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manosteel9423

Calling Screwy Brewer!!

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I hope you see this and can shed some light for me, Screwy.

A couple of nights ago I was browsing through the posts here while enjoying a homebrew or three (or more!) and I could have sworn that I came across a post from you that said, to paraphrase:

"I find that my beer is just as good at two weeks as it will be at two months in the bottle."

I even remember details of the post like you were going to be entering a couple of beers into competitions that had only been bottled for a couple of weeks.

Now, I can't find that post in your history and I'm starting to wonder if it was an alcohol induced delusion!? Haha.

I wanted to comment that it flies against the conventions that many of us newbies have been working under and wanted a further explanation, but if I just imagined it, then:

MOVE ALONG...NOTHING TO SEE HERE!!

:blink:

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Thanks mnstarzz...that isn't the post I remember, but it is related to it. The post I am thinking of came in reply to another post about letting a beer age. Screwy said he knew it wasn't a popular opinion, but that he didn't believe that a beer got better with age. That if it wasn't good within the first couple of weeks, it would never be a good beer. Or, something along those lines...again, I was under the influence of some homebrew...

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My friend ferments only for 2 weeks and then 2 weeks in the bottle and his beers are pretty freakin good! They are heavy bodied beers and stouts, most hoppy so I guess to each his own but in my case, much of my beer is not my style at 2 weeks. And after 4-5 weeks, I don't see much of a difference any more.

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manosteel9423 wrote:

Screwy said he knew it wasn't a popular opinion, but that he didn't believe that a beer got better with age. That if it wasn't good within the first couple of weeks, it would never be a good beer. Or, something along those lines...again, I was under the influence of some homebrew...

I have only a handful to use as examples, but so far I have found that my first brew (which was pretty light and a little high on adj/malt) was pretty dang good at 2 weeks, with only a slight difference after a month and a half. My second batch wasn't that great at 2 weeks and wasn't that great yesterday after over a month and a half. And my 3rd batch was a tweaked Witty Monk recipe that ended close to 8% ABV and used Trappist High Gravity yeast, and it has changed a lot (for the better) from 2 weeks to 5 weeks.

So, moral of the story - some beer will be fine at 2 weeks with no noticeable change later on, and some will develop different characteristics over their conditioning time. I don't think you can definitively say every beer, from a light wheat to a heavier Belgian tripel, are going to age the same and be completely done within 2 weeks - IMHO...

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Yep, that's the thread! Don't know why I can't find it in Screwy's history, but thankfully a couple of you also posted on it!

I have absolutely zero experience with all grain, or even partial mash, recipes so if they don't get appreciably better with age then I can understand the comment.

I have to wonder, though, why Mr Beer would recommend a "lagering time" of 3 to 4 months on one of their recipes like Wicked Monk if the beer was going to be just as good after two weeks in the bottle? That particular recipe is not high on adjuncts at all.

I have read Screwy's blog extensively and have the utmost respect for his opinion on all things beer, so I'd just like a bit better understanding of what he was trying to say.

For a personal example, I recently bottled a stout made with MRB extracts that I have very high hopes for. I used 3 cans of malt and just a half cup of brown sugar, so very small ratio of adjunct. At bottling, it had a noticeable alcohol taste that I would hope would condition out. Almost everybody I have discussed this beer with around here has suggested letting it condition for at least 2-3 months. According to Screwy, though, if I'm disappointed with it at 2 weeks, I will likely still be disappointed in 3 months.

That concerns me...

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I'm not going to speak for Screwy Brewer, but if I understand his coments correctly he was saying that if a beer is terrible young it will likely be terrible later on - i.e. some beers do need extended conditioning time to fully develop, but if a beer stinks young it will probably stink old. Time can only heal some wounds.

Your beer will definitely tast 'green' when it's too young, but it won't be lousy...just not finished. If it's too bad to drink young, more than likely it won't improve with age.

Cheers!

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manosteel,

I understand what you're saying. On the one hand there are tons of strong opinions that say whatever you do, don't drink your brew with less than 4 weeks minimum in the bottle under any circumstances. There are lots of strong opinions stating not to worry if a brew doesn't taste good when it's green, to just let it condition in bottle longer and "time has a way of working things out". Also many strong opinions that if there's too much adjunct in the brew, the only cure for that is extra conditioning time. Not just strong opinions, actually, more like the prevalent conventional wisdom, to be more accurate.

Now we hear an opinion that seems to be directly opposite of all that accepted truth, and we hear it from one of the most experienced and respected brewers on the borg. Then we see a few other very experienced brewers adding that they tend to agree with that opinion.

Of course it's confusing. I'm confused too. I can't speak for Screwy or any of the other veterans who commented on this. My experience is absolutely minimal. Like you, I hope we will hear more elaboration on this opinion, specifically relating to how the contradiction can be explained.

And I'm sure there is a logical explanation. I have a few ideas, but again, with my minimal experience, my ideas must be taken with a grain of salt.

For one thing, I'm thinking that maybe this is just a case of needing to take the comments in context. The last thing Screwy said in his post was,

"I'm just saying if a beer tasted good going into the bottle it should taste good after it carbonates, if it doesn't then look to your process as the cause, it's better than wishing for miracles."

So maybe this isn't a 'new rule' that breaks the 'old rule' but rather a 'rule within a rule'.

Add to that another possibility, which is that the rule of waiting a minimum of 4 weeks in bottle is at least partly designed to serve as an insurance policy for newbies to help smooth out some of the more typical mistakes we make. Maybe this apparent contradiction applies more accurately to an experienced brewer than it does to a newbie, in general.

So, maybe it's not a complete contradiction after all. Maybe what Screwy is saying is that while there are certainly times when aging can improve a beer, and that extra conditioning time can indeed resolve some common issues like over-priming, bottling too early, too much or too little hops, high adjunct ratios and such. More time can help newbies with all these issues, and it probably can't hurt, so that's what we're taught. There are also times when a brew is just flawed, for whatever reason, and aging is no miracle cure for that. Some examples could be stale ingredient(s), infection, etc.

And in turn, if you did everything right, and had no unlucky mishaps, (something more likely for seasoned brewers), then sure, more time to work out issues is probably not at all necessary.

Well, it looks like inflation just turned my 2 cents worth into about a dollar or more. I better exit stage left ASAP.

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I have found that most of my beers are as good as they are going to get at 2 weeks. The only ones that improved noticeably with age are my high gravity beers. I know that is different than what everybody else says but it has been my experience. Actually my IPA was as good 1 week in the bottle as it is now several weeks later. And that puppy is a 8.9% ABV beer.

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Joechianti wrote:

So maybe this isn't a 'new rule' that breaks the 'old rule' but rather a 'rule within a rule'.

IMHO, the 4 weeks is not a rule, simply a guideline for new brewers whose process is likely far less than ideal. If your sins were minor, then you should have a good beer at 4 weeks. If your process was solid, you can have a nice beer much quicker than that.

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KZ wrote:

Joechianti wrote:

So maybe this isn't a 'new rule' that breaks the 'old rule' but rather a 'rule within a rule'.

IMHO, the 4 weeks is not a rule, simply a guideline for new brewers whose process is likely far less than ideal. If your sins were minor, then you should have a good beer at 4 weeks. If your process was solid, you can have a nice beer much quicker than that.


By far less than an ideal process, do you mean not boiling the full amount of water, not having a secondary fermenter, and brewing adjunct-heavy recipes? Or did you have something else in mind?

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Personally I never secondary unless my brew is of such a high gravity that it will need more than 3 weeks on the trub. So far I have never made one that high of gravity and my last one was 1.082.

I think if you use a lot of adjuncts you would possibly need more time in the bottle. Or if you were Jim Croche.

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smgarrett wrote:

KZ wrote:

Joechianti wrote:

So maybe this isn't a 'new rule' that breaks the 'old rule' but rather a 'rule within a rule'.

IMHO, the 4 weeks is not a rule, simply a guideline for new brewers whose process is likely far less than ideal. If your sins were minor, then you should have a good beer at 4 weeks. If your process was solid, you can have a nice beer much quicker than that.


By far less than an ideal process, do you mean not boiling the full amount of water, not having a secondary fermenter, and brewing adjunct-heavy recipes? Or did you have something else in mind?

I'm not referring to anything specific but a couple of things would be a high adjunct:malt ratio, high fermentation temps, under pitching the yeast, etc. And I'm with gymrat - even with high OG lagers I've never used a secondary.

Cheers!

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KZ wrote:

smgarrett wrote:

KZ wrote:

Joechianti wrote:

So maybe this isn't a 'new rule' that breaks the 'old rule' but rather a 'rule within a rule'.

IMHO, the 4 weeks is not a rule, simply a guideline for new brewers whose process is likely far less than ideal. If your sins were minor, then you should have a good beer at 4 weeks. If your process was solid, you can have a nice beer much quicker than that.


By far less than an ideal process, do you mean not boiling the full amount of water, not having a secondary fermenter, and brewing adjunct-heavy recipes? Or did you have something else in mind?

I'm not referring to anything specific but a couple of things would be a high adjunct:malt ratio, high fermentation temps, under pitching the yeast, etc. And I'm with gymrat - even with high OG lagers I've never used a secondary.

Cheers!


It would seem that importance on secondary fermenters isn't as important as I initially believed, in most cases anyway. Thanks for the confirmation. I'm always looking for ways to get to my beer without cutting corners.

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KZ wrote:

I'm not going to speak for Screwy Brewer, but if I understand his coments correctly he was saying that if a beer is terrible young it will likely be terrible later on - i.e. some beers do need extended conditioning time to fully develop, but if a beer stinks young it will probably stink old. Time can only heal some wounds.

Your beer will definitely tast 'green' when it's too young, but it won't be lousy...just not finished. If it's too bad to drink young, more than likely it won't improve with age.

Cheers!

All - For my part this is how I took Screwy Brewers comments as well. If there is something wrong and your beer taste bad, aging my help the taste. However, aging wont solve all problems.

I didn't take that to mean that aging a beer will never improve the taste, but that aging wont fix every egregious mistake a brewer can make.

Or at least that is how I interpreted Screwy's comments. I look forward to him chiming in to see if I got this correct.

Sam

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Only thing I want to mention here is that it takes 21 days max for a beer to be fully carbonated. It could take less time depending on what you use to prime with but 21 days, at room temp, is the longest it should take. Therefore, 2 weeks in my opinion is not long enough to gauge a beer. Granted, if it sucks at 2 weeks than another week of carbing won't help the taste too much. I have had beers that I didn't care for at 4 weeks turn into a beer I really enjoyed at 3 months. It depends on the style and the complexity of the recipe. IMO

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I'm not disagreeing with the premise here in general.

But I think it depends on "why" you think it doesn't taste right and the style you are brewing. Not right isn't the same as "bad".

Beer, espeically natural carbed beer with yeast in the bottle, certainly changes a bit with age. Some flavors do blend with age which can make a beer better or worse or simply "different" depending on the kind of beer. I like my IPAs young because when they get older the hops get more subtle. I like most of my stouts a bit older, as the malty flavors blend together in a more smooth way. I like most of my wheats young. But my strong belgians will have noticable alcahol notes if you drank them at 2 weeks, where at 8 weeks the alcahol will be toned down and the malt and yeast shine more. This doesn't mean any of them taste "bad" young or old. Just different.

If it really is bad, IE it went sour due to infection, then at 2 weeks you could drink it if you didn't mind the touch of sour. If you tried that same beer at 4 weeks to 6 months it could very well be *the most horrible thing you ever tasted* and make you want to barf. If you tried it again at 10-12 months it could very well become something good again. Any commercial sour you buy has been aged for a year at least. Saying that age didn't help that beer would be silly, age (and sometimes blending) is what makes those beers what they are, and *does* make what many people would call a bad beer into something potentially awesome ... eventually ....

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I have to agree that certain beers will taste good after two weeks in the bottle. I'm drinking a Pliny clone right now which is perfect after two weeks, because you want the freshness of the hops to come out in the beer. However, when I did a smoked porter, it was only drinkable after two months in the bottle. Before that, it was way too sweet.

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I really appreciate everyone chiming in. After reading the comments from Screwy again and all the comments in here, it appears I may have taken the coment too literally. I would certainly still like to hear a final word from the man himself, but I think the consensus was that he didn't mean a beer couldn't improve with age, just that a bad beer would never become a good beer no matter how long you leave it in the bottle.

That makes sense to me. I suppose I will still leave my stout for at least 8 weeks before I try one, but this discussion has me wanting to try one at two weeks just for the experience. I have several beers aging and/or fermenting right now and I think I may give each one a try at a couple weeks in the bottle just as a result of this discussion.

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manosteel9423 wrote:

I really appreciate everyone chiming in. After reading the comments from Screwy again and all the comments in here, it appears I may have taken the coment too literally. I would certainly still like to hear a final word from the man himself, but I think the consensus was that he didn't mean a beer couldn't improve with age, just that a bad beer would never become a good beer no matter how long you leave it in the bottle.

That makes sense to me. I suppose I will still leave my stout for at least 8 weeks before I try one, but this discussion has me wanting to try one at two weeks just for the experience. I have several beers aging and/or fermenting right now and I think I may give each one a try at a couple weeks in the bottle just as a result of this discussion.

You should really think about trying one at two weeks and one every week after that, especially if it's the first time you've brewed the recipe. The only way your going to know when the beer is at it's prime is by doing it this way.

Of course it's less of a hit if your doing it with 12 oz bottles instead of the big PET bottles. IMHO this is a way of getting to know the difference between a young green beer and one that is properly matured and for a brewer this info can be invaluable.

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I've been bottling everything in Grolsch swingtops, so they are about 16 oz, I believe. I get 16-17 bottles per batch. I think its a good idea to do as you say, k9, and I believe I will follow your advice. The concept that I could get half way through my batch before a beer hits its prime is a bit disturbing, but I can always brew more, right?! :)

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Gymrat wrote:

Personally I never secondary unless my brew is of such a high gravity that it will need more than 3 weeks on the trub. So far I have never made one that high of gravity and my last one was 1.082.

I think if you use a lot of adjuncts you would possibly need more time in the bottle. Or if you were Jim Croche.

LMAO :laugh:

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