Showing posts with label home brew. Show all posts
Showing posts with label home brew. Show all posts

How long should homebrew stay in the fermenter drum?

Monday, September 28, 2020
The short answer is provided you have sterile conditions, you can leave the beer in the fermenter for months and months to age quite nicely. It's almost a 'set and forget' kind of product which is ideal as a finely aged beer will be a fine drink indeed. 

So, there is no set maximum time limit, however, there are a few things consider as to timings.

A lot of 'casual' beer brewers will likely adhere to the beer recipe or instructions on the malt kit and leave their wort to ferment for around a week to ten or days.

This usually allows enough time for fermentation to have completed.

And technically that's OK, and it's time to bottle.

But such timings completely ignore that there is a whole range of chemical processes happening in that wort you're fermenting that benefit from time left in the fermenter.

Yes, your trust yeast will likely have fermented enough alcohol to make a very drinkable beer but there are still a few things that happen - for example the yeast has to get rid of smells and other leftovers from the fermentation process, so giving it more time in the drum is of great benefit here. 

Weeks and months is better than a couple of weeks.

Have you ever heard of acetaldehyde


It is a by-product of brewing that you will find in your wort. This chemical is formed at the start of the fermentation process. It tastes much like a sour green apple does and is not really conducive to a good brew. If you brew too early, you will get this taste in your beer (more so if it's a light beer and one with little hops).

By giving your beer batch time to dissipate the acetaldehyde, you'll have a beer tasting beer.

We're firm in our the view that it is better to leave your beer to address these kinds of smelly issues in the first fermentation rather than the secondary fermentation which occurs when bottle conditioning.

Is it true that a wort left for a long time is harder to carbonate when bottled conditioned?This is a maybe type answer.

If the beer has been left in the fermenter over winter, for example, the yeast could have become quite dormant so the bottled beer will need to be warmed for the yeast to come 'back to life'.

A trick some brewers have found is that when it comes time to bottling a long-settled wort, give it a small stir up 2 days before you bottle. It causes the yeast to mix back into the beer (it will have settled at the bottom of the fermenter. If you move the fermenter into a warmer place, then your bottled beer with have a shorter carbonation time.

So the true answer is maybe, because bottling conditions may vary. 

How do I get remove the 'apple taste' by beer wort?

Like we alluded to above, let the yeast take it's sweet time to convert the acetaldehyde into ethanol (alcohol).

Exceptions aside, the longer you condition your beer, the greater reduction in acetaldehyde that will occur and the beer your beer will take.

Stout beers have even more to work through so they can happily take longer in the primary.

We like clear beer


Another benefit of leaving the beer in the primary for longer is that there is a greater chance that your beer will clear more sediment to the bottom into the trub, thus giving you clearer drinking beer.

Many a brewer likes to see their lager look like a lager - that classic light yellow / orange combo.

At the end of the day this comes down to personal preference as the beer taste is not generally affected too much by sediment.

It's also important to consider the role temperature can play in brewing. If you want a short fermentation period but it's cold, then you may have to simply allow more time because the yeast slows down the alcohol production process when chilled.

What about leaving beer in for extra long times like 3 months?


Many brewers have reported leaving batches for months and suffered no issues.

I'd reason though that the beer was stored in a cool place - a beer wort left in a hot environment is sure to fail as the yeast would probably get cooked.

The lid was probably screwed on very tightly as well and the beer must be kept out of the light. Putting a sheet over it will certainly keep dust and spiders out!

The risk of developing 'autolysis'


Autolysis occurs when the yeast cells die, giving off some potentially 'off flavors'.

These could be hydrolytic enzymes, lipids, and metal cations that can contribute to off flavor.

If you've made a healthy batch with a quality yeast, pitched at a good temperature and brewed in a stable environment, then the risks of autolysis are quite low.

If you are quite concerned about this, you could counter by racking your beer to a secondary, thus removing the yeast cake from the equation and dying yeast is thus removed from the equation (yes there will be a residue of it but not so much it causes you an issue).

It's important to note, the same process begins again when the beer is bottle conditioned - more sugar is added to the beer for the yeast to eat - this is because CO2 is the by-product of fermentation and is trapped in the beer.

So how long should a condition my bottled beer then?


It's now quite a reasonable question to ask how long you should condition your beers for. All beers will strongly benefit from being bottle conditioned for at least three weeks before consumption. That's at a minimum.

In my experiences, my brews start to become very drinkable at the 5 week mark.

Time needs to be on your side if you wish to make good beer, so make that time. 

Be patient. 

While you're waiting, give your gear a good clean and plan out that next all grain recipe!
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