From the HBD Archive
From: decwrl!decvax!klm@hplabs.HP.COM (Kevin [My Amiga has e-mail] McBride)
Subject: Re: "Short" Fermentation?
Date: 1989-11-22 15:30:16 GMT

In HOMEBREW Digest #306, Toufic Boubez asks:
>"My batch has been fermenting for 6 days now, and was still active last
>night. Our heating broke down last night and the temperature in the
>apartment dove down to below 58 (the lowest reading my thermometer
>has). This went on throught the night and this morning the fermentation
>was quiet. Should I bottle as planned this week-end, or wait for the temp.
>to go back up when we get our heat back and take specific gravity readings
>if the fermentation gets re-activated? Also, what effect will this have on the
>taste? Thanks."

Relax. Don't worry. etc. 6 days isn't really that short. Most of my brews
have finished up in that time. In fact, there is a carboy in the corner of my
kitchen right now that contains a double batch of Dogbolter that I brewed
Sunday afternoon. It is now Wednesday morning ( < 72 hrs.) The foam has
completely fallen and the cylinder airlock is burping only once every 5
seconds or so. I will probably rack this beer into 2ndary tomorrow (turkey

I generally avoid taking S.G. readings except during racking operations. This
reduces the number of times that I open the fermenter and expose the beer to
the outside world. Again, I take the "Relax" approach. I'll let the beer
take it's time, because I'm in no hurry. If you're "Worried" about your beer,
then by all means take an S.G., but my guess is that it is probably finished.

But... just because a beer finishes up quickly doesn't mean that I bottle it
immediately... Relax. Don't worry. Read on.

In HOMEBREW Digest #307, Martin A. Lodahl responds:
>My first batch was a tale of one panic attack after another, and I
>stampeded myself into many hasty (and regrettable) decisions, but
>still ended up with drinkable beer. [... deleted ...]
>The point! -------> Don't be in a hurry. If it's only been there 6
>days, it could probably stand another week, unless your apartment
>is normally very warm indeed. [... deleted ...]
>... When in doubt, don't just do
>something; stand there!

Key Words here! Patience. Our beloved Professor Surfeit warns us that our
beer "knows" when we are worrying about it and will spoil just to spite us.
If you're mellow, your beer will be too.


Back in June I decided to experiment with a spiced ale. I made up my own
recipe in an attempt to approximate Anchor's wonderful offering last
Christmas. I figured that if it turned out well, I'd brew it again for this
Christmas. (I brew a special Christmas beer every year and give it away as
gifts to my beer drinking relatives. (BTW, homebrew makes a wonderful gift!))

Anyway, I brewed this beer to an outrageously high O.G. and stuck it in 2ndary
after about 5-6 days of primary. Then I got sidetracked with the little
matter of starting up my own consulting business, finding clients, etc. Not
only did my brew kettle remain cold for 5 months, the 2ndary fermenter that I
stuck in a corner of my basement sat there with beer in it for 5 months!

Not being a worrying sort of person and, given a confidence boost by the fact
that the beer in question has an estimated 8% alcohol by volume, I decided to
bottle it. Well, when I opened up the fermenter and racked the beer off the
sludge, I siphoned off a mug full for tasting. Of course it was flat, but the
color, clarity, and aroma were heavenly. When I added the priming sugar, I
also added a fresh yeast culture figuring that the original yeast was quite
useless by now.

I guess the moral of the story is: If you're careful in all other aspects of
brewing, you needn't worry about how long it sits around. Truly good beer
will last quite a long time. Don't rush it.

So, I will have a special Christmas Ale this year, and I don't have to do
"Hurry Up!" brewing to get it. Also, when my relatives ask me how long it
took to brew this ale, I can look 'em straight in the eye and say "Six
months!" :-)


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