Fermentation Questions

Fermentation Questions
  • How long until my beer is done fermenting? Most fermentation takes about a week but more time is always better. You can’t “over-ferment”, so if you’re not sure if it is done, let it sit for a few more days or even weeks. Once the yeast has converted all the sugar to alcohol it just goes dormant. From that point on the beer is just “aging” and a little aging is good for beer.
  • Where should I keep my fermenter? Some place that maintains a stable temperature and doesn’t have a lot of light – basements and closets usually work good. Avoid rooms with heating elements or big windows, drastic temperature shifts can cause odd flavors. If you’re using a bucket, light is not a major factor but glass carboys should be wrapped with a blanket to keep out light.
  • What temperature is good for fermentation? It depends on the type of yeast and the flavors you’re going for but most ales ferment well at room temperature (60F to 75F). For lagers or cleaner tasting ales you’ll want to ferment below 60F, however the colder the temperature the longer fermentation will take and if it gets too cold the yeast may go dormant before fermentation is done. If you’re doing a cold ferment it is a good idea to gradually step down the temperature.
  • I’m not seeing bubbles in the airlock, what should I do? First, don’t panic. If it has been over 48 hours since you added the yeast, look for other signs of fermentation like foam or particles stuck to side of the fermenter. If you see that, everything is fine but check to make sure the air lock, bung and lid are tightly in place. If you don’t see any signs of fermentation, check the temperature of the room, if it is below 60F moving the fermenter someplace warmer might get the yeast going. If you don’t want to take any chances, the best thing to do is add another pack of yeast. Even if you use a different type of beer yeast, it is still better than letting some wild yeast have its way in there.
  • Do I need to do a secondary fermentation?  Transferring to a secondary fermenter can be beneficial but it isn’t necessary. Racking the beer off the “trub” helps give you a cleaner beer but every time you move your beer you risk infection so watch your sanitation. I generally only use a secondary for long term aging (more than a month) or for post-fermentation flavoring like dry hopping or fruit additions.
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