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Old 10-20-2008, 07:22 PM   #1
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Default Conditioning Time...

I'll preface this one with the fact that I've done a search and FAQ perusing, and am just looking for some direct feedback.

I'm on my first brew, an Oatmeal Stout. I've been told for the purpose of conditioning to leave in the primary for 3 to 4 weeks (on the yeast cake). A source that seemed fairly credible was quoted in the FAQ as saying 3 weeks is probably a safe maximum for primary conditioning...any longer than that and off-flavors can form.

So I suppose my question is, will 3 weeks in the primary be enough conditioning time? I don't have a secondary for this time around, so that's not really an option. And with the stout, I'm obviously not concerned with clarity (the more opaque the better, in my opinion). For future reference, is 3 weeks then bottling a decent staple to go by for ales and stouts?


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Old 10-20-2008, 07:36 PM   #2
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The reason to take it off the cake is yeast autolysis, but at three weeks you are in NO danger of that. The real thing to be concerned with before bottling is to be sure that you are done fermenting - taking hydrometer readings for a few days where there is no decrease in gravity is a great indicator. Of course, you will want to be close to your FG, too! You can condition as long as you need in the bottle.

For my own brews, I generally follow the 3-2-1, or 5,1 rule. 3 weeks primary, 2 weeks secondary, one week keg, or 5 weeks primary, one week keg. Of course, that one week in the keg is usually more like a month or two in the keg, since I have a pretty deep stash at this point.


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Old 10-20-2008, 07:43 PM   #3
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Of course, that one week in the keg is usually more like a month or two in the keg, since I have a pretty deep stash at this point.
I agree with Jester...3 weeks is NOTHING! And I am jealous of his stash!
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Old 10-20-2008, 10:24 PM   #4
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So would 3 weeks be adequate for primary conditioning, or go longer? From what I've read, 3 weeks is a happy medium between getting conditioning done (ie: having the yeast consume the by-products), and avoiding off-flavors. I planned on three weeks in the primary and three weeks in bottles before sampling. Sound kosher?
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Old 10-21-2008, 02:09 AM   #5
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3 weeks in primary should be enough for most beers, but I doubt 4 weeks will give you any off flavors. Of course it will also condition further in the bottles so either way you'll have beer.
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Old 10-21-2008, 02:17 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pelikan View Post
So I suppose my question is, will 3 weeks in the primary be enough conditioning time? I don't have a secondary for this time around, so that's not really an option. And with the stout, I'm obviously not concerned with clarity (the more opaque the better, in my opinion). For future reference, is 3 weeks then bottling a decent staple to go by for ales and stouts?
I go with a minimum of two weeks in primary but I like to allow more time for bigger beers or Belgians since Belgians are pokey.

For an oatmeal stout I'd be doing exactly what you are doing. Three weeks, and carefully rack to the keg or bottling bucket to avoid sucking up sediment. Then I'd give it a week to chill/carb before tapping, or 3-4 weeks in bottles before refrigerating one week.

I just racked my 9-9-9 barleywine to a carboy this weekend after 5 weeks in the primary. It'll sit in the secondary until I want the carboy back, at which point I'll toss in the oak, wait a week, and keg it. The yeast cake at the bottom of the primary was fairly dark (darker yeast means less energy reserves left, and the closer to autolysis) but I would estimate I could have gone another 3-4 weeks before trouble would have started. With a smaller beer the yeast are less stressed so autolysis is even less of a concern.
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Old 10-21-2008, 02:24 AM   #7
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Don't get freak about the "Bogey man" called autolysis. Out of 100 batches or so, probably half of them stayed in the primary 4 weeks.

This spring and summer life got in the way of many of my brews. My Abbey Triple stayed in primary 3 months - turned out fantastic. Stella clone in primary for 2 months - tastes just like Stella. (BTW, the Stella was at my friend non-temp controlled house.) The ESB in primary 10 weeks - racked to secondary and tastes great.

You would have to leave your beers on the trub for many months with out of control temperatures before you have to worry about autolysis. High temps can give you off flavors but that can happen whether you leave it a week or a month in primary.
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Old 10-21-2008, 02:47 AM   #8
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Then I'd give it a week to chill/carb before tapping, or 3-4 weeks in bottles before refrigerating one week.
I very much appreciate all the info, extremely helpful. When you say 3-4 weeks in bottles, and one week refrigeration, do you put them all in the fridge at the same time? For example, I don't drink much beer, and couldn't imagine needing more than a few in the fridge at any given time. Would it be required to put them all in there at once? Why the 1 week chill time?

Thanks again
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Old 10-21-2008, 02:53 AM   #9
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Longer chill time compacts the yeast on the bottom of the bottle as well as helps the CO2 absorb into the beer.

You don't have to chill them all. I usually only have a 6er in the fridge and keep the rest on the beer shelf.
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Old 10-21-2008, 02:59 AM   #10
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Ahh, a very good reason for everything. I wish I could buy you guys a round!


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