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I have ordered around 16 extract batches from Northern Brewer. I've noticed a trend in the time the instructions ask you to wait before bottling: if the OG is greater than 1.050, bottle after four weeks, and less than 10-50, bottle after two weeks.

For the higher OG ones, the instructions seem to always call for a secondary fermentation. I have stopped doing secondaries on the suggestion of this stackexchange.

Is there any particular reason for doing 4 week long primaries instead of two week long primaries?

I just made two batches from MoreBeer (my LHBS) and I was told that there should never be a reason to do most ales for longer than 2 weeks before bottling.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

They're trying to make one simple, common set of instructions that satisfy both a large range of beers as well as a huge variability in customers, across the dimensions primarily of: inherent yeast performance, yeast health, lag time, fermentation temperature and adherence to instructions/technique, including a comfortable margin of "safety".

In short: they're very general purpose, boilerplate instructions.

You're starting to get to the point you understand the process independent of those instructions … it's not like NB extract has an owner's manual that's unique from MoreBeer extract, or the wort you'll get from all-grain, or whatever.

Go by gravity, not time; most beers (including above 1.050) will be done inside of 2 weeks. As you've learned, secondary is unnecessary without extended aging. Find a process that works for your tools/time/schedule, and go from there.

Na Zdrowie!

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Some brewers say "let the beer make the schedule". That's the case here - some beers simply need longer to ferment out and clean up. –  mdma Oct 3 '13 at 12:00
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