Craft beer has grown in popularity over the years. Although you can find tens of branded craft beers in stores, you shouldn’t limit your collection to brands alone.
Craft beer is any type of beer made in the traditional method or without large mechanisms. This means you can make your own without a whole warehouse of employees.
But how long does this process take, we hear you cry. Not as long as you think.
General Time Frame For Brewing Beer
If you are following a homebrewing kit, like the ones found at http://soundbrewery.com/, then you can use their specific time frames for homebrewing. But if you’re flying blind, then use our general time frame to judge the end date for your brew.
Normally, the whole process from yeast starter to bottling takes around 4 to 8 weeks. The biggest time slots are in the fermentation stages, while the active work on the beer only takes a couple of hours.
Brewing is more of an art than a science – like cooking. That’s because the ingredients you use will have a natural difference in content. The minuscule change can be enough to make the process faster or taste slightly different.
These aren’t bad things. Having variation means creating something new and exciting. But being aware of the delicate balance can help you avoid bad batches.
Breaking It Down
When you first start homebrewing, following a homebrewing kit can help you gauge the “correct” process. If you’re someone who likes to follow detailed instructions, we recommend picking up these beginner packs.
If you already know the process, but need a recap on the time scales for each stage, we have you covered.
Making The Yeast Starter
If you’re using a yeast starter, you’ll need to get the yeast moving at least a day before the brewing process. Starting the process any earlier than a day may produce an overly bubbly beverage while taking less time can create a dense and low-hoppy texture.
Starting The Brewing Process
When you brew a beer, you put the yeast starter into water (normally heated water). You mash the contents together and slowly introduce the flavors you want to include.
In this process, you are actively creating the flavor of your beer. The process takes around 1 hour.
In reality, the first fermentation process takes “as long as it needs to”. But if you need a time scale to best judge your homebrew, we suggest a minimum of 3 days.
Also known as the primary fermentation process, this first long stage in brewing your beer allows the yeast to sit with your ingredients while they are at their most active.
The yeast will be eating the sugar from your ingredients, turning it into sweet nectar. Depending on the yeast you chose, you can expect residual spiciness or fruitiness too. If your yeast contains a lot of phenols, you will gain a spicy flavor addition, and if your yeast contains a lot of esters, the fruity flavors will emerge.
Once the first fermentation is complete, you siphon the beer into a second fermentation barrel or container. At this point, the yeast should no longer be active, instead, this process allows the flavors to mellow and smoothen.
This process allows the remaining yeast to stay in the first container, and the eventual beer to separate while keeping the flavors.
In total, this process can take anywhere from a week to 6 months. That’s a massive gap in time, and it all depends on the flavor. To figure out if the beer is ready, you can decanter a small portion of the product and use your taste buds and its aroma to learn if the product is ready.
If you want a smoother beer, it needs to brew for longer.
The Bottling Process
Once you are happy with the flavor, you can bottle your beer. However, just because you have the beverage in your hand, doesn’t mean it’s ready to drink. You still need to let the beer settle.
Ideally, you should leave the beer for 2 weeks once kegged or bottled. This will allow the beer to carbonate. Without this waiting time, you’ll end up drinking flat beer.
If you’re using a homebrewing kit, use the timescales in the packaging to guide you.
Otherwise, homebrewing beer normally takes 1 day to create a yeast starter, 1 hour to brew, 3 days to ferment, 1 month to secondary ferment, and 2 weeks to bottle.