Nothing like brewing up your own batch of beer and sharing it with good friends. It’s an incredible hobby to be a part of. And pretty much everyone who asks me about it wants to know how long does it take to brew a beer?
How much time do I have to spend making it and how long will it be before I get to drink it?
These are some of the most frequently asked questions made by people just getting started making beer. And I get it. You never really get over the urge to crack a bottle and try your new brew you just made.
However, patience is a virtue when it comes to brewing and the longer you can wait during the process the better your brew is going to turn out.
Now since you are asking this question there is a great chance you are brand new to home brewing and most likely brewing your first batch of beer using a kit, which is a great way to start.
The instructions with the kit will most also provide you with the details in regards to how long most of the brewing process takes such as fermentation and carbonating in the bottle.
Try to Contain Yourself
I have no doubt in my mind that after brewing up your first batch you are going to rush through the process and get to the taste test as fast as you can and that is fine we have all done it and in some cases still do.
But do yourself a favor and put a few bottles away for a few more weeks and I promise you that you are going to be shocked at the improvement in taste.
Typically, the longer you can allow fermentation and carbonation to occur the better…
Granted this is not always the case, hoppy beers definitely taste better fresher. And never let the beer ferment for any longer than 4 weeks as you will start to develop some off flavors.
There are certain aspects of the brewing process that if you do rush you can get yourself into trouble, especially the fermentation process.
This is because bottling homebrew before it has completed fermentation can result in over carbonation and you run the very real risk of having your bottles explode due to the extra pressure.
Trust me you don’t want beer bottles exploding, aside from the obvious pain of losing a batch of beer it can make quite a mess to clean up.
So again have patience young grasshopper!
As a home brewer there really is no reason to rush the process besides being impatient and just darn excited to try your brew.
I owned a microbrewery with a brew pub and there were times when we did have to get creative to get the beer on tap quicker and the brews turned out just fine. So yes there are things you can do to speed up the process but again as a home brewer there is simply is no need to rush it.
Alright let’s look at each stage of the brewing process and the time each will require.
Stage #1 – Brew Day.
Brew day is where you actually make the beer.
The time this takes is going to vary depending on how you are making your beer.
If you are brand new and using a very basic beer kit it can take as little as 20 – 30 minutes tops.
If you are at the intermediate stage which is partial mash brewing where you are steeping specialty grains and adding them to the mixture it will take you about 2 hours from start to finish.
And if you are at the advanced stage of All Grain brewing the brew day is going to be much longer. Depending on what type of set up you have it can take anywhere from 4 – 7 hours.
Stage #2 – Fermentation
OK so now you have added the unfermented beer (wort) to the fermenter, sprinkled the yeast in on top and have put the lid on the fermenter.
You should see active fermentation start to occur in the fermenter within 24 – 48 hours. This means you will see material flying around inside the fermenter and the airlock on top of the fermenter will start bubbling.
Once active fermentation starts it usually takes 7 – 10 days to end.
Yes I have gone from grain to glass in 5 days and yes the majority of the fermentation has completed within 5 days; but that does not mean all of the fermentation has completed.
Give your beer at least 10 days in the fermenter. Doing so will ensure all fermentation has been completed. And it will also allow your beer to age and condition some; which improves the taste drastically.
Personally I like to leave my beer fermenting for at least 14 days, and many times I will leave it in the fermenter for 3 weeks, but never longer than 4 weeks.
No Need to Secondary
Once you no longer can see the active fermentation happening the beer has moved into what some call the secondary fermentation stage. Some people will transfer the beer to a secondary fermenter at this point, typically a glass carboy.
They do this because they believe it will make for a cleaner beer. I have never found this to be the case and the chance of getting an infection during the transfer is not worth the risk. Plus it is a lot more work and as the name of my blog suggests I like things to be easy!
So I recommend leaving the beer in the primary fermenter and allow the second phase of fermentation to occur there.
What happens during this phase of fermentation is as I mentioned the beer begins to clean up. All of the sediment and yeast drop out of suspension and rest on the bottom of the fermenter. You will end up with a much clearer looking beer and an overall better tasting homebrew.
Now after 10 – 14 days you can pour a sample of your beer and use what is referred to as a hydrometer to confirm that it has finished fermenting.
If you have reached the final gravity that the recipe called for than it has finished fermenting. If it has not reached the final gravity you can leave it for another couple of days and than take another reading. If it has not moved than you know fermentation has completed.
If it has moved some you can leave it for another couple of days and take another reading. And again if it has not moved than fermentation is completed.
I don’t bother doing this any longer. I have been brewing long enough and brewing the same beers that I know when they are done and two weeks is more than enough time to ferment a beer.
Stage 3 – Packaging and Carbonating
Alright so your choices for packaging are either bottling or kegging.
If you bottle the beer you will be carbonating with priming sugar and you are going to want let it carbonate and condition in the bottle for at least 2 weeks.
Yes you will have some carbonation after 1 week but your beer will thank you if you let them sit for 2 weeks.
Now if you are kegging it is a completely different story from the stand point of how long it will take to carbonate the beer. There are different methods of carbonating with co2.
Depending on which ones you use, some methods will carbonate your beer in as quick as 15 minutes and others take as long as 5 days. My favorite method takes 48 hours.
You put the beer on the gas set at 35 psi for 24 hours and than you turn the gas off and let the beer sit undisturbed for another 24 hours. I find this provides you with a perfectly carbonated beer every time.
However just because the beer is fully carbonated does not mean it has conditioned or aged appropriately. Very much like when bottling the beer, a couple of weeks in a keg is going to allow the beer to age and taste better.
Again this does not apply to hoppy beers like NEIPA’s. They taste better fresh.
You can learn all about bottling and kegging on these posts:
So How Long Does it Take Big Robb?
Alright Alright ….
On the short end if you are kegging it can take as little as 5 days. (which I do not recommend, but have done it and when in a pinch the beer tastes fine).
On the long end of the spectrum it can take as long as 4 weeks to brew a batch.
On average for myself it takes 2 weeks from grain to glass.
Time is Your Ally
As I have stressed time is always good when brewing beer.
And here is a tip for you…
If you brew up a batch of beer and you have a pour and it simply does not taste as good as you were expecting let the rest of the beer sit longer.
It will blow your mind what time can do to improve a beer that you did not enjoy at first taste. 2 – 4 extra weeks in a bottle or keg can do wonders for it. 2 – 3 months and it is a completely different homebrew.
The thing to remember is don’t get too upset if when you crack the top on that new batch that you only allowed to age in the bottle for 2 weeks and it’s not great.
Just put it away again for another 2 – 4 weeks and try it again. There is no question the taste will have improved significantly.
So how long does it take to brew beer? Well as you have discovered in this post the answer to that really depends on you.
I hope you enjoyed this post and found some value in it. If you have any brewing questions feel free to ask me in the comment section below.
Lots of more information on getting started brewing that you might want to check out here:
Cheers & Brew Awwnn!
P.S. If you want to get access to all of the Home Brewing Tips and Tricks I have learned over the course of my 17 years brewing; to help you make the best tasting beer you possibly can every time, be sure to sign up for my FREE email series “29 Home Brewing Tips & Tricks”. Sign up on side of the blog.