A month in the primary... way too long?

What went wrong? Was this supposed to happen? Should I throw it out? What do I do now?

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A month in the primary... way too long?

Postby Benjamin1c » Fri Dec 10, 2010 11:51 am

Ok, I know there is different opinions on this. I usually try to bottle from the primary (don't yet own a secondary container) after 2 weeks, or at least before 3. Had some things going on last weekend, and the week before, and so here I am pushing four weeks when I might bottle. Its such a chore sometimes; the brewing is fun, and the drinking is fun, the bottling and waiting is not so fun.

Just wondering if I can expect any serious effects from sitting on the yeast so long; hopefully the yeast will not have begun autolyzing yet, but I'm not sure how that works. In the past I've had the effect of something like eating a piece of raw bread dough as an after taste from a long primary. Hopefully any such thing will go away after bottle conditioning.

Just wondering what any opinions are on this, tx :-)
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Postby bobcat_brewer » Fri Dec 10, 2010 2:32 pm

4 weeks shouldn't cause you any problems. If your beer is a high gravity beer, your primary fermentation probably didn't finish all that long ago.
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+1

Postby brewmeisterintng » Fri Dec 10, 2010 5:20 pm

It might depend on the beer though. You can mask a lot of things in darker stronger brews. You might detect something in say a cream ale or a lager. There have been many a discussion on the subject. I use to primary my ales for one week and seconday for two. I now two week both and have had better cleaner brews. I secondary so that I can collect healther yeast to reuse... just my two cents.
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Postby Benjamin1c » Fri Dec 10, 2010 6:55 pm

thanks for the input.
Not sure of the OG... broke my hydrometer some time back :-( however, beertools calculator tells me should finish at 5.5% with the extract I used, so figure moderately high gravity.
It is an ale, but a pale ale, not lager. I hope that complex fruity ale taste kinda masks any yeasty flavor anyway.

I have read in so many places that people are getting away from the old-school idea of racking away from the yeast as soon as possible, and that 2 or even 3 weeks in primary is ok, that I've not even bothered to get a carboy for secondary. Maybe I will in the future, at least for dry hops and such.

for now, I'm cautiously optimistic that a month isn't irreversibly harmful; I once went even longer but with lager yeast (San Francisco lager) the result was a disaster. But, I am hoping that a hardy ale yeast (Nottingham) is more forgiving.

Will report back on this, and any other input is always appreciated :-)
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Postby bobcat_brewer » Sat Dec 11, 2010 9:11 am

A beer like that is usually ready to be racked in about two weeks. I don't brew week beers, so everything I brew is primaried for two weeks or longer for really strong beers. My lagers all ferment 3-4 weeks in primary.

That said, you should pull that beer off the yeast as soon as you can. There is nothing good happening in there any longer. I certainly wouldn't dump the beer though. It is more than likely still fine.

You should definitely get yourself a secondary fermenter. This gives you a chance to rack your beer off the yeast when primary is complete and let the beer settle out and clarify in the secondary. It is also where you can dry hop your beer.

Replace that hydrometer. It is a really useful tool for testing whether your beer is still fermenting. Watching the bubbles in the air lock (or lack of) can be a very misleading method. Testing gravity every couple of days is a much better way of knowing if your fermentation is complete.
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Postby nshack » Sat Dec 11, 2010 10:24 pm

I've gone 4+ weeks with a pale ale (kolsch) on the yeast and it turned out drinkable. It wasn't my favorite beer ever, but it was fine. I was worried, but it wasn't the end of it.

Bottling was such a chore that i'd procrastinate racking or bottling the latest batch. Now that I'm kegging, I'm much more prompt about taking care of it, and like the beer better too.
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thanks

Postby Benjamin1c » Fri Dec 17, 2010 11:24 am

thanks for all the info; its been bottled now for about 4 days. Generally I know its best to wait about 2 weeks, but knowing me, in a couple more days I'll be taking a "sample", so then I'll know if there is anything grievously out-of-kilter with it. If so, I'll let y'all know so as to avoid my error.

In the mean time, happy brewing, drinking, and holidays!!
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so far, so good

Postby Benjamin1c » Tue Dec 21, 2010 10:44 am

Ok, week in the bottle, and I don't think a month in primary damaged it (or not much). Perhaps a bit more yeasty taste, which should go away in few weeks.

One thing, the hop aroma (this is pale ale) is noticeable, but does not deliver the great powerful bouqet I get from the best commercial examples. And, I did try to add in twice as much finishing hops as usual to the boil (2 oz per 5 gal, & 1 oz bittering). I also tried dry hopping in the primary; even though I know the effect is minimal, and much better to do so in secondary. Don't know if the extra long primary might have helped or hurt the dry hopping.

In any event, just another reason to go out & grab that secondary carboy.
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