Any Risks in Bottling Slightly Early?

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Gee Tee

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I'm about to start a milk stout recipe from a Northern Brewer kit. It is 2 weeks primary fermentation and 2 weeks secondary (I'll be adding cacao nibs and some spices) before I bottle it. I usually give my fermentation an extra few days before bottling it just in case, but in this case I have to travel on the October 13th. If I bottle it a couple or three days early, are there any risks? Bottle bombs? the extra ingredients not blending right? the possibility of it being slightly watered down? Or should I not worry about bottling it 48-72 hours early?
 

FloppyKnockers

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A) As long as FG has been reached and steady for a few days in a row, you should be good.

B) One month (+ a few days) is two weeks longer than I ferment. You should be just fine after a couple weeks in primary then bottling.
 
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Gee Tee

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A) As long as FG has been reached and steady for a few days in a row, you should be good.

B) One month (+ a few days) is two weeks longer than I ferment. You should be just fine after a couple weeks in primary then bottling.
It sounds like any time after 2 weeks is safe to bottle then. Is the only risk is the added ingredients (cacao, spices, orange peel etc.) might not gel together?
 
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Gee Tee

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Just rack to secondary, add your flavoring ingredients, and leave town. Bottle it when you get back. A stout with a lot of added flavors is only going to get better with time.
I'll be gone a couple of weeks, so it will be 6 weeks in a bucket with a lid (not a carboy). I have either a choice of letting it sit for just under 4 weeks or starting later and leaving it for about 5 weeks. You suggest the extra time to give extra flavors?
 

grampamark

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I'll be gone a couple of weeks, so it will be 6 weeks in a bucket with a lid (not a carboy). I have either a choice of letting it sit for just under 4 weeks or starting later and leaving it for about 5 weeks. You suggest the extra time to give extra flavors?
A stout is one style that can benefit from aging. The more extras you add, the more likely it is that time will be on your side. The additional flavors will blend better after awhile. I’ve aged spiced stouts for a couple of months and probably could have left them longer.
 
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Gee Tee

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A stout is one style that can benefit from aging. The more extras you add, the more likely it is that time will be on your side. The additional flavors will blend better after awhile. I’ve aged spiced stouts for a couple of months and probably could have left them longer.
Perfect! Thank you. Just know that I don't have a carboy, but a bucket with a lid from Northern Brewer so I'm a little worried about air. But if you think an extra couple of weeks is nothing to worry about- then I'm all in!
 

grampamark

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Perfect! Thank you. Just know that I don't have a carboy, but a bucket with a lid from Northern Brewer so I'm a little worried about air. But if you think an extra couple of weeks is nothing to worry about- then I'm all in!
As long as your lid fits tightly and you don’t have a huge amount of headspace, you shouldn’t have to worry. In a dark beer, with added flavor adjuncts, a little oxidation can be a feature, not a bug. ;)
 
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Gee Tee

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As long as your lid fits tightly and you don’t have a huge amount of headspace, you shouldn’t have to worry. In a dark beer, with added flavor adjuncts, a little oxidation can be a feature, not a bug. ;)
Yay! Thank you - 5-6 weeks it is!
 

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I'll be the voice of opposition I guess. There's no way leave beer in a bucket for 5 weeks. A milk stout is not a big beer and it will be at final gravity in about 5 days, maybe 7 if you have strict temperature control. I would ferment it for a week, add your nibs and spices, then bottle a week to 10 days later.
 

rburrelli

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I will agree with Bobby and say bottle before leaving. If your gravity has been stable then no harm in doing this.
 

Beermeister32

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Just rack to secondary, add your flavoring ingredients, and leave town. Bottle it when you get back. A stout with a lot of added flavors is only going to get better with time.
I’m with grampa. You did add extra items which conceivably could have secondary fermentation affects which you don’t want happening in bottles. Especially when you are away, thats how you get bottle bombs.

There’s no rush here. Let the beer do its thing and bottle it when you get back home. That is planning and working around a worse case scenario…. Or as Dad would say …“Err on the side of caution”…
 
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estricklin

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I'll be the voice of opposition I guess. There's no way leave beer in a bucket for 5 weeks. A milk stout is not a big beer and it will be at final gravity in about 5 days, maybe 7 if you have strict temperature control. I would ferment it for a week, add your nibs and spices, then bottle a week to 10 days later.
I agree with this, and mostly because he's going to bottle the beer. If he bottles before he leaves, it will be that much closer to perfect when he gets back. That being said, I leave beer in buckets for months, so I'm not against aging it that way, but if it's not a high gravity beer or something that needs extra time, I say bottle, it ages in the bottle just as good as it does in the bucket if not better.
 

grampamark

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We‘re all overlooking an important bit of info-mainly because we don’t have it.

The OP says he’s “about to start” a milk stout. Did that mean he was going to start heating strike water right after hitting the “post reply” button? Or, did he mean he was going to brew it in the next week or so?

He‘s been given two suggestions, either of which will work well depending upon when he actually gets around to brewing.
 

hotbeer

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Regardless of which way you decide to go, just do something. If it turns out bad and you can pinpoint the reason why, then you can think of it as a experiment that you learned something from.

After 4 weeks of fermenting I'd think the chance of bottle bombs very low. And I don't even worry about them for several reasons.
  1. I've never had bottle bombs that burst the bottle. Just volcanoes that gush almost the entire bottle contents.
  2. I keep my bottles stored where if they were to burst, then it won't be a big deal for any flying glass or cleanup of spilled beer.
  3. I wear glasses already that will serve well enough to protect my eyes from any shards. And as for scratches from flying glass elsewhere... well these aren't going to be bullets flying at you. Even if they had the velocity they won't have the mass.
Maybe another experiment you should try in the future is not using a secondary. I've had great results just leaving beer in the primary. Some for 5 to 6 weeks and those I consider some of my best beers. The only time I did use a secondary was after I'd already had some beer brewing experience and I consider it one of my worst beers.
 
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Gee Tee

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I want to thank each and every one of you @grampamark @hotbeer @estricklin @Beermeister32 @rburrelli @Bobby_M for finding the tine to be so helpful. A couple of quick things: With the secondary fermentation, I just add the extras (cacao nibs, spices & orange peel in this case). I also don';t have a way to measure the final gravity without letting oxygen into the bucket. My choices are this: Make the wort on Friday 15th, add the spices after 2 weeks and bottle it after 10 days. Or start the worth next week, add the extras before I leave (October 12th) and bottle it when I get back which will be the 5 or 6 mark. I should ass that the yeast likes 60 - 72 degrees and I’ll be moving the bucket to a spot that will either be a steady 75ish maybe 80 degrees, or a place that will probably fluctuate between mid 50s and 70 degree, according to New York City weather in October 2021 (my way of predicting the weather!). If the Safale US-05 yeast “goes to sleep” waiting for the bottling sugar, maybe that won’t be an issue (does it?). My choice is either bottling it when I get back after 5 - 6 weeks, or bottling it a few days early and leaving it extra in the bottle. It’s a medium alcohol beer. Any difference between the 2? PS - The brewing community is awesome, I'm so glad I found you all!
 

Bobby_M

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We‘re all overlooking an important bit of info-mainly because we don’t have it.

The OP says he’s “about to start” a milk stout. Did that mean he was going to start heating strike water right after hitting the “post reply” button? Or, did he mean he was going to brew it in the next week or so?

He‘s been given two suggestions, either of which will work well depending upon when he actually gets around to brewing.

It can be deduced by what he said.
It is 2 weeks primary fermentation and 2 weeks secondary
and
If I bottle it a couple or three days early, are there any risks?

In other words he's leaving "about" a month from now.

...With the secondary fermentation, I just add the extras (cacao nibs, spices & orange peel in this case). I also don';t have a way to measure the final gravity without letting oxygen into the bucket. My choices are this: Make the wort on Friday 15th, add the spices after 2 weeks and bottle it after 10 days. Or start the worth next week, add the extras before I leave (October 12th) and bottle it when I get back which will be the 5 or 6 mark. I should ass that the yeast likes 60 - 72 degrees and I’ll be moving the bucket to a spot that will either be a steady 75ish maybe 80 degrees, or a place that will probably fluctuate between mid 50s and 70 degree, according to New York City weather in October 2021 (my way of predicting the weather!). If the Safale US-05 yeast “goes to sleep” waiting for the bottling sugar, maybe that won’t be an issue (does it?). My choice is either bottling it when I get back after 5 - 6 weeks, or bottling it a few days early and leaving it extra in the bottle. It’s a medium alcohol beer. Any difference between the 2? PS - The brewing community is awesome, I'm so glad I found you all!
Add the spices directly to primary after *one* week or when fermentation has noticeably slowed down, whichever comes first. Then just wait until a few days before you leave to bottle. Approximately two weeks is plenty of time for cacao nibs and orange peel "oils" to extract into a beer.

I understand there are plenty of people that leave their beer sitting in buckets for long periods of time and they don't notice any effects of oxidation, but I have to suggest that it's either a really well sealing lid or a high threshold for sensing minor to moderate oxidation effects. Maybe it's both. A stout with added flavors will probably mask oxidation pretty well, but I'm missing the proposed advantage of taking the risk.
 

hotbeer

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Personally I think you should get a hydrometer or use it if you have it. They don't cost much. Usually anywhere from $5 - $14 USD. Then you'll be able to better judge if your beer is finished fermenting. Which is usually something you want to be sure of before bottling.

But again, if you just leave it in the FV for two or more weeks with no sugar or other fermentable's added during the ferment, then you probably are good. Though if you are doing Ale's or IPA's and you let your ferment temps get too low, then it's more of a guess.

I'd be leery of bottling sooner than 2 weeks without knowing the SG and comparing to the recipe. Or getting two of the same SG readings 2 or 3 days apart.

Though I'll admit that normally the fermentation is over for Ale's and IPA's in 3 to 4 days. Sometimes just 2. But other things need to happen besides fermentation. Unless you wish to see me sneer when you hand me a murky brew of yours and I have to try and find something nice to say about it!
:bigmug:
 
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