar 2007
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I'm starting to think that autolysis-practically speaking-is a myth so that we'll feel like we have something we need to do so as not to be bored. The only bad batches I've had were ones where I used a 2ndary (not necessarily the reason-but just saying). On the other hand, I've recently started doing 4-6 weeks in the primary, then right to the bottle. These beers have also ended up very clear, and tasted great.

I did have a batch of Apfelwein that I left in the primary for about 3 months (I'm a bad procrastinator). It did have a slight off-taste, but it wasn't sulfuric, and it seems to be fading. I guess I don't see a need to introduce more room for error by over-activity when the yeast know what they're doing and will do the work for me.

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Old 04-29-2008, 07:10 PM   #13
Sep 2007
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Originally Posted by BrewDey
I'm starting to think that autolysis-practically speaking-is a myth so that we'll feel like we have something we need to do so as not to be bored. The only bad batches I've had were ones where I used a 2ndary (not necessarily the reason-but just saying).
I think you may well be right on the autolysis as urban myth, at least on the timescale of most brewers. I would actively prefer to have my beer in primary for four weeks rather than two, if it wasn't so damn hard to be patient when waiting for beer.

Jamil has said that a common problem he had early on in his brewing career was racking to secondary too early, after only a week or so. As I understand his take on it, secondaries are not harmful in themselves - but if you use one too soon, you may get some undesirable flavors from fermentation byproducts that the yeast hasn't cleared up.
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Old 04-29-2008, 07:13 PM   #14
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Apr 2007
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Old 04-29-2008, 08:56 PM   #15
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Jan 2008
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JZ is the reason I won't ever use a secondary... w00t

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Old 04-29-2008, 09:23 PM   #16
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Jul 2006
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I'm suspicious that there is a mix-up (or mis-use) of terminology. I'm thinking that many people throw around the term autolysis, when in fact they are not talking about true autolysis, and then the people who define autolysis in the technical sense assume the others are talking about true autolysis, when they are not really, and then say no, there is no autolysis and the original user of the term is confused because they taste something. Make sense?

I maintain, that I can taste the difference in a beer that has sat on a lot of yeast for a month in primary, versus one that was transfered after one week to secondary. The yeast is not inert. If I toss a bunch of sterile marbles in, that won't affect the flavor, but I think a lot of yeast being present would. I find it hard to believe that 3 extra weeks sitting on a whole lot of yeast is not going to influence the flavor. Here's where the problem arises, some folks will incorrectly say the flavor change is due to autolysis, when this is not the case. Then the others will say, no, there is no autolysis, and therefore there is no difference in flavor, but the original person (who incorrectly used the term in question) felt they tasted something. The result - confusion and gnashing of teeth.

I like the flavor of yeast in a hefe weizen or wheat beer, but not in all of my beers. This is what I taste, not the byproducts of yeast dying, but the actual flavor of the yeast themselves. I think this would not be considered an off taste at all by many, but it is by others - well, at least by me. I don't want to taste yeast in a pale ale, I want clean malt and hop flavors.

So yes, autolysis is a myth, but that doesn't mean there aren't flavor changes due to other reasons.
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Old 04-29-2008, 09:47 PM   #17
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Sep 2007
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Maybe my palette isn't sensitive enough, but I've never noticed a specific unusual flavor from leaving my beers in the primary for a a long time. I've done this with several batches, and there's no one flavor that I noticed they all had.
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Old 04-29-2008, 11:19 PM   #18
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Feb 2007
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I always get my beer out of the primary shortly after it is done fermenting, no matter that time that takes. 3 days, 2 weeks, both are possible. The reason is 2 fold, one is I want to make more beer and only have one primary bucket. The second is I usually end up having my beer sit in the secondary waiting for a keg for a good 2 months or better waiting for an open spot in the kegerator, behind the other beers in secondary. It's pretty clear at that point and a week in the kegerater and it's just like it was filtered.
The two in my sig now I plan on being in secondary for at least 6 months maybe a year. No way I'm having them in the primary that long.

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