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Two-stage Fermentation

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Two-stage Fermentation

Certain styles of beer, such as lager, require a fermentation period anywhere from two weeks to multiple years. As beer ferments, yeast cells multiply while converting sugars into ethyl alcohol, additional yeast cells, flavor compounds (ketones, phenols, esters), and carbon dioxide. Since the fermentation takes place in a closed system, however, the yeast cells can only multiply so much before they exhaust their fuel supply and begin to die. A sediment composed mainly of dead yeast cells collects at the bottom of the fermentation container, and these dead yeast cells may impart significant off-flavors to the finished product.

Two-stage fermentation is used to reduce the potential of off-flavors resulting from dead yeast cells. The homebrewer siphons the product from a primary fermenting container to a secondary fermenting container, while taking care not to siphon the dead yeast sediment at the bottom of the primary fermenter. After the transfer, the beer may age for months or even years, as long as the secondary fermenting container is not oxygen-permeable. The clarity of the final batch is improved due to a decreased presence of sediment. Flavor characteristics of the brew also improve, as well as becoming more stable. Homebrewers who are willing to ferment in two stages also find that nearly all beer styles, including traditionally brewed regional beers like bocks and pilsners, benefit from a longer fermentation period. Two-stage fermentation is essential to ensure these brews do not spoil along the way.

While two-stage fermentation may seem like an unnecessary step to a beginning homebrewer (and indeed, many ales can be fermented to drinkability without the use of a secondary fermenter), the fact remains that leaving significant sediment in the finished batch can produce a number of undesirable flavors. The minimal time investment to re-siphon a batch of partially fermented homebrew into a freshly sanitized container is worth the chance at tasting beer that has reached its full potential.

Tags:   Yeast cells   Sediment   Secondary fermenter   Two-stage fermentation   Off-flavors  

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Certain styles of beer, such as lager, require a fermentation period anywhere from two weeks to multiple years. As beer ferments, yeast cells multiply while converting sugars into ethyl alcohol, additional yeast cells, flavor compounds (ketones, phenols, esters), and carbon dioxide. Since the...

By: Richard Martine Created 76 months ago

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