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I am looking to finish off my leftover ingredients and can just about make a pale ale with OG ~1.04 or so. I'd like to get it started tomorrow, but I probably won't be able to rack it until the first or second week in January. Will it be OK in the primary for 5-6 weeks or should I wait until after the New Year to do it?

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    Did you use dry or liquid yeast? Did you make a starter? – dana Dec 18 '11 at 22:10
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It will be fine. Not much more to say, but I have to enter a longer answer....;)

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I've had off flavours creep into several beers that were 4 weeks or longer in primary. If you can crash cool it (after a couple of weeks) until you're ready to rack then that will reduce changes of off flavours and you'll also end up with a clearer beer since the yeast will drop out more efficiently.

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leaving the wort on the primary yeast cake for over 3 weeks is not advisable. The yeast begin breaking down their waste products, better to transfer wort off the primary yeast cake into a secondary to continue the conditioning phase. Watch out for those Diactels, you'll get some real off flavors.

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    False. This is old brewing dogma and has been proven false by repeated experiments within the homebrewing community, and in recent publications such as "Brew Your Own" magazine, which did a collaborative experiment with Basic Brewing Radio on this topic. Furthermore, longer primary fermentations have the added benefit of REMOVING diacetyl from the beer. There's nothing wrong with a 5-6 week primary for a normal beer. – Graham Dec 19 '11 at 21:06
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I left my beer in fermentation for 5 weeks because it didn't finish fermentation before a business trip. It had a bad smell that stayed mostly with the fermentation bucket. There was an off flavor that sunk in toward the end of the bottle.

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