Newbie only at home on the weekends - How can I ferment ?

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Newbie only at home on the weekends - How can I ferment ?

Post by wesrun » Sun Jul 23, 2017 2:56 am


I'm a new home brewer and have only made a couple of beers from kits a while ago. Unfortunately my job now as a lorry driver is quite limiting due to the fact I'm only at home on the weekends, and I don't have any local friends or family willing to help out at the risk of them messing it up.

So, my question is : Can I ferment a beer knowing that it won't spoil if I can't check the SG until the weekend (however many days away that might be)? Would putting the wort in a fridge or kegorator at a slightly cooler temperature slow down the yeast, or, are there certain yeasts I can use that don't work quite as fast ?

Or are there styles or beer that would be more suitable ? I want to have a go at a Wheat beer next time.

Please forgive me if I've used slightly incorrect terminology and any help as all will be much appreciated.



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Re: Newbie only at home on the weekends - How can I ferment

Post by deanrpwaacs » Sun Jul 23, 2017 6:48 am

Hello .
It will prob work in your favour as there will be less chance of anything going wrong ie poking about and keep checking on it = chances of introducing infections . As long as the temp where you brew is stable the yeast will happily chug along and do its thing . I would be happy to leave beer in the fermenting vesel for 2-3 weeks . You can then check the final gravity on return and rack to bottle .

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Re: Newbie only at home on the weekends - How can I ferment

Post by MarkA » Sun Jul 23, 2017 8:28 am

I always leave my beers in the fermenter for two weeks. I take a reading after about a week (it's usually finished unless it's a monster) and then leave it another week before either cold crashing or bottling (checking gravity is stable first, obviously).

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Re: Newbie only at home on the weekends - How can I ferment

Post by wanus » Sun Jul 23, 2017 9:47 am

This time of year i can`t see you having much of a problem.
Take a SG reading the weekend you set it away then the following weekend your back home check and see how its doing then.
Iff it does stick you can always add a restarter but as i say i don`t think it would be a problem this time of year and i would happily leave it 3 weeks in the fermenter to do its own thing 8)
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Re: Newbie only at home on the weekends - How can I ferment

Post by scotsloon » Sun Jul 23, 2017 4:39 pm

My approach to the timing is to transfer the brew from bucket to an FV with an airlock, in your situation I'd do it after the first week. As its now under an airlock it is pretty much free from the danger of infection so leaving it for even a couple of weeks like this should do no harm. As to maintaining a steady temp, I suggest you wrap a blanket round it for the duration, so when the temp drops a bit its not going to loose too much temp. I often leave my beers for 2 weeks under airlock without any problems.

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Re: Newbie only at home on the weekends - How can I ferment

Post by vacant » Sun Jul 23, 2017 6:37 pm

wanus wrote:i would happily leave it 3 weeks in the fermenter to do its own thing 8)
Agreed. With a nice stable temperature around 20C, two or three weeks no problem.
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Re: Newbie only at home on the weekends - How can I ferment

Post by RobP » Mon Jul 24, 2017 10:52 pm

I don't really understand what you're worried about. Just do it. You should be easily able to leave your beer alone for four weeks before it even thinks about spoiling, there are even benefits to doing this because it gives more time for yeast to drop out of suspension and also removes undesirable tastes such as diacetyl. brew your beer at the lower range that the pack advises and leave it alone.

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Re: Newbie only at home on the weekends - How can I ferment

Post by Kev888 » Tue Jul 25, 2017 11:02 am

One problem of not being around is that you can't be there to check fermentation has started and then continues as expected. But whilst people do occasionally post of problems, if you pitch sufficient, healthy yeast into decent wort at the right temperature and can keep it at a suitable temperature throughout then it is extremely rare for fermentation not to go as planned. So maybe look into temperature control if you haven't already, and then just avoid problematic strains and poor practice and all should be well.

Another problem may almost be the reverse; if fermentation gets over-enthusiastic whilst you aren't there to clean up the mess of escaping krausen. So either make sure your fermenter is generously sized (with lots of head space) and/or seals well and can use a blow-off tube. Personally I like my fermenters to be about 50% bigger than needed for the wort; it isn't completely fool-proof even then, but usually avoids spills.

A third challenge is that the fermentation may not always have finished in two weeks, delaying your next brew for another fortnight if you just have the one fermenter. This is unusual, most ales are more or less at Final Gravity by around 10days or so, but if the fermenting wort is cool or of high Original Gravity or if there were insufficient yeast it can happen. You may also want purposely to leave it to settle for a while longer before bottling/kegging. In this case a second fermenter can help, either to use as secondary vessel into which to transfer/rack the brew, or to let you have two batches fermenting at once.

You may have read of people transferring/racking to a secondary fermenter within your two weeks away; this was extremely common some years ago but (whilst it is probably still best practice) it isn't as popular these days, in fact I would guess the majority of homebrewers just leave things in the primary fermenter for two or three weeks. The reason for racking to a secondary fermenter is mainly fear of off-flavours caused by settled yeast dying, but in practice unless the beer and particularly the sediment get too warm, or unless the yeast struggled for some reason leaving them unhealthy, then you are unlikely to have any noticeable problem within a few weeks. For the novice there are also more risks of infection if transferring the beer, as well as robbing the beer of yeast prematurely or oxidising it, so it isn't always just laziness behind people choosing not to rack.

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Re: Newbie only at home on the weekends - How can I ferment

Post by JonoT » Wed Jul 26, 2017 6:36 pm

I get very busy with work during the week so i know what that is like.

Since getting temp controled fridge to ferment in, if i'm going to brew, i brew on monday when its my day off and never have the time and just ingore it to the following Sunday before i go and take a graverty reading, I might read it again on monday and then its left for another week before crash cooling it on the following sunday. I've not yet had a problem doing it like that so it is possable to fit it in around work, i think the key is temp controled fermentation.


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