Getting started with homebrewing is definitely a challenge, and if there’s one part that tends to cause a lot of confusion, it’s got to be fermentation and everything that goes into it.
In this article, I will be covering if it’s OK to move the fermentor while fermentation is taking place, what the issues associated with doing so are, where to store the fermentor, and more!
So, without any further ado, let’s get started!
Can you move beer during fermentation?
It is generally ok to move beer, especially during the initial moments of the fermentation, since any sloshing at this stage will aerate the wort which can help the yeast get the fermentation started. The longer the fermentation goes on, the more careful you need to be when moving the fermentor since introducing oxygen later on can oxidize the beer.
You definitely can move the fermentor, even at the latter stages of the fermentation process, but you need to be careful not to shake it too much. Generally speaking, moving it from one room to the other is completely fine, but putting it in the trunk of your car and driving on a dirt road for an hour, is not.
Are there any serious issues associated with moving beer while it’s fermenting?
In all honesty, moving the fermentor is not that risky, especially when you’re being careful. However, there are three problem that can arise:
- Oxygenation of the beer: Like I just mentioned, moving the fermentor around could cause some slashing which will introduce oxygen into the beer causing it to oxidize more quickly. However, this isn’t that big of an issue if you’re going to be doing a bottle conditioning since bottling the beer requires you to add a little bit of sugar to restart the fermentation so that it becomes carbonated, and this process will consume that oxygen.
- Mixing the sediment back into the beer: We generally try to get the clearest beer possible by crash cooling it, or by just letting it sit for a little longer after fermentation is done. If you move the fermentor, some of the sediment will get mixed into the beer again and unless you let it drop to the bottom over the course of a couple of days, the beer won’t turn out as clear as you intend.
- Stopping the fermentation: This is definitely not that common and, in fact, it almost never happens, but if you move your fermentor to a much cooler place before fermentation as had time to finish, it may stop prematurely.
None of these are a big issue, and most of them, except for the one about mixing the sediment back into the beer, are really all that probable to happen, so I wouldn’t stress too much about it.
If you have to move the beer and you feel like you shook it a bit too much, just let it sit for two or three days, or even better, cold crash it for a couple of days so that all the proteins and yeast residue drop to the bottom.
Reasons for moving fermenting beer
There really aren’t many reasons to move the fermenting vessel that I can think of, just these three:
- To move it to a warmer location: If your fermentation is slow, or even stuck, you should do something to raise the temperature of the wort so that it can start fermenting properly. This could be done any number of ways, such as using a brew belt, but one of the easiest ways is to simply move the fermentor into a warmer room.
- To move it to a cooler location: Yeast needs to be at a very specific temperature to ferment properly, and if it gets too hot it might develop off-flavors or it even die, so moving the fermentor into a cooler room can really help with this.
- To cold crash it: Cold crashing beer is a great way of giving it some extra clarity since all the proteins and yeast residue drop to the bottom of the fermentor and don’t make it into the bottle.
Can you move the fermentor right before racking or bottling?
Moving beer before racking (kegging or casking) should be avoided since the point of transferring beer to a different vessel is to keep as much of the sediment away since this will improve beer clarity.
On that same note, you should try not to move the fermentor before bottling since you don’t want any of that sediment to make its way into the bottle.
It’s worth noting, however, that introducing sediment into the bottle and having a beer with less clarity doesn’t mean that you can’t drink it, nor will it be bad for you, but you will simply get better and cleaner results if you don’t move the fermentor at all.
What about moving the bottles during conditioning?
Conditioning is the process of cooling the beer when it’s already been bottled, usually in a fridge, to allow all of the yeast residue to drop to the bottom of the bottle, which will give you a cleaner and clearer-looking beer. Moving it around too much during this stage will cause all of that sediment to get stirred back into the beer, which is the opposite of what we want.
It’s worth noting that moving the bottles during conditioning won’t harm the beer in any way, just make it more cloudy and less clear.
Also, before placing the beer bottles in the fridge, you need to leave them outside for about a week for secondary fermentation to take place so that the beer can get carbonated. The beer should be at the same temperature that the primary fermentation was at.
Best places in your home to store beer during fermentation and what to look out for
It is recommended to store the fermentor in an environment that has a stable temperature, ideally in the ranges that the specific yeast strain you’re using requires.
Garages, Basements, and even kitchen cabinets are a great spot to ferment beer since they generally offer the best temperatures and the lowest thermal oscillation within a home.
Kitchen cabinets are great because they are a small confined space where the temperature can easily be controlled.
There are many other ways of controlling the fermentation temperature, but a simple fridge, a brew belt and a temperature controller would be the best “homemade” approach of doing things, since you can control the temperature inside of the fridge with a lot of precision, keeping the fermentor at the ideal temperature for that specific yeast strain.
Moving beer while it’s fermenting is totally fine and shouldn’t be something that worries you. While there may be some consequences to this, the main one would be stirring up all of the yeast and protein sediment and mixing it back into the beer, in which case you’ll need to wait a couple of days to let all of that drop down to the bottom of the fermentor (cold crashing the beer by putting the fermentor into your fridge can definitely help with this and will result in a clearer beer).
Make sure not to shake the fermentor too much while moving it, however, since this can introduce oxygen as well.
But other than that, move it when you need to!
Have a great time brewing!
Can you shake the beer during fermentation? As soon as you pitched the yeast, shaking the fermentor can be beneficial because it introduces oxygen which helps the yeast with the fermentation process, but once a couple days have passed, introducing oxygen can oxidize the beer and, as a result, reduce its shelf life.
Can you stir the beer during fermentation? Once fermentation has started, stirring the beer will cause more issues than anything else because you risk introducing oxygen and bacteria into it. In the best case, the beer will have a shorter shelf life, in the worst case, however, it can get infected and will need to be thrown out.
Can you dilute beer during fermentation? You can always dilute beer before fermentation has begun, which is generally done when brewing a high-gravity beer and diluting it, but adding water once it’s started fermenting can introduce bacteria and oxygen, ruining the beer.
Can you taste beer during fermentation? You can taste beer while it’s fermenting and also before bottling, and it’s completely safe to do so, and the benefits of tasting it are that you will notice if it’s been contaminated, too acid, etc., allowing you to gauge whether or not a new batch needs to be made without wasting too much time.