8.18.2008

How long does it take to brew beer?

Original text for this post...
I'm sure many people have this question. Its one of the questions I hear most often when people taste my beer for the first time. Does is take a day or two or ten or a month? Perhaps it takes many months. I have my own ideas, but, what do you my dear readers think?
Yeah, I'm still thinking about everybody brewing their own beer. It's easy to brew beer! Isn't it?
I eventually summarized the answer to...
It depends. Here's my opinion. Check out the comments for others. Lets assume you are brewing a simple ale. Not a lager or something really fancy. Lets also assume you are also going to be patient while your beer conditions in the bottle. Often you have other things slow you down like kids, work, life in general ;-)
ANSWER
A first time brewer with bottles: 1 month
OR
A brewer with a keg setup: 14 days
I just brewed a beer in 10 days under the following circumstances; English Ale yeast, 4 - 5% abv and a keg setup. It tastes good and is drinkable. Will it taste better after a few weeks? Always seems to, but, its good now too.
Here's is the book I used to get started. 
It isn't the only one and might not be the best for you, but, I liked it. Written by the Father of Homebrewing Charlie Papazian.

9 comments:

Kevin LaVoy said...

6 hours on brew day.
1-2 weeks primary.
2-4 weeks secondary.
2 weeks bottled.

So, for me, minimum, 5 weeks. Max 2 months. Although, it seems like my beers start to taste better when it's been 3 months since I brewed it, no matter what the other factors.

That said, I'm inching closer to doing some Flanders (the place, not Ned) style beers this fall, which I'll brew in October, and age until spring.

Adam said...

6 to 8 weeks eh? What styles are you brewing? Are you doing it as fast as you can or does your life schedule pretty much dictate you can't do it any faster?

I eliminate the bottles and the secondary for many of my beers so I'm usually looking at around two weeks until it is kegged and ready to drink. As long as life doesn't get in the way ;-)

Ted Danyluk said...

I get this question all the time as well. I usually say it takes a month for most ales. Longer for stronger beers and anything dry-hopped or requiring a secondary. And about 2-3 months for lagers.

Also, I say beer tastes much better after a couple months in the bottle. Even my kegged beer is naturally carbonated, and treated like bottle conditioning/aging.

It does seem like most people think it wouldn't take that long, and for these folks, I say sure, you can have a beer ready in 1-2 weeks, but you'd have to be specific about the style.

Adam said...

Ted, I get that too. Most people just don't have any idea and think that it's just something you do in a day or so.

I'd like more people to understand that there are beer styles that can be made in short order, like two weeks. Then try it!

Just not sure that its feasible for the beginner. Bottling would probably prevent that. Unless you cask cond in a Mr. Beer or something and drink it quickly.

BTW the Orange Mead is doing fine. Should be ready to taste in October (2 months). Everybody tells me its going to taste hot at that age. We'll see.

Bryan said...

I've been mulling how to express my feelings on this question for a while. My original response was knee-jerk, saying that not everyone can/would/could brew beer. But, I realized the answer is not that simple. Then, it was this post that helped clarify (at least to me ;-) my thoughts.

Yes, I believe that anyone can brew something that could be called beer. But, it takes someone with a bit of talent (in the kitchen), aptitude and attention to details (the "geek" part referred to in other comments that I've read here), and especially (as this post/comments brings light to) patience to make good/great beer.

p.s. maybe I'm reflecting a bit here on the patience that it required to get my saison to where it is today....bottled after 4+ months in the secondary. Tasting decent, but I'm sure nothing like it will taste like later this year and into next.

Adam said...

I hear ya Bryan. I agree. "Do you think everybody could brew their own beer?" isn't an easy question to answer. That's why I need the homebrew bloggers to chime in :-)

I think the cooking analogy works well. Anybody can make mac-n-cheese, scrambled eggs, or a pop tart, but, try and cook a whole Thanksgiving dinner without any experience and its a whole different story. Does that mean one shouldn't or couldn't learn how? Talent, aptitude, attention and patience; these are things we all possess to one degree or another.

I'm just looking to clear the shortest path to brewing some good homebrew. So that anybody could get started and decide for themselves. I think that means finding the easiest good quality recipe and equipment setup to brew with the least amount of investment.

It is easy to brew. It might not be easy and cheap to brew every style of beer with little skill and limited equipment. That isn't what I'm talking about. As the discussion unfolds, I think I'm starting to focus on the shortest path to a good brew.

What might this easy to brew beer be like? Here are some ideas.

- an ale (as in not a lager)
- doesn't mind warmer fermentation temps
- brewed in a small readily available container
- readily available yeast
- done in 7 to 10 days
- etc.

I don't know if its possible, but, I'm hoping you all can help me with that :-)

Jason said...

I had to let one batch sit over night because it wouldn't cool below 90 and I ran out of ice to cool it with (I've since bought a wort chiller).

On average I would say for me it takes about 4 weeks for the brews that I've done. I haven't gotten into Lagers yet, but I assume that would lengthen the fermenation time.

Cheers,
Jason

ESB said...

Sorry about my late comment. I start looking of your hop groving posts and jammig there =)

Shortest time when I brew was that time when I use WoodFordes 3kg kits. (now I mash from grains and beer making takes much longer...)

day 1. 1-2 hour
Warm 5 liter water to boil.
put 3kg extract to fermentor.
"flush" cans with boiling water and add that 5liter to fermentor. Add cold water to 23 liter.
After that I have 23 liter wort at ~25C pitc rehydrated dry yeast.
Wait 4-6 day and if I'n not dry hopping put 20 liter to 5liter kegs and end to bottles with sugar.
Wait 5- 14 day and drink =).
So shortest way is 10 day to 3 weeks.
And that beer was good. I think it was maybe something like real ales are.
Greetings from Finland

Adam said...

ESB,

Wow, Finland :-) Thanks for stopping by. I followed your profile to your blog. I don't speak or read your language, but, I can see there is some information about brewing!

Great synopsis of your process.

BTW always happy to see comments on my posts. Also, if people check off the box to receive updates they'll get an email notification.