Fermentation Tips
Home Brewing Recipes
Baker Street Ales Associate Brewer
Arny Lands
Beer Nexus
the crossroads of the beer world
First, thanks to all of the readers who have written me.  I enjoy
getting your comments and questions.  This month instead of
giving you another recipe - don't forget to check the list of my
past recipes at the bottom of the column - I thought I'd answer
the most common question I've received from many new
brewers.  Namely, "how long do I have to wait for my beer to
begin fermentation?  What can I do to hurry things along?"

Well, when it comes to brewing (and a lot of other things)
patience truly is a virtue. I realize that's easy to say and hard to
do especially when you've pitched your yeast into the wort and
then nothing happens that day, night, or next day.   Don't worry.  
As I tell my brewing students fermentation can take anywhere
between 6-8 hours or even up to 72 hours to show any visible
signs.  If after
3 full days you see no activity then it's time to
analyze some potential problem areas and correct them

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The first thing to find out is if the fermenting vessel is airtight?
I've found it's always best to check the simplest things first.  
Often that's all you'll need to do.  In this case if there is no
bubbling from your airlock (bubbling is a sign of fermentation) it
means the CO2 produced during the fermenting process is
escaping from a poorly fitted lid or a non sealed bucket or bung.
Simply correct that issue and you are back in business.

The next most likely cause of your problem is temperature.  
Remember, yeast works in a certain temperature range.  If the
fermenting vessel is in a room that is too cold the yeast will have
a hard time doing anything.  It will hibernate and sink to the
bottom. Make sure your beer is sat in a location that the yeast
are happiest in. This is usually around 17°C to around 24°C.  To
be sure, you should re-read the packet to find out. Wait for the
beer to warm (it could take a day or so) and if this was your
problem then fermentation should have started.

If you try both of these with no results then the next thing to do
is to simply add more yeast.  I recommend this since it might be
that the yeast you originally pitched was not good or that there
wasn’t enough viable yeast cells for the quantity or strength of
the beer being fermented.  In any event, adding extra yeast
should do the trick and start your fermentation.

Here are some tips to help your fermentation begin more quickly
the next time you brew.  While waiting up to 72 hours is fine any
extra delay in getting your beer made is not really welcome so
give these things a try for faster fermentation.

•Making Sure the Wort Is Aerated
For yeast to reproduce they need oxygen and that oxygen needs
to be present in the beer before it gets pitched. The simplest
way to achieve this is to shake, stir and churn it in. Do it right
before you are about to pitch the yeast. This can be as simple as
pouring the beer carefully from one sanitised vessel to another
or even grabbing a sanitised jug and pouring the beer
repeatedly from a height for a couple of minutes.   

•Rehydrate Your Yeast!
If you use dried brewing yeast then it’s a good idea to rehydrate
it before pitching it. Usually there will be instructions on the
pack.  Follow them carefully and be sure to use it within
30 minutes of rehydrating for the best results.

•Even Better Make A Yeast Starter!
Whether you use dried yeast or liquid making a starter boosts
yeast numbers before they even touch your wort and ensure
your beer ferments a lot more healthily. Yeast starters are also
important if you are making a higher gravity i.e.higher alcoholic
content beer.  While it's easy to make your own it's even easier
to buy one from a supply shop like Northern Brewer or U-Brew.

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So there you have my take on fermentation issues.  Hope it helps
to encourage you to continue brewing.  I'll be back next month
with a recipe for a great seasonal so don't miss it!


Good Brewing and Cheers!
Arny Lands
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