How long it takes to brew beer at home
Novice brewers often wonder how long it takes to brew beer at home. A critical factor to consider in this regard is the beer style. Are you making a lager or an ale? Because of fundamental differences between the brewing process and the yeast strains used, fermentation time varies significantly between the two. We will break it down for you here.
- As you may have guessed, you can use lager yeasts to make lagers. Lager yeasts have low fermentation temperatures. Because of this reason, fermentation can take up to six months.
- Top-fermenting yeasts convert sugars at much higher temperatures and at higher rates. This means that production is fast in contrast to their lager counterparts (up to two weeks). There are many different top-fermenting yeasts out there, most of which are used to make ale. Some are specific to beer styles.
We haven’t told you yet how long it takes to brew beer at home, but we can start to put this together based on what we now know about beer styles, the yeast used, and fermentation times.
How long it takes to brew an Ale at home
Generally, making a decent ale that is ready to drink takes between four and eight weeks. We can break this time down into the following steps:
- Prepare and the wort and pitch yeast. Half a day if you use a yeast pack to start your brew. If you use a starter (read here about why it would be a good idea), you will need an extra day (to prepare and incubate your starter).
- Primary fermentation for the typical ale takes about a week. Yeast health and beer type are important factors here.
- Secondary fermentation also takes a week for ales but is not always needed. Measuring the gravity of your beer will help you decide on this.
- Beer bottling or kegging does not take long. Less then a day, with cleaning included. Whilst both methods take roughly the same amount of time.
- Conditioning & carbonation differs between kegged and bottled beer. Bottled beer is conditioned by adding priming sugar to the bottled beer and letting residual yeast produce CO2. This normally takes about two weeks. Kegging allows you to pressurise your beer by applying CO2 to the beer. This process is faster and typically, yields more consistent results.
How long it takes to brew a lager at home
The lagering process, as you can imagine, is much longer. With fermentation taking so long, it is the single most important factor that determines beer production times. While most of the other steps take as much time as for an ale, you can expect to wait for at least 6-7 months before you have a drinkable lager in your hands.
The brewingbrowser.com team
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