Chapter 9

Fermenting Your First Beer


Place the fermenter in a protected area that has a stable temperature between 65-75F. Good places are closets, basements, or a spare bathroom if you have one. You will probably want to set the fermenter inside a shallow pan or put a towel under it in case any foam escapes through the airlock. Place it in an area that is not exposed to direct sunlight for two reasons. First, to keep it from getting too warm. Secondly, if you are using glass, sunlight will cause a photochemical reaction with the hop compounds and skunk your beer.

Maintain a consistent temperature if possible, because fluctuating temperature stresses the yeast and can impair the fermentation. If the temperature drops overnight and the bubbling stops, don't worry, simply move it to a warmer room and it should pick up again. Temperatures below 55-60F will cause ale yeast to go into hibernation and slow or stop the fermentation process.

Animals and small children are fascinated by the smell and noises from the airlock, so keep them away. Dogs tend to like beer and will try to sneak samples before its done. Cats hate being left out of the decision-making during brewing and will attempt to give their inputs at the fermenter later. I remember an acquaintance who was surprised that his fermentation started to take off again after it had previously quieted. When he later opened the fermenter to bottle, he discovered his 3 year old son had been dropping crayons and pencils in through the airlock hole.