All right speed racers.. what's the fastest you've ever turned a beer from tun to tap?
I've got an experiment going right now:
6 days to turn around a mild? Can it be done? I gave the beer a crap ton of yeast and a bunch of O2. - I think I can I think I can!
I find I can usually turn around a beer in a week with high-flocculating yeasts. I just moved and the first beer back was a best bitter (1.048) and It was carbed and ready to drink in 6 days. I didn't need to pitch a large amount of yeast. I just gave it plenty of oxygen and a low gravity wort. That said, it took about another 10 days before it dropped perfectly clear and was really showing its best (one of my best actually). My rules of thumb:
- highly flocculant ale yeast
- OG <=1.050 (I can do <= 1.070 in 2 weeks)
- light beer is usually ready before dark beer --> dark malts are very friable and tend to leave some particulates that adds harshness. they usually need some conditioning time to drink well
There are some tricks I've used for I've also had luck cold crashing cal-ale yeast out over 24h in the fridge when fermentation is complete. It gets the beer very clear very quickly. I just do it in the carboy. I've done in dozens of times. When I do a 2-stage dry hop, I typically add one set of hops while the yeast are still active, crash the yeast out, and then add a second set of hops. It adds a really layered hop aroma and helps the beer be ready to drink much faster. That said, make sure the fermentation is done first. One time I mistakenly though fermentation was finished when it wasn't, and I got a nasty acetaldehyde bite in my brown ale. Now I don't crash it unless I get a consistent gravity for 3 days in a row.
However, having said all that, I don't like to force the beers to be ready. I believe if I don't have enough homebrew to drink, then the simple fact is, I haven't been brewing enough. I generally do these quickly-produced beers at the end of the summer, because it gets too hot to brew in July / August, and my large-stores I built up for the summer start to run out.