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How long is to long in the primary?

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letsallgoforasoda

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I've tried browsing through old post and have found a lot of mixed answers.
I have a brown ale that I brewed 14 days ago the s.g. is stable over the last three days at 1.014.
I ordered all the stuff needed to start kegging and it is estimated to be delivered 6-2 and with shipping delays and everything else going on I can't really count on it showing up on time.
I don't really want to bottle it if I don't have too. So how how is to long to keep a beer in the primary fermenter?
 

RPh_Guy

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I've tried browsing through old post and have found a lot of mixed answers.
The answer to basically any question in home brewing is "it depends."

My personal record is 17 months in primary, for a lambic, which turned out nice, but I liked it better when it was younger. It can be appropriate to age in primary.

However, IF you encourage a healthy fermentation AND you want to avoid oxidation, beer should be packaged when it finishes (or better yet, spunded)... So only about 2-4 days in primary for most ales.

Of course you can RDWHAHB instead, whatever makes you happy. :)

Cheers
 

RM-MN

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How long is a string? How long is too long in the primary fermenter? I usually go from 10 days to 30 days but have gone over 60 with good results. In fact, the 60 day beer was better tasting than the 10 day beer. YMMV
 

RM-MN

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Mine never get off flavors from extra time. I think that the fear is that the yeast will autolyze after 3 weeks but that is incredibly rare in the homebrew realm. It can happen in huge fermenters that the big brewers use.
 

Qhrumphf

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My longest was 4 years in primary (also a lambic-style that was held for "gueuze" blending). But, when dealing with mixed fermentations there are other considerations.

If you're brewing properly, there should be no benefit to leaving the typical beer on yeast longer than it takes to condition, which in most cases is a day or two after fermentation finishes. With lagers it can sometimes take a little bit longer than that for diacetyl and a-acetolactate (diacetyl precursor) to clear up.

If your beer isn't ready to go by then, then your process needs to improve.

Beyond that, it's a question of how much damage is being done if you do leave it in the primary. While it's true that autolysis is a bigger risk at large commercial scale (namely because the hydrostatic pressure on the yeast cake is immense in a 120bbl conical vs a 5 gallon homebrew fermenter), that doesn't mean it can't happen. I've come across it judging homebrew competitons many times (at least in the pre-COVID era).

Additionally, if you want to harvest that yeast, the longer you let it sit the worse harvest you're gonna have (and the greater selective pressure towards low flocculation in subsequent generations). But as most homebrewers are going the overbuilt starter route (or otherwise just not repitching) then that may not be a factor for you.
 

danimal92sport

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The timeline the OP is talking about seems like no big deal. And I currently only have 1 primary, so my beers get kicked TFO so the next batch can go in after 2 weeks. Bottle if they’re ready or secondary if not. I’m drinking a bottled beer I brewed less than 3 weeks ago and it’s reasonably carb’d and will be great in 2-3 days.
 
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