Many people have experienced the taste of craft beer, but how long does it take for craft beer to ferment? There are many people who don’t know, and if you’re thinking about brewing beer for the first time, you’ll have a lot of questions. One of them will be how long it takes to make beer. The best answer is – it depends. There are various recipes, brewing methods, and fermentation methods.
The Fermentation Process
In the brewing process of beer, there are three stages: saccharification, fermentation, and aging. Fermentation is a critical stage in beer making and it determines the quality of your product. The final stage of fermentation is when the yeast consumes the sugar and converts it into alcohol. This process usually lasts for at least two weeks.
The fermentation process involves adding yeast to the cooled wort and transferring it to a fermentation tank or cylindrical cone bottom tank for fermentation. The temperature is controlled using a coil or jacket. During fermentation, the temperature is typically kept between 8 to 13°C. The process is divided into three phases: foaming period, high foaming period, and low foaming period. Fermentation usually takes place for 5 to 10 days. The resulting beer, known as “green beer,” has a strong bitterness, rough taste, and low carbonation, making it unsuitable for consumption.
Factors Affecting Fermentation
The fermentation temperature is controlled by adding yeast to the cooled wort and transferring it to a fermentation tank or cylindrical cone bottom tank. The temperature during fermentation is usually between 8 to 13°C. The process is divided into three phases: foaming period, high foaming period, and low foaming period. Fermentation typically takes place for 5 to 10 days. The resulting beer, known as “green beer,” has a strong bitterness, rough taste, and low carbonation, making it unsuitable for consumption.
For bottom fermentation, the temperature is lower, with an inoculation temperature generally between 5-8°C. The highest temperature during low-temperature fermentation is controlled at around 7.5~9℃, while high-temperature fermentation is controlled at around 10~13℃. The temperature at the end of fermentation is kept at around 4~5℃. Lowering the temperature helps the yeast to clump together and settle, reducing the concentration of yeast cells in the beer and making it clearer. The main fermentation time for bottom fermentation is usually 7 to 10 days. Cold and slow-fermented beer has a soft and mellow flavor, delicate and long-lasting foam, and high quality, but it requires lower equipment utilization.
Under certain temperature, yeast species, and wort composition conditions, higher sugar concentrations result in longer fermentation times. The fermentation time will vary between a 10P wort concentration and a 16P concentration.
The wort is aerated during the cooling process to provide oxygen for yeast multiplication. Different yeast species have different requirements for dissolved oxygen content. An oxygen content of 4 mg/L is considered half-saturated, while 40 mg/L is considered fully saturated. Yeast oxygen demand ranges from 4 to 40 mg/L depending on the yeast species. In the early stages of fermentation, oxygen is used for phosphorylation to generate ATP, which provides energy for yeast cell reproduction. Therefore, the oxygen content of the wort is also a factor that affects fermentation speed.
Once the wort composition, yeast activity, and desired fermentation degree are determined, the fermentation time depends on the temperature. Higher fermentation temperatures result in shorter fermentation times, while lower temperatures result in longer fermentation times. These four factors are the main ones affecting fermentation time, and any uncertainty in each factor can lead to an extended fermentation period.
The length of fermentation time is outlined in the fermentation process requirements, which specify the yeast type, fermentation temperature, and fermentation time. The post-fermentation aging time for beer is usually about a week on average. However, brewed beer must age for more than a month. For example, German Basalt beer, which falls under brewed beer, requires 42 days of fermentation. After a long fermentation period, the rich malt aroma is released when the beer is opened.
How Long Should Beer Stay in the Primary Fermenter?
Beer is typically kept in primary fermenters for 2-3 weeks before being cold-crashed and transferred to barrels. This ensures complete fermentation and allows the yeast to clean up any unwanted by-products produced during fermentation. It also provides enough time for sediment to settle out and clear the beer.
ACE is a global manufacturer of brewing technology and equipment based in China. If you are planning to open a brewery, you can contact us. Our engineers will provide you with a list of craft brewery equipment and prices. We also offer professional turnkey brewery solutions, allowing you more time to focus on brewing great beer. We look forward to working with you!
If you are planning to open or expand your brewery and require brewery equipment, feel free to contact us. Our engineers will design and manufacture brewery equipment tailored to your brewing process. We also provide complete turnkey solutions, including customized options for brewery expansion.