More detail on fermentation times

I’m doing my first brew, a caribou slobber, and wanted to understand the suggested time-frames a little better.

The instructions say 1-2 weeks primary and 2-4 weeks secondary fermentation. First and especially second have large spans of time between minimum and maximum. What am I looking for?

My beer is almost at one week primary and has been quiet for a few days now. It’s mostly settled and bubbles about every 5 minutes. I’ll just list all the questions to make things easier.

  1. My beer did the crazy swirly fermentation for about a day and after two days has been completely still. Is that normal?
  2. There’s no think nor even thin layer of kraesun since about 2-3 days after the brew, is that ok?
  3. Should I wait the maximum 2 weeks on first and maximum 4 weeks on second fermentations? How do I know when to stop each one?

Thanks in advance guys.

First, a secondary isn’t a fermentation stage, it’s a conditioning stage and it isn’t even necessary for most beers, this being your first beer I would skip it. You want to leave the beer in the fermenter until it’s done. The only way to know is to take a gravity reading and when you get the same reading over several days it’s finished, you can’t tell by air lock activity or what the beer looks like. I usually let the beer go 3 weeks then check the gravity, if it’s where I think it should be I keg it. If I’m bottling, I check it several days in a row, if it isn’t finished and you bottle it you run the risk of bottle bombs.

  1. Yes. Visible yeast activity can vary depending on a number of factors, such as yeast strain and fermentation temps.
  2. Yes. See 1 above.
  3. See Glug Master’s post above.

Thanks GM. How do I measure gravity? I have the deluxe kit but I don’t think it came with anything for that. Also, how do I know which is the right gravity for my beer?

The deluxe kit would have come with a beer thief, a hydrometer and a test jar. See this video for a demo:

Note that hydrometers are calibrated to read samples at a specific temperature–I believe normally 60 deg. F. If your sample is above or below this, you will need to calculate the actual gravity. Your hydrometer should come packaged in a cylinder that has a paper scale that can be used to correct for temp. Or you can use an online calculator like this one:

Thanks KC, actually it seems like deluxe kits no longer come with thief, hydrometer etc. Which is fine, I’ll order it. How do I find out what the proper readings for my beer should be though? I obviously haven’t measured anything yet. In few weeks, how do I know the target gravity to aim for?

I can’t believe they don’t include a hydrometer with their brew kits, that’s arguably one of the more important pieces of equipment. Here’s the copy on the test kit

:[quote]You don’t need to test the gravity of wort or beer in order to brew successfully - after all, humanity brewed without these instruments for millennia - but it sure takes out a lot of guesswork. By performing simple (dare we say, fun) tests with this kit, you’ll be able to tell conclusively when fermentation ends (those airlock bubbles aren’t always reliable!) …[/quote]lame.

[quote=“nextexile”]How do I find out what the proper readings for my beer should be though[/quote]I put the recipe in Beersmith and it estimates a final gravity of 1.014. It may finish higher or lower, the key is to make sure it’s done.

So true. $6 for a 3pc thief, 5 for a hydrometer, 4 for a test jar. Or by the kit for 13.50. Just include them in the brewing kit as they are needed/wanted. :roll:

My extract brews always ended in the 1.018-1.022 range.

I would skip the transfer also. Take a reading at 2 weeks. Then at 3. If the same, bottle.

When you do the bottling, fill one soda bottle with the beer. squeeze the 02 out and screw the cap on. As CO2 is formed the bottle will expand. You then can judge what is happening in the glass bottles.

Also, stir the beer/priming solution after every 6-12 beers to keep the sugar mixed.