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Old 11-20-2011, 04:14 PM   #1
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Default Fermentation Times

I apologize if this is an elementary question so I am posting in the beginner brewing section. I am brewing a hefeweizen for the first time. Trying to determine the fermentation time. I have heard one week, minimum of two weeks. Maybe I am confusing fermentation with “curing” I have also heard it is a matter of preference. Also the transfer. Is there a benefit to transfer to another carboy or right to the keg? I understand the transfer is supposed to seperate the sediment but should it set after a transfer?


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Old 11-20-2011, 04:23 PM   #2
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You are- You have no conrtol over fermentation time, a beer is ready when the yeast consumes all the sugar in there. You're not in charge of the process, the yeast are, and they have their own timeframe. Every beer and every yeast and every combo is going to be different. It could take 4 days for 1 beer to ferment, while anothr beer might not even start fermenting for 3 days. Another could take a couple weeks.

You can't really generalize. And the ONLY way to know is by taking gravity readings.

ANd just because the gravity is stable, it doesn't necessarily mean the yeast is done doing their job. Yeast like to clean up after itself, if we let them. They will go back and clean up all the byproducts of fermentation that they put out during fermentation that leads to off flavors. This is part of the conditioning process, what you meant by curing...

Most of us leave our beers in primary for a month these days and don't secondary. If i do secondary or recommend it, I suggest folks wait til day 12 after yeast pitch to take their first grav reading, and then on day 14...if the grav reading is the same then they should go ahead to rack it. But most folks these days only use a secondary if they are adding oak or fruit.

In the case of a hefe, you don't need/want them to clear, but that doesn't mean you want them to be green and young tasting either. If I were you I would take a grav reading after it's been in the fermenter for around 10 days...if it is at the gravit ythe recipe says it should be, I would wait another 2 days, and take another reading.

If the numbers are the same, meaning the yeast can't find anymore sugars to eat, then in the case of a hef, you could bottle or keg.....if you bottle it should be ready, meaning carbed and hopefully conditoned 3 weeks later if you store the bottles above 70 degrees.

Hope this helps.


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Old 11-20-2011, 04:23 PM   #3
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Keep the primary going for 3-4 weeks then carefully rack into a bottling bucket into which you have already added boiled then cooled water mixed with priming sugar.

Bottle and let condition in the bottles at room temp for another few weeks, then prior to drinking let it sit in the fridge for several days for the CO2 to dissolve.

Then pour carefully and enjoy.


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Old 11-20-2011, 04:24 PM   #4
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Not to be a d!ckhead, but the true answer is "ferment it until it's done." If you bottle before fermentation is complete you will get overcarbed beer if you're lucky, bottle bombs if you;re not.

The aggressive/vigorous part of fermentation will likely only last 2-4 days. But it will continue to ferment for at least another few days. Take hydrometer readings and don't bottle until you've gotten the same reading for three days in a row minimum. For a hefe, that may well be in a week.

You will do good to leave your beer in the fermenter for at least another week, however. After fermentation is done, the yeast will clean up various off- and rough flavors. Many of us don't bottle until 3-4 weeks in primary as a matter of routine.


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Old 11-20-2011, 04:25 PM   #5
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My beers are in the primary for a minimum of 3-4 weeks. Hefeweizens normally do not benefit from aging though, and sometimes are ready within a couple weeks. It's all preference.

I wouldn't bother with a secondary, but that subject has been beat to death around here. I transfer straight to the keg. Only time I do a secondary is when I have secondary additions (fruit, oak, dry hops) or I am long-term aging a high-gravity beer. A hefeweizen I would put straight into the keg.

And as for the separation between "fermentation" and "curing" as you put it. Most primary fermentations are done within 3-5 days. After that we leave it in the primary (or some guys prefer to rack to a secondary) for a couple weeks to give the yeast time to "clean up" after themselves and do away with off-flavors, cloudiness, etc.

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Old 11-20-2011, 04:37 PM   #6
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Old 11-20-2011, 05:01 PM   #7
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The actual fermentation is just days. For a few days after FG yeast are cleaning up undesirable by-products and turning them into their energy reserves as they go dormant. After that solids are settling out. One weeks is usually plenty for a ale to completely finish (it just takes more time to clear up as the solids fall by gravity.) If you pitch long expired yeast with no starter and don't aerate it will likely take longer. It might even stall and it could come out tasting bad.

I've bottle hefeweizens before the krausen fell. Some yeast just don't want to fall out even after they are done. They ferment faster than most and can be served cloudy. They also carbonate faster. Serving a weiss bier in less than two weeks is common.

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