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If I were to do a taste-test of the beer at racking/bottling time, how indicative of the end result would it be?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

Somewhat. Lack of carbonation can really alter the flavor, but you should be able to pick out major characteristics or flaws in the beer. But I wouldn't advise reaching any real conclusions until the beer is carbed and has an appropriate conditioning time. That time will vary from beer to beer.

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Ok, that makes me feel a little better. I just racked/bottled my first brew last night, and when I gave it a little taste I wasn't sure what to think. I left it in primary for 12 days and I'm planning to let it condition for another 14. I'm hoping the end result is a little more pleasurable. – brentmc79 May 22 '11 at 16:20
Completely agree with Denny. I would recommend tasting every batch at bottling time, and not trying to come to any conclusions at all until you've brewed quite a few and know what to expect. – Mlusby May 22 '11 at 20:08
This link homebrew.stackexchange.com/questions/3111/… will be helpful in regards to your question. – TinCoyote May 26 '11 at 0:45

Agreed, you have to 'see past' the lack of carbonation, and I have found that the lighter, lower ABV beers that have had a yeast that settles really well do taste OK at bottling at as little as 7 days and are a good indication of the final outcome at say a few weeks or a month in a bottle. I've brewed some with Nottingham yeast that already seem ready to drink! Conversely the higher alcohol, stronger flavoured, less floculent yeasts can taste awful at bottling, but don't give up on them! After a month they may still be poor but try again at 3 months and you may be delighted.

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