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I made a Blonde Ale about 3 months ago, and it had a really bitter and strange taste to it. It was drinkable and ok, but not great. I thought the problem was that there was sanitizer flavor in my beer. So the next batch (Cherry Stout) I did all glass primary and secondary fermentation to mitigate the sanitizer flavor. The beer had a pretty much identical flavor to the young Blonde Ale, drinkable but not great. I generally followed the 1-2-3 rule (1 week primary, 2 weeks secondary, 3 weeks bottle), but moved out of the primary based on a the desired gravity reading, so the usual fermenting/conditioning time.

After my Blonde Ale had aged for 3 months, I tasted it again and it tasted amazing! I couldn't believe it! It was a night and day difference between the odd flavor it started out with and how it tasted after aging for 3 months. Is this always the case? Right now my Cherry Stout doesn't taste very well, but if I give it 3 months, do you think it will taste significantly better?

Does the same thing apply to kegged beers? Does it normally take a few months to produce quality flavor?

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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I keg and most of my beers are tasting great at 4 weeks. Do some styles I brew take longer to "peak"? Yes. But for the most normal beers (pales, reds, wheats, blondes etc etc) they are tasting great around the forth week.

I think my results has nothing to do with kegging though.

If you are following the 1-2-3 rule, I'd suggest two critical things. Make sure you are pitching the best yeast you can. That means 1) its the proper amount of yeast 2) Its healthy yeast. Once you have that down and mastered the issues you describe will clear up sooner.

Next, drop the 1-2-3 rule. Let the beer sit in primary for AT LEAST 14 days! Your yeast does so much more than just flocculate out once final gravity is reached. The yeast help with flavor maturation after the ferment is done. Leaving the beer on the whole yeast cake an extra week greatly shortens the time. That's why something as simple as a blonde took 3 months to get good (it was probably sooner but...) you just didn't have enough yeast in there to work.

With a 2 week primary the need for secondary almost goes away. And when doing full wort boils and using a wort chiller the beer clears pretty well that way too, again negating the need for a secondary step.

I am certain your Cherry Stout will improve in time. Stouts especially do well with a little maturation time on them, IMO.

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I have found that the higher the OG, the longer it takes my beer to bottle condition...for something like a pale ale a month is usually enough, but my IPA goes for 3-4 months before I start drinking it.

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The gravity on my Blonde Ale was really high accidentally. It started around 1.08 or something crazy like that. The final ABV was 8.14%. So that definitely could have been a big factor. –  bfrederi Jul 2 '10 at 14:48
    
Wow, I'm jealous. I've never been able to wait that long. I'm basically shaking the bottles to see if there's bubbles in there after a week... and the rest is history. –  Juanote Jul 10 '10 at 4:02
    
Forgot to vote this up and say that higher gravity beers tend to benefit from aging, in my experience. I made a 10.5% IIIPA last year that tasted like sugary @$$ when I bottled it but turned into a real treat after 6 months in the bottle. –  Juanote Jul 10 '10 at 4:22
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