Brew Dudes

Homebrewing blog and resource

Primary Fermentation

Looking for more information about primary fermentation? This is the definitive post to answer the questions of what it is and how long it should last.

Definition of Primary Fermentation

We define primary fermentation as the process of introducing a fermenting microbe to your wort or must until its process is complete or interrupted/merged with a second process.

How Long Should Primary Fermentation Last?

For homebrewing beer, the length of time for fermentation can vary.  If you are a beginner homebrewer and you are brewing an ale that doesn’t have a high starting gravity (less than 1.070) from a recipe kit, you should let your primary fermentation last 2 weeks. Just leave the beer in your primary fermentor for 14 days as a good rule of thumb.

There may be recipe kits out there that have instructions to only ferment the beer for 1 week and then bottle.  For example, when we started homebrewing over ten years ago – we followed recipe instructions from our local homebrew shop kits that had the one week fermentation step.

Over the years, the two week standard has served us well. Again, this is a good guideline for most ales that you brew when you first start out homebrewing.

Here are some points to keep in mind:

  • A fermentation duration of two weeks is not a rule. It could take shorter or it could take longer. The duration is determined by many factors including the yeast (strain, health, and count), your wort, and the temperature.

The best way to know that your fermentation is done is to take a gravity reading to see if your beer has fermented to its target final gravity.

Get tips on how to take gravity readings during fermentation!

  • In our experience, two weeks is better than one; we have had better results with two weeks than one. It gives the yeast more time to reprocess some of the early stage fermentation byproducts and time for the yeast to settle out.
  • Keeping your beer in one fermentation vessel for two weeks and then bottling or kegging is ideal. By skipping a secondary vessel conditioning phase, you are eliminating a chance for contamination. Also, we are of the opinion that conditioning most ales in a secondary vessel provides little to no flavor enhancements to the final beer that you can get from bottle or keg conditioning.

Follow this link to read more about secondary fermentation and when to skip the step.

  • We feel that secondary vessels should be used for high gravity beers, for lagering, for beers that are going to have post-fermentation additives (dry hopping, fruit, spices), and for beers that call for the addition of a second microorganism intended to feast on sugars that the primary strain does not.  You should use them for certain techniques or beer styles.  The point is, for most ales, a two week primary fermentation is all you need.

Primary Fermentation

Hopefully, this post has helped you out.  Please leave a comment below if you have a specific question for us to answer.  Brew on.


Falconer’s Flight IPA Recipe


Belma Hops


  1. I’ve seen some materials that recommend 3 days, some that says 7, some that says 10 to 14…

    I personally leave it alone for the first two weeks and then take a reading. If I need to do aging I’ll transfer it all into a 5 gallon secondary, or I’ll keg it up.

    But, anything less then 7 days seems to leave too much sugar in solution and gives me bottle bombs, or gives me off flavors that usually improve with some additional time in the bottle or keg. Waiting two weeks seems to take care of a lot of this for me.

  2. Dave

    I think the prevailing wisdom has changed relatively recently. It was believed that fermentation should last not much longer than a week because of yeast autolysis.

    Autolysis apparently isn’t a real threat as Palmer and Jamil Z recommend primary of two weeks up to a month and now Secondaries are generally thought of as a bad thing.

    Apparently moving beer to a secondary after a week, really cuts short their cycle. During the extra time they are able to do a lot of work cleaning up the beer.

    This all sounds great to me, as it’s easier and the risk of contamination is lower.

  3. Thank Chris and Dave for posting your thoughts.

    Question: If the notion is that process of creating a secondary fermentation is a bad thang, would you still do one if you were going to add some ingredients for flavor, like fruit or spices? Recipes generally instruct to introduce these additives in the secondary fermentation stage. If you didn’t create a secondary fermentation stage, would you add these ingredients towards the end of the primary stage?

  4. Dave

    First of all… I’m definitely a newbie, so don’t take my word for it.

    Some of those extras can be added right to the keg. If you’re not kegging sometimes they can go right in the bottling bucket. You can even dry hop right to the keg.

    But… I think everyone would say, there are times that racking to a secondary makes sense. Lots of fruit, maybe high gravity, I’m sure there are some other good scenarios. What I was saying is, a lot of times it’s not neccesary and it’s my understanding that when you do do it, you want to do it after a couple of weeks to allow the yeast to do their thing. When you rack to a secondary, you’re losing a lot of yeast. So, I would say if there is a situation to that you want to do a secondary. Give it a couple of weeks in the primary first.

  5. Todd

    When I first started brewing I would only primary ferment for 1 week. I found that after a few week s in the bottle I would get overcarbed beer. Obviously the beer was not fully attenuated. I then decided to start fermenting at least 2 weeks and sometime 3-4 weeks for bigger beers and definitely 4+ weeks for lagers.

    As far as a secondary I have done it mostly when adding flavor or dry hopping, but I see no reason why this could not be done in the primary after the majority of fermentation is complete.

  6. Hi Dave,

    That’s what I was thinking. Only do a secondary fermentation if the beer absolutely needs it. If you are going to do something different like add ingredients to modify flavor, then do a secondary fermentation and just be really careful because you are opening up the chance for contamination.

    Hi Todd,

    I think that I would opt not to add flavor ingredients into the primary vessel. If I am going to open up the primary vessel to the elements to add something, I might as well get the beer off the yeast cake.

    The only way to figure this out is to experiment. Use both methods and compare results.

  7. Experimentation is what homebrewing is all about. Learning to make something better is a crucial part of that.

    I have generally always fermented my beers for two weeks in primary. Mainly out of laziness actually. Then I rack to a keg to condition cold and carbonate. I find a lot of merit in the idea of fermenting two weeks, based on what many have already stated regarding letting yeast go through their entire life cycle. At least two weeks gets you there for sure in most cases.

    Autolysis I think is another one of those held over homebrewing concerns from years past when most people used dried yeasts that were several years old. The yeast we have these days is in much better health that it ever was in the early days of brewing. My best evidence for autolysis not being a problem came last winter. I brewed a batch of IPA and Porter. I brewed them up and never got back to them for 4 months!!!! When I finally kegged them carbed them and tasted them they were still good beers depsite sitting on the yeast cakes for so long. They were stored cold (winter garage temps) so that likely helped, but there was no autolysis flavors to note or be concerned with. Healthy great yeast can get through their whole life cycle and then go perfectly dormant in the right conidtions.

    Secondary fermentation has always been a misnomer. There is rarely any fermentation going on there. It should really be considered, IMO, as a conditioning step. I only employ a “secondary” when I hav a high gravity beer that I know isn’t done fermenting, but I want it off the bulk of the yeast cake. In that case it really isn’t a second ferment, just a continuation of the first. The other time I do secondary is when I want to add fruit or spices. I don’t do that in the keg normally, because its hard to get beer out of a get with fruit in there too.

  8. Thanks guys for this discussion. I have just finished brewing my first IPA, was wondering about timing for 1st & 2nd fermentation. Now you guys have answered some of my questions.

  9. Glad we could help with your fermentation questions. Let us know if you have any more.

  10. Sean

    That depends on your style. English brewing books almost always recommend changing over to a second fermentor after you reach 1/2 way to your FG. In most cases, for english style ale, thats about 3-4 days. It helps clear up the ale in the end (drop bright) and it also helps the flavor to get it off the trub. A secondary fermentor (or dropping) goes until its basically almost stopped bubbling or approached your final gravity. Then you need to mature (IE cask condition) the ale for another 3 weeks. That final step seriously makes the ale. Bottling just doesnt cut it when you have had dry hopped cask ale.

    It’s interesting how the Brits scream to do it this way, and only this way, yet we tell people in this country to leave their ale in the primary for 14 days or more! My ale has always ended up outsanding using the brit methods and i really cant see leaving it on the yeast for that long, in primary.

    But once again, it depends on your style.

  11. Maybe this is an opportunity for an experiment. We can brew an English Pale Ale, split the wort into two different fermentors, and follow two different fermentation schedules.

    If we do that, we can share the results.

  12. Jordan

    Great updates all, thanks for the input.

    I’m a new brewer. On my fourth batch at the moment, ended other beers WAY too early in the past (had a porter I bottled after 1 week with dry malt and corn sugar as a primer…. literal bombs and foam. I would have liked to have seen what Mentos could’ve done there.)

    Anyway, I am working on an IPA right now. Have made a few faults on it so far, pitched the yeast in a rush at a wayyy too high temperature, didn’t sterilize the oak chips well… etc. So, despite the costs, I’ve considered this another experimental beer to see what factors I can control and see what flavours I get with and without faults.

    I let my fermentation go for over a week in a primary container and have just switched it into a glass carboy for the thought that I would be doing myself a favour in avoiding yeast autolysis and allowing the yeast to settle. After reading everything that everyone has had to say, I think I’ve made a mistake now in doing that.

    Any serious ramifications? I don’t worry much about contamination… I’m quite cleanly and haven’t had many problems before. I think the main thing is that I realize now that the beer was nowhere near calming down fermentation and that it’s now going to continue for a while.

    Is it fine to stay in the carboy (out of light, obviously) indefinitely? Should I stop fiddling around with it like a petulant child faffing with Christmas presents under the tree?

    Ah beer, a culture long repressed by the mass producers is returning to the people!

    It’s a good cultivation, thanks all for the involvement and the effort.


  13. Jordan,

    Yes, stop fiddling. Leave it in your carboy for another week to 10 days. You should be ok.

    I think the reason why the experts say to skip the secondary is to limit your chances of contamination.

  14. JD

    I’ve had one in the primary for 3 weeks now, and it’s still bubbling. The OG was 1.072 and today it read 1.020, I’ll check it again in a few days. I am seriously thinking about skipping the secondary on this one, but I am undecided right now. You’d think a month in the primary would be enough, but who knows…

  15. I think it largely depends on the situation.

    What yeast are you using? English Ale = shorter time, Brett = months or years of conditioning/fermenting..probably not primary though.

    Is this a high gravity beer?

    What is the fermentation temp? Cooler = Slower

    I usually let stuff sit, because, I can’t get around to it. On the other hand I’ve made a couple English Ales from wort to keg in a little over a week due to party deadlines.

  16. Is this new conventional wisdom of 2 weeks standard for all styles? I have a Witbier in the carboy, Saturday will make the end of week 1, and I really don’t have the time to bottle on Sat… Thinking about letting it sit until Monday (I have the day off) what say you?

  17. Hi Bryon,

    For your particular situation, I think you will be ok if you let it sit an extra day or two.

    Two weeks is just a guideline. I created this post because the two week guideline went against my own conventional wisdom of fermentation only taking a week for ales.

    I left my APA in the primary for two weeks…and it came out well. Mike’s opinion is that it’s the best beer I’ve brewed to date and I agree with him.

  18. Ry

    Relax. Have a homebrew. 😉
    3 days is certainly not going to kill it.

  19. RY, I certainly will relax, but all I have in stock is my left over holiday ale, not so great for this nice Spring weather…

    John, I concur, tomorrow (Monday) shall be bottling day!

    I really want to get one or two of those party pigs to make life easier, until I build up to kegging though… Anyone ever try those things?

  20. Danny

    I am confused after reading all the different posts. I just did a red ale last night, and was told to rack to a secondary when the air lock is only doing 1 to 3 bubbles a minute. This is only my second batch. So my question is, do I need to rack to a secondary, or should I leave it in the primary for two weeks or more and then bottle.

    Any help would be great.

  21. The party pig is cool, but they cost like $50 for one. You need 2 or more for a full 5 gallons. You can get a basic kegging system for about $150 and can expand it as you grow.

  22. Danny,

    For your red ale, I would leave it in the primary fermenter for 2 weeks and bottle.

    We feel that secondary vessels should be used for high gravity beers, for lagering, and for beers that are going to have additives (fruit, dry hopping).

    Unless your red ale fits into the above categories, just ferment it in the primary for two weeks and then rack it up.

  23. Danny

    Thanks for your reply! My last question, is how long should I leave it bottled for?

    Thanks again!

  24. For this beer, I would store the bottles out of direct light at the same temperatures that your yeast needs for optimal fermentation for another two weeks.

    You can open one or two earlier, just to check on things or just to collect information about the young beer’s taste, aroma, appearance, etc. but I think the beer will be really good after two weeks of bottle conditioning.

  25. Hey all,

    I’ve got a friend who had done a few batches this fall, and he and I am starting again for the summer, here in two weeks.

    We have a couple 5gal ball-lock kegs, we were going to use for secondary, conditioning, filtering and serving. And I just wanted to get this straight.

    If we are conditioning, filtering and serving from a keg (and thus also doing a touch of force carbonation), does this sound like a good step by step (assuming clenlieness, no aration, and priming transfer kegs with CO2 to avoid oxidation):

    1. Primary ferment for 1.5-3 weeks.
    2. Transfer to keg and condition/flavor for 1-2 weeks.
    – – I had a thought here, should I transfer in a touch of the cake to provide yeast for the secondary? Or will there be enough yeast in the solution to continue fermentation with any priming sugars in the secondary keg?
    3. Rack and filter to Tertiary keg for forced carbonation for 1 week.
    4. Drop pressure and serve.

    Al transfers done in a closed system. The stopper of the primary fermenter has a gas release hose, as well as a permanent liquid hose. The first transfer works by connecting the liquid transfer hose to the liquid out nipple of a sterilized and primmed keg, and charging the primary fermenter with CO2 to transfer (forced transfer, not siphon). All other transfers would occur to primed kegs (CO2 displaced Oxygen) to prevent oxidation and aeration.

    Does this sound like a good plan? Or too over the top?

  26. Sounds like a nice closed system set up to keep O2 exposure real low. I think your steps are sound so I’ll add only a few comments.

    I routinely let my beers sit in primary for at least 2 weeks; most often it’s closer to 3 weeks. At that point I transfer right to a keg. There is always going to be plenty of yeast still in solution so I wouldn’t worry about that. You can call it a secondary fermenter, but all the sugars are gone and you aren’t going to get much more fermentation, of course unless you add priming sugars. But you say that you are going to force carbonate the beer, so I don’t quite see why you’d be adding priming sugar.
    I would just transfer the beer to the keg after primary, chill it, set the pressure for your forced carbonation process. Let is carb up for a week or two and condition in the cold. Then I’d draw pint to see if the carbonation and clarity is where you want it. If its good, then push that beer over to a fresh clean keg to leave the sedimented yeast behind.
    You’ll now be in that “tertiary” vessel with very little yeast and fully carbed ready to consume.
    Definitely not over the top. I’d just skip the priming sugar steps. That’s what kegging is all about.

    Brew ON!

  27. Richard

    my yeast did not start in the primary – wart may have been too warm. Suggestions? Add more yeast?

  28. If you have more yeast to add, you may want to add it.

    Next time you may want to try a yeast starter

  29. Steve

    I usually do ~7 days of primary (until the foam has settled), then 14-20 days in secondary before bottling or kegging. When bottling another month is needed to achive desired carbination, but is worth the wait. Give your beer some time instead of bottling after a week after boiling. This is supposed to be about taste… the mass produced domestic lagers are there if you are in a hurry. Buy some more carboys, let it age, and enjoy patience.

  30. John V

    Hey all-

    Depending on the beer you are brewing, the risk of contamination isn’t really that big of a deal when going to a secondary. A belgian ale, for example, benefits greatly from a secondary, and by the time it’s siphoned it’s at 9-10 percent. This reduces the chance of contamination a lot. Generally speaking, the heavier the beer, the longer you want to keep it in both primary and secondary. It will benefit from a longer primary simply because it wil take longer for the yeast to do the job with the higher OG, and it will benefit from a longer secondary so you don’t end up with exploding bottles. Contamination isn’t as big of a deal as people think it is, as long as general cleanliness is followed. Look at Belgian monks: brewed delicious beer before they even knew what bacteria was. There’s nothing wrong with letting a heavy batch sit in primary for 3 weeks and seconday for a month. Don’t worry, there’s still pleny of yeasties left in there, and as long as you have a good ferm-lock and you havent exposed it a lot, you’ll be fine.

  31. Tom

    Any chance of some advice?
    I’m just doing my first 2 brews, a coopers pale ale and a mexican cerveza, I started them both nearly a week ago and i hope to be battered for christmas!
    I got some (possibly duff??) advice to give them a stir so obviously they havent settled into a cake yet. Im not going to do a secondary fermentation because of time restraints and lack of any more buckets.
    How long should I ferment then for? and Should I leave them for longer in the primary and have them sat for less time in the bottle or should I bottle them early and have them resting for longer? Would filtering out some of the cloud when I bottle help?
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated because I havent got a scooby doo what im doing!
    Thanks Tom

  32. Hey Tom,

    If ‘giving them a stir’ means to open up the lid and stir them with a spoon, I would say, “Don’t do that.” You don’t want to risk contamination.

    Keep them in your primary bucket for another week. Bottle them after that. By my calculations, they will be in bottles for three weeks on Christmas. For these styles, your timing is spot on. They will be ready to be enjoyed on the 25th of December.

  33. Mark

    When you say to ‘leave in the the primary’ for upwards of 2 to 3 weeks, you’re snapping down the lid and using a airlock, right? Just checking, as my primary is a solid lid, with no hole drilled for the bung.


  34. Hey Mark.

    Yes, we mean snapping down the lid and using an airlock. You will need a way to let the CO2 escape if you are going to ferment a beer. I would look into retrofitting your fermentation vessel with either an airlock or a blow off tube.

    Brew On.

  35. Jimmy

    Hi All!

    Great forum. This is my first post here.
    I have been struggling with this issue forever.
    My beer ingredients supplier tells me “never more than 5 days” but the fermentation is never over at 5 days and if i rack, it stops.
    So i leave it two weeks or more, until the fermentation slows down to 1 to 3 bubbling a minute in the air lock. Then most of the sugars are converted to alcohol.

    On the other hand, i am rarely completely satisfied with the taste of my beer and i think it has to do with autolysis and the fact that my beer stays for too long in contact with the dead yeast at the bottom of the primary fermenter.

    So it’s a dilemma. I don’t want to re-pitch the yeast after i rack as i don’t think this is standard procedure.

    My yeast seems healthy, my wort also, i have been brewing for more than 10 years.

    Still puzzled.

  36. Dean

    I have a question for the Pro’s:
    I have a dunkelwizen kit, after one week in primary I moved to seconddary and I at the end of 7 days in secondary. The fermentation slows down to 1 to 3 bubbling a minute in the air lock at this time.
    My question is if I can keg it and force carbonate at this point?

  37. Go for it!

  38. Seth

    I am a slacker – Here’s what I do.
    I have brewed hundreds of batches to support the consumption of a 4 piece band that plays 3x week. I’ve had excellent results with very quick turn around using the steps below, and I have never had a bad batch! Obviously each batch is different; for the most part I usually stay around a 12 pound grain bill and keep the two favorites in stock, a SN IPA clone and an catamount porter clone.
    I brew AG, depending on the batch I usually see rapid bubling to complete blow off occur within 45 minutes of pitching yeast. I use a yeast strain from my local brew pub owner, no idea on the specifics. Usually after 4-5 days I am down to 1 bubble every 1-2 minutes and a very low gravity. This point I transfer to a secondary glass 5 gallon carboy and let sit till it settles (usually about 3-4 days, when I can shine a flash light thru the beer and it’s consistent from top to bottom). At this point I move to my corney keg and crash at 28 degrees in the freezer for 24 hours. I crank the c02 to 30 PSI, lightly shake/roll on my lap for 100 seconds. You can hear the C02 disolve into the solution. Within a few hours I am drinking clear and fully carbed modertaly potent 5-7% beer that tastes as good as the store brand. Using all grain methods and hops grown in my backyard I only spend about 15-18 dollars a batch or 40 cents per pint. In the store we pay 1.50 for 12 oz bottles. I said earlier that I never had a bad batch. Well here’s the trick to recover from a bad batch. Get a 30 dollar reverse osmosis water filter kit from sears, run the bad batch through and out the other side guess what? Grain alcohol :) warning may cause short term disability – Have fun, don’t sweat the little stuff relax and have a pint!

  39. Brennon

    How the hell do you get rapid bubbling and blow off within 45 minutes of pitching yeast???? That is unheard of!

  40. Seth

    I start the yeast the day before, rapid bubbling within 45 minutes. I have vidieo footage.

  41. tom zipp

    i have a batch in my primary now- its been a week and still getting 2 bubbles a miniute . never had it ferment this long befor i racked to a carboy – im getting nervouse !!

  42. Hey Tom Zipp. Let it ride. It’ll be ok.

  43. tom zipp

    just racked it to the carboy – bubbled 2/min

  44. I just bottled a 5 gallon batch of Enlish Brown ale after three days of fermentation at about 68 degrees F. Bubbles stopped appearing in the airlock and I decided it was time. I tasted the brew also and it was delicious but not carbonated. Is this normal? Do you think I got ahead of myself? I primed the brew with 5 oz of sugar before bottling. I’m a little worried I’m going to have exploding bottles on my hands. Thanks for all advice.

  45. Did you taste it out of the primary fermenter? If so, then it is normal that it wasn’t carbonated.

    If not, how long was it in the bottle? If only a few days, then yes…that’s normal. You should let it sit in the bottle for at least a week…if not two.

  46. clint

    Its been two weeks and a day, and my IPA has bubbles still coming out at about 2 per minute. first reading was 1.052 and now 1.015. The local beer store said it could have bacteria in it. What do you guys think.

  47. I tasted it from the primary fermenter. It’s been bottled for a few days now and I don’t think I’ll try it for another week at least. Keeping my fingers crossed that the bottles don’t explode…

  48. It’s been a week and the bottles haven’t exploded. I tried one and it’s not nearly carbonated enough. A potential problem I’ve just now realized is I may have “prepped” the yeast in warm water for too long before adding to the wort, thus leaving an amount of active yeast completely insufficient for proper carbonation. I’m hoping another week or two will do the trick. Comments appreciated.

  49. Wait another week. It takes about two weeks in the bottle to carb up fully. If they haven’t carbonated after another week, take your learnings and put into your next brewing session.

  50. Dave

    I am brewing a batch of Dunkelweizen. It has been in the primary fermenter for 8 days now and the airlock has slowed down to about 1 bubble every 2.5 minutes. This is going to be the first batch that I ever keg with and don’t want to mess it up. Should I go ahead and keg, leave it in the primary, or transfer it to the secondary????


  51. Leave it in the primary for 14 days and then keg it. No secondary fermentation needed.

  52. Russ

    I have a very strange batch of ‘Best Bitter’ that some of the bottles got carbonated and others not at all. It also seems that if left in the refrigerator too long, like 5 days, I have almost no chance of getting a carbonated beer. If I leave it in 1 to 2 days I have a much better chance of getting a carbonated brew. I’m thinking bad caps perhaps? I definitely stirred the beer after I siphoned it off onto the priming sugar (using a clean giant spoon of course). Caps?

  53. Hi Russ,

    After you bottle your beer, you want to keep your bottles at room temperature for a couple of weeks. The beers won’t “carb up” if the yeast can’t ferment the priming sugar that you have introduced at bottling. To help them ferment, you need to keep the beer at fermentation temperatures. Hopefully that is the solution to your problem.

  54. Russ

    Hi John,

    After re-reading my post I didn’t mean to imply that I didn’t leave these at room temp before I refrigerated. I primed them at 72 for 2-4 weeks before refridgerating a few at a time. The longer I would leave them in the fridge the less carbonated they were. It seemed like I was having hit or miss caronation and just wondered if caps might be the issue? This batch was secondaried for about 3 weeks and primed with about 3/4 cup of priming sugar. I always worry about yeast left after secondary so I leave the bottles at room temp for up to a month sometimes. After reading that everyone is pretty much just leaving in the primary here for 2 weeks or more I’m going to stop racking unless I’m trying to make a fruit or dry hop addition or very high gravity beer.

  55. Andrew

    Hey guys,

    I am 1 week into the primary of my very first attempt at this, its slowed considerably in its bubbles, but I think I’ll leave it in there at least two weeks, then transfer to secondary for a few more. My question is, can you rack this into growlers instead of bottles? Seems like it would be less work, but will it carbonate as expected?

    Thanks for any input!

  56. You can rack it to growlers but only if you can find ones that can take a crimp cap rather than a twist-on cap. Without a crimp on cap, you won’t be able to get the carbonation that you want.

    I use 22 oz “bomber” bottles. You don’t need as many as you would if you were filling 12 oz bottles. They are sized to be fitted with regular crimp caps too.

  57. Andrew

    I looked around a bit, but couldn’t find any capped growlers, I think I’ll follow your lead and use the 22 oz bottles. Looks like my primary is settling down considerably after the 1 week mark, but guess I’ll let it stew for another, then attempt the transfer for clarification. Thanks for the thread! Any advice on when I move from secondary into my bottling bucket? seems like I’ll have to mix it around to add my priming sugar, that won’t be an issue to aerate it a tad will it?

  58. I would make my priming solution first, pour it into your bottling bucket and then siphon the beer into it. I stick my siphon hose “underwater”, that is, below the surface of the priming solution. You get a good mix of the solution and you don’t aerate your beer.

  59. Chris

    I started my first brew (IPA) on Friday night. It started bubbling a half hour after the lid was on. The bubbling picked up, and all Saturday it bubbled every second (sometimes twice a second). On Sunday morning there are no bubbles. So a day and a half total. What do I do?

  60. I wouldn’t rack anything just yet. We say let it sit for 2 weeks.

  61. ken

    Chris, i brewd my first batch sunday and have the same thing going on. started bubbling within 2 hours. every second or 2 it would bubble. checked on it monday around lunch and it has gone to 1-2 bubbles a minute. temp is around 72-73 f. trying to bring temp down now to around 68f. is this normal for an amber ale? anyone

  62. Andrew

    One thing to know about gaging your brew by the airlock bubbles per minute, if there is a bit less water in the airlock then there will be more bubbles. If the airlock has more water it will have less frequent bubbles. I just gave my brew 13 days but i would have bottled at 10 or 11 days as the activity was similar.

  63. Josh

    The beer before my current batch was a stronger Belgian wit which I ended up under-pitching (first time with liquid yeast). Thinking about it, fermentation should already have been longer since it was on the strong side, plus the low number of active yeast cells from the liquid yeast essentially screamed at me to let it ferment longer. I ended up bottling after two weeks in the primary and had more carbonation than beer after letting them sit two more weeks in bottle to condition. I’m glad my housemates didn’t end up with glass shards embedded in their beautiful faces from exploding bottles.

    The reason I shared that is because for this current batch I went rather overboard by priming two packets of dry British ale yeast (for my brown ale) and pitching all of it. Fermentation was extremely vigorous for the first two days and at the 4 day mark it had all but stopped bubbling. But I relaxed and drank a beer. The fermentation simply happened incredibly fast due to the great abundance of active yeast cells. I am still keeping it in the primary the full two weeks to let the yeast hopefully polish off those fusel alcohols and diacetyls and whatever other nasties they feel like munching on.

    So even if your fermentation is craaaazy fast, let it sit! The magic is still happening. It may just be that you pitched a very active batch of yeast. Hope this helped!


  64. simon

    So i’m currently making my first batch of homebrew (Young’s bitter). Unfortunately i don’t have a hydrometer and so can’t check when exactly my fermentation is complete (I live in Bulgaria so unless you know a shop don’t tell me to go and buy one :p). the instructions say to bottle after just 4-6 days, would you recommend leaving it another few days just to be sure?
    also i’m using old (but thoroughly steralized plastic 2ltr beer bottles for bottling) is this a good idea?

    help appreciated


  65. I have just started getting into homebrew and right now I have a very hopped up version of McMinnimens Hammerhead sitting in the carboy….its bubbling about once per minute and we cant bottle for another 3 days….. so this thread really gave me some great insight to fermentation….and a lot of what is being said here makes sense..After the first of the year I will get my own set up and start some real experimenting as I am in search of the perfect IPA…..Right now my favorite hoppy beer is Lagunitas Hop Stoopid…..Love that stuff…..Hope Henge from Dechutes is also good and Steelehead brewing’s Double IPA is another fave…so that gives you an idea of what I like!!! Thanks again for the great thread and info…Ill come back and let you all know how it turns out!!!!

  66. Tim

    I did my first solo brew in a new-to-me system about two weeks ago. An alt, that (due to my underestimation of system efficiency and fermentor volume limitations) ended up at about a 1.070 OG. Split this into about 4 gallons on a German lager yeast, and 6 on a German ale yeast.
    After two weeks at about 48-50F in glass, the lager is bubbling at about 5-6 bubbles a minute – it never got a gig ferm rate, nor did I expect it to. The recipe I had for this said to stay in primary at 50F for three weeks, then go to “secondary” at 40F for four weeks, which is what I’m plannig to do.
    On the ale, after two weeks at 56-58F in plastic, it’s bubbling at about 3 bubbles a minute. It did go through a more rapid ferm sometine in the first week, bubbling over the airlock.
    The ale is my concern – as I’m just going off a recipe that a brew friend fermented at ~68F. He transferred to secondary at a week. Any guidance on how long I should leave this ale on the cake in the primary at my cooler temps?

  67. Erik

    Hey all

    I brewed my first batch of beer (amber ale) on Saturday 12/19. Last Wednesday (12/23) I transfered my beer from primary (plastic bucket) into a glass carboy for secondary fermentation. I was planning on racking the beer into bottles tomorrow (Wed 12/29) and then let it sit in bottles for 2-3 weeks.

    Here are my questions:
    1) Was I too quick in transferring my beer from primary to Secondary fermentation? A book I was using said 3 -6 days for fermentation based on activity and 8-14 days of total fermentation (for your standard ale). The book was call “The Complete Joy of Home Brewing” by Charlie Papaziam.
    2) How long should I leave my beer in secondary fermentation? I have noticed that there is very little activity, but I don’t want to be early on this step (I am scheduled for day 11 but should I wait until the weekend?).
    3) When you guys are measuring the gravity of the beer near the end of fermentation (primary or secondary) what process are you using? I am paranoid to contaminate my beer so I decided not to open up the bucket or siphon out of the carboy to measure readings and I would love to hear your thoughts on this step. I tried to take a reading during my move from Primary to Secondary, but knocked over my graduated cylinder I had set asside to take the measurement :(

    Thanks in advance and love this site!

  68. Ok. Finally getting to these comments.

    @Simon – Yes – for ale fermentation – leave it in the vessel for 2 weeks. I am not sure about the plastic bottles for bottling. I would use glass. Just my thoughts from your comment.

    @Darren – please let us know how it turns out.

    @Tim – With the cooler than normal fermentation temps for your Alt, you may want to take a gravity reading at 2 weeks and then see if you should leave it in for some more time or bottle it. I am learning that fermentation temps are important to maintain and follow for the particular yeast you are using.

    @Erik – Yeah, I think you rack it too soon… I think this whole post thread is based on what is stated in Charlie P’s book vs. what is stated in John Palmer’s How To Brew book. I think you should be fine. I think homebrewers are leaving their beers in primary for longer because the issue of yeast death (autolysis) is very small and the chance of contamination is high from racking the beer unnecessarily from vessel to vessel.

    Go with your plan for now.

    To measure gravity, I use a sanitized wine thief to grab a sample…which is just a plastic tube. You can get them at your local home brew shop. I take off the cover of my fermenter carefully then I get a sample using the thief . Then, I put the sample in my hydrometer cylinder for a reading.


  69. Hey there guys, I thought I would get back with you on the first batch of home brew…… bottled it after 2 weeks in primary without secondary….a week after we bottled, I tried one….it tasted rather mellow, not much flavor….then I tried one just on Sunday and it was much better….When I start brewing solo with my own equipt, I will be doing secondary fermentation with dry hopping… all in all…for a very first brew. I would say its ok……not what I will brew next time, but the beer will not go to waste…… Thanks for the great site and all the info provided here!!!


  70. Darren congrats on getting started. And I am glad you got something drinkable on your first run.
    Thanks for the kinds words on the site.
    BREW ON!

  71. Henry

    Hey guys, I’m going to bottle my first batch of Pale Ale this weekend and will bottle in 16 OZ bottles with Grolsh style lock caps with seals. Will this work OK or will crimp caps be better?

  72. Hi Henry.

    The Grolsch style bottles should work just fine. Actually, they are somewhat coveted by homebrewers because they are easier to cap than the crimp style bottles.

    As long as the rubber seals are in place and are in good condition, you should be able to bottle up your beer with no problems at all.

  73. Woody

    My first home brew attempt, started on Sunday. English Pale Ale (Brewers Best kit). Everything went well in the kitchen, when finished the SG was 1.042, right where it was suppose to be. Put it in a glass carboy, within 6 hours it was bubbling. All day the next day (Monday), bubbled every 3-4 seconds, now (Tuesday) bubbling 1 every 15 seconds. Is this normal? The foam only got to about 1-2 inches off the surface.

    The fish tank thermometer read 72 the first day, now down to 66-68. The thermometer near the tank never got higher then 69ish.

    – Just ride it out until it completely stops bubbling, then move to secondary?
    – Let it ride in the primary for two weeks?
    – When it stops bubbling, bottle it?

    Directions say to wait a week in primary, then move to secondary.

  74. Woody
    Congrats on getting started. Everything sounds normal to me with your first brew. As a rule I always go two weeks in primary before doing anything. I think with this beer you made that would serve you well too. Remember this, bubbling is never a good indication of fermentation activity towards the end. Always rely on gravity checks. Just because the bubbling slows or stops after 5 days it doesn’t mean the yeast are done or not doing something important.
    You temps sound spot on for your first batch too.
    BREW ON!

  75. Woody

    Thanks for the feedback.

    I took the SG, it was 1.01 or very close. Seems fast for only coooking since Sunday. This was from a sample batch I took before I put the airlock on originally. (The sample was put in a 12 oz bottle with a paper towel as a stopper and the sample sat touching the primary carboy.) The airlock is down to one bubble each 90-100 seconds. Temp is 63 – 66.

  76. Bobby

    Hi guys,

    I thought I posted this last night but it looks like it didnt click. I have kind of a long story. I apologize if this gets posted twice.

    I recently found out that my best friend is coming home from Iraq in 3 weeks. I live out of state and can make it home to see him in 4. I found out that he hasn’t had a beer in 4 months, so I decided to make an emergency welcome home batch for him, but hes only home for 2 weeks. SO… I decided that since I know the guy pretty well, potency and taste could offset any inadequate carbonation. This is only my 3rd batch in all, and I started doing some research to try and up the potency faster, and get a batch pounded out in 4.

    The problem? My solution was to add a pound of raw honey to the boil to give the yeast some extra food, and I used a local brew shop recommended yeast that is apparently faster fermenting than the standard stuff I have been using. In my newbishness I didn’t realize that adding the honey would create a higher SG and therefore require more time both fermenting and conditioning despite the faster active yeast, at least I’ve been told. Within an hour of pitching the yeast I started seeing results, and by the next day I had a CRAZY amount of activity. The temperature even went as high as 74+ on my fermometer and I cooled the carboy down to 64 to keep it from overheating. My apartment is kept at 65 degrees so it was definitely not room temperature. After I cooled it down I returned it to it’s resting place, and by the end of the night (second day in primary fermentor) the activity was barely noticeable and I was only getting about 1 bubble a minute in the airlock. The temperature had stabilized to about 66-68 degrees, but the falloff of activity is scaring me. My first two batches slowed in activity after about 3-4 days and were ready to rack by the 8-9th. I figured since I added the honey it should be going for awhile, despite the faster acting yeast.

    I am prepared to let it sit for a week or two and just deal with it as I have to. But am I being too worried? Did I kill off the yeast by cooling it down? I thought that what I was supposed to do. I realize that this may not be ready for my friend, but I would hate to have stillborn batch, if you’ll pardon the expression. I was very sanitary, and the smell coming from the airlock is that of a delicious modified pale ale, so I don’t think the yeast ruptured and died or were out-competed by some nasty microbes.

    Any words of wisdom to help a confused newbie out would be much appreciated.

    Thanks, and sorry for the novel!


  77. Hi Bobby,

    I deleted the older comments from you because I thought your most recent one summed up your story best. We have it set so that first time comments need to be approved by us to be published. The delay in us approving it probably caused the confusion.

    Anyway, I don’t think your batch is dead. I think the honey definitely got the yeast activity up in those first two days. I think if things are calmer now, that is ok. I know when I brewed with honey, the first two days of fermentation were incredibly vigorous. It sounds like everything is going fine.

    I would leave your batch in your fermenter for 2 weeks and bottle it up (I am guessing that you rack to bottles). Let the beer condition at the same temperature for 2 weeks and it should be carbed up and ready when you see your friend.

    We salute you for supporting the troops this way. The beer will probably be really dry tasting…lacking sweetness but will probably will be really drinkable as well.

    Let us know how it turned out.

  78. Bobby

    Will do, and thanks so much. Love the forum, very helpful in other matters not relating to this particular one. Appreciate it!


  79. Sean

    i am brewing my first batch of beer, an IPA. my question is, can i leave it in the primary fermenter for 3 weeks before bottling? the instructions said i should leave it in primary for 2 weeks and secondary for 2 weeks, but i don’t have a secondary fermenter, so i am planning to skip that step. I’m heading out of town so bottling isn’t much of an option right now. are there any adverse effects to leaving it in the primary fermenter with the fermentation lock for 3 weeks before bottling??? Thanks guys, this site is great.

  80. Hi Sean,

    Mike has left beer in the primary for a month due to timing conflicts and didn’t have any trouble. Although not best practice, you should be ok with 3 weeks in the primary. Just bottle it up when you get back to town and let it sit in the bottle for two weeks before cracking one or many open.

  81. Rick

    I’m pretty new to brewing myself. I started out using the deluxe Mr. Beer kit with the 2 gallon fermenter. Very easy with the pre-made stuff. So I wanted to venture out more and bought two 5-gallon buckets and try a stab at grain and extract brewing. So my first 5 gallon brew will be a chocolate stout (3lbs crystal malt, 2 lbs chocolate malt, 2 lbs roasted barley and 3 lbs DME). Added the hops at 60 minutes. With the Mr. beer stuff, I usually tasted the wort and it would be pretty sweet. This time, it wasn’t sweet at all. After doing some research (while it was still boiling) and looking at other stout recipes, I decided to add molassess and some more DME. OG came out to be 1.072. But here’s my real dilemma;

    After pitching the yeast, I waited for about 8 hours and no bubbles. I checked the next day – still no bubbles. Today would mark day 10 and still no bubbles. There is a cake at the bottom and foam on top. If I gently push the top, it creates a bubble but does nothing afterwards. The temp is constant 69 degrees. Do I have a defective airlock or slow yeast? I will move it over to the secondary this coming weekend with cacao nibs to add flavor (inspired by Sam Adams). Did I do anything wrong? I have yet to re-check the gravity.

    Any advice is greatly appreciated.

  82. Rick

    Ok, here’s an update.
    I put it in the secondary on day 14. Looked and smelled good. Caught a sample and tested the gravity. I’m no longer worried. It read 1.010. At least I know the fermentation did occur. Why didn’t my airlock bubble? I have the 3-piece kind. Should I get another or switch to the S-type?

    So I roasted whole cacao beans, removed the husk, and added it to the secondary bucket – right at 4 oz. My concern is contamination. Question is, now that I know the alcohol content, is this sufficient enough not to worry about it?

    Again, any advice is greatly appreciated.

  83. Hi Rick,

    One thing I can think of is your fermentation bucket’s lid wasn’t on tight enough so that CO2 was escaping from channels outside of your airlock.

    How much DME did you use all together? Your wort didn’t seem too fermentable with the numbers you quoted. Molasses isn’t the most fermentable sugar either. Your fermentation wasn’t that vigorous because the wort wasn’t that fermentable.

    I brewed a mild a few years back and had the same experience. Low gravity just didn’t make the airlock move all that much.

    For your second comment, alcohol content won’t fix contamination. I am not sure if you have contaminated your beer and you won’t know until you taste it. Don’t open the secondary until your ready to bottle and taste it when the stout is ready to drink.

  84. Rick

    Hi John,
    Thanks for your input. I used about 4lbs of DME altogether. I did mash the grains before adding it.

    After reading about other folks experiences here on brew-dudes, what you said makes total sense. I’ve read maybe using brown sugar instead. I guess that’s what homebrewing is all about – experiementing what works and what doesn’t.

    Another question I have is priming. Do you think there is enough active yeast to provide a mild corbonation? Knowing the contents, should I use DME, dextrose, or brown sugar? Or none?

    Thanks again for the advice. It really is appreciated.

  85. For priming, I always use corn sugar…well, most times. For you, I would use the most fermentable sugar you can get. Table sugar works well too.

  86. pj

    hello all.. my first post here. just brewed up my first ever batch of irish stout… my first reading was 1.050 took another today (3 days later) and its at 1.019.. no more bubbles at all.. so i transferred into 2nd fermenter.. my question is… when i prim, do i need to transfer it into another container? or can i use my 2nd fermenter bucket, and just add the priming sugar to that, and stir, or will that stir up the sediments on the bottom, even though it has been transferred once…? right now i am using the 2nd fermentor that has the spigot on the bottom.. do you always start with a fresh bucket when sugar priming/stirring? thanks a bunch!

  87. renato

    Any advice for a newbie who forgot to add water to the airlock? I realized my folly after two days. Are there any signs of contamination I can look for in the primary fermenter? I am using a bucket and cannot see what is going on in there.

    Not sure if I should wait it out and proceed as planned or scrap the batch and start a new one.

  88. Hi Pj,

    When I bottle, I add my finished beer to my bucket with the spigot on it. I add my priming sugar solution to it first and then rack the beer on top of it. I guess you can add your priming sugar to your secondary vessel since it is the one with the spigot on it. I am not sure it will be optimal with for the reasons you bring up.

    WIth an Irish Stout, you don’t really need to put it into a secondary vessel. You can just let it ride in your primary until you are ready to bottle.


    I would just add some water to the airlock now if you haven’t already. I would think that your chance for contamination is slim since your fermentation is probably blowing CO2 out with or without water in your airlock. I would wait it out and see how this beer turns out.

  89. bruce

    I just started my first home brew kit. Its a Pilsner but I’m using a Belgium yeast to give it some more flavor. I believe I’m going to leave it in the first fermentation for two weeks as you have suggested but my question is regarding kegging.

    After the two week mark, do I rack directly into the keg and place it in the fridge for a week? Also, How do I force carbonate as I have all the equipment for doing so. I believe I just hook up the CO2 to a certain pressure and let it sit for a week and will I just be able to tap the beer right after that?


    New to Brew

  90. Hey – Thanks for leaving a comment. I am going to ask Mike to answer your questions. From what you wrote, it sounds like you have all the steps down. I don’t think you need to wait a week for it to carbonate within the keg. I think it takes about a day to get it to be ready for serving.

  91. bruce

    Thanks for the response, I’ll be counting the beers for Mike’s response!

  92. Bruce!
    Thanks for the questions. After its done fermenting (which is usually two weeks, but always check the gravity to be sure) you simply rack to a sanitized keg as you describe. There are carbonation charts available (I think there is one in How to Brew) that shows you how to get the desired level of carbonation in your beer.

    Getting the right level of carbonation is a matter of knowing what temp the beer is at and how bubbly you want it. For a pislner/belgian ale type beer I’d err on the side of 2.5-2.8 volumes of CO2 at least. Set your regulator according to the charts and then off you go. I usually let me beer carbonate this way for a week or so, but its only because that’s my process. It really only takes a couple days for the beer and applied CO2 to reach equilibrium and be carbed.

    If that doesn’t help just keep asking questions.

    BREW ON!

  93. Jason

    Howdy yall.
    Just brewed up my first batch. An amber ale. Just have a few questions.
    First, the wort has been in my carboy for 2 days now and seems to be fermenting very well. Temp has been round 67 to 70. Its no going crazy like most i’ve heard, but there is about an inch and half of foam and is bubbling quite good. I didn’t rehydrate my dry yeast in water like ive been reading i should do but let it hydrate ontop of the wort for 5 min then agitated. Not on purpose i jus forgot to do it “right”.
    One, i was wondering if that would hurt anthing, Two, is there any signs of contamination besides the initial tasting when the brew is done? I feel i was very careful with sanitation. I tried the wort before sealing and airlocking and it wasnt very good, but i had also already put the yeast in. is that natural? Im just worried that the fact it didnt taste even a little good that it might be contaminated. Maybe im thinking bout it to much.
    The smell that is coming out of the airlock smells like a DELICIOUS Pale ale. I’m planning on racking at the two week mark once the FG is consistent into bottles.
    Sorry about the huge comment, any suggestions or info would be greatly appreciated
    Thank you. Jason

  94. Comments are welcome always. I think that you are on the path to a good beer. Don’t worry about how it tasted before fermentation. It’s going to be much different once the finished product is ready.

    Proofing your dry yeast is a best practice. I think once you get more experienced, you’ll read more about yeast starters and such. You will then be on your way to making some great beer.

    Let it roll and let us know how it turned out.

  95. John Morand

    There have been times when I have skipped moving the beer into a secondary and it came out fine. The most important point IMO is not to get anxious and keg or bottle the beer before fermentation is complete. However regarding moving beer into a secondary I do think there are some advantages, since you leave the sediment behind in the primary, so your beer will be clearer and have less sediment in it when you rack. Also, I soemtimes will filter the beer when putting it into the secondary, which removes sediment still floating around in the primary. This of course is a matter of personal preference. I often give my homebrew away at Christmas and many people, being used to drinking store bought beer, seem to appreciate it more when they don’t see things floating around in the beer. Home brewing is so great isn’t it. I just brewed a batch of cream ale and will do a nut brown ale today.

  96. Ricardo

    How long should I hydrate the yeast before incorporating it into the wort?

  97. Let it hydrate for 15 minutes. Check out this page:

  98. Travis

    I brewed an English ale two nights ago with an OG of ~ 1.060. Twenty-four hours later, the yeast was going crazy, airlock was bubbling two to three times per second.

    Fast forward 12 hours to this morning and…nothing. The water level in the airlock didn’t move in the 30 seconds I stared at it. There was still a little activity in the bottle but nothing like the previous day. I racked it to secondary tonight – 1.020 gravity after just 48 hours.

    That is all sunshine and rainbows, but the problem is that there was a sulfury, I guess you could call it rubbery smell from the beer. I know this is generally a symptom of autolysis, but I’m having a hard time imagining the yeast giving up and dying after only a day and a half when it was roaring along last night.

    A couple of other details…temperature was pretty steady, between 64 and 68 degrees. And, the yeast I used was a packet of dry Nottingham that I had had for over a year. Do you think the old dry yeast could’ve caused it?

    Thanks for your time and any help you can offer a puzzled and somewhat disheartened comrade.

  99. Travis,

    I am not sure how the packet of dry yeast was stored for that year. I would guess that the yeast wasn’t very viable when you pitched it.

    If you use dry yeast in the future, use packets that are fresh. Store them in the fridge if you are going to store them long term. Lastly, proof the yeast with warm water before pitching the yeast.

  100. Dave S

    Hello, I’m brewing my third batch right now. I’ve been very successful on the first two so I decided to step it up a notch and tr something a little more difficult. I’m brewing an Altbier ( German old ale style before lager yeast was discovered). OG was 1.056, it says to ferment in warm temperatures and lager in cool. I went ahead and racked it into a 5 gallon glass carboy after only 5 days because the bubbles were few and far between (several mins for 1 bubble). I’ve added the clean ferm lock and placed in my mini fridge that has temp control… Set at 50 degrees. I’ve peeked at it after two days and boy is it starting to clear up! I’m thinking of going 2 weeks in this lager secondary fermentation. What do you think, any feedback? Cheers.

  101. Hi Dave S.

    Sounds like it’s all systems go. Let us know how it turns out.

  102. Chris

    I have a question about primary fermentors. Is it safe to do a two week primary in plastic? My plastic fermentor is nearly 15 years old, and at the time I learned to leave it in the primary and then rack to a glass secondary as soon as you can. Typically 3 – 5 days. Partially to avoid yeasty flavors, and partially because plastic is too porous for a longer primary.
    Is the 2 week recommendation based on a glass primary?

  103. chris in pittsburgh

    Hello fellow HB’s!!…As a a new brewer in this vast community I see that this process of experimentation is like education by firehose. I have done 2 batches so far and have a question about my 2nd one as this was my 1st “off book” attempt. I did an Anchor Steam from a kit. Added Williamette hops for the boil and Cascade with 5 minutes left..OG was 1.054 and fermentation bubbling stopped in 5 days. (I strained the hops out when i poured into the bucket then pitched yeast) I racked to a secondary with Citra hops for a dry hop step. FG was 1.014. Now to my question..will the cake of hops ontop of the beer in the secondary fall to the bottom when it is ready to bottle? if there a good method to strain the hops off during the bottle step?
    Thanks for your kind advice..

    The new humble homebrewer

  104. Hi Chris,

    Plastic buckets in general can handle a fermentation for 2 weeks. They aren’t that porous. With its age, I would buy a new bucket or buy a Better Bottle fermenter.

  105. Chris in Pittsburgh,

    I would get an auto siphon to rack your beer. I think it would be the best way to separate your hops from your beer.

  106. Dave S

    Okay! The Altbier has been bottled. (see prior post). FG was 1.012, so we are looking good. I’ll give two weeks and try one to test carbonation… Very excited to see how clear it will be….tasted pretty good warm and flat, I like to drink what’s left in the cylinder after measuring the gravity. Will report back soon! Magic HAt #9 is now available in cans!!

  107. Arturo

    Hi guys,

    Well i have brewed 74 batches fermenting 2 weeks sometimes 3 or 4 with good results. But im using the minimum amount of yeast. In my number 75 bacth i decided to make a starter and then picthed during 12-18 hours of activity. And after 7 days i bottled the beer with priming sugar. The beer was a 1.054 robust porter and i drunk one bottle at day number 3 or 4 after bottling and the beer was really awsome! This was an experiment because i wanted to get beer in just 2 weeks like many commercial breweries do it. Im fermenting in a 4 liter glass fermentor because i dont want to have many bottle, my interest its on developing the recipies for commercial using. In order to keep my yeast healty witout criters i put them in small glass sanitazed tubs and then store at 4 ·C 3 days maximum for danstar and 7 days for fermentis yeast, so in this way i dont get infection on the beer bottles and i can make 5-6 batches of beer with a single dry yeast pouche. Next sunday i will bottle a pale ale with 7 days and maybe i will do the same with an ipa of 1.062 (but i got my first stuck fermentation due to high temperature here in mexico 28·C in my cellar. So this sunday i will tranfer my number 79 IPA batch to the left slurry into the pale ale fermentor in order to restart faster the fermentation procces). Maybe the small size of my fermentor allow me to do this, but i want to try in some new eqipment of 1bbl that i need to set (piping and all that stuff). I will recomend you if you want to do an experiment but using always a starter to get many cells yeast =)

  108. Don

    I have been homebrewing for 40 years. Started out with a kit, progressed to double quantity of LME and have done partial mash with DME base for the past 10. I usually make high gravity brews and an occasional upper limit wheat. I always use a secondary predominantly to clarify the beer more as I don’t like to filter. I agree 2 weeks is a good base rule, but you absolutely cannot do a good job without using a recipe generator like BeerTools and measuring the SG. Check OG, ferment until activity appears to have stopped, then check the SG against predicted TG. If it’s within a point, ck again in 3 days. If no drop, rack and record SG. When beer appears to have cleared, check SG. If stable from racking time, prime and bottle. The overall caveat, however, is KEEP IT CLEAN. DO NOT dip an unsanitized wine thief or turkey baseter (my preference) into the brew!!! Happy brewing!

  109. Steve

    All this talk about secondary fermentation, but none as to how long. We brewed an ale 4 weeks ago, let it sit almost 3 weeks to ferment, then put it on 5lbs of fresh crushed blueberries. It has been on the blueberries nearly 2 weeks. How long should it be on them. We hear conflicting thoughts. Some say get it off in 2 weeks because thats all it needs and longer will turn the beer. Others say leave it for at least a month to get all the flavor possible. What gives? We need sound advice…

  110. Kevin

    making my first batch (American Wheat) and would appreciate some feedback/advice.

    used a Northern Brewer extract kit, with simple instructions, but 1 part wasnt explained well. when i added the (powdered) yeast, the instructions didnt state if the wort should be stirred or not, so i didnt, i just poured it on top and added the stopper and fermentation lock. SHOULD THE WORT BE AERATED/AGITATED WHEN THE YEAST IS ADDED?

    also, i really havent seen much in the way of bubbling from the wort. after 3 or 4 days there was some bubbling, but that died down and in the past few days i havent seen any signs of bubbling. today is day 9 of the 2 week fermentation, but from all the reading and watching of videos i have done this beer is not comparing as would expect.

    in 5 days i am going to siphon into a fermenation bucket with spigot in order to bottle. i have the priming sugar but am not completely sure on the best way of doing this. do i just add it to boiling water and then siphon the beer in and then use the spigot to fill the bottles? what are the biggest mistakes or problems at this point, and if i taste the mixture from the bucket will i be able to tell if its a bad batch or not?

    sorry, lots of questions, but any help would be appreciated!

  111. Hey Steve – For secondary with blueberries, I am thinking it’s up to your taste. Taste it after two weeks. If it doesn’t have the flavor you want, try it again two weeks later. Not sure if there is a deadline when you HAVE to rack it out of the carboy.

    Hey Kevin – Welcome to homebrewing! It’s best practice to aerate the wort before you pitch your yeast but I didn’t aerate outside of splashing the wort into and around the fermentation vessel. You probably didn’t pitch enough active yeast to get a vigorous fermentation. Search for information about how to proof dry yeast and creating yeast starters with liquid yeast packs. I think that will prep you for next time.

    As for priming, I boil the water with the priming sugar in it for 10 – 15 minutes. Then I pour that water/sugar mixture into my bottling bucket. Then I siphon the young beer onto the water/sugar mixture in the bucket and then bottle.

    Tasting the young beer will give a point of data but won’t be exactly what the finished beer will taste like.

  112. Jeff

    I brewed a high gravity Christmas Ale a little over 3 weeks ago (based on a recipe from a John Palmer book). OG was 1.091. Extremely vigorous fermentation in the first week and now it’s just relaxing in the primary fermenter. I’m not sure on current gravity, but given the spectacle of the fermentation, I’m guessing that it’s much, much lower. Palmer recommends racking high OG beers to a secondary fermenter which I am planning to do any day now. I intended to keep it in the secondary for an additional 2 – 3 weeks at a minimum, per his suggestion. After that, I plan to bottle condition, adding some priming sugar.

    My question is, will there be sufficient remaining viable yeast to carbonate the beer? I’m concerned that after all this time in the primary and secondary (at least 6 – 8 weeks all together), there won’t be enough yeast left, and I’ll have flat beer.

    Should I add additional yeast come bottling time? If so, how much and what kind? Does adding yeast cause any potential problems with exploding bottles? Thanks for any help!

  113. Jeff – There should be enough viable yeast left in suspension to carbonate the beer. I have lagered beers for two months and the yeast was still viable enough to eat all the priming sugar and carbonate in the bottles. That is if the strain you used can handle high alcohol beers…

    You could add a little bit of yeast to the beer at bottling time – a clean strain like WLP001 or Wyeast 1056. Unless you’re adding more than the recommended amount of priming sugar to the beer, I don’t think you’ll have bottle bombs.

    Again, calculate your ABV. If your yeast strain can handle it, you should have no problems carbonating your beer. If you think the yeast died off because they produced too much alcohol, then add some clean ale yeast strain.

  114. Kevin McNamara

    Hey guys,

    I am on a tight timetable for my current brew and need some advice. Today is day 7, (almost day 8 now) in the primary fermenter for my Autumn Amber ale. I NEED to have it ready by Oct. 29th, which means I need to bottle it by Friday. If I do this, 11 days in the primary, and bottle it for 2 weeks (usually my minimum) do you think it will be okay? Earlier today I saw a clear pattern of about a minute and half in between bubbles, just to give you an idea of its progress. Thanks for any input.

  115. Hey Kevin,

    I brewed something quick for Thanksgiving last year and had the same kind of time issue. I think I went 10 days in primary and bottle conditioned for 2 weeks. It came out fine. It actually won a second place medal at the Boston Homebrew Competition.

    If your amber’s starting gravity is within BJCP’s guidelines, it will probably turn out fine if you follow your plan.

  116. Dan

    I just finished my first batch on Saturday Oct. 8. I was seeing much activity in my airlock, but today October 12 the bubbles have stopped. Should I be concerned?

  117. John

    Hi Dan,

    I don’t have enough information about your beer to answer your question definitively. I wouldn’t panic. What style are you brewing?

  118. Evan


    I wouldn’t worry about it some days are more active than others if your really worried about a stuck fermentation then take a gravity reading. Personally I would leave a full week then go from there. I go a full week in a fermenter then transfer it. My reasoning for doing this has nothing to do with autolysis or sanitation. For those 3 week primary guys don’t quite seem to have sanitation down yet maybe you need more practice :). My reasoning for transfer is I brew every week and I have one fermenter and 6 carboys so for me the answer is easy.

  119. Foysal


    I am brewing for the first time. using a 5 liter Plastic bottle as a primary fermentar and using a home made airlock compiling a plastic tube put through a hole in the bottle cap and other end dip into a bottle full of water. I am trying to make a ginger beer with alcohol content of around 5%. I am using bread yeast and put around 700grms of sugar. The first two day it fermented like crazy and still producing bubbles in every second on around third day. When and how i should bottle it.

  120. John

    Foysal – Man, that brew sounds all kinds of wrong. I would let it do its thing for 2 weeks and then bottle it.

  121. Foysal

    Dear John,

    Can you please clear why my brew sounds all kinds of wrong. I wanna to fix the errors in future. Your kind cooperation is much appreciated. Please tell me as detail as possible ma friend.

  122. I wouldn’t use bread yeast. I am not sure where you live but if you can buy beer yeast, I think you will have a better chance of success.

  123. Foysal

    Dear John,

    I lived at Bangladesh. Here it’s not possible to get beer yeast. So bread yeast is only option. And also we don have any malt extract or corn syrup here. Is it possible to have beer from whole corn or wheat ? As those are rightly available in our country. If so please give me a simple recipe.

  124. Hi Foysal,

    I don’t have any recipes that only include corn or wheat as the only grains on the bill. Maybe other readers have one. I wish you luck in your brewing.

  125. Brew Virgin

    Hi, I’m attempting my first homebrew kit, the instructions suugested transfer to the secondary fermenter (in this case plastic pressure barrell) after 4-6 day but I was advised to leave it for at least 10 days which I did. Looking at the useful info on your site it was the right thing to do. The instructions now say leave the pressure barrell in a warm room for 2 more days then transfer to a cold dark place and try the beer in 2-3 weeks. 2 Question I have for you, 1. is that last info correct? and 2. do I need to vent the barrell? Many thanks :-) Steve

  126. Hi Steve,

    Here in the States, we aren’t that familiar with pressure barrels. I found some information on this page:

    I would follow the instructions for this brew and see how it turns out. Question for you: Did you add any sugar to carbonate your beer inside the barrel?

  127. Brew Virgin

    Hi John, thank you for your reply, did not realise you were in the states, just thought you were an insomniac answering happless amatuer brewers like myself in the early hours of the morning as I’m in the UK lol! Makes perfect sense now, yes I added 4oz of sugar to the barrell when I syphoned it off my 5 gallon fermentation bucket. Its just that I’ve heard of these things going bang but I’ve now stored in under a table in a cool room so I guess I’ll have to wait and see. Thank you for the link it was helpful. I’ll let you know what its like in a few weeks, all the best, Steve.

  128. Warren

    Hi, I have a Munton’s Mountmellick Irish Style Cream Ale brewing and it has been in primary about 2 weeks. I have just checked sg with my hydrometer and note that the brew is still very cloudy. I brewed it with a heater in the top of the lid at approx 22 degrees. If I was to let it sit for longer to clear up should this be donew at 22d or just turn the heater off and let nature take its course.

  129. Paul

    Its recommended two weeks primary then bottle for “regular” beers. Since I am brewing a a high gravity black IPA with dry hopping I want to transfer to secondary..My question is should I still give it 2 weeks in the primary or transfer after 1?

  130. Warrren – I would bottle it up and let it carbonate. Try letting it clear in the bottle.

    Paul – I would use 2 weeks as a rule of thumb. Check your gravity and see if it has reached your target final gravity before you transfer it out of primary to the secondary vessel.

  131. bruce

    I started a Cascade “Imperial Voyage” on 21/12/2011 using 1kg of dextrose/maltodextrin. It fermented moderately after a few days but went very quiet after 8 days. There were still signs of minor activity on the surface, so I left it for a week before checking its SG which had only dropped to 1020 after starting at 1032. Adding a spoonful of sugar produces instant activity, so my question is, should I add more dextrose/maltodextrin? Fermentation temp. has remained between 21 and 27 degrees.

  132. Clint

    First time brewer, brewed a Bavarian Hefeweizen, My question is simple i think, my wort after 1 week stopped bubbling, so is it done ready to bottle? or should i let it stay another week? I guess what im asking is if the bubbling has stopped, does that mean the fermenting is done? Thanks

  133. Hi Bruce,

    Maltodextrin is not fermentable so adding more to your fermentor won’t help you get a lower gravity reading. With a starting gravity in the 1.030 range, there aren’t a lot of sugars for the yeast to consume. I would leave it alone for another week and then bottle it up.

  134. Hi Clint,

    If your airlock has stopped bubbling, then fermentation may be over. Our thoughts are to leave beers in the primary fermentor for 2 weeks. If you don’t want to wait and you have the tools to take a gravity reading, take one and see if your beer has reached the target gravity. If it has, then prime and bottle it up.

  135. Clint

    Thanks john, i have a gravity reader just not sure what the F.G. should be for that beer. think i will just leave it for another week, thanks for the help

  136. Dusty

    My first brew I went for HopNog 2011 (IPA) with a brew date of 1/13/2012. Since reading you post I have decided to skip the secondary and just leave it in the primary for 2 weeks.. Question is when I bottle it? Says to leave in bottle for ~2 weeks at 64-72 degrees.. Then I crack one open to test it? How will I know if it has reached the amount of carbonation that it should..? Can this process in the bottle take less time?


  137. Hi Dusty,

    Some homebrewers pour a little primed beer in a sanitized plastic bottle that is crunched up a bit. As the days go on, the beer carbs up and the plastic bottle regains its form. I used this method to monitor the carbonation on my hard cider. It may take less time than two weeks but it is usually takes that long.

  138. Dusty

    Hi John,

    So its been 14 days in my primary and I hadn’t seen much activity for the past 4 days.. I moved my bucket into the kitchen to start bottling the night before and now it seems to be slowly active again.. Should I give it a couple more days? What do you recommend it do?

  139. I would give it a few more days. Temperature plays such a big role in fermentation. With the warmer kitchen, you may have kick started the fermentation again. Going 3 weeks isn’t going to ruin your beer.

  140. Steve

    I have been making wine for 5 years now and I recently started to brew beer. The process in some ways are the same and in others quite different. The fermentation time is about the same in the primary but with wine you want to mix your Must everybody whereas beer you leave the Wort alone. I have successfully brewed a Sorghum Beer and a Gluten Free Double Chocolate Oatmeal Stout. I spoke to some of my friends who are Beer brewers and they think that making wine is the final exam of beer, but I am here to tell you that if you can brew beer than you can master wine.

  141. Brennan

    Hello Sir,

    Been thoroughly reading this website and can’t seem to find a good example of my problem, or if it really a problem. I’ve made my first brew two weeks ago this weekend and it is sitting in my primary. Starting Gravity of 1.045, finish or 1.012. Oh, it’s an Irish Red Ale. My question has to do with the hops. I had 1oz of Cascade in two stainless steel tea ball thingys, half oz in each one. Well, stupid me didn’t account for the hops pellets expanding and while the big thick glob inside the ball was wet, i’m not sure how well the wort was able to move through the bulk of the hops and diffuse the flavor. I was concerned at the time but even more so now that the wort tastes very sweet as fermentation is complete. I was thinking of trying to dry hop for a week? Is this a good idea or you think the flavors will even out? If so, how much, how long? I don’t personally care for a very bitter beer but certainly don’t like anything that tastes remotely sweet. Please help? Thanks so much.
    Brennan R. Trask

  142. Hi Brennan,

    Dry hopping won’t increase the bitterness of your beer so if there is really an issue with your beer being out of balance, dry hopping won’t counteract sweetness.

  143. Brennan

    I read somewhere about someone boiling up some of the carbonated beer with some more hops to add back to the batch. Is this an option? I just ordered another ounce of Cascade and should have it by the end of the week. Thanks again for your prompt reply!

  144. I have never tried that. Let us know how it turns out if you go that route.

  145. Jeremy

    Just brewed a red ale with an expected 9.4% ABV. Batch has been in carboy for around 24 hrs now and is foaming and bubbling very well.

    Now heres my problem, followed my receipe and was successful in all sterilization process and adding to 1st fermenter. Planned on keeping it in their for 2 weeks until I saw this afternoon its foaming out the airlock. Now i’m worried that it’ll make it till the 2 weeks.

    Will it be ok to go straight from 1st carboy (which is a 5gal glass) straight to bottles?

  146. Yes, it should be fine to bottle from the primary fermenter. I use a bottling bucket so I can prime before filling the bottles.

  147. Aaron

    I just started my first batch of beer; it is an IPA. Everything went smoothly until it came time to chill the wort. It took about 40 minutes to chill the wort, and then I pitched the yeast. I transfered it to a glass carboy and assembled an airlock and placed it in its new home. I checked it the next morning to find foam blow off all over the wall and the carboy. I replaced it with a blowoff tube and was satisfied with the result. It has been three days since I started the fermentation, and I am getting a large CO2 bubble every three seconds. Is that good? I am also unsure how to carbonate my beer. I don’t have any means of money to aquire a keg and CO2 tank. What should I do?

  148. Aaron,

    You should be able to bottle and naturally carbonate your beer by adding some priming sugar to it at bottling. There should be enough yeast left over to carbonate the beer.

  149. Stephen

    Hey all. Great writeup and comments section. Trying to soak up some information before I try my hand at my first home brew. I’m planning a Nectarine Hefe. Two weeks in primary, followed by another 1.5 to 2 in secondary on top of the nectarines. Where I’m looking for clarification is in the bottling process. Do I rack again to a bottling bucket, or do I put the nectarines in the bottling bucket to begin with and bottle straight from there? Are priming sugars still necessary prior to bottling, or do the nectarines take care of that for me? Thanks for any advice.

  150. All the sugars from the nectarines should be consumed during secondary fermenation, so priming sugar will be needed. You should however compare the FG after primary to the FG after secondary with fruit. If the gravity is a little higher than it was post-primary, you may either want to limit the amount of priming sugar, or let it ferment out more in the secondary.
    And you will definitely want to rack again because all that nectarine pulp will clog up your bottling process. So rack carefully to the bucket to keep from getting too much of that in there as well.
    Cheers, we love talking home brewing.

  151. Hi Stephen,

    I would rack from your secondary to a bottling bucket. If you have already done a secondary/conditioning phase with nectarines, you don’t have to add them to the bottling bucket.

    If you have kept the beer on the nectarines, any sugars that the nectarines are bringing to party are likely gone by that time. I would add some priming sugar to the bottling bucket.

  152. RJ Smith

    Awesome site. I have decided to now leave my Imperial Stout in the Primary for two weeks. Thanks Guys!

  153. Ironbound Brewing

    For all the folks brewing for the first time, I’d like to offer some simple advice.
    First, brew something simple for your first attempt. Although cherry wheat chocolate sounds great, things like that are complicated. This is supposed to be fun, and making something not drinkable is not fun.
    Second, be patient. I know you want to drink that first beer as quickly as you can, but if you take your time when you plan, brew, ferment, bottle or keg, and condition, you will be making great beer with less ingredients than all your friends.
    Third, be clean and consistent. Keep things sanitary and develop a routine. That way if anything goes wrong, you can better fix your problems.
    Fourth and most importantly, HAVE FUN. It’s just homebrew.

  154. mark

    now there are 2 type of air locks the 3 piece and the 1 piece (S) style
    a bubble in a 3 piece lets say once every min is like 4 to 5 a min in a S style air lock
    what style you have needs to be posted

  155. Erupting Brew

    Great posts as I brew so infrequently, I always learn something new. I just wanted to share that when adding cherry to one of my beers, I did it in the primary. Most know what happened next but to new brewers, I had cherry stout walls and ceiling. It’s funny now, it wasn’t so much then. I overlooked putting the cherry in the secondary. I salvaged the beer, that was 10 years ago. I actually drank one just the other day……potent but good.

  156. jeremyw

    There is no right answer, but it seems to me certain factors have an effect. I’ve found consistent(not too high) pitching temps and healthy yeast yields quickly starting active but sometimes longer fermentation whereas certain stresses in fermentation temps almost seem to speed up the process. I’m no expert, but a beer can reach fg rather quickly in some instances(we’re talking even 3-4days), but the average is about 6days with you not wanting to err on the short side. When you’re done ‘moving’ for 36 hrs and the gravity has stabilized near the target for style and og estimates, then crash n bottle or keg… Actually two of the fastest beers I’ve ever made are prob 2 of the best 3 out of about 50allgrain batches in taste.. I don’t agree completely with the longer is better thing here unless your talking 7plus brews, ipas, classic porter blends, lone sours, or fruited, lagered, open fermentation stuff.. ck fermentation signs, high krausen, aroma, oil slick look, gravity readings, and taste .. Get in your beers and see what’s going on.. The only quote unquote infection I ever had was not boiling the dms completely off in the first batch.. That seems like a long time ago. On that note too.. Not all off-flavors come from too-short of fermentations.. The also come from term temps, sparge n mash temps(tannin and other grain issues), etc

  157. All valid points, jeremyw. Thank you for leaving a comment.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén