8 weeks to contest. What's the best use of the time?

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Belmont

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Yesterday I brewed a Strong Scotch Ale that I'm entering in a contest that judges 8 weeks from now. How do I get the most out the time? I was thinking 2 weeks primary, 2 weeks secondary, 4 weeks in the bottle or swap out 1 week in secondary for another week in the bottle or primary. This beer wasn't as high gravity as I was hoping. OG was just 1.072 but still in the range for the style. I pitched two smack packs of 1338 European and each were in a half-liter starter for 18 hours before pitching. I pitched at 74F and let it get started. There was already action by that night so I started cooling it via condensation in the bathtub. Today it is at 64F but I can't get it any cooler even though it should be for this kind of beer. I've heard that these beers can take a long time to ferment but a large part of that is due to the high gravity(which I'm barely in) and colder fermentation temp(which I'm not as low as recommended). This is a 5.5 gallon batch. It's fermenting in a glass carboy with a blow off hose. I threw in a white labs Servomyces in the boil too. I think I aerated pretty well via splash during transfer and shaking after it was in but it didn't foam like a lot of my beers do.

Any advice? Did I leave anything out that you need to know?
 

ifishsum

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I'd stick with your original 2-2-4 plan myself. That's pretty much my normal schedule and it's a rare brew that isn't good and ready in that amount of time.
 

GreenwoodRover

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I assume you are bottle carbing, so hence the long bottle time.
If you can force carb I would extend the primary to 4-5weeks and rack to secondary for a crash cool then force carb.
Not to be an a$$, but I would hold onto it for a comeptition later on, or at the least do a side by side competition (the one 8 weeks from now and one maybe a month ot two later) comparison to see how it has improved with age.
 

carnevoodoo

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I'd agree. If you're rushing it, the beer won't come out as good and with a big beer, you need time. You're going to end up turning in a pretty green beer and that will be reflected in your scores.
 

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A strong scotch ale for a contest? In only 8 weeks???

BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

Sorry, but I don't think you can pull it off...I brewed a Belgian Strong Ale, It's been in the bottle for about 5 or 6 weeks, and it still tastes like rocket fuel....and it's barely carbed yet.

Higher grav beers take time....You want a beer you enter in a contest to be at it's best if you are entering it. And pushing it is not the best process....

A wise brewer last year told be something interesting...He said, "Don't brew your beer for a contest. Instead brew the best beer possible, and then when it's ready, decide if it's good enough to enter."

Considering I leave my beers for a month in primary so they are at their best in terms of clarity and crispness, then I know it's gonna be 3 weeks @ 70 degrees (minimum for a Normal Grav Beer, eight weeks is just not a window I would feel comfortable with for a higher grav beer.

You gotta leave plenty of time for bottle carbing and conditioning unless you are kegging and bottling from there....and that you can't "push." It's gonna take as long as it needs to to be ready....

Good Luck....But before you drop them off, be sure it's where you want it in terms of flavor....

:mug:
 
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Belmont

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Ok. So no one thinks that's enough time. Wow. I've never given any of my beers that much time. The beer I brew drank pretty good don't it? :) Sorry for the insulting question I suppose. I didn't think it sounded outlandish to get this done. I'll definitely leave some bottles out of the fridge to condition for longer. But I am going to enter it just to get judge feedback. I just have some friends who say, "that's good beer" every time so I'd like to hear from someone with more experience. I really brew for myself and have been happy with what I've been brewing in many cases. I'm just entering for the feedback and experience.

Sooo... that brings me back to the real question I had which was what the best way to maximize the time was. Any other ideas or does everyone seem to think this is just going to suck after 8 weeks?
 

Revvy

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Ok. So no one thinks that's enough time. Wow. I've never given any of my beers that much time. The beer I brew drank pretty good don't it? :) Sorry for the insulting question I suppose. I didn't think it sounded outlandish to get this done. I'll definitely leave some bottles out of the fridge to condition for longer. But I am going to enter it just to get judge feedback. I just have some friends who say, "that's good beer" every time so I'd like to hear from someone with more experience. I really brew for myself and have been happy with what I've been brewing in many cases. I'm just entering for the feedback and experience.

Sooo... that brings me back to the real question I had which was what the best way to maximize the time was. Any other ideas or does everyone seem to think this is just going to suck after 8 weeks?

It's not an insulting question, it's a good one....but it's the truth, higher grav beer often take longer to carb and bottle condition than lower ones...Heck it take 4-6 weeks for most of my stouts and porters to come up to snuff.

Like I said my Belgian Strong Ale is still a LOOONG way from being drinkable. I wouldn't think of brewing something like that and expecting it to be ready in such a tight timeframe.

If you were brewing something like an amber or pale ale, something no higher than 1.060 or so, I would Primary it for a month, then bottle it, and after three weeks in the bottle I would see, and pray that if it weren't carbed or conditioned, it would be before the delivery date on the 8th week....but for me and contests, I like a 10 week minimum window so if it need 4-6 weeks to carb and condition I have it...

Heck, I have some stuff I brewed in November that I am hoping will be great come summer contest season... A contest is a place to showcase your best work...so I want it to be my best work.

If you haven't read my blog on Bottle conditioning...

Revvy's Blog- "Of Patience & Bottle Conditioning.

All I was saying is you are cutting it awfully close for a strong beer. Closer than I would consider.
 

GreenwoodRover

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Didn't mean to rain on your parade, you did post a what's the best use of time so i'll give my $0.02.

I would primary for at least one month. Then gelatin fine it for one week (if it's dark enough I would skip it). Bottle it up and hope it's carb'd in three weeks.
To help speed the carbing I would gently rouse (ie swirl) the bottles every other day for a week or two and make sure they were at 70F minimum.
 

carnevoodoo

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Didn't mean to rain on your parade, you did post a what's the best use of time so i'll give my $0.02.

I would primary for at least one month. Then gelatin fine it for one week (if it's dark enough I would skip it). Bottle it up and hope it's carb'd in three weeks.
To help speed the carbing I would gently rouse (ie swirl) the bottles every other day for a week or two and make sure they were at 70F minimum.

I would disagree with adding finings. At a month in primary you wouldn't need them. Or cold crash if you can. I don't like using finings and I get clear beer just fine.
 

GreenwoodRover

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^Agreed,
Usually my long primaries and/or darker brews don;t need them, but if it looks hazy it wouldn't hurt, I'd hate to get docked a few points for not to style haze...
 

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What would be an ideal time in the primary then? My FES was 1.071 OG. I see at least a month, which I was planning on, but what would be best? I am entering a contest in August so I have a fair amount of time to bottle condition it.
 

Matt Up North

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I will agree with everyone above if you are bottle conditioning. There is just that chance that the bottles won't finish carbing, smoothing out and coming back together in time. If you were kegging and then pressure filling I would say that you have enough time to make two batches ;) That said, go with what Revvy said and brew a great beer that you are on the last three bottles because you couldn't keep your hands off it. Then submit those!

I was told by a fellow that I should enter my IPA, but I want to drink it and if other people say that it is good beer, then that is good enough for me. Meh, I'm the pacifist, non competitive type though so no help here, unless you critique my beer or woman and then I will beat the crap outta yah! Oh and at ribs too, don't challenge those!
 

Revvy

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What would be an ideal time in the primary then? My FES was 1.071 OG. I see at least a month, which I was planning on, but what would be best? I am entering a contest in August so I have a fair amount of time to bottle condition it.

I'd do a month primary and bottle and let the condition.
 
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Belmont

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I'd do a month primary and bottle and let the condition.

What if the FG is reached in 10 days? Let's say you took a reading at day 7 and another at dayy 10 and it didn't change. Should you still let it sit? I thought I'd read somewhere(Papazian?) that after two weeks, sitting on the sediment and the krausen can negatively affect the beer.

Hope I didn't just hijack my own thread, but I am trying to understand this for this beer too. :)

If anyone else has more on topic comments, by all means post them as well.
 

Matt Up North

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Revvy waits for a month on the yeast in primary without adverse flavors for him. Don't go too fast though as it can get messed up inadvertently. I didn't leave my dry stout long enough and got a lovely diacetyl in it ;)
 
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Belmont

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I thought diacetyl was caused by under-pitching which I've done on almost all of my beers. With this one I pitched two packets in a starter. I should get a full fermentation pretty quickly. It was bubbling once per second 8 hours after pitching and was two per second at 16 hours and is still going like mad. I've never used this strain so it may take longer to finish and I usually don't try to get my fermentation this low in temp because it's a PITA for what I have available. But what Matt is saying is that this will clean up the beer like a diacetyl rest for a lager correct?
 

carnevoodoo

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I thought diacetyl was caused by under-pitching which I've done on almost all of my beers. With this one I pitched two packets in a starter. I should get a full fermentation pretty quickly. It was bubbling once per second 8 hours after pitching and was two per second at 16 hours and is still going like mad. I've never used this strain so it may take longer to finish and I usually don't try to get my fermentation this low in temp because it's a PITA for what I have available. But what Matt is saying is that this will clean up the beer like a diacetyl rest for a lager correct?

No, diacetyl is something that is produced in every fermentation. If the yeast is not given enough time to clean up the beer (yeast cells will absorb diacetyl) then you can be left with diacetyl regardless of the amount of yeast pitched.
 

KYB

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I'd do a month primary and bottle and let the condition.

Great, thanks. One more thing, I've formulated an IIPA and decided I want to brew that soon. Should I do that 2 weeks primary and 2 weeks secondary, or something different? I'd like it to be real clear as I will probably enter that into the same comp in August, primarily for feedback, but shooting for a better score can't hurt.
 

BierMuncher

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Yesterday I brewed a Strong Scotch Ale that I'm entering in a contest that judges 8 weeks from now.

One more thing, I've formulated an IIPA and decided I want to brew that soon....I'd like it to be real clear as I will probably enter that into the same comp in August, primarily for feedback, but shooting for a better score can't hurt.

Ummm...

I'm not sure what calendar you're using, but August ain't in 8 weeks. :D

If you're brewing huge beers in a hurry for a competition...you might want to get your expectations in line:

ScoreBars.jpg
 

KYB

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Ummm...

I'm not sure what calendar you're using, but August ain't in 8 weeks. :D

If you're brewing huge beers in a hurry for a competition...you might want to get your expectations in line:

Hah, nooo. I was referring to my post before that. I don't know what comp the OP is talking about, but I want to enter my beers into the KY State Fair Homebrew Comp in August. I know I have plenty of time, but am curious about primary and secondary times on my IIPA. Even if I think my beers taste great, I'm wouldn't expect a high score. I am doing it for the feedback mainly, and hopefully I can modify and improve my recipes to make them taste even better.
 

Revvy

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What if the FG is reached in 10 days? Let's say you took a reading at day 7 and another at dayy 10 and it didn't change. Should you still let it sit? I thought I'd read somewhere(Papazian?) that after two weeks, sitting on the sediment and the krausen can negatively affect the beer.

Hope I didn't just hijack my own thread, but I am trying to understand this for this beer too. :)

If anyone else has more on topic comments, by all means post them as well.

Here's my stock answer to this....Ctrl-v

I like many of us leave our Ales in 3-4 weeks....

One thing to remember is that Papazian, as wonderful as it is, was written 30 years ago...and a lot of "science" or "common wisdom" that he as an author tapped into has evolved....all authors face this issue with their work.

Charlie Papazian said it But he might not necessarily say it now....see the difference?

His basic info is timeless....how to brew beer, figure out recipes, etc...but some of the info is just a reflection of the "opinions," or prevailing wisdom of the times, and may not even reflect his current beliefs...There's a podcast with Papazian from a year or so ago, where he talks about just having started using rice hulls in his mash ton...so if he doesn't update the book again, or write a new one, unless you've heard the podcast or read it on here, you won't KNOW about it.

Here's a good example John Palmer basically admits that what he wrote about IBU's in How to brew, was esentially "wrong" or at least outdated in light of new science...

March 20, 2008 - What Is an IBU . . . Really?
John Palmer, author of How to Brew, shares information from a conference that challenged his concept of what defines an International Bitterness Unit (IBU).

http://media.libsyn.com/media/basicbrewing/bbr03-20-08ibu.mp3

I cite that podcast as an example of how the knowlegebase shifts so fast in this hobby because of places like this or podcasts...A book is a snapshot of the author's body of knowlege and the "common wisdom" at the time the author wrote the book, which may mean 3 years before it was even published. Papazian's book is 30+ years old. The basic knowlege is good, but brewing science and experience has progressed to where some things an author believes or says at that time may no-longer be valid...even to the author.

Most of the time when someone "revises" a book they don't necessarilly "re-write" the entire thing...and unless they annotated the changes, often all a "revised" edition has to make it up to date is a new introduction, and maybe the addition or removal of some things. But Rarely is a revision in a book a serious comb through of the entire book.

If an author plans to devote months to an extensive revision, they more than likely would just write a new book anyway.

And it's usually done for money or simply to get it back into the marketplace after a long lag..Sometimes a revised edition is simply a new cover or a different shaped book (like a trade paperback.) With a new intro and conclusion tagged on...

So there's really no way to know too much how updated the book was..I mean my copy is the 2002 edition iirc, and the photos are still pretty much have the look of bygone times.

I mean I look at my own writings, including my E-book on spirituality, it was written back in 1999-2000, and a lot of my beliefs and ideas have shifted about things in the 8 years...I am not the same person that I was when I wrote it....And neither is Charlie Papazian the same brewer he is now...like I said, he just discovered rice hulls last year.

In that Podcast, Palmer basically contradicts in some was what he wrote in HTB...and I bet it will be reflected in his subsequent writings, but if he doesn't go back and revise HTB, and people don't read or listen to anything by him after, than they won't realize that the knowlegebase has already shifted...

In terms of long primaring, back then, yeah autolysis WAS the big fear at the time of Papazian, someone said this week it may have been a reflection of the oldier and crappier yeasts in the pre-prohibition days.....

Also what is of concern to commercial brewers of light lagers (by the way to lager means to store for a great length of time) or lager brewers in general doesn't necessarily apply to ales...or doesn't apply for a few weeks (or even a couple months of a healthy yeast cake.)

But things, like science, and even the yeasts themselves have changed, and we by our OWN experience have witnessed how much better our beer is when we've left it alone in primary for 2-4 weeks.

Rememeber Papazian was writing his book from right around that time period, when yeasts cake in dry cakes and may not have even been stored properly, and many people just placed towles and cookie sheets on their ceramic crock pot fermenters.

It is podcasts and forums like this where you will find a lot more state of the art, or current views, and even scientific information...I mean if Jamil, John Palmer or Papazian even farts on a podcast, one of us beergeeks are going to start a thread on it within 10 minutes.

Speaking of Palmer...Here's what HE says on the subject...

Leaving an ale beer in the primary fermentor for a total of 2-3 weeks (instead of just the one week most canned kits recommend), will provide time for the conditioning reactions and improve the beer. This extra time will also let more sediment settle out before bottling, resulting in a clearer beer and easier pouring. And, three weeks in the primary fermentor is usually not enough time for off-flavors to occur.

and this from him,

As a final note on this subject, I should mention that by brewing with healthy yeast in a well-prepared wort, many experienced brewers, myself included, have been able to leave a beer in the primary fermenter for several months without any evidence of autolysis.

He also says some good stuff on the subject here as well...https://www.homebrewtalk.com/928229-post5.html


So hope this helps you understand that no author, even Papazian exists in a vacuum..ANd what he wrote relfected HIS and many beliefs at the time of writing. Bit NOT necessarily the prevailing wisdom or knowlege today...No book, (ahem, Not even the Bible, is etched in stone.

:D

I joined the long primary camp, precisely because of my contest scores last summer....I kept getting feedback and higher scores for the beers that long primaried....They were described as "jewell like" and "crisp and clean tasting."
 

BierMuncher

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What if the FG is reached in 10 days? Let's say you took a reading at day 7 and another at dayy 10 and it didn't change. Should you still let it sit? I thought I'd read somewhere(Papazian?) that after two weeks, sitting on the sediment and the krausen can negatively affect the beer.

Hope I didn't just hijack my own thread, but I am trying to understand this for this beer too. :)

If anyone else has more on topic comments, by all means post them as well.

It takes a very long time for the yeast to do anything negative to your beer...I'm talking many months.

Do yourself a favor and just plan on a minimum of three weeks in a primary and a week in a secondary with some gelatin to help clarify the beer. Do this with all your beers and you'll be a better brewer.
 

Matt Up North

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What Biermuncher says, plus there is no reason to secondary in my opinion unless you are going to geletin fine it. The yeast cleans up a whole bunch. And you get a lot of diacetyl from a shorter primary on a cooler note. So if you are fermenting cooler then you will want to warm up the fermenter after about two days of fermenting (or according to Revvy, go down in temperature) so that you are up from 62 to 68. That will help to rid your beer of the Big D if you are fermenting quickly. Otherwise, just leave it on the yeast longer and it will clean itself up well.
 

GreenwoodRover

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Gelatin is a fining agent (it helps the beer look clear). You can get clear beer with time and cold conditioning, gelatin is just a quicker way to reach that end. Most people can't "taste" haze in their beer anyway, its' more of a visual thing.

Boil 1-1.5 cups H2O and let it cool to room temp. Add a tablespoon of gelatin to let it bloom for about 20-30min. Heat to just under boil temp 150-180 ish is fine (DON'T BOIL) for about 10min. then cover and let cool again to room temp. I pour it over beer in a secondary and let it do it's thing for about 3-5days then rack to a bottling bucket. I secondary in a glass carboy so I can get a pretty good feel for the clearing. If I have 7-10 days putting it inot a 34F accomplishes the same end.
 
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