When the yeast fall

Ok so I have an IPA in the fermentor right now, which has been in there coming on two weeks on Sunday. There is still a decent amount of yeast on top of the beer which hasn’t settled to the bottom yet. Generally I tend to leave the brew in the primary until most of the yeast drops before I transfer, but now I’m beginning to wonder why I do that.

How does the yeast on the surface relate to attenuation? I don’t really like the idea of measuring the gravity frequently as I don’t want to constantly expose the brew to oxygen, although I do realize it’s the only accurate way to assess where it’s at. I pitched a starter with very fresh yeast, and oxygenated with 02, so I know that there was a good and healthy fermentation. My guess is that fermentation is done for the most part, but there is still a lot of yeast on the surface as I mentioned.

Does that in any way mean that the fermentation is still active and I should not transfer? Or is that something I just made up and it has to do more with flocculation and CO2 pushing the yeast up, then how mature the beer is?

Would like to transfer this batch this weekend so I can brew another batch and use the larger carboy. I’m on a time crunch to try and brew a few batches before my wedding in September. I obviously don’t want to rush the brew though if it’s not ready.

And yes I could just get another carboy and my issue would be solved, but I’d rather learn something here, and the soon to be wife would not be pleased if my brewing equipment took up even more space.


That is a really good question and not something I ever noticed/thought about. Would love to see some of the more experienced people chime in. I would think it has to do with flocculation, but that is just guessing. What type of yeast did you use?


It might just be the foam or krausen which is the by product and not really yeast. Try swirling the bucket or carboy and getting the foam into suspension. If fermentation is really done, it should settle out. I have had to do that a few times.

This. I typically swirl my fermenters frequently esp. at and near the end of fermentation to help with removing dissolved CO2 and getting the yeast to settle.

If sealed, that is okay in practice, but if you open a bucket lid and let O2 in before swirling, you risk oxidizing the beer. I’m not saying to not do this, but be mindful that O2 is not a good mix with beer, so keep airlocks in place and be gentle…you would hate to spoil the product at that point.