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Rule of thumb - Secondary fermentation / conditioning

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thehopthief

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I'm on my second home beer but first one not from a kit and am wondering about secondary fermentation or really conditioning. I know there's debate whether that is truly necessary but that's not my question here because I already moved to secondary vessel because I use that opportunity to dry hop. However my question is, how long do you typically keep the beer conditioning in the secondary? This beer had an OG of approximately 1.073 and ABV based off measurement during secondary movement is about 8.6% so I've read you should keep higher ABV beers conditioning longer but just curious for the community's thoughts. My first kit beer was a 7.5% IPA and I did primary for a week then secondary for 10 days followed by bottle conditioning for 2 weeks. However I tried the beer after 1 week because I was impatient and it definitely had some harshness to it that is now gone presumably due to further conditioning.
I'm thinking with my higher OG beer, I should condition longer and definitely let sit in bottles for the full 2-3 weeks but as an impatient brewer I'm wondering if I bottle this week (tomorrow, Tuesday will be one week) will it make a difference or should I let it sit longer?
Thanks for any advice!
 

VikeMan

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With IPA (in particular), oxygen and time are your enemies. I would suggest dry hopping for 3-4 days, then packaging, avoiding O2 as much as possible with your setup. "Conditioning" can happen in the bottle/keg.
 

goodolarchie

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I know there's debate whether that is truly necessary but that's not my question here because I already moved to secondary vessel because I use that opportunity to dry hop. However my question is, how long do you typically keep the beer conditioning in the secondary?
The "modern" approach to dry hopping is to either do it during primary fermentation (active bubbling) on day 2 or 3 to avoid hop creep, and to coax out different flavors via biotransformation... a more advanced topic but for another forum, but it makes it pretty fool proof to avoid the risks of dry hopping and oxidation. Keep in mind you should really do a cold crash if you go this route, before kegging/bottling.

I agree with Vike, that for a hoppy beer, the downside of doing any unnecessary transfers (e.g. secondary, before kegging/bottling) is the risk of oxygen exposure, which will quickly undermine the additional hop aroma you're packing in there. My experience is that if you're dry hopping at room temp, you get most of the flavor out of those hops in 3 days, and it can end up tasting "green" or vegetal if left on dry hops more than 5 days.
 
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thehopthief

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I've heard about that but it doesn't make much sense to me. The whole point of dry hopping is to add aroma so isn't all that aroma then lost since the yeast is activating working and producing CO2 which is then being off gassed. So it seems like it would make a wonderful smelling area where you are fermenting but it will all be lost on the final product. Have you tried that method?

Thanks, seems like consensus so far then is to secondary ferment (maybe not all at) but definitely only dry hop for a few days so I should be good to bottle any time this week then since tomorrow will be a week of dry hopping. I let my beer dry hop for 10 days with 2 oz of mosaic the first time and it ended up with a great aroma so not 'green' or off smells. I have heard it's very hop dependent though so for hops like galaxy or other Australian hops you only want 2-3 days.
 

goodolarchie

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I've heard about that but it doesn't make much sense to me. The whole point of dry hopping is to add aroma so isn't all that aroma then lost since the yeast is activating working and producing CO2 which is then being off gassed. So it seems like it would make a wonderful smelling area where you are fermenting but it will all be lost on the final product. Have you tried that method?
It's a logical thought process, hop terpenes and aromatic compounds are volatile, which is why hoppy beers don't keep that aroma so long. Honestly, it's an eminent science as you have thousands of breweries experimenting with different techniques. Some of them dry hop at 50F for a slightly longer period to avoid hop creep, and retain as much aroma as possible. Others double dry hop, generally once during fermentation, to really pack in maximal aroma.

What is universally agreed upon is that oxygen = not your friend after fermentation starts, and it binds to those compounds and will slowly degrade the beer. You'd have to be artful in your process to minimize oxidation during any kind of secondary, and that assumes you have perfectly purged lines and tanks, really impossible to do at a homebrew scale.

A lot of folks dry hop in the keg, myself included. I hang a nylon off the keg lid with the hops inside (sanitized of course), then I do a massive purge and fill the cold beer. I keep it around 42 to prevent hop creep, after about 5 days, I drink about 10 pints and the hops are no longer in suspension (it's hanging above the headspace), so no vegetal/green flavors. Works great and you can taste it each day to know when it's ready.
 
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