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Scotch Ale - how long in primary & secondary?

I have a Scotch Ale (extract) recipe that doesn’t state any durations for fermentation. I would normally rack to the secondary after about 2 weeks or a few days after it settles out. At the 2 week mark the yeast was still falling out. I left it in the primary for a total of 24 days.

How long is to long before I might get off flavors? Now that it’s in the secondary, when do I know it’s time to bottle? Subsequently, how long in bottles?

I know higher gravity/ABV means longer fermentation times. Anyone have a rule of thumb what the duration of each stage should be for certain gravities?

Thanks in advance.

OG 1.083
FG 1.023 @ day 24 (tasted fine)
pitched 3 vials of WLP028 (Edinburgh) @ 72F
temp held between 72-74F

I would do a 2-3 week primary. Then cold crash in the same vessel for 1-2 weeks to help it clear. autolysis is very uncommon in the home brewers world.

In your case you have completed a 3 week primary. Get it as cold as possible for 1-2 weeks, until it clears as you want.

Bottling, use your taste buds. Start with around 4 weeks. Have one a week until you really like the flavor.

edit: let the beer tell you what to do. Not the calendar.

Thanks Nighthawk. So, it sounds like there is no benefit to letting the beer “condition” in the secondary". Why does NB suggest to leave in the secondary (for lower gravity beers even) for one month to condition?

It sounds like what you & others are suggesting is to let fermentation complete (for any beer?), when the gravity is where it should be (don’t use secondary), cold crash, bottle, then taste as it ages. Would this be correct?

You helped me with fermentation temperature control questions I had back in July of last year after I brewed my first batch (which turned out horrible) & since then I have purchased a chest freezer & a Jonson control. The 4 other batches have turned out good. I’m thirsty to learn more. Thanks.

For a scotch ale (what yeast are you using?) particularly if high ABV will be quite happy with a month in both primary and a month in secondary. It’s not a particularly hoppy beer or one that benefits from being drank fresh like a wheat. Also if you bottle a big beer too early you could end up sad. Bottle bombs no fun and it’s worse with dark big beers. Not that a scotch ale is dark but you get the idea. It’s amazing how long fermentation will continue and I think if anything (to a point of course) you just smooth things out. Look at how aging of beers in wood has become so popular…

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