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I'm attempting to brew a wide variety of beers (both 2.5 & 5 gallon batches depending on style) in a shortish time span in order to serve at a family reunion in the summer, and now it looks like I may have fallen victim to my own poor planning.

In order to keep up the brew schedule I had planned for this spring, I need to either free up my one and only 3G carboy, or convert the recipes that were slated to be 2.5G back to 5 so I can use my larger fermentors.

I'd like to keep the 2.5G batches as they were planned, but I suddenly realized that I need long enough secondary time to clear up the tripel that's in there now, or racking over was a waste of time.

I know I can age in bottles for the purpose of flavor profile, but is there any way to estimate how long is 'just long enough' to make a noticeable difference in clarity?

For the last year or so we've been simply using common sense to check this kind of stuff (not clear yet? sample and move on), but if it's going to impact my brewing schedule, then I need to make alternate plans (probably just buying another 3G carboy).


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up vote 3 down vote accepted

A 3 Gallon Carboy is $20 USD i think. I would much rather let my beer condition the proper length of time then be dissatisfied with the end product. After all about $20ish worth of materials probably went into the beer no?

As to bottle conditioning vs secondary conditioning. While yes you can simply condition in the bottles you will be waiting longer and your flavor profile will not be the same as if you had conditioned it properly, especially with a big beer like a Tripel.

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I came to this conclusion while halfway through writing the question. I guess I was trying to avoid it since I otherwise so rarely use the 3G, it seems a waste to have two. On the other hand, smaller batches do lend themselves to experimentation... – Peter R Apr 5 '13 at 17:20

There's no reason you can't ferment a 2.5 gal. batch in a 5 gal. gal. carboy, at least through 3-4 weeks of primary fermentation.

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That's exactly what I did with this one, but now I'm trying to determine if this one will be ready for bottling and consequently whether or not the 3G carboy will be free for the next brew, since we tend to use a secondary for just about everything (which is a completely different discussion, I know). – Peter R Apr 5 '13 at 17:17
Buy a bucket to ferment in. Cheap and effective. – Denny Conn Apr 5 '13 at 19:57

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