This week 3 in a 4-part introduction to homebrewing. Beer Making 101 is for anyone interested in making your very own craft beer at home.  

Link to Week 1:
Link to Week 2 :

Week 3: The Magic of Fermentation

Now that your beer is in a dark, cozy corner of the house, here’s what’s going to happen over the next few days.


This process started when you pitched the yeast. This is why you had to aerate your wort. The yeast uses that oxygen to generate the requisite energy to reproduce and ferment. This will last about 4-8 hours. At this stage, no alcohol is produced. The yeast is producing water, flavors, and carbon dioxide.

Primary Fermentation

From here on in, the yeast doesn’t need oxygen. During this stage, the yeast will reproduce until it hits the ideal population needed to work its magic. You’ll see the yeast suspended in the wort for about 4-6 days. This is a good thing. It means the yeast is converting sugar to alcohol, carbon dioxide, and all the flavors your wort needs to taste like amazing beer. Once it’s done with this step, you’ll see what’s called “flocculation.” This means the yeast is running out of food and is preparing to go dormant, and begins to settle on the bottom of your carboy. At this point, you are ready to begin your second stage of fermentation.

Secondary Fermentation

When the fermentation slows (4-6 days), but before it completes, transfer the beer into the 1 gallon jug and allow fermentation to finish. Leave the beer for about two weeks. This will allow your finished beer to have more clarity and an overall better, purer flavor. All you need is a 1 gallon glass jug, screw cap with a hole, airlock and siphon setup to transfer the beer. 


A bed of yeast will begin forming at the bottom of your carboy. That bed will begin to grow thicker and thicker. 

Fermentation Temperatures

Each beer is slightly different, the warmer the temperature of your beer at the start of fermentation, the faster the beer will begin to ferment. That might sound convenient, but if fermentation starts too quickly at too warm a temperature, you could increase the ester and diacetyl levels that can give unwanted flavors. If you store it at too cold a temperature, yeast activity may stop altogether. Our American Wheat Beer recipe will ferment happiest at a temperature of  64º – 72ºF.

Hang in there! you’re almost there! 

Next week – Week 4 Bottling (available May 27)