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Old 11-06-2008, 03:59 PM   #1
Aug 2008
Urbana, IL
Posts: 39

I understand that you should bottle after the beer has cleared in your secondary, but how do you know when? Are you going to be able to see completely through the carboy? Can certain beers clear to a point and then your just wasting your time by letting it sit longer? I guess my question is when to bottle/keg after secondary clearing? I've made two batches of beer (English brown ale, and an American Pale Ale) and they both had the same dark brown color that doesn't seem to clear. Is commercial beer a good indication of what a beer should look like that is "clear"? i.e. flat tire, new castle, or sierra nevada? Thanks for all the help, this website has been a tremendous help and brewing beer is just awesome!

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Old 11-06-2008, 04:06 PM   #2
shecky's Avatar
May 2008
Watertown, CT
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You can't bottle or keg based on how clear beer is necessarily. Dark beer viewed in a full-volume carboy is going to be almost impossible to see through. Take a hydrometer reading to let you know when it's time to bottle/keg. If you've hit your FG, go for it.

Clearing will take place in bottles, especially after they're chilled. Clear beer really isn't an indication of good beer. It's really only useful for aesthetic purposes, ie impressing your friends or entering competitions.

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Old 11-06-2008, 04:50 PM   #3
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Aug 2006
Whitehouse Station, NJ
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You can "kind of" see how clear the beer is. Lighter beers will become less opaque in the carboy. Darker beers will actually appear to get darker since the particulate matter that settles out was previously more reflective in the column of beer. You'll see it stratify at first where the top portion is dark and the lower portion is light.
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Old 11-06-2008, 09:44 PM   #4
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Oct 2005
Oak Grove, Oregon, USA
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Clear in this case does not refer to the complete absence of color. If you are using carboys, there will be a very obvious settling of material. If you are using a translucent bucket, you have to watch the sediment layer near the bottom. When it stops getting thicker, bottle.

Or just give it 2 weeks.
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Old 11-06-2008, 09:50 PM   #5
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Feb 2008
Eastern Colorado
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Originally Posted by david_42 View Post
Or just give it 2 weeks.
I have to wonder if water quality and or elevation causes slow clearing of my brews. I do usually keg or bottle at 2 weeks, but I've never kegged or bottled really clear beer. I let it clear in the bottles, and always suspect that bottle aging is improved by the yeast that is still available in the bottle. Even meads and wine take a lot longer for me to fall clear than most people. I have plenty of mead that had not fallen clear at 2 months. The Leap Year Mead for example was cloudy for almost 6 months. It is crystal clear now, and I do expect a "Star Bright" final product....but it takes time.
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Old 11-07-2008, 11:59 AM   #6
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Nov 2007
Christiansted, St Croix, USVI, US Virgin Islands
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Commercial brews probably aren't the best indicator of what your beer should look like. The vast majority of commercial bottles contain beer that's been filtered instead of being allowed to 'drop bright' in a fermenter. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is an interesting example of a bottle-conditioned beer (at least it used to be).

[begin hijack]

Originally Posted by shecky View Post
Clear beer really isn't an indication of good beer. It's really only useful for aesthetic purposes, ie impressing your friends or entering competitions.
I respectfully disagree. Color and clarity are part of good brewing practice. A brewer should want his beer to be as good as it can be; if a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing well. Turbidity in a beer which should be bright indicates a problem with that brewer's process or patience.* I accept that a beer which should be clear - like American Pale Ale - being cloudy won't affect the flavor. I by no means accept that clarity means nothing; it is an indication of how much the brewer cares about his beer.

[end hijack]



* Process = haze problems due to process errors or inexperience; patience = not waiting long enough to drop bright before packaging
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Old 11-07-2008, 12:30 PM   #7
Oct 2008
Atlanta, GA
Posts: 80
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I've got a question that fits right in here with this topic: Let's say a beer has gone into secondary and has been there for 2 weeks. It appears to have done what it's supposed to have done there, hydromoter readings confirm this, and all looks good. At what point does addition aging in secondary stop improving the beer? In other words, if the goal is to make it as absolutely as good as possible, will additional aging beyond 2 weeks before kegging/botteling help?
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