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Primary Fermentation

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'''Primary fermentation''' is when the [[wort]] finally becomes [[beer]] through the conversion of sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide.  This conversion is done by the [[yeast]] which "eat" the sugars; you just need to provide the right conditions for the yeast to do its job.
 
'''Primary fermentation''' is when the [[wort]] finally becomes [[beer]] through the conversion of sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide.  This conversion is done by the [[yeast]] which "eat" the sugars; you just need to provide the right conditions for the yeast to do its job.
 
==Primary Fermentation for the Beginning Homebrewer==
 
As a beginner, you'll probably be using the plastic [[bucket fermenter]] that came in your [[equipment kit]].  Assuming you have a [[bucket fermenter]] and a [[fermentation lock]], all you have to do is read the sections below on [[#The Fermentation Environment|The Fermentation Environment]] to make sure your conditions are right, and [[#When is Primary Fermentation Complete?|When is Primary Fermentation Complete?]] so that you know when it's time to move on to the next step and [[bottle]] your beer.
 
  
 
==Choosing a Fermenter==
 
==Choosing a Fermenter==

Revision as of 11:12, 29 September 2007

The Beer Brewing Process
1. Preparing the Ingredients
2. Cleaning and Sanitation
3. Making the Wort
4. Boiling the Wort
5. Cooling, Racking, and Aerating
6. Pitching the Yeast
7. Primary Fermentation
8. Conditioning the Beer
9. Packaging and Carbonation
10. Dispensing and Serving

Primary fermentation is when the wort finally becomes beer through the conversion of sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide. This conversion is done by the yeast which "eat" the sugars; you just need to provide the right conditions for the yeast to do its job.

Contents

Choosing a Fermenter

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Airlocks and Blowoff Tubes

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The Fermentation Environment

A Carboy fermenting beer with a Three Piece Airlock on top.

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Once the wort is aerated and the yeast has been added (pitched), the yeast should begin to reproduce, and eventually ferment the beer. Signs of fermentation include bubbles (burps) in the airlock, and a layer of foam (called "Kraeusen") on top of the beer. The amount of time between pitching the yeast and the first signs of fermentation is referred to as "lag time". The goal of the attentive brewer is to keep the lag time within a reasonable limit. A short lag time (< 8 hours for ales, < 16 hours for lagers) is generally desirable and a very long lag time (> 24 hrs) increases the chance for infection. As such, utilizing the yeast starter and aeration methods described above, as well as keeping the fermentation temperatures within the accepted range, can help to reduce lag time. While most ale fermentations should be mostly complete within 10 days (this can be seen by reduced or stopped airlock activity, and the krausen sinking to the bottom of the fermenter), some may take longer, and lagers may take 3 weeks or more to finish. On the other hand, depending on the health of the fermentation and other variables, some fermentations may be vigorous enough to finish in 2 or 3 days. As a general rule, lagers ferment at colder temperatures than ales. These ranges vary from yeast to yeast, but generally speaking, the standard ranges are as follows:

  • Ale Fermentation Temperature Ranges: 60*F - 70*F (15*C - 20*C)
  • Lager Fermentation Temperature Ranges: 46 *F - 58 *F (8*C - 14*C)

Advanced Fermentation Temperature Control

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When is Primary Fermentation Complete?

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What do I do next?

Once primary fermentation is complete, you may want to take extra measures by way of Conditioning the Beer, such as a secondary fermentation or lagering. Or, beginning brewers can skip straight to the final step in the beer brewing process: Packaging and Carbonation.