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When am i done fermenting?

I am brewing the dead ringer extract kit and i pitched the dry yeast. I was just hoping you guys could give me some advice on when i can know when to move to the secondary and when to rack without taking a gravity reading? I forgot to purchase a hydrometer so im just going to eyeball it.


Not a problem. To start, what is your ambiant temperature (or fermentation temp?)

General rule of thumb if you use a secondary - One week primary. One to Two weeks secondary. Bottle.

The other option would be to skip the secondary and leave it in the primary for 3 weeks then bottle.

I have always just gone by the weeks so I remember which day to do stuff. Sometimes primary could be finished in 5 days - could be ready to bottle in 12-14 days. Almost certainly will be ready to go in 3 weeks total and no harm in waiting it out.

Other than that you can usually tell by looking at the beer what is going on. If it is still in heavy fermentaion mode you will know. When that settles down and and things look fairly inactive, it is ready to rack.

Always good to pay attention to what your beer looks like and smells like at the various stages. You will get the idea very quickly.

I should add to this that the beer should be fairly clear when you go to bottle it.

If it is still cloudy it is not ready.

When I was new to brewing I was told before anything else to get the tools of the trade, so to speak.
Thermometer, hydrometer, PH meter, very important tools. Smith is right, the beer should be clear, 2-3 wks to finish, but taking a hydrometer on 3 consecutive days and getting the same final readings is all part of it too. If the readings were unusually high that might tell you have a stuck ferment. Most of the time your safe, but that is still a guess. Dave Taylor was making a Saison the other day, and it wasn’t totally done for 4 wks. His monitoring of the wort towards the end finally told him it was completely done, even though it was still dropping by small increments. This is a critical view when doing certain styles. I hope this was useful information. Cheers…B.C.

3-4 weeks in the primary for Ales and 4-5 weeks in the primary for Lagers. You should be at FG by then, and the yeast should have cleaned up after itself by then as well. Save some of the yeast & pitch it in the next beer. I always plan my brews around the yeast to reduce the cost. I’ll keg Friday evening and store the yeast slurry in a mason pint jar in the fridge to pitch in Saturday’s brew. Ales get brewed every 3-4 weeks and Lagers every 4-5 weeks. I’ll usually re-pitch the yeast 4-5 times before moving on to a different yeast. YMMV… Cheers!!!

Thanks for all the help. I was just trying to get a general idea because I don’t have a hydrometer so I was just going to go by simply looking at it and making sure there is almost no activity in the airlock nor the carboy…is this okay?


[quote=“sunshine22”]Thanks for all the help. I was just trying to get a general idea because I don’t have a hydrometer so I was just going to go by simply looking at it and making sure there is almost no activity in the airlock nor the carboy…is this okay?


Don’t go by what the airlock is doing. It’s a fool’s prophet.

Timing is good when you know how the process should go (and what your temps have been). Times for Ales vs. Lagers mentioned above is a good point (assuming you are fermenting the lagers at a lower temperature).

Best way to do it without a hydrometer is give it the full three weeks. Then look at the beer. Should be clear with no signs of fermentation.

Keep in mind I did use a hydrometer for years before not bothering. I have a good feel for timing and what to look for in the finished beer. You will too after some experience.

I don’t see a huge problem going blind here, but if you are ever unsure, gravity is the only real sure fire way to go. If you ever go to doing more complex fermentations - lagering / lambics / high gravity / bacteria etc. then a hydrometer would be a must.

Skip racking to secondary. There is usually no need for it. The beer will clear just fine whether you rack it to secondary or not.

I believe the Dead Ringer calls for a dry hop.

I know many people say you can dry hop in the primary…which, I don’t disagree with.

I just prefer to transfer to secondary to dry hop to get it off the yeast cake. I have no side-by-side comparisons to make a strong point for though.

I like rackingto the secondary, it gives something to look forward to haha. But yes it does have a dry hopping step. Theres no harm in waiting is there? 3or maybe 4 weeks?

You will have time to order a hydrometer. It is comforting to know when the fermentation is truly finished. There are some dare devils in the world. They don’t mind fermentation finishing in the bottle. They anxiously await to find out if the bottles start blowing in storage or in the hand.

I have not used a hydrometer regularily in years after I have my OG. Only in specific cases when I really care what my FG is. Sometimes I don’t even care what my OG is.

I would in fact mind fermentation finishing in the bottle if it had ever happened to me.

Never been anxious about exploding bottles. Definately don’t considder myself a daredevil.

That being said, everyone should be comfortable using a hydrometer. You should have one available when needed - though I went without for a few seasons when I kept breaking them.

Question to new brewers should be “are you OK with PROBABLY or MOST LIKELY?” Becasue certainlty in this case would come with a hydrometer.

In my case, I use my hydrometer most for beers where I actually care if I hit my specific targets or want to know exact #s to improve. Otherwise it’s most likely going to turn out fine without knowing for sure.

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