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First time brewer.

I have my beer in the bottle (for about 8 days now). Things are good -- yeast is precipitating out. The instructions that came with the kit suggested to put 1 bottle's worth of beer in a PET plastic bottle instead of glass -- and when the PET bottle is firm to the touch (i.e. you can't really squeeze it anymore), the beer is carbonated.

The plastic bottle has gotten to this point, but the kit said between "2 weeks to 1 month, maybe even as long as 2 months" of bottle conditioning time, depending on the ambient temperature and the mood of the yeast. I've kept the box with the bottles consistently between 18~23C (64~73F).

I am really anxious to pop open one of the bottles (after refrigerating it of course!) and have a taste -- is there any reason why I shouldn't? I understand that beer "mellows" a bit in the bottle even after carbonation is done -- is that correct? Is the taste going to change significantly after the carbonation has finished?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 5 down vote accepted

You can pop one open now, and it's a good learning experience to keep drinking your beer regularly so that you can see how it develops. I know, tough life! And you'll probably find like I do that the beer is at it's peak when there's one or two bottles left.

8 days may not be enough time for all the CO2 in the headspace to dissolve back into the beer, so you might hear a loud hiss but not have much carbonation. After another week, the beer will be better carbonated. But don't let that stop you from having a taste now. Waiting for beer to be ready is one of the hardest parts of being a brewer!

As to how long to age the general rule is higher OG = more ageing required. Apart from wheats, which tend to age quickly (usually best at 3-5 weeks depending upon gravity) most 1.036-1.048 beers will be at their best around 4-6 weeks or more. Higher OG beers require more time still, e.g. a typical 1.060 beer is best left for a couple of months before thinking about drinking it regularly. But still, open a bottle every month, to see how it's developing.

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Thanks for the info inre: OG as well -- that's a helpful guideline to follow. But I think I have this website's blessing now - time to pop one open! This isn't a particularly big beer at all, so now is the time to try it I reckon. –  makdad Feb 7 '12 at 23:15
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I always open one at 7 days, just to test carbonation.

As far as aging, yes, it can change a beer significantly. I've had beers really come into their own after 2 weeks, and after 4 months. There is no hard-and-fast rule here.

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Agreed with above poster. I made an American Amber ale with 4 whole vanilla beans added in secondary and bottled it. I tried one 2 weeks after bottling and their was a bitter taste I didnt expect and the vanila after taste was so pronounced as to make a negative impression. I thought I had wasted 5 gallons of beer. I waited another week and tried again, and the tastes had mellowed. After a fouth week, it is one of the smoothest, most drinkable beers I've ever tasted.

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Interesting -- particularly when experimenting with outside flavors in secondary this seems to be the case. –  makdad Feb 7 '12 at 23:17
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You've got 5 or 6 gallons of this stuff! Go ahead and try one!

I almost always try one after 2 or 3 days. It's often quite enjoyable in the first week. Once I drank about 12 bottles in the first week -- and enjoyed every one of them!

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I'm in Japan - everything is smaller here -- Try 10L :P but point taken! –  makdad Feb 12 '12 at 23:59
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