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Homebrew recipes often give information along the lines of "6-8 weeks maturation". What exactly does maturation mean here in terms of conditions? Is it the same as a secondary? Can the beer "mature" on the yeast? Does it have to be bottled/kegged before maturation starts? Is maturation warm or cold or does that depend on the type of beer (i.e. ale or lager)?

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If the use of the term maturation comes after a period of "conditioning/carbonating" then I take it to mean just letting the beer get some age on it.

Often there are some styles of beer that do well to just sit around for a period of time. I don't always think it means on the yeast, but in the case of a bottle conditioned beer there will be some yeast in there. Actually all homebrew still has yeast in it unless filtered out.

I'd just take the time onto the carbonating process. But for any beer you make you should be sampling it on a weekly basis to see if the "maturation" process is needed, or for how long. Each batch of homebrew seems to have a time when it peaks, and that isn't necessarily the day after its completely carbed up.

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Agreed. I have a habit of tasting my homebrew as soon as it's carbed, but it is often still not ready/mature. The imperial red I bottled a month or two ago had an awful aftertaste at first. It carbed fine, but it had this terrible off-flavor. That flavor has gone away now and left me with quite a nice brew. Taste periodically, but the flavor can and will change dramatically with most beers. –  WhatsBillDoing May 30 '10 at 2:43
    
Recently I was told about a guy on the internet who really liked stouts. He tried several recipes and at last only one remained. The only thing that was missing was the right maturation time. It turned out that he best liked his stout after exactly one year. I couldn't have waited this much nevertheless. :P –  Tetragrammaton May 31 '10 at 20:47
    
I have been brewing the same trusted oatmeal stout for years, and it always tastes its best after 4-5 months in the bottle/keg. –  brewchez Jun 1 '10 at 11:46
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