Fermenting Times

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Shamrock28

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With every recipe i see different fermentation and lagering times..Is there range or a general concensious on what the ideal times would be. Fermentation, Secondary if needed and Lagering
 

Evan!

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Every recipe is different because every one of them is full of sh*t and should not be mandating or recommending fermentation times. Lagering, sure, there can be a prescribed length of time for cold-aging, but fermentation is wholly dependent on what the yeast are doing...not on some arbitrary number in the recipe.

First, you just need to watch the activity and see what happens. Once airlock activity has subsided and the krausen falls, take a hydrometer reading. Note it. Then, several days later, take another one. If it's unchanged, then primary fermentation is likely finished. Most of my ales finish in a few days; my lagers usually take 1-2 weeks.

A general rule with most ales is that you wait at least another week (preferably 2) past that point before moving the beer. This allows for the yeast to clean up their byproducts, etc. The general consensus among a lot of homebrewers today (myself included) is that secondary aging is unnecessary in my most cases. Just leave it on the primary cake until you're ready to keg or bottle. Each time you rack, it's another chance for oxidation and infection, so you want to minimize that.

Lagering, on the other hand, is a good use of a secondary "bright" or clearing vessel. I lager in 5 gallon carboys. Again, there's no hard and fast rule, but often, the longer you lager, the better (and, the colder it is, the longer it needs, but the better it will be). You're generally looking at longer than a month, and the upper limit is the sky. Just taste it and see what you think. I typically can get away with 8 weeks of lagering.
 

menschmaschine

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Lagering time depends primarily on wort gravity and dextrin content. A good rule of thumb is 1 week for every 8 points of OG. Less for dryer beer (e.g., 5 days for every 8 points), more for beer with greater dextrin content (higher final gravity). As a generality, there isn't a need to go more than 12 days for every 8 points of OG. After that, the beer is just sitting there wasting space and energy.
 

Revvy

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I agree with everything that EVAN! said except this statement....DOn't go by airlock bubbling as a sign of fermentation....Some beers never bubble...Half of my beers have never had arilock activity and that's spread over 9 different fermenters...

First, you just need to watch the activity and see what happens. Once airlock activity has subsided and the krausen falls, take a hydrometer reading. Note it. Then, several days later, take another one. If it's unchanged, then primary fermentation is likely finished. Most of my ales finish in a few days; my lagers usually take 1-2 weeks.
Regarding airlocks read this...https://www.homebrewtalk.com/1217925-post3.html

But except for that Evan is pretty much dead on, but
you will also find that many of us leave our beers in primary for 3-4 weeks, skip secondary and bottle. Just search for the 10,000 threads under "long Primary" or "no secondary" and you will see all the resaons why we do it, and the explanations behind...There's at least one thread a day on the topic, so it's really not hard to find the discussion pretty much hashed to death.

but if you choose to secondary you should wait til your Hydrometer tells you fermentation is complete.

If I do secondary (which is only when I am adding fruit or oak) I wait 14 days then rack for another 2 weeks...then I bottle.

But that's only if I am dry hopping or adding oak or fruit, which I rarely do, so for me it's a month than bottle,

Honestly you will find your beer will be the best if you ignore the kit instructions, and don't rush it.

But Even Palmer says you should wait with kits...

How To Brew said:
Leaving an ale beer in the primary fermentor for a total of 2-3 weeks (instead of just the one week most canned kits recommend), will provide time for the conditioning reactions and improve the beer. This extra time will also let more sediment settle out before bottling, resulting in a clearer beer and easier pouring. And, three weeks in the primary fermentor is usually not enough time for off-flavors to occur.
 
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Shamrock28

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If i have an OG of 1.040 then typical lagering would be based on the 8 point rule, 13 days?
 
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Shamrock28

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Ferementing a lager is from the top down so you siphon the top and other way for ales?
 

Yooper

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If you use 1 week for every 8 points of OG, your lagering time would be 5 weeks.
Correct. For "bigger" lagers, I've gone as long as 12 weeks, with 8 weeks being most common for me. I like to do malty lagers, like maibocks, and the OG is often in the 1.070-1.080 range. I lager at 34 degrees.
 

menschmaschine

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Ferementing a lager is from the top down so you siphon the top and other way for ales?
You have me confused there. Lager brewing and fermenting procedures are practically the same with the exception of temperature and time. You would treat the racking techniques the same as you would for ales. Am I missing your question?
 
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Shamrock28

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is there a rule of thumb for temp on lagers and is it best to throw it in the freezer or fridge
 
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Shamrock28

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I thought with a lager the crap is on the bottom and with an ale its on the top, i could be way off why im asking
 

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is there a rule of thumb for temp on lagers and is it best to throw it in the freezer or fridge
I thought with a lager the crap is on the bottom and with an ale its on the top, i could be way off why im asking
A rule of thumb for lagering for temps is generally the colder you lager, the crisper and smoother the end beer, but it takes longer. I like to lager right above freezer for a longer time, rather than at 40 degrees for a shorter time. I almost always lager at 34 degrees.

Lagers are bottom fermenting, but all of the trub still falls to the bottom when fermentation is finished whether you're using ale yeast or lager yeast. You siphon the same way, from above the trub.
 
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Shamrock28

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So lagering temps is more a perference not a rule of thumb?
 

Evan!

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I agree with everything that EVAN! said except this statement....DOn't go by airlock bubbling as a sign of fermentation....Some beers never bubble...Half of my beers have never had arilock activity and that's spread over 9 different fermenters...
The only thing I use airlock activity for is, along with krausen drop, a general guide to when to bother taking a hydrometer reading. I stand by that 100%. As I've said before, if you're using an airlock (I don't use airlocks much anymore, actually) and not getting any bubbles, then something is wrong with your seals (if you're using a bucket). Not that that matters, but if you put a bung into a carboy and put an airlock in that bung, you should see airlock bubbles during fermentation. If not, then either your glass/better bottle has holes in it, or you're living in an alternate universe where yeast doesn't produce co2 as a byproduct of fermentation. I've had airlock bubbles every single time I've ever used an airlock during fermentation...and every time, when the airlock bubbles slow down, and the krausen falls, it's been finished (or stalled, in a few instances). I never said you should use it for any final determination, just as a general guide (along with krausen drop) as to when it's prescient to take a hydrometer reading.

Of course, if you're like Revvy and for some odd reason have holes in your carboys, or you're like me, and use aluminum foil in place of a bung/airlock, then just pay attention to the krausen.
 
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Shamrock28

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yooperbrew, your ideal situation would be brew it and then walk away from it for 6-8 saying at a constant temp of 34 degrees? No alternative temps.Meaning seperate temps for fermentation and another temp to lager
 

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yooperbrew, your ideal situation would be brew it and then walk away from it for 6-8 saying at a constant temp of 34 degrees? No alternative temps.Meaning seperate temps for fermentation and another temp to lager
No. I'd brew it and keep it at 50 degrees. I'd allow it to ferment out, do a diacetyl rest if needed, then rack. After racking, I'd begin lagering.

Fermentation and lagering are two totally different things. The lager won't ferment at 34 degrees. The lagering period is simply cold conditioning of already fermented (finished) beer, to smooth it out and provide the characteristic "clean" finish. Six to eight weeks of lagering usually is adequate, but I've done longer.
 
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Shamrock28

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menshmaschine, the step in your thread where it says to drop the temp 5 degrees a day from 50 to 33-34.. Does that include the lagering period or the lagering period starts once its gotten to 33-34 degrees?
 

menschmaschine

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menshmaschine, the step in your thread where it says to drop the temp 5 degrees a day from 50 to 33-34.. Does that include the lagering period or the lagering period starts once its gotten to 33-34 degrees?
Technically, it would start at the 33-34°F temp, but this doesn't have to be so exact. A day or two isn't going to make a difference.
 

ohiobrewtus

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The only thing I use airlock activity for is, along with krausen drop, a general guide to when to bother taking a hydrometer reading. I stand by that 100%. As I've said before, if you're using an airlock (I don't use airlocks much anymore, actually) and not getting any bubbles, then something is wrong with your seals (if you're using a bucket). Not that that matters, but if you put a bung into a carboy and put an airlock in that bung, you should see airlock bubbles during fermentation. If not, then either your glass/better bottle has holes in it, or you're living in an alternate universe where yeast doesn't produce co2 as a byproduct of fermentation. I've had airlock bubbles every single time I've ever used an airlock during fermentation...and every time, when the airlock bubbles slow down, and the krausen falls, it's been finished (or stalled, in a few instances). I never said you should use it for any final determination, just as a general guide (along with krausen drop) as to when it's prescient to take a hydrometer reading.

Of course, if you're like Revvy and for some odd reason have holes in your carboys, or you're like me, and use aluminum foil in place of a bung/airlock, then just pay attention to the krausen.
Evan is dead on here. I use airlocks, and after 108 brews, every single one of them had airlock activity. Hell, I have an amber ale fermenting in my bottling bucket right now, with a lid on it from a 7.9 gallon bucket, and the airlock still bubbles every once in a while (although not often).

Having said that, airlock activity should not be used as a gauge to determine when fermentation is done (ie, 1 bubble every x seconds), that's what a hydrometer (or in my case a refractometer and an Excel spreadsheet) are for.

If you're not seeing airlock activity at all then *most likely* you either do not have your lid tightened properly or you do not have the bung in the carboy properly.
 

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I just want to throw out there that I've made a few lagers (I'm certainly not an expert) just by keeping them at cellar temps (45-55F) for the "lagering" period. I and my friends have been quite happy with the results. I imagine that fermenting at ~50F with an appropriately sized starter goes a long way towards an enjoyable end product.
I'm sure I'll get a lagering fridge eventually, just haven't gotten there yet :mug:
 
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