Fermentation time

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ericbw

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I have been doing everything for 4 weeks in primary. On some of them, it seems like the last 2 weeks is when it starts to look like beer, and the last week really clears. So that schedule seems to work ok. But...

With an American wheat beer, which doesn't need to clear as much, how short could the primary fermentation be? Assume the ambient temp is about 63 degrees, and I have been using US-05. Would 2 weeks in primary be enough before bottling (then usually 2 weeks conditioning at room or cellar temp and then refrigerator for 3-7 days)?

I have heard people talk about 3 weeks for a wheat, but I think they usually are using a German yeast for the usual flavors. I also think they are kegging. Short fermentations seem to taste like... homemade beer. Does hefe yeast mask the young flavor? Any ideas?
 

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According to my lhbs Oberon is usually done in about 16-18 days. Meaning bottle/kegged. I asked the same question and that was the answer.
 

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I never leave a beer in the fermenter more than about 10-14 days, unless I'm dryhopping or oaking or something.

A good rule of thumb is to keep the beer a minimum of three days in the fermenter once it's done fermenting. After that, depending on yeast strain, the beer will start to clear.

S05 never clears well for me, but other strains do. Some English strains will clear the beer well, and drop like a rock to the bottom of the fermenter by about day 10, while S05 just seems to take forever. So it really depends on how clear the beer is.
 

progmac

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how to have a wheat done in the shortest amount of time possible:

step 1 draw off 4-8 ounces of worst after pitching yeast. set somewhere warm. this is your sample.
step 2 after three days, your sample should be done. mind that signs of fermentation have completed. measure the SG, this is your target FG
step 3 monitor your fermenting beer closely. when it is 3-4 points above FG, bottle with NO priming sugar.

this isn't super practical, but it is certainly possible.
you could just wait until the day you actually hit target gravity and then prime and bottle as normal and still have a beer in ~ 20 days.
 
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ericbw

ericbw

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I never leave a beer in the fermenter more than about 10-14 days, unless I'm dryhopping or oaking or something.

A good rule of thumb is to keep the beer a minimum of three days in the fermenter once it's done fermenting. After that, depending on yeast strain, the beer will start to clear.

S05 never clears well for me, but other strains do. Some English strains will clear the beer well, and drop like a rock to the bottom of the fermenter by about day 10, while S05 just seems to take forever. So it really depends on how clear the beer is.
To make sure I understand: you leave it in the primary until the gravity stops dropping (10-14 days) and then bottle or keg?

Does it make a difference if it is bottled vs. kegged?

How long do you condition in bottles after that?
 

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To make sure I understand: you leave it in the primary until the gravity stops dropping (10-14 days) and then bottle or keg?

Does it make a difference if it is bottled vs. kegged?

How long do you condition in bottles after that?
No. I leave it in the primary until the gravity stops dropping and active fermentation signs are over. Then I wait at least three days for the yeast to "clean up" after themselves (they even digest some of their own waste products at the end of fermentation) and for the beer to clear.

After at least three days, and the beer is clear or clearing, I bottle or keg. This is for ales. For lagers, that's when I begin lagering. For me, I usually bottle or keg ales between day 10-14.

It depends on the beer, but I'm often drinking kegged beers three-four weeks from brewday, sometimes sooner for beers like a mild, and sometimes later for beers like stouts.
 
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ericbw

ericbw

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No. I leave it in the primary until the gravity stops dropping and active fermentation signs are over. Then I wait at least three days for the yeast to "clean up" after themselves (they even digest some of their own waste products at the end of fermentation) and for the beer to clear.

After at least three days, and the beer is clear or clearing, I bottle or keg. This is for ales. For lagers, that's when I begin lagering. For me, I usually bottle or keg ales between day 10-14.

It depends on the beer, but I'm often drinking kegged beers three-four weeks from brewday, sometimes sooner for beers like a mild, and sometimes later for beers like stouts.
See, I ALMOST can't believe you. Ha ha. Any time I have done a short fermentation, it has tasted bad - too sweet or something. I also have noticed a difference with longer fermentations from the clean up. Pretty amazing!

I'm not really terribly concerned with the timing, but since summer is coming, I know the supply will dwindle quicker than usual. The way I do things now, it's 6 weeks start to finish, which means some planning is in order.
 

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long "fermentation" for normal beers is a crutch method. as you get better at this thing, you won't need ten year primaries
 

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See, I ALMOST can't believe you. Ha ha. Any time I have done a short fermentation, it has tasted bad - too sweet or something. I also have noticed a difference with longer fermentations from the clean up. Pretty amazing!

I'm not really terribly concerned with the timing, but since summer is coming, I know the supply will dwindle quicker than usual. The way I do things now, it's 6 weeks start to finish, which means some planning is in order.
You don't have to believe me. Try it yourself!

A couple of important things that make it work- pitch the proper amount of yeast at the proper temperature, always. And always control fermentation temperature.

A well made beer is ready far sooner than some people believe. Think of the best brewpubs or commercial craft breweries you know- then ask them if they keep their beer in the primary for a month. They'll look at your like you are crazy.

Keeping the beer for a long time in the fermenter may fix some problematic fermentations. My point is that if you make the beer properly in the first place, you don't need time to age out problems.

And some people, like me, don't like the yeast character imparted by an ultra long primary. Some people do prefer that, so it's really a matter of taste.

So try it!

Make a double batch of beer. In the first fermenter, do it your normal way. In the second, pitch the proper amount of yeast (per a yeast pitching calculator), at a lower temperature (say, 60 degrees for an ale). Allow it to rise to 65 degrees for 5 days, and then allow it to rise to 68 degrees or so for another 5 days or so. Then package it when it's clear.

Try the beers side by side and see which you prefer. If you prefer the former, great. Then you are doing exactly what you should be doing. If you prefer the latter, then make some permanent changes in your brewing habits.
 
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ericbw

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You don't have to believe me. Try it yourself!

A couple of important things that make it work- pitch the proper amount of yeast at the proper temperature, always. And always control fermentation temperature.

A well made beer is ready far sooner than some people believe. Think of the best brewpubs or commercial craft breweries you know- then ask them if they keep their beer in the primary for a month. They'll look at your like you are crazy.

Keeping the beer for a long time in the fermenter may fix some problematic fermentations. My point is that if you make the beer properly in the first place, you don't need time to age out problems.

And some people, like me, don't like the yeast character imparted by an ultra long primary. Some people do prefer that, so it's really a matter of taste.

So try it!

Make a double batch of beer. In the first fermenter, do it your normal way. In the second, pitch the proper amount of yeast (per a yeast pitching calculator), at a lower temperature (say, 60 degrees for an ale). Allow it to rise to 65 degrees for 5 days, and then allow it to rise to 68 degrees or so for another 5 days or so. Then package it when it's clear.

Try the beers side by side and see which you prefer. If you prefer the former, great. Then you are doing exactly what you should be doing. If you prefer the latter, then make some permanent changes in your brewing habits.
Temperature control is an issue right now. I basically have two options right now: basement with steady low temps, or in the house with higher but fluctuating temps. So this might be a dumb question, but how do you (cheaply) control temperature with that kind of precision?

I have two empty gallon jugs because I just bottled today. So I can do the side by side, but how to control the temperature? I can figure out how to do it lower - swamp cooler, etc., but raising the temp?
 

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Temperature control is an issue right now. I basically have two options right now: basement with steady low temps, or in the house with higher but fluctuating temps. So this might be a dumb question, but how do you (cheaply) control temperature with that kind of precision?

I have two empty gallon jugs because I just bottled today. So I can do the side by side, but how to control the temperature? I can figure out how to do it lower - swamp cooler, etc., but raising the temp?
What is your basement temp? Steady and low sounds easy to work with! My preference for many ale yeast strains is 58-64 degrees so it should not be hard to maintain that type of temperature in a cool basement.

I have a big cooler with wheels, and I fill it with water and put the fermenter in there. I float a thermometer in the water bath so I can easily check temperatures.

For summer, I add a frozen water bottle or two as needed to keep the temperature at 65 degrees. For winter, I have a very small aquarium heater (under $10) to keep the water up to 65 degrees in my 48 degree basement. I also use it for lagering.

I took off the lid of the cooler (it was hollow) and made a new lid out of four layers of foam insulation. Here's a picture:
 

dstranger99

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Yooper, would it be an issue to ferment to an even lower temp ? I add water juggs to mine, and the temp is in the low 40's. It was still fermenting fine though, Nottingham yeast strain.
 
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ericbw

ericbw

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What is your basement temp? Steady and low sounds easy to work with! My preference for many ale yeast strains is 58-64 degrees so it should not be hard to maintain that type of temperature in a cool basement.

I have a big cooler with wheels, and I fill it with water and put the fermenter in there. I float a thermometer in the water bath so I can easily check temperatures.

For summer, I add a frozen water bottle or two as needed to keep the temperature at 65 degrees. For winter, I have a very small aquarium heater (under $10) to keep the water up to 65 degrees in my 48 degree basement. I also use it for lagering.

I took off the lid of the cooler (it was hollow) and made a new lid out of four layers of foam insulation. Here's a picture:
My basement seems to be between 60 and 65 most of the time. Maybe into the upper 50s if it gets really cold, and maybe in the low 70s at the hottest time of the summer.

That's in my price range. Probably under $30 depending on the cooler. Is there a reason you took the lid off? And with the water, the temperature is easier to control (compared to the air)? And the aquarium heater is pretty accurate, I imagine?

That's a good solution because it can raise or lower temps. Probably not going to do that right now, but it is good to know for the near future.

That said, you say that 58-64 is what you prefer for most ale strains. So I am right in the sweet spot for most. At that temp, I have had pretty good success with US-05 (fresh and reused) and WLP004 (Irish). Coopers dry did ok and I liked the results, but others mentioned a tart taste (I couldn't taste it).
 

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Yooper, would it be an issue to ferment to an even lower temp ? I add water juggs to mine, and the temp is in the low 40's. It was still fermenting fine though, Nottingham yeast strain.
I've only used Nottingham down to 55 degrees, so I can't say how low it can be pushed.

My basement seems to be between 60 and 65 most of the time. Maybe into the upper 50s if it gets really cold, and maybe in the low 70s at the hottest time of the summer.

That's in my price range. Probably under $30 depending on the cooler. Is there a reason you took the lid off? And with the water, the temperature is easier to control (compared to the air)? And the aquarium heater is pretty accurate, I imagine?

That's a good solution because it can raise or lower temps. Probably not going to do that right now, but it is good to know for the near future.

That said, you say that 58-64 is what you prefer for most ale strains. So I am right in the sweet spot for most. At that temp, I have had pretty good success with US-05 (fresh and reused) and WLP004 (Irish). Coopers dry did ok and I liked the results, but others mentioned a tart taste (I couldn't taste it).
I took the lid off for three reasons- one, it was hollow and wouldn't insulate; two, so I could just use the lid when I made it back to a cooler for events (it pops back on); and three, so the airlock could poke out and I didn't damage the original lid.

If your basement is 60-65 most of the time, that's ideal for almost all ales. You generally want to have a room temperature of about 62 degrees to ferment at 66-70 degrees. A room that is warmer is usually too warm to keep fermentation under 70 degrees. I've seen an active fermentation be up to 10 degrees higher than ambient temperature- and anything over about 70 degrees can usually cause some off-flavors. Some strains are more heat tolerant than most, but all do well at 66ish degrees.
 
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ericbw

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Yooper said:
I've only used Nottingham down to 55 degrees, so I can't say how low it can be pushed.

I took the lid off for three reasons- one, it was hollow and wouldn't insulate; two, so I could just use the lid when I made it back to a cooler for events (it pops back on); and three, so the airlock could poke out and I didn't damage the original lid.

If your basement is 60-65 most of the time, that's ideal for almost all ales. You generally want to have a room temperature of about 62 degrees to ferment at 66-70 degrees. A room that is warmer is usually too warm to keep fermentation under 70 degrees. I've seen an active fermentation be up to 10 degrees higher than ambient temperature- and anything over about 70 degrees can usually cause some off-flavors. Some strains are more heat tolerant than most, but all do well at 66ish degrees.
Do you think, then, that I should be able to ferment for 2 weeks at that temp and then bottle?
 
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