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I currently have a stout (my 2nd home brew) in a secondary fermentor (glass carboy). Once it reaches FG, what are the advantages/disadvantages of leaving it in the secondary to condition vs bottling right away (or FG + x days)? Obviously, the secondary buys me time to empty enough bottles but is there any impact to the beer (assuming it ages the same amount of time prior to consumption)? If I wait too long will the bottles take too long to condition? If I bottle too soon do I lose any benefits of the secondary?

Thanks.

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I ended up bottling after 3 weeks in secondary. After one week was decently carbonated, at two weeks, little difference from the first. Tastes wonderful; looking forward to brewing my first AG in the next couple weeks. Going forward will probably bottle sooner (or maybe keg... Santa, you listening?) so I can enjoy my beer sooner. –  Mr D Sep 7 '10 at 22:02
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Leaving it in the secondary will allow more sediment to settle out of the beer, but eventually this isn't going to matter too much. After a while your returns will diminish indefinitely, and with a stout I wouldn't worry about it as it isn't supposed to be a nice clear beer. If you wait a long time, like a matter months then the yeast will lose vitallity and it will take longer to carbonate in the bottle, but I wouldn't too much about a few weeks. I would just bottle it when you are ready and enjoy emptying those bottles that the stout is going to be in. In general, the secondary fermenter can hold a beer longer when you want it to clear up nicely, but with stouts and wheat beers especially, I just bottle when I'm ready and don't allow them to settle too much. I once got lazy and left a heffeweizen in the secondary for six months and it cleared up beautifully! It was so clear and golden it looked fantastic, however, it looked nothing like the heff I was going for. If you bottle your stout in the next couple of weeks I don't see any difference in the benefits of letting it sit in the secondary or the bottle.

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