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Quick Fermentation

My American Wheat is currently in the carboy and fermentation has stopped after only 5 days. Should I let it sit for the rest of the recommended time? Or should I move it to the secondary? (A friend recomended that I use a secondary fermentation for clarity and to mellow it out)
Thanks in advance!

Just because the airlock stopped bubbling doesn’t mean fermentation has stopped. To determine if fermentation has stopped, you need to take a gravity reading with a hydrometer. Since it sounds like you brewed from a kit, if the reading (adjusted for temperature) matches the Final Gravity (FG) number in the instructions, it’s done (most likely it isn’t done yet). Or you take a reading and wait a couple days to take another reading. If it’s the same, fermentation is as done as it’s going to get unless you add yeast or sugar.

Moving to a secondary is a hotly debated topic. A lot of people are on both sides of the fence. Personally, I found I get a clearer beer if I secondary and if I’m careful about sanitation and transfer procedures, it’s a limited risk thing.

Most of my beers so far I’ve done 2 weeks in the primary and 2 weeks in the secondary. My last beer I left in the primary for all 4 weeks, and despite being careful transferring it out, it came out much cloudier than I would have preferred. So I’m back to racking to the secondary.

Your beer is fine. Depending on the temperature when you pitched fermentation may have finished up quickly but you should let it stay on the yeast for at least 14 days. As commented above only a gravity reading will confirm that fermentation is complete.

I only use a secondary if I’m dry hopping or if I plan to let the beer age in the carboy for more than a month or 2. My beers are very clear. Other aspects of your process will have much more impact on beer clarity than a secondary. For example, using irish moss in the boil, fast cold break, and a cold crash after fermentation is complete.

Having said all that…I don’t think clarity is a desirable quality in a wheat beer is it?

A question worth asking yourself is whether you want or need clarity in a wheat beer. The German cousin hefewiezen literally means yeast wheat, and cloudiness is part of the charm. I personally don’t care much for the aesthetics, so I only rack if I need to let a beer condition for an extended period of time. I think 2 weeks in the fermentor is the minimum necessary and three weeks will give you a better beer.

To answer the questions you originally asked… Sources I have read state that if you secondary, you want to do so when you are at approximately 67% of the anticipated attentuation. I am a ferment-and-forget kind of guys, so I never tried to time this but I imagine it occurs as krausen is falling or immediately after the krausen is fallen. If you do not own a hydrometer, then I think you should let it sit for a minimum of 2 weeks before racking or 3 weeks before bottling.

Cheers and happy brewing.

Okay, I’ve learned at least two things from your responses:

  1. Most of the fermentation is done by now, but that doesn’t mean it has stopped. I should keep the beer in the carboy for the remainder of the two weeks.

  2. After some further research, it seems there is heated debate and varying opinion as to whether or not one should use a secondary fermentation.

If something goes wrong with my batch after using a secondary, I essentially have 3 possible sources of error: brewing day, racking to the secondary, and bottling day. As an engineering major, I know a good experiment eliminates as many variables as possible.

For my first batch, I think I’ll follow the directions to a T and stick with just the primary fermentation, eliminating a variable. I’ll start changing variables once I start brewing more batches.
The good news is that this plan means I get to enjoy my brew (hopefully) in less time :wink:

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