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Say I'll want to brew an imperial stout, let it ferment in primary and then rack it to secondary. How important is the temperature in secondary? I have a temperature controlled fridge to hold the fermentation temperature in primary. I need to make space in the fridge and can't have it there for 3 more months. I have the option to put it into a cooling house (like 5 degrees celsius) or into the quiet warm cellar. Is this an issue?

  • Do you expect that your beer will have reached final gravity when you rack it? If there's actually going to be some secondary fermentation happening in the secondary (e.g. adding more fermentables) then the advice would presumably be to keep temperature at the optimal range for the yeast. However if you're essentially conditioning it, colder would be better (5c might be too low though). – David Liam Clayton May 8 '18 at 20:47
  • Yes I Expect it to be completely fermented. What would be the lowest reasonable temperature? – Strernd May 8 '18 at 20:49
  • FYI I'm a relative newbie and the above is mostly based on what I have read. That said I understand that 5c is in the realms of lagering or cold crashing, but for your purposes you want the yeast to stay active and complete the fermentation by reprocessing its byproducts, so you don't want to knock it all out. What is the yeast you're using? – David Liam Clayton May 8 '18 at 20:53
  • This is just hypothetical for now – Strernd May 8 '18 at 20:54
  • Fair enough, I was going to say it might depend on the temperature range of the yeast - e.g. if it's a lager yeast 5c might be fine (obviously it won't be a lager yeast). 12c is "cellar temperature" here in the UK - that would be my assumption of an acceptable temperature to condition most ales. – David Liam Clayton May 8 '18 at 21:02
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For imperial stout a warm cellar is ok. I kept my imperial stout for fermenter- and then bottle-conditioning in the cellar where temperature reached 25C in summer, and it turned out great (got the 2nd place in a competition).

I wouldn't do it for styles where freshness is required, though.

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If your secondary is purely for maturation and off the yeast cake, then I would say the temperature you store bottled beers at is reasonable ie any ambient room temperature.

At warmer temperatures, different maturation flavour will develop at different rates but if you are leaving it for 3 months then I wouldn't worry about it. I have left Imperial Milds and Stouts in the FV for 2 months then bottled up and left for a year plus at wildly fluctuating cellar/room temps 12-30C; the beer came out delicious from month 2 to still now 2 years later.

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  • Maybe the question should have been, how to age an imperial stout. I want to brew one for christmas and have been told they age well. – Strernd May 9 '18 at 10:24
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Based on your additional comments. This answer addresses aging beer and temperature.

It really depends on your vessel you age in. Specifically if you can maintain zero oxygen and if the beer is carbonated.

If it's a fermenter with an air-lock I recommend keeping it below 40°F, because airlocks can go dry or fail exposing it to oxygen and allowing otherwise dormant microbes to grow. Lower temp will buy you time to correct issues before they effect the beer.

If you bottle or keg, room or cellar temps are fine. If kegging I recommend carbonating before aging and check weekly to insure its maintaining pressure.

Beers age more quickly as temperature increases. We've "hot" aged beers for just a few weeks in summer temps (90°+F), and they come out as refined as a 6 month cellar beer. (Kegged, carbonated and completely oxygen free)

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  • Thanks! So it would be legit to ferment a imperial stout out, bottle it and then let it age at lower room temps (temps that are below the temp Range of the yeast)? – Strernd May 9 '18 at 12:58
  • @Strernd yes, but as mentioned it will have less melding of flavors the lower the temp. 5°c over 3 months will have more of a preserving effect than aging. – Evil Zymurgist May 9 '18 at 13:02

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