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Aging: does it matter where?

Does it matter if you age a beer in a bottle or in a fermenter instead?

For example, a beer kept 8 weeks in primary and then bottled and consumed at 10 weeks. Or, the same beer kept in primary for two weeks then bottled and consumed after 8 weeks.

Does it matter? Will one age better than the other?

It could make a big difference for 2 reasons. Too long in the primary can be a problem. After bottling, there is a whole new yeast process going on, so 2 weeks may not be enough. I would put the time in a bottle. (Jim Croce, anyone?)

There is a theory that batch aging (in the fermenter) helps. It is well known that the beer needs to sit on the yeast a while for the yeast to clean it up. But, I don’t know if there is any hard evidence that bulk as opposed to bottle aging beyond full yeast clean up is a help. The analogy that I read is that bulk aging is similar to how soup or chili is so much better the next day after the favors meld.

I have found that big beers age differently depending upon the size bottle they are aged in. So I guess it would follow that aging in a carboy would be different than in many small bottles. That’s not to say that one is better than the other or one is right and the other is wrong. There is a difference. YMMV

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