Brewing beer is a fun hobby, but it takes time and patience to get good at it. How much time does it take to brew a batch of beer?
Beer brewing is a complex process that requires careful attention to detail.
The key ingredients include water, malt, hops, yeast, and other additives. Each ingredient has its role in the brewing process.
For example, water helps dissolve the sugars from the malted barley grains, and hops add bitterness to the finished beer.
There are several stages involved in brewing beer, each lasting anywhere between 2 hours and 6 weeks. The length of time required depends on the type of beer being brewed.
In general, the longer the brewing period, the stronger the resulting beer.
The fermentation lasts around 2 weeks on average but then we have to take into account the extra weeks for conditioning.
We look at this in closer detail and work out just how long you need to brew beer, as well as give you a fermentation time chart. Let’s jump in.
How Long Does It Take To Brew Beer?
The amount of time needed to brew a particular style of beer varies depending on the strength desired, the size of your batch, and the number of times you make adjustments during the brewing process.
A standard recipe will require about 4-6 weeks of active fermentation before bottling or kegging. This includes fermenting, racking, conditioning, and aging.
If you want to speed up the process, you can use pre-fermentations or even partial boils to reduce the overall duration of the process.
Most work is done on day one. All-grain brewing, which is done on day one, means you soak the malted barley in hot water to extract any sugar.
You then would separate the grain and what you have left is the wort. This is boiled, and mixed with hops.
Boil for another hour before letting it cool and transferring it to the fermentation vessel.
Now it is time to add yeast, and fermentation begins. This whole process takes around six hours.
Extract kits are available that have pre-made wort, and all you need to do is add water to the fermentation vessel along with the yeast.
This takes the time down to about half an hour and simplifies the process.
Most homebrewers like to brew all-grain as it gives them control over what their beer tastes of.
Sanitizing equipment is very important because it helps prevent contamination. However, you should not underestimate how long this will take you.
It should be sanitized before use, and then cleaned after use, and anything that comes into contact with the beer after the wort has stopped boiling needs to be thoroughly sanitized.
Not sanitizing equipment properly, especially pieces that have been in contact with the wort could mean your beer is spoiled.
No-rinse sanitizer takes just a few minutes to clean your hands.
But you should also use a lot of water when you wash them. Sanitizing your hands is important because germs spread easily.
You should also make sure you dry your hands thoroughly after using soap and use hand sanitizer at the end.
Once the wort has cooled to about 18 – 22 ºC, it needs to be poured into the fermentation vessel. It should then be aerated to allow oxygen in, and this takes around ten minutes.
Once you have added the yeast, fermentation takes place and it is done in four stages.
How long each stage takes will differ according to the type of yeast, whether you used a yeast starter, and the temperature at which fermentation occurs.
The four stages are as follows:
- The Lag Phase
- The Exponential Fermentation Phase
- The Static Fermentation Phase
The Fermentation Time Chart
The Lag Phase
This first phase is the period after adding the yeast to the beer wort until you see signs of activity. During this period, there may be no bubbling or even no visible growth.
However, the yeast is actively taking up oxygen and nutrients from the wort and starting to grow and multiply.
This process takes 8–24 hours depending on how much sugar was present in the wort. It can be reduced if you decide to use liquid yeast or make your own yeast starter.
The Exponential Fermentation Phase
When the yeast consumes sugar that is in the wort (the liquid part of beer), the yeast produces carbon dioxide and alcohol.
This process is called fermentation. The yeast multiplies and a layer of foam which is the Krausen forms on top and bubbles vigorously.
The exponential fermentation phase lasts between 1 and 4 days.
During this time, the gravity drops quickly as the sugar is consumed by the yeast, causing the volume of the wort to decrease.
The Static Fermentation Phase
After the exponential phase is over, the yeast growth slows down.
Krausen that has formed on top of the wort drops down and the gravity drops. Bubbles appear less often and the airlock might stop bubbling completely.
During this phase, the yeast stops making alcohol and will begin to clean up, whilst at the same time reabsorbing any unwanted byproducts that were created as a result of the exponential fermentation phase.
Any yeast clumps up together and settles to the ground of the fermentation vessel.
This phase usually lasts about 3-10 days. You should take gravity readings to see if the yeast is fermenting but only when the airlock stops bubbling.
When fermentation is done, you will notice the yeast and sediment in the beer will sink to the bottom of the vessel. You should take a gravity reading every 2 days until you end up with two consecutive readings that are the same. This tells you that fermentation is complete and it is time to bottle or keg the beer.
Should You Bottle Or Keg The Beer?
Once fermentation has finished you need to decide what to do with the beer. Bottling is the final stage of the brewing process when the brewer takes action.
First, any miscellaneous items such as bottles or crown cups that may come into contact with the beer should be thoroughly sanitized to make sure the beer does not become infected by bacteria.
If you decide to use a plastic fermenter, you need to bottle the beer from the spigot directly.
Remember to sanitize the faucet and take extra care that none of the yeast and sediment makes it into the bottles.
You should try to minimize any splashing or spilling whilst bottling, as this can introduce oxygen, which can affect flavor and speed up the spoiling process.
Bottled beer needs to be left in a dark place that is kept cool for around two weeks before you pop it open to drink.
In this period, the yeast left in suspension will use up the sugar that was added to the bottles of beer and will begin releasing carbon dioxide.
This is what eventually carbonates the beer.
After the reactivated beer has consumed the priming sugar, it will sink to the bottom and the beer will develop its distinct flavor.
Even though ales are just about ready to pop open and drink after only two weeks of bottle conditioning, a lot of brewers say leaving it for four weeks makes the beer taste even better.
The beer is transferred to a keg where it will continue to condition for another week. Once again, the beer will consume the remaining sugars and produce more CO2.
If you have used an ale kit, then the beer will also contain some hops which will add their flavors to the beer.
The best way to transfer the beer from one container to another is to use a siphon.
A siphon is a tube that runs from the first container to the second. You must keep the tubing sterile so that no bacteria gets into the beer.
Once the beer is transferred, you need to let it sit for a few hours to allow the CO2 gas to dissipate. Then you can enjoy your new brew!
Fermentation Summed Up
Fermentation is the conversion of sugar into alcohol by yeasts. Yeast consumes sugars found in the wort – a mixture of water, malt extract, and sometimes specialty grains.
During the first phase of fermentation, known as primary fermentation, the yeast converts the sugars into carbon dioxide and ethanol.
As the fermentation progresses, the yeast produces more and more alcohol until the final stage when the yeast dies off.
Fermentation is one of the most important processes in brewing because it determines the taste and quality of the end product.
When done correctly, fermentation creates a balanced beer with a clean flavor profile.
However, if the fermentation isn’t properly controlled, the result may be an overly sweet, sour, or bitter-tasting beer.
To sum up, there are many different ways to brew beer, but all methods share a common goal: creating a delicious beverage.
The process of making beer is complex, but once you understand how things work and understand the fermentation timeline, you’ll be on your way to brewing up a delicious home-brewed beer in no time.