How long can a beer stay in 2ndry fermentation?

HomeBrewTalk.com - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Community.

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

johnnybrew

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Feb 11, 2010
Messages
488
Reaction score
14
Location
Cincinnati
Right now, I bottle my brew (will make it to keg land some day). I want to be able to keep a stock of brew rotating and let some brew sit in my 2ndry for some extended periods. How long can I comfortably keep my ales in a 2ndry without risking of taking on off-flavors? One of the issues is that I want to have time to empty/drink beer that is bottled to free-up the bottles. What sort of lifecycle do folks here follow? Thanks in advance.
 

Yooper

Ale's What Cures You!
Staff member
Admin
Mod
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jun 4, 2006
Messages
74,151
Reaction score
11,729
Location
UP/Snowbird in Florida
I don't use a secondary on many of my beers, but the ones I do are in there a LONG time! I've left them from 6-10 months for aging. You could easily go a year if you wanted.

The only problem with a very long secondary may be the loss of some of the hops aroma in a very hoppy beer, like an IPA. If I was going to age an IPA for a long time, I'd dry hop for a week just before bottling to make sure there was plenty of hops aroma. Otherwise, I can't think of any drawbacks to a long secondary if you want to use one.
 
Joined
Sep 9, 2008
Messages
1,025
Reaction score
7
Location
edgewater
+1 to what yooper said... back when i actually used secondaries i've gone 6+ months and it was perfect. i will however add that extended secondaries for wheat beers will make some of the yeast and haze drop out, so for some of those styles i would try to keep a quick turnaround but thats about it.
 
OP
johnnybrew

johnnybrew

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Feb 11, 2010
Messages
488
Reaction score
14
Location
Cincinnati
Thanks. I have read both the forums here and across the internet and firmly believe that a small-arms war could actually break out from heated discussions related to using a secondary. So, without opening that enormous can of worms, I will say that for guys like me, who don't keg, using a secondary as short-term storage is indeed a benefit. Are there other particulars you would suggest? For example, I do keep the carboy covered and right now it is at room temp (68F), but I was thinking that at about the two week mark to put it into a closet that isn't well insulated (it gets COLD in there!) to pseudo cold condition until I am ready to bottle it. I assume this will only help with preservation, as well as help clarify. Thanks again.
 
Joined
Sep 9, 2008
Messages
1,025
Reaction score
7
Location
edgewater
dont get me wrong, i'm not against secondaries. i just generally dont use them unless i need my fermenters.

i wouldnt drop the temperature until you are positive that the beer has finished fermenting. i generally primary for 2-4 weeks, pending the beer. then i will either let it remain aging at room temp for larger more complex beers, or cold crash or keg a lighter smaller beer.

also, you want to try to maintain a constant temperature. i've thought about doing the closet cold crash, being that mine drops to about 45 at night. but it also hits low 60's during the day. temperature fluctuation is not really desirable.
 

droopy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2004
Messages
69
Reaction score
3
The limit of secondary fermentation is 4,682 and 1/8 years.
 

Edcculus

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2007
Messages
4,541
Reaction score
56
Location
Morganton, NC
What kind of beer is it? I'm aging my Devil May Cry BGS, which is clocking in at 13% in a secondary going on 4 months now. I plan to bottle in the spring to be ready in October.

If you are talking about a normal gravity ale, putting an a secondary until you have space for a month or two won't hurt anything. Unless its a hoppy IPA or Hefeweizen, it should actually help.
 

droopy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2004
Messages
69
Reaction score
3
Not being a smart ass-- the beer will last in the secondary as long it will last in a bottle or keg at the same temp. As long as not exposed to extreme temp changes or high temps (80F+) Under 5% low hopped brew-- probably taste skunky and or fruity/cherry like after 6 months. Above 5% probably good for a year but any hop aroma will be toast.
 
Joined
Sep 9, 2008
Messages
1,025
Reaction score
7
Location
edgewater
picking up some buckets to ferment in might not be a bad idea... when i first started i loved using the class but the price, easier cleaning and mobility of the buckets is just nice. plus, after a long primary in a bucket, its much easier to clean than a long primary in glass... IMO.
 
Top