Your primary fermenter, blow-off assembly, siphon and tubing, sanitizer, and secondary fermenter (optional).
Note: Checking Your Gravity
While your specific gravity will begin to drop during the fermentation period, this is an aspect you should trust and
not necessarily test. You want your beer to be exposed to as little possible contamination as possible. Every time you
unseal the airlock, this exposure occurs. A good rule of thumb, measure your original gravity prior to pitching your yeast,
then at any time you might transfer your beer, either to another container or, finally, during bottling/kegging.
Within a day or two of brew day, fermentation begins. As the yeast convert malt sugars into CO2 and alcohol you will
see bubbles come through the airlock. The specific gravity will steadily drop and a cap of thick tannish foam called krausen
forms above the beer.
Note: if you do not see activity in the airlock, don’t panic. Airlock activity is not an indicator of a healthy ferment. It is just
there to allow CO2 out and keep pests, like fruit flies, from getting in. Sometimes the CO2 will creep out from around the
lid of a fermenter. This will not affect the beer. Krausen or visible activity will be a good indicator that your homebrew is
fermenting fine. If using a bucket, simply open the lid a little and take a peek. More than likely, it will be fermenting. Just make
sure the lid stays on tight to keep out pests. The CO2 from the active fermentation will prevent any air from getting in.
You may want to store your brew in an area that is easily cleaned, a particularly violent fermentation could cause a mess.
Violent? Yes, violent. As with anything that builds with increasing gas levels, explosions can occur. Explosions are most
common if your airlock fills with gunk,stopping the flow of gas out of the carboy. If krausen starts filling your airlock. You may
want to initiate a blowoff set up, by replacing the airlock with a few feet of tubing and a jar of sanitizer. This is basically a
large airlock that won’t get clogged with gunk.
Roughly one to two weeks from brew day, fermentation ends. Bubbles coming through the airlock become very slow or stop
entirely. Most importantly, the specific gravity is stable and the cap of foam starts to subside. Always confirm the end of
fermentation by taking a hydrometer reading. You’ll know fermentation is complete when the final gravity reading is the same,
three days in a row. If the gravity reading continues to drop, there is still active fermentation and it is too early to move the
beer off of the yeast.
During the fermentation process, a layer of krausen forms atop the beer. Where does it go? That krausen normally dissipates
overtime and any remaining grain particles, hop particles, and dead yeast cells will accumulate instead at the bottom of your
fermenter in a mass known as trub.
While sitting on this trub for a short time can impart flavors we want to see in a beer, letting our brew sit atop this trub
for too long can create flavors we don’t want. To avoid these flavors setting in, we will rack or siphon the brew out of the first
fermenter, being careful to leave the trub behind. Transferring the beer into a new, clear and clean fermenter allows the brew to
settle out and conditions the flavor. It also gives the brewer an opportunity to add clarifying agents to the beer if needed. After
racking the beer into a secondary fermenter, still more trub may form, but when racked into bottles during the final stage the beer
should be less hazy and more clear than when it started.
Remember, when racking into a new, secondary fermenter, it is important that this vessel is clean and sanitary. Be sure to
sanitize your siphon, your fermenter, your airlock and stopper, and any tubing that may come in contact with the brew.