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General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: liquidbrewing on April 11, 2011, 01:23:19 PM

Title: When is your beer ready? Poll
Post by: liquidbrewing on April 11, 2011, 01:23:19 PM
So, I'm posing this question, because I basically want some input from other brewers.  When is your beer ready?  Does it vary from recipe to recipe?  Do you drink it when it tastes good, or do you follow a certain routine regardless of what style it is?

I've got a really good IPA that tastes the best 3 weeks after brewing.  One week primary, followed by a week dry hop, keg it two weeks from brewing.  Carb for a week and it's great.  The flavor fades after the first couple weeks in the keg.  I brewed a Porter recently and it was ready in less than three weeks.  Granted, my beer is not clear, since I only crash cool for a couple days before kegging, but I'm not concerned with a crystal clear beer.  I think the haziness is indicative to the fact that it is home brewed and unfiltered.

I know some local brewers who let their beer condition for up to two months for an IPA and they keg as well.  ???   I guess it's up to each brewer to perceive when his/her beer is ready for his/her taste and the style.

Any thoughts?
Title: Re: When is your beer ready? Poll
Post by: morticaixavier on April 11, 2011, 02:42:21 PM
It's ready when it's ready. I don't call primary done until I get a couple of stable hydro readings. Even then it ussually sits for another week or so until I get the time to take the next step. If I dry hop I try to bottle within a week or two but other than that the schedule is determined by the beer. Also once in bottles I get impartient and start taste testing after a week. Generally, except with small or session beers it takes a couple of weeks in the bottle to really come into it's own. had an RIS that didn't really taste great until 6 months in the bottle. Just cracked open a rosemary/sage mead that was 1 year in bottles. Still needs more time.
Title: Re: When is your beer ready? Poll
Post by: beersk on April 11, 2011, 03:23:45 PM
My beers are typically between 5% and 7%.  2 weeks in the primary and 1 week in the keg, drink.
Title: Re: When is your beer ready? Poll
Post by: denny on April 11, 2011, 03:27:32 PM
It's ready when it's ready.

So much this^^^^^.  No set schedule past not even looking at the beer for at least a week.
Title: Re: When is your beer ready? Poll
Post by: gordonstrong on April 11, 2011, 03:50:37 PM
It's ready when it's ready.

So much this^^^^^.  No set schedule past not even looking at the beer for at least a week.

+1.  It varies.  Don't judge it using a calendar.  Look at it and taste it.

It's like when someone asks about cooking.  How long do I cook it?  Until it's done.  Sounds trite, but it's the right answer.  There are so many variables involved, that there just isn't a good time-based answer.  Learn to recognize the signs, and use those.
Title: Re: When is your beer ready? Poll
Post by: bluesman on April 11, 2011, 04:27:40 PM
It's ready when it's ready.

So much this^^^^^.  No set schedule past not even looking at the beer for at least a week.

+1.  It varies.  Don't judge it using a calendar.  Look at it and taste it.

It's like when someone asks about cooking.  How long do I cook it?  Until it's done.  Sounds trite, but it's the right answer.  There are so many variables involved, that there just isn't a good time-based answer.  Learn to recognize the signs, and use those.

+1

Learning this comes with experience. Generally I look at the yeast's AA% and the grist bill then estimate from there but I let the beer decide when it's done.

Typically speaking when the krausen falls and the beer is clear I'll take a hydrometer reading and make a call from there. Usually it's ready to rack or bottle after the beer clears. That can vary in time from 2-4 weeks depending if it's an ale or a lager and the beer strength as well.
Title: Re: When is your beer ready? Poll
Post by: tschmidlin on April 11, 2011, 04:47:07 PM
I'm on the "when it's ready" bandwagon.  It really depends on the beer, but is determined by taste.
Title: Re: When is your beer ready? Poll
Post by: Tim McManus on April 11, 2011, 05:16:13 PM
My beer is usually ready when I run out.  There's always something in the queue.  I usually try to have a few beers on tap and replace the empties when I feel like drinking that beer.
Title: Re: When is your beer ready? Poll
Post by: chezteth on April 11, 2011, 05:18:38 PM
It's ready when it's ready.

So much this^^^^^.  No set schedule past not even looking at the beer for at least a week.

+1.  It varies.  Don't judge it using a calendar.  Look at it and taste it.

It's like when someone asks about cooking.  How long do I cook it?  Until it's done.  Sounds trite, but it's the right answer.  There are so many variables involved, that there just isn't a good time-based answer.  Learn to recognize the signs, and use those.

+ 1 I most definitely agree with this. I taste along the way to see how a particular beer is coming along then bottle or keg it at the proper time.
Title: Re: When is your beer ready? Poll
Post by: Malticulous on April 11, 2011, 05:53:05 PM
Two weeks is the fasted turn around I've done. Three to four weeks is normal for my regular ales. Six weeks or more for the lagers. Very few of my beers gain anything for long aging. I've found that good fermentation practices do wonders for making good beer faster. But then sometimes I just don't have time and beers can sit a month longer than I'd like them too.
Title: Re: When is your beer ready? Poll
Post by: euge on April 11, 2011, 06:14:45 PM
The beer is ready when I say it is.
Title: Re: When is your beer ready? Poll
Post by: jeffy on April 11, 2011, 06:46:24 PM
The beer is ready when I say it is.

Euge, I started drinking my Baltic Porter over the weekend and didn't get your permission.  Can you give it the OK please?
Title: Re: When is your beer ready? Poll
Post by: euge on April 11, 2011, 06:57:57 PM
Oh all right. Drink it then. ;D
Title: Re: When is your beer ready? Poll
Post by: malzig on April 12, 2011, 12:49:13 AM
Three to four weeks is normal for my regular ales. Six weeks or more for the lagers. Very few of my beers gain anything for long aging. I've found that good fermentation practices do wonders for making good beer faster.
I find that to be true.  I really prefer my beer fresh.

I try to get my beers into a glass by 6 weeks or less, when possible.  Beer rarely seems to get better after this, just older.  The exception being beers with fermentation problems, pretty common for big beers, that require time to age out the problem.  I find a well made lager to be much better at 6 weeks than at 10, so I avoid any more lagering than it takes to drop the yeast.
Title: Re: When is your beer ready? Poll
Post by: tomsawyer on April 12, 2011, 03:09:51 AM
I try to get my beers into a glass by 6 weeks or less, when possible.  Beer rarely seems to get better after this, just older.  The exception being beers with fermentation problems, pretty common for big beers, that require time to age out the problem.  I find a well made lager to be much better at 6 weeks than at 10, so I avoid any more lagering than it takes to drop the yeast.

I'm surprised to hear extended lagering isn't beneficial.  I've only limited experience but it seems like 8-10 weeks was when my German pils hit its peak.
Title: Re: When is your beer ready? Poll
Post by: malzig on April 12, 2011, 03:29:32 AM
I'm surprised to hear extended lagering isn't beneficial.  I've only limited experience but it seems like 8-10 weeks was when my German pils hit its peak.
You don't find that a Pils is starting to loose hop character by 8-10 weeks?

Sure, the beer is perfectly fine at 10 weeks, but in my hands, the malt and hop flavors just don't seem to pop as well as they do earlier.  They all just start to blur together and get a little dull. 
Title: Re: When is your beer ready? Poll
Post by: Pinski on April 12, 2011, 04:24:17 AM
It really is interesting if not nerve racking to observe and learn how different yeast and ingredients work together.  Some seem to get down to it and wrap up their work in a couple weeks. Others like the honey beer I kegged last weekend, start fast and then settle in for a slow and steady five week fade. As long as the numbers are falling and the aromas are not off putting I'm able to fill a pint and ride along. 
Title: Re: When is your beer ready? Poll
Post by: beveragebob on April 12, 2011, 10:35:00 AM
For Ales, "when their done"...see above.....for Lagers I adhere to the six month aging at close to freezing for a "sophisticated beer"
Unless of course if I screwed something up and it's a dumper but, most times it is elegant.
Title: Re: When is your beer ready? Poll
Post by: oscarvan on April 12, 2011, 03:14:38 PM
My Dutch brewing forum friends say a week for every ten points..... Seems to be working for me. But, when you're out you're out and you grab the next one in the line....... ;D
Title: Re: When is your beer ready? Poll
Post by: micsager on April 12, 2011, 07:25:12 PM
My beers are typically between 5% and 7%.  2 weeks in the primary and 1 week in the keg, drink.

+1
Title: Re: When is your beer ready? Poll
Post by: malzig on April 13, 2011, 01:31:13 AM
For Ales, "when their done"...see above.....for Lagers I adhere to the six month aging at close to freezing for a "sophisticated beer"
Unless of course if I screwed something up and it's a dumper but, most times it is elegant.
Six months! Damn!  I've been drinking a Dunkel this week that just passed 5 weeks.  It finished dropping brilliantly clear over the weekend and it's delicious.  I can't imagine that more time could make it any better.

I like to homebrew, in part, so I can get beers as fresh as the lagers I got in Germany growing up, which is difficult in the US.  If I wanted old beer I could buy the musty, bland imported stuff that's been sitting at my local pack-y collecting dust in the cold room.
Title: Re: When is your beer ready? Poll
Post by: gmac on April 13, 2011, 01:53:43 AM
It's never ready soon enough.  I'd say it's inversely proportional to how much you need beer.  Don't need it, it'll be ready soon.  Run out and you're gonna be waiting a while. 
I've been out of beer for a week now and my ESB is still bubbling away after 2 weeks.  It may get kegged tomorrow anyway.  I'm itching to brew and I only have 3 carboys and their all full.  It can finish up in the secondary keg for a week. 
Title: Re: When is your beer ready? Poll
Post by: gsandel on April 13, 2011, 02:23:03 AM
you have to watch and taste and brew, brew, brew to really know, but my experience with my brewery is two weeks in primary (usually done before then, but I work on beer on the weekends), and then it never tastes quite right until about 3-4 weeks....less for lighter beers, more for darker....and the when it has gone bad is the same....sooner for the wheat beer, over a year for the Porter.

My dark lagers have never gone bad, they have always run out before I got to their limit.

Title: Re: When is your beer ready? Poll
Post by: skyler on April 13, 2011, 10:04:44 AM
I will say that I typically like my beers a bit more well-aged than most homebrewers - especially Belgians and high gravity beers. When I really want my beer ready fast, I find 1 week of cold conditioning and gelatin does as much for the beer as a month of cold alone.
Title: Re: When is your beer ready? Poll
Post by: SpanishCastleAle on April 14, 2011, 02:29:43 PM
I agree with "it's done when it's done".  But to try and quantify it: generally for me, when it's dropped clear and fully carbonated...it's done.  There are exceptions.
Title: Re: When is your beer ready? Poll
Post by: seajellie on April 14, 2011, 09:26:49 PM
+1 to Skyler. I drink 'em fresh but usually bottle some to set aside, and I am truly astonished how incredible many of the homebrews taste after sitting in a dark cellar corner at 55 - 60 degrees for a year.

So my suggestion to the OP is as everyone has said; it's done when it's done. But if you can, set some aside of every batch for comparison's sake.

Some friends of mine found an amber ale (OG about 55) that I made over four years ago, sitting in their cellar. This beer traveled across the country in my trunk back then, in summer no less. They loved it so much that they decided that they had to take up homebrewing. Considering that they've been drinking beer for 30 years, I find that notable.

The aging of IPAs in particular interest me. It seems most homebrewers love them fresh; probably for the aroma. But if you consider the original of this style, they were anything BUT fresh. I like mine aged too, although yes, the aroma drops off.
Title: Re: When is your beer ready? Poll
Post by: weazletoe on April 14, 2011, 10:58:24 PM
 I let the beer tell me when it's ready. Normally for IPA, pale ales, wheat beer, I keg between 10 days and two weeks. At about the 7 day mark, I begin taking sample for "quality control", when it taste right, I keg it. For beer like porters and stouts, I secondary after two weeks, and let it sit another two or longer depending on the gravity, and yeast used. "quality control"begins at week three.
  On my house beers that I know, well, I just know when they are done, assuming all went to plan during fermentation, and I keg it by the calander.