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Aging Higher ABV Beer in Carboy vs. Bottle Conditioning

Interested to hear what others have to say about this. For a high ABV beer, let’s say a 10% Stout, I would think it would be best to: primary for 4-6 weeks, rack to secondary to age for another 4-6 weeks to get it off the cake, then bottle condition for probably 6 weeks. Or is this overkill? Would you go straight from primary to bottle?

If I’m using a highly flocculant yeast like WLP002 will there be enough around by bottling time to tackle the added corn sugar or will more yeast be needed?

Does anyone use a time based guideline for fermentation based on ABV or are there too many variables (yeast strain, etc.)?

  • H

That’s how I do most of my high grav brews, the only difference being the timings:
primary is usually a week to 10 days, secondary for 3-6 weeks, then to a tertiary carboy for bulk aging for up to 12 months before transferring to a keg for force carbing.

Can’t comment on how bottle conditioning is affected since I bottle my finished and carbed beers from a keg, as needed. There will always be some yeast left in the beer but how much and how active it remains will be dependent upon the strain to some degree.

Since you’re proposing a comparatively short time interval between steps, you may very well have enough yeast left in suspension after your secondary to do the job (though it may take a bit longer to condition in the bottle).
Of course, you could always prime it and add some yeast if needed at bottling time.

You could go from primary to bottle, but with high grav beers that benefit from longer aging, you’ll probably wind up with more sediment in the bottle. If that’s not an issue for you, then sure, you can bottle after the long primary. Just make sure that the ferment is truly done…otherwise if there are any bottles left months down the line (when strong beers generally approach their true prime) you could wind up with some gushers.

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