Author Topic: To rack or not to rack... What do you think?  (Read 1089 times)

Offline Nick

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To rack or not to rack... What do you think?
« on: August 10, 2011, 03:39:06 PM »
So about a week and a half ago I brewed up a small batch (3 gal) of barleywine.  Now I'm looking to for some advice to see if I can/should be freeing up the fermenter that it is currently occupying.  I have a 5 gallon glass carboy that I was thinking of racking the barleywine into for a few months of bulk aging before I bottle it.  But the barleywine itself will have only been fermenting for two weeks when I would rack it (this Saturday.) 

Is this too soon to rack a barleywine?  I know for most any ale two weeks is more than sufficient, though I'm not sure what a typical time period before racking for barleywine would be.  If the time period is good to rack at for some bulk aging, my other concern is that I am planning to bulk age 3 gal of barleywine in a 5 gal carboy... would I be leaving too much headspace in the carboy at that volume and then be risking oxidation?

If the 5 gal is too big to bulk age in, what would you recommend for aging?  I have no intentions of buying a 3 gallon carboy, though I could come up with 3 1 gallon jugs to minimize headspace, but that sounds like a pain in the butt and would like to avoid it unless it really is necessary.  The only other option I can readily think if is give it another 1-2 weeks in the primary and go straight to the bottle from there and age it in the bottles with oxygen absorbing caps.

So I guess it boils down to a few basic questions:
1) What is a good time period to leave a barleywine in the primary for before racking to a secondary?
2) Is a 5 gallon carboy a reasonable vessel to secondary 3 gallons of barleywine in?
3) If not, which is a better option, 3-1 gallon jugs or bottle age

I know that was quite a whole lot of mouth-fulls there of indecision.  I would appreciate any help and advice you good folks have to offer  ???
Nick Bush
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Bottled: Belgian Gold, Bavarian Hefe, Samwell Tarly Stout, Spotted Cow
Secondary: Orange Blossom Mead
Primary: Dry Bones Barleywine
On Deck: Belgian Gold

Offline bonjour

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Re: To rack or not to rack... What do you think?
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2011, 03:49:12 PM »
I would either bottle or Keg when fermentation is finished.
How big is this BW, English or American?

You should not HAVE to age the BW for it to be good.  I didn't say it wouldn't change/improve.


Fred Bonjour
Co-Chair Mashing in Michigan 2014 AHA Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan
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Everything under 1.100 is a 'session' beer ;)

Offline Nick

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Re: To rack or not to rack... What do you think?
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2011, 04:04:07 PM »
Unfortunately kegging isn't an option.  At this stage of life I am stuck with 100% bottling.
 
The bw is an English version, came in a little lower than I had hoped (1.100) and I hopped it to a modest 50 IBU's.
Nick Bush
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Bottled: Belgian Gold, Bavarian Hefe, Samwell Tarly Stout, Spotted Cow
Secondary: Orange Blossom Mead
Primary: Dry Bones Barleywine
On Deck: Belgian Gold

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: To rack or not to rack... What do you think?
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2011, 04:30:29 PM »
Where is the gravity now and is it stable?
Tom Schmidlin

Offline tomsawyer

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Re: To rack or not to rack... What do you think?
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2011, 08:37:34 AM »
I'd let it go in primary for at least another week, that is a big meal for those yeast and when the alcohol gets up they start to struggle.  Then I would bottle rather than expose the beer to air in the head space of a large carboy.
Lennie
Hannibal, MO

Offline bonjour

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Re: To rack or not to rack... What do you think?
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2011, 08:44:04 AM »
The correct answer is to wait until the beer is finished fermenting.  Gravity is how we tell this.  It is entirely possible that this beer was done in 1 week.

Fred Bonjour
Co-Chair Mashing in Michigan 2014 AHA Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan
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Everything under 1.100 is a 'session' beer ;)

Offline tomsawyer

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Re: To rack or not to rack... What do you think?
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2011, 09:41:05 AM »
Gravity doesn't tell you if the diacetyl is cleaned up though, and it seems like taking a beer off the yeast cake really just about stops any significant metabolism of this by-product.  And I'm assuming he kept the ferm temp down  in a decent range so I figure it takes a good two to three weeks to finish up.  Can you brew a 1.100 beer in a week?  I brew very little at this kind of gravity, not my cup of tea.  Still I even have a bit of a problem thinking a decent 1.050 brew will be finished fermenting in a week.

Hopefully I'm not coming off as impertinent, you are the king of big brews Fred and I've learned a lot from your site.
Lennie
Hannibal, MO

Offline bonjour

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Re: To rack or not to rack... What do you think?
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2011, 09:47:35 AM »
I've had some I've felt were ready at 8 days, but I waited until the weekend to deal with.  They clear better if you wait he extra time.
Fred Bonjour
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Everything under 1.100 is a 'session' beer ;)

Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: To rack or not to rack... What do you think?
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2011, 10:51:50 AM »
I would wait and take gravity readings to be sure that fermentation is completed and to allow yeast cleanup and clearing. If you must clear the way to brew another batch, I would put the new batch in the 5 gallon carboy.  The CO2 from the new batch actively fermenting will keep it problem free in terms of oxidation.
Hodge Garage Brewing: "Brew with a glad heart!"

Offline Nick

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Re: To rack or not to rack... What do you think?
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2011, 10:50:40 PM »
Thanks for all the tips and advice guys.  The barleywine will be at two weeks coming up on this Saturday, not just one.  I'm not sure where that miscommunication came about but I thought I'd clear it up.  You're right on about making sure the gravity readings are consistent before calling the beer done fermenting , unfortunately some stuff came up with the kid and the house that had to be taken care of and have prevented me from being as hands on with the bw as I would have liked.

So I'm thinking what I'll do is let the bw sit another week in the fermenter and instead brew a 4 gallon batch to put into the 5 gallon fermenter instead of trying to free up the bucket.

Thanks again for the tips.  I guess now its on to putting together a good recipe for a nice Irish Red... its been awhile since I've had a good one of those...
Nick Bush
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Bottled: Belgian Gold, Bavarian Hefe, Samwell Tarly Stout, Spotted Cow
Secondary: Orange Blossom Mead
Primary: Dry Bones Barleywine
On Deck: Belgian Gold

Offline skyler

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Re: To rack or not to rack... What do you think?
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2011, 09:57:32 AM »
If it was me, with a beer that size, I wouldn't even bother testing gravity until it had been in primary for three weeks - and I might rock the yeast back into suspension a couple times in week two.

It sounds like you need more buckets. Steal one from the Walrus.

Offline bluesman

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Re: To rack or not to rack... What do you think?
« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2011, 10:09:08 AM »
As was already said, wait until the beer has reached terminal gravity and then taste it. More than often it will be ready after three weeks. As Fred indicated, he's had barleywines ready in 8 days. My concern is that the high ABV level doesn't start killing the yeast which can lend off-flavors in the beer. Bottom line is to get the beer off the yeast as soon as most of the yeast yeast has dropped out, and the beer has reached terminal gravity, but no longer than that. The high alcohol level can be very toxic to the yeast.
Ron Price