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Staggered carboys and bulk conditioning

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luckybeagle

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I brew too much for my own good and, as a result, I'm often racking carboys to kegs before the beer is all that mature--so that I can free up the carboy and move on to the next batch.

Most of my beers are between 4.5 - 7.5%, though I do brew the occasional strong ale/Belgian that I'm learning to become more patient with. The quality improvement is perceptible.

To satisfy my desire to brew, here's what I'm thinking of doing with my 4x carboys and 4 tap kegerator.

1. Brew on Monday, pitch the yeast and keep in the fermentation chamber until the following Monday. 95% of the beers I brew reach FG within 7 days.
2. Once that carboy comes out of the chamber, bring it into the house and let it sit at ambient temperature for 2 more weeks. If it's not totally fermented out by the time I bring it inside, the time and room temp should finish it out for most styles without risking undesirable fusel/ester development I'd think.
3. Relocate carboy to the garage to help settle out the yeast for 1 more week, but do the real cold crashing and fining in the keg.
4. Hook up the gas and let the keg sit a week under serving pressure before tapping (I've found this gets me 90% of the way there with carbonation on most beers)

In a nutshell, every beer would go from grain to glass in about 5 weeks unless I keg and ignore it for a while.

I guess my big question is: Can a beer (I almost exclusively brew ales, with the exception of the occasional room temp pressure fermented Lager) sit and condition at a temperature OUTSIDE of fermentation temps and have a positive, bulk conditioning effect? For example, I have a Saison sitting at 82F and is at FG. Will bringing it inside to free up the fermentation chamber still be effective in helping it condition and the flavors to meld despite a 12F drop in ambient?

I know not every beer will respond to being whipped into this regimen, but it seems like many would, and would help me manage my pipeline a little more effectively. Again, big or special beers (Barleywines, BDSA, big Imperials--stuff I brew only a few times a year) would be allowed much more time.

Thoughts??
 
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McKnuckle

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I find that extended cold conditioning, i.e. lagering (regardless of style), is the most effective way to let beer mature. Mine spend 5-14 days in the fermenter depending on style and gravity, then get racked to a serving keg. If I am force carbonating, I'll just start that right away while it sits in the keezer.

If I am priming with sugar to carbonate, then the keg will first spend another 10-14 days in warmish temps in between fermentation and cold storage.

Warm conditioning is really only useful while the yeast are still actively metabolizing something (either fermentation itself or clean-up). And it usually takes just a couple of days.
 
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luckybeagle

luckybeagle

Making sales and brewing ales.
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I find that extended cold conditioning, i.e. lagering (regardless of style), is the most effective way to let beer mature.
...
Warm conditioning is really only useful while the yeast are still actively metabolizing something (either fermentation itself or clean-up). And it usually takes just a couple of days.
This is exactly what I was hoping to hear but wasn't entirely sure. Makes a lot of sense. Thank you! Good to know I am not shooting myself in the foot by racking to kegs after FG has stabilized + ~2 days, and reaffirms my belief that I just need to let them sit in the keezer for a while before putting them in the drinking rotation.

I'd just get another cheap chest freezer and some more kegs. Walmart has the 7 Cu/ft ones again for $200.
Whoa that's awesome. I might have to pick one up. My wife might kill me, though, haha.
That'd be good for cold conditioning out 4 kegs at a time before they're ready to move into the chest freezer. Or, you know, expanding my taplist from 4 to 8 🤪
 

madscientist451

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The ones I saw for $200 (7 cu/ft) aren't kept in stock, you have to order online, they've been on backorder since the pandemic hit, but now you can get them again, other stores probably have them too. Add a temp controller and you've got your cold conditioning problem licked.
:cask:
 
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