The beer fermentation process is the last step of the brewing process before you drink your beer. It takes place in the tank, where it undergoes multiple steps to help yeast convert sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
The most important thing here is that your beer comes out at exactly the right temp and tastes great. If you want more information on how to accelerate this process, consult this article.
However, this article is about the concept of opening the barrel lid to see the wort while it’s getting fermented. Some brewers believe it’s bad to do so.
Others are not that sensitive about this matter, and you have plenty of opinions in the market. Let’s take a deep dive into the fermentation secrets, and what they mean for the beer you would love to create yourself.
What is Fermentation Process in Beer Brewing?
Fermentation is the process of converting carbohydrates into alcohol. This process involves a number of factors that are beneficial for breweries and other alcoholic beverages.
These include allowing the yeast to consume sugar, producing carbon dioxide in your brewery or bourbon plant, and leaving behind a layer of alcohol as a byproduct at the end of the process.
The beer fermentation process is a very important step in the brewing process, which involves the transformation of the wort from a sweet liquid into a rich and tasty one. This is done by a variety of microorganisms found in yeast cells, including Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
The process has two phases: primary fermentation, in which the aerobic bacteria produce much of the flavor compounds, and secondary fermentation, which takes place when finishing agents such as hops are added to accelerate bubble formation.
Why Sealing the Barrels is Important During Fermentation?
During fermentation, the temperature of your beer inside the barrel is significantly higher than that of your fermenter. The hot air in the room warms up the vigorous fermentation, which you want to keep to a minimum.
Seal your fermenters with a bag or waxed paper before fermentation, so heat from outside of your tank does not cause heat damage.
For the best flavor and preservation of your beer, you want to check and clean your barrels at least every three months. However, storing your beer in a barrel can lead to many unwanted bacteria, microbes, and other particles infiltrating the pores on the inside of a barrel.
This can cause your beer to develop off-flavors and affect the taste. Sealing your empty barrels is essential to eliminate this potential problem before it even starts!
Does Yeast Get Affected by Contact with Air?
Yeast is a living organism that lives in anaerobic environments, and that means it can only survive when they have oxygen in less than 1% of the air in its environment.
Suppose the yeast gets exposed to air (often while being stored in a vessel or growing on a medium). In that case, the yeast cell may die and lose its metabolic activity, so storing live yeast at room temperature instead of fridge temperature is important.
Yeast is a growing organism and therefore needs oxygen for respiration. Yeast also pumps out carbon dioxide during this process, so it needs an open environment to live in and breathe.
If you use your yeast sitting on a shelf in the kitchen or in your fridge, it will likely be affected by air and may not work as well as it once did.
How Much Air is It ok to Enter the Wort During Fermentation?
The key question is how much air you can add to your wort during fermentation. Suppose you double the amount of air you would normally add by adding another vessel, such as a secondary fermenter.
In that case, you may end up with a stuck ferment because there aren’t enough oxygenated bubbles to properly work through the yeast and into the beer itself.
The amount of air you need to allow into the wort during fermentation can vary depending on the yeast you use and the type of wort. It is usually best to leave sufficient headspace so that oxygen doesn’t build up in your fermenter and let the yeast do its job.
Can You Brew Beer Wort using the Open Fermentation Method?
While the open fermentation method is a feasible way to brew beer, there are more efficient options. The primary benefit of this method is that you can brew at home, in your kitchen.
Brewing more batches means that your wort will still be packaged for sale at the end of the process. Open fermentation would be a slow process and probably kill your beer’s carbon dioxide.
So, it’s a lot better to follow the traditional method with the sealed lid in the barrel to allow your beer to ferment naturally.
Is There a Contamination Risk for Your Beer When Opening the Lid?
The short answer is yes. There is a contamination risk for your beer when you open the lid.
Contaminated wild yeast can cause off flavors and aromas in your beer. Brewers recommend cleaning and sanitizing the top of a barrel before opening it to eliminate any trash or contaminants from sources outside the brewery.
Some bacteria and germs are useful and effective for the beer fermentation process. Others can stay to your beer wort and remain a public health issue.
That’s the main reason brewers always pasteurize their beer after the fermentation process. Alcohol cannot evaporate in such low temperatures while killing bacteria could be life-saving for beer drinkers.
If you like to open the lid and check how the fermentation process goes, you are good to do it. However, you need to open it only on special occasions to minimize the risk of your wort going bad due to air contamination.
Beer is a sensitive product, especially during the fermentation process. You need to be extremely careful. It’s the only way to ensure the higher quality of your homebrew!