Originally Posted by mangine77
Really??? I should wait this long now before bottling???
Yes. On every
beer you do, 3 weeks minimum in the primary. I've settled on about 4-5 weeks in the primary, depending upon my schedule. Then after that, leave your brews in the bottle for minimum
3 weeks for proper conditioning, then one week in the fridge for cold conditioning (if you don't, the CO2 won't dissolve into the beer properly, and you'll end up with a foamy mess, not to mention the fact that the tastes won't have properly mellowed and melded).
Darker beers can go much longer, 8 weeks++ in bottles plus fridge time. And keep in mind, these times are before the first one is cracked (so for a stout, about 2.5 months until the first cold beer is opened and consumed).
Like the former poster said, you can drink your beer whenever you want. Hell, you can drink it before it's finished fermenting. But as common sense dictates, it gets better with age. Granted, beer can get a little too old, especially in the case of hoppy beers, which should be consumed fairly quick after the proper conditioning time.
My basic rule is as follows: Regardless of style, 4ish weeks in the primary -- OR 3 weeks primary and 2 weeks secondary in the case of dry hopped/fruited beers.
Regarding bottle conditioning: For lighter beers and/or hoppy brews, 3-4 weeks in bottles, then 1 week in the fridge before the first one is cracked. Mediumish beers (reds, browns) 4-6 weeks in bottles, then 1 week in the fridge before the first is cracked. Dark beers (porters, stouts), 5-8 weeks bottles, 1 week fridge before the first is cracked. I should note that darker beers can age up to around a year and still improve, from what I gather. Barley wines can reputedly go decades or thereabouts. With the oatmeal and raspberry stouts I'm working on, I plan to put a few 22s away for 8-12 months and try them out.
All of the above considered, special occasions may
make me bend my bottle conditioning rules a little bit, but the primary/secondary times are set in stone as far as I'm concerned, unless there's a specific brew that requires longer
times, such as a barley wine. Bottles = no less than 3 weeks then 1 fridge under any circumstance, regardless of brew or occasion.