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How do you know when fermentation is complete?

I am brewing a Caribou slobber batch of ale. The instructions say primary fermentation should be 1 to 2 weeks. And then the beer is transferred to the smaller carboy for secondary fermentation for 1 to 2 weeks. Other than no bubbles coming through the airlock, is there another way to tell if the for fermentation is complete?

Take a gravity reading with a hydrometer 2-3 days apart. If the reading is the same, fermentation is done. If it drops, wait a couple more days for another reading.

Guessing here, you ordered a kit from NB, which doesn’t include a hydrometer.

Fermentation is normally complete in 5-10 days. Allowing it to sit longer will let the yeast “clean up” some of the off byproducts they made during fermentation.

“Secondary Fermentation” is a bit mislabeled. If you transfer a beer to a new vessel and add new fermentables, fruit/honey, that would be a second fermentation.

Transferring to a new vessel with out new fermentables should be called “bulk aging”. Which has been debated often if it’s needed. Some like myself believe that anything that will fall out of suspension in 2 weeks in the primary and 2 weeks in a secondary, will fall out in 4 weeks in the primary. No need to clean/sanitize all the equipment. Just leave it alone.

Other feel that their beer taste better and are clearer by transferring them.

You will have to decide for your self.

My advice, leave it alone for 3-4 weeks and then bottle.

[quote=“Nighthawk”]Fermentation is normally complete in 5-10 days. Allowing it to sit longer will let the yeast “clean up” some of the off byproducts they made during fermentation.

My advice, leave it alone for 3-4 weeks and then bottle.[/quote]

This ^ +1
The entire reply from Nighthawk is all you need to know, I wanted to just help reinforce the highlighted green text above which is one key element to clean tasting beers.

Yup Nighthawk basically covered it all. I just wanted to add the obvious, that different yeast strains ferment either faster or slower than others. For example a Kolsch yeast i used one time did not did not drop kreusan until the 3rd week and FG didn’t happen until the 4th week.

I did get the mad brewer upgrade with the hydrometer, so I will start checking the gravity. I did notice that the most active time of the fermentation occurred within the first 24 hours. The airlock was bubbling almost constantly. The temperature at that time was about 72 degrees. I got a suggestion on the forum of trying to bring the temperature down lower than 70 degrees, with a more optimum temperature being in the mid 60’s. I put the carboy in a spare bathtub with some water and it is has now been at about 65 degrees for the last two days. I guess this is normal, but the activity in the airlock is much less frequent now. It bubbles every minute and a half or so.

Thanks for the advice everyone.

Correct on the water bath for keeping things cool.

A large tote with frozen bottles will keep thing cool in the warmer months.

See my signature line for ideas.

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