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Catshark 01-06-2013 12:25 PM

After a few days my brew seems to have ceased fermenting. The foam on top has subsided near enough completely, the pin-hole cling film lid has gone from inflated to flat and there is little to no visible yeast activity. The instructions said something like 6 to 10 days was enough for fermentation but after reading a few threads on here it was my understanding that leaving it for 2 weeks + will produce a nicer beer.

I should have some bottles arrving in a couple of days. Should I leave the flat brew for a week or two and then prime or just go ahead and bottle it up now?

Also, I was planning to prime in the bottles with normal table sugar. Is this a no no?


Chattan 01-06-2013 12:34 PM

What kind of beer are you brewing?

hoppheadIPA 01-06-2013 12:35 PM

The only way to tell if fermentation is complete is take hydrometer samples for a few days and if they're consistent, it's done. Although I would leave it in primary a few more days to let the yeast "clean up" a bit.

Catshark 01-06-2013 12:35 PM

Cooper's English Bitter

aiptasia 01-06-2013 12:50 PM

The best way to tell if your primary fermentation is done is with a hydrometer reading. If your gravity from the reading stays consistent for 2-3 days in a row, the main part of the fermentation is done and it is safe to bottle them.

Now, the reason to let the beer age a bit has mostly to do with what the yeasts produce during the initial feeding. Yeasts often produce more basic fusel alcohols and diacetyl during the initial fermentation which produce some off flavors. Fusel alcohols are also the usual suspects that cause bad headaches and hangovers in beer as well. Your yeast will eventually start to consume these more basic alcohols when there are no more cheap malt sugars left to feed on, so it's good to let the beer have a nice "Diacetyl rest" for a week or so to clean itself up. You will notice very little (if any) airlock activity during this time and the beer will just appear to sit there. This is normal.

The rule of thumb for a lot of ales is roughly three weeks time from brew day to bottling to allow the beer sufficient time to clean itself up. This produces a much better quality beer, so letting it sit a full three weeks is usually a good thing to do. Can you bottle sooner? Sure. There's no magic formula. You can bottle anytime after the primary fermentation has completed. You just might get a better beer if you let it sit on the main yeast cake for another week.

You will still have plenty of viable yeast for carbonating your beer. When your yeasts flocculate out of solution (i.e., go dormant and fall to the bottom of the container), they come to rest at the topmost layer of the trub. The simple act of racking (transferring) your beer from your fermentation vessel to a bottling bucket (hopefully using a siphon hose or a racking cane) will ensure you get a little residual yeast into the bottling bucket, either by accidentally swiping the trub with your racking cane, or just the suction of the beer flow as it moves from one vessel to the next.

With most ales, you'll need about 1 cup of table sugar (3/4 of corn sugar or dextrose) which has been dissolved into a simple syrup for priming. To make a simple syrup, put a pan on your stove and fill it with a cup of water. Bring it to a boil and stir in your sugar. Stir it until it completely dissolves and keep it at a low boil for 15 minutes to sanitize. Then, pour it into the bottom of your bottling/kegging bucket and rack your beer directly on top of it.

Bottle and cap your beers and then let them sit in the dark in a room temperature area of your house for about three weeks to fully carbonate. They'll reach about 1/4 carbonation at one week, 2/3 at two and completely carb up at three weeks time. I stick my bottles in a disused closet on the top shelf, which in the winter time here, remains about 70 degrees f. Then, let your bottles chill in the fridge a full 48 hours prior to serving. Doing this helps ensure the CO2 is re-absorbed back into the beer as cold beer has more CO2 holding capacity than warm beer.

If you follow these steps, you will be rewarded with a fine beer. If you rush things (which new brewers often do) then you'll have mixed results. All the same, good luck! :)

thadass 01-06-2013 12:54 PM

Lots more going on in fermentation than the period of time the yeast is eating up all the sugar and producing co2. Let it sit two weeks total before you bottle!

unionrdr 01-06-2013 01:49 PM

My beers get 3 weeks total to finish fermenting,clean up & settle out clear or slightly misty. Usually,when all the mad bubbling slows or stops,only initial fermentation is over. It'll then slowly,uneventfully creep down to FG. Then 3-7 days clean up & settling time. At least 5 days fridge time to let any chill haze settle out & get decent carbonation & head. 1 week to even 2 weeks will give thicker head & longer lasting carbonation.

Catshark 01-06-2013 02:13 PM

Thanks for the responses especially to aiptasia, one more question though do I have to use a priming bucket for carbonation or can I put a little of the sugar syrup solution in each bottle, are they ten prone to explosion?

unionrdr 01-06-2013 02:17 PM

It's easier to bulk prime in a bottling bucket so that the carbonation will be even from bottle to bottle.

aiptasia 01-06-2013 03:00 PM


Originally Posted by Catshark (Post 4752865)
Thanks for the responses especially to aiptasia, one more question though do I have to use a priming bucket for carbonation or can I put a little of the sugar syrup solution in each bottle, are they ten prone to explosion?

It's easier and more consistent to use a bottling bucket and prime the whole batch with simple syrup at the same time. It helps avoid problems of undercarbonation, overcarbonation and bottle bombs to do it this way. By bulk priming, you'll ensure an even amount in all bottles.

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