Brewing Faster: Getting More Beer In Less Time

Homebrewing is a rewarding hobby, but it does take a certain amount of patience to reap those rewards. So it is that we all eventually come to the same question how can I get my beer from grain to glass faster, without sacrificing quality, that is what this article is about. In this article I plan to share with you several ways to speed up the process and get to that sweet nectar even faster.

Choose an Appropriate Recipe and Yeast Strain

One of the first things to do when trying to turn a beer around quickly is choose an appropriate recipe, you don't want to have to wait a month for flavors or alcohol to mellow you want this beer fast. So what is an appropriate recipe? Generally you want to start with something low in alcohol (6%ABV or less) that is best when consumed fresh, pale ale, IPA, witbier, brown ale, and ordinary bitter are just a few examples of beer styles that translate well to a quick turn around, there are others, but you get the idea, low ABV and no over the top flavors that will need to mellow. My personal favorites for quick turnarounds are pale ales and IPAs, because these beers are at their peak relatively quickly, and hops fade fast so they are always best consumed fresh.

Pitch Enough Yeast, Aerate Well, and Properly Maintain a Healthy Fermentation

After you have picked and brewed your recipe you must ferment it, which will be your biggest obstacle in quickly turning a beer around. The first step in this process is properly aerating your wort, making sure the yeast has enough oxygen to carry out a healthy fermentation is important in making sure the yeast does it's job in a timely manner. An aquarium pump with a filter or a tank of pure O2 are both great options.
You should always make sure in any circumstance that you are pitching enough yeast, but this is especially true when trying to produce a beer quickly. Using a pitch rate calculator will help to make sure you are pitching enough yeast. Use a starter for liquid strains and rehydrate for dry yeast strains, making sure your yeast is awake and ready to take on the job at hand will help to reduce lag times and therefore help your beer finish its fermentation in a timely manner. I bottle my beer and can go from grain to glass in 3-4 weeks with some recipes, kegging can be even faster.

Pitch at or below fermentation temperature, the last thing you want is hot/fusel alcohols that are going to need time to mellow in your beer you are trying to serve at that party in a couple weeks. Pitching at or below fermentation temperature helps to make sure that off flavors from fermentation temperatures never occur, so they won't need time to mellow. The best way to not have off flavors is to avoid them all together.

Fermentation Temperature and Ramping

When you are trying to ferment a beer in a timely manner it is a good idea to hit right in the middle of your particular yeast strains temperature range, too hot will ferment faster, but create unfavorable flavors in your beer, too cold and the fermentation will move slowly. Hitting the middle temperature range for your yeast ensures a quick, but clean fermentation. After visible signs of fermentation have begun to slow (usually about 2-3 days) it's safe to begin ramping up the temperature of your beer about 1-2 degrees every 12 hours or so, until you hit the top end of your yeasts temperature range. Waiting for fermentation to slow will make sure that no off flavors are produced, while helping the yeast to finish it's job and clean up after itself a little more quickly. It is at this time I would also start any dry hopping I have planned forthe beer. After the beer has finished fermenting and the dry hopping is over it is time to package.

Packaging and Carbonating

Kegging and force carbonating your beer will allow you to be drinking your quick beer in just a few days. The "set it and forget it" method of force carbonating is very popular among homebrewers who keg.

Bottling however is not out of the question, a bottling homebrewer can store his or her bottles at a slightly warmer (75-80 degrees F) temperature until they are fully carbed to allow the yeast to work more quickly in the bottle.

written by Kyle Leasure

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