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TomToro

Big beers long, Small beers short?

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I'm trying to get a handle on conditioning times for different types/gravities of beer.

Is it safe to assume that most larger (higher gravity OG) beers take a lot longer to condition (in the bottle and/or the fermenter) than a lower gravity beer or is that too generalized?

If it is o.k. to assume this, then are there certain conditioning times that can be associated with certain og gravities?

eg.1.050-8 weeks conditioning or whatever?

Is there a chart somewhere that suggests conditioning times in the bottle for various beers?

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I would say the more complex the ingredience are, possibly the longer the need for conditioning. I've (ah-hem) made a few High Gravity brews, and they really didn't NEED any extra long conditioning time, however, I've made some stouts that enjoyed a longer conditioning time.

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As far as assumptions go, that's a pretty safe one to make. I try and give my beers at least two months in the bottle, but some are perfectly good as soon as they are properly carbonated (which I consider to take about a month in most cases). Bigger beers should sit in secondary or bottles for longer. A 9% or 10% beer will almost always be much better after aging for six months or more, either in a secondary fermenter or bottles.

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I don't know that there's any hard and fast rule, although I tend to agree with yankeedag. It's not so much the higher gravity beers that need more conditioning, but rather the beers with more complex malt bills.

Consider this: IPAs should be consumed as early as possible, since time is the enemy of hops, and the longer it sits around, the more risk there is that you'll lose some of the hop influence characteristic of an IPA. But what if you have an IPA with an OG of 1.065? Would you want it to condition longer? Probably not, really. The malt bill would most likely be fairly simple, and once you hit FG, that's all she wrote. So you'd drink it fairly early.

But if you had a stout where the OG was 1.050, with a very subdued hop profile, it would probably benefit from longer conditioning, due to the complexity of the malts involved in making a stout.

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With all due respect to Dave, I have to disagree. I find that my IPAs are best at about the 2 month mark, and they average about 6.5%-7% ABV. Granted that some of that may be process related. I've been surprised to notice no green flavors in some of my more recent beers at an earlier age, but I can only guess the reasons why (I'm thinking three weeks in the fermenter instead of two is one of them).

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oly wrote:

With all due respect to Dave, I have to disagree. I find that my IPAs are best at about the 2 month mark, and they average about 6.5%-7% ABV. Granted that some of that may be process related. I've been surprised to notice no green flavors in some of my more recent beers at an earlier age, but I can only guess the reasons why (I'm thinking three weeks in the fermenter instead of two is one of them).

Disagreeing is fine. Being disagreeable isn't, but since you're never disagreeable, there's no issue.

You bring up interesting points, though. And it may be a case of many variables influencing the whole. My latest batch of FedoraDave's American Ale was such a disappointment at first, I started a thread about it. I've come around on it, because it's gotten better with age. It has a very simple grain bill, it's 5% ABV, it fermented for three weeks and was in the bottle for just under four weeks when I chilled a couple of bottles for two or three days for my First Pour. As I mentioned, disappointment.

But those four weeks of carb/condition were done in the basement, at a temperature in the low 60s. Maybe even lower, since I seem to remember some of those bottles were on the slab floor, not on shelves. Once I brought them upstairs, they matured pretty quickly, and I'm really enjoying what I've got; a good, light, refreshing summertime lawnmower/barbecue ale. Whether they improve with age or start to degenerate after a peak time remains to be seen.

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FedoraDave wrote:

...but since you're never disagreeable, there's no issue.


:laugh: LOL. Are you poking fun at me? I try not to be disagreeable, but I know I don't pull it off very well. :whistle:

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The amount time of time spent in the bottle is less important the the amount of time spent in the glass. :unsure:

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Ralphs Wag Your Tail Pale Ale was fantstic 1 week after bottling. And it is a 9% brew. But generally I would say the higher the gravity the longer the conditioning time. That is only rule of thumb though.

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I drink all my IPAs as soon as they are carbonated, even up to 10% ABV. The simplicity of the malt bills helps and I just don't find the small improvement in smoothness that comes from aging longer to be worth the loss of precious hops aroma. But the Rye IPA I just made, with a more complex malt bill, will probably be best 1.5-2months for my tastes.

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I've set this up for myself...it's certainly not true for all beers...but it's a general rule for me:

Any beer under 5% ABV, I give 4-6 weeks in the bottle carb/conditioning.

Any beer above 5% ABV, I add 1 month to anything above 4%. As an example, if I have a beer that is 6%, then I add 2 months to the 4-6 weeks. If I have a beer that's 9%, then I go 5 months on top of the 4-6 weeks...so roughly 6 1/2 months.

===========

Again, the points made above that the complexity of the beer is very important. If you brew a beer at 5% ABV that is 90% Pale Malt and 10% Crystal....SHOULD!!! take a lot less time for flavors and whatnot to mesh than a beer of the same 5% ABV with 50% Pale, 10% Chocolate, 10% Biscuit, 20% Smoked, 5% Crystal, and 5% Pilsner.

....generally speaking.

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