Have any of you done homebrew beer before? How do you keep the temperature consistent? It's winter here and the heating's only on during the evening, but if I keep the bucket insulated during the day and warm in the evening would that be alright?
Right now it's sitting under my desk next to my PC as that's the only place that I know will be constantly a bit warm.
Should be fine. I never turn on the heat and my place is naturally around 65 even in the dead of winter. I just plop my fermenter in the closet and listen to the sweet sound of bubbling fermentation.
Are you doing full grain or partial grain/malt extract kit. If its the latter you have nothing to worry about. Temperature during the primary really only determines how fast fermentation will occur. In the summer I'm finished with my primary in as short as two days, but in the winter I tend to let it ferment for at least a week before transferring to the secondary.
this is bad information that you should disregard.
the best homebrewers have fermentation chambers which are usually chest freezers fitted with a temperature control device. this solves the problem of temperature being too hot, as the freezer turns on and cools the beer if the temperature inside goes above what you set it to.
as far as dealing with the cold and keeping your beer warm, you have a couple of options.
1. homebrew stores (online or local) sell "ferm wraps" which you can wrap around a carboy/bucket for the duration of fermentation. these are usually your best option if you only need to raise the temp of your fermenting beer 5-10F
2. you can use a fridge or a chest freezer as a fermentation chamber and put a mini heater inside, attached to a temperature control device. this way, when the temp inside gets too cold, it kicks on.
3. find a place in your house that is warm, or heat a room when it is especially cold. 65F is typically what I ferment my beers at, depending on style.
will answer any other questions you have...
Alright, well, the place next to my PC is around 17.5C/64F when the heating's off, and about 20C/68F when the heating's on. That should be enough, I think, and I know that it seems to be fairly consistently letting out gas.
that sounds perfect. keep it there. 65-70F is exactly where you want to be. what kind of yeast did you use? depending on the strain fermentation should be done between 2-7ish days, assuming this isnt a monster barleywine or something. sounds like you'll be fine though as long as its not dropping below 55 or above 75F
I'm not 100% sure of the type of yeast, it's named as a "beer yeast" though.
Apparently I've just got to keep it fermenting until the gravity drops consistently below 1008. The kit has a hydrometer, which is nice.
on a small scale its probably not worthwhile to check the gravity very often, opening your bucket risks contamination so you want to minimize that. if you give it 2 weeks between 65-70F it will finish fermenting and you can go ahead and bottle/keg it
According to the instructions this beer is supposed to only ferment in the bucket for 4-6 days, then you put it into bottles and it ferments for a while in there.
When it stops having gas come out can you assume it's done fermenting?
OP, get yourself a copy of pic related. It's basically the go-to entry manual on home brewing.
I think it might even be available for free online.
I'm gonna assume you have a bottling bucket and will be adding priming sugar to carbonate in bottles. 4-6 days is on the lower end of fermentation. the beer will probably be done, but why risk it? give it 2 weeks.
after 2 weeks, you rack the beer into a (sanitized) bottling bucket on top of priming sugar, add to (sanitized) bottles, cap and wait. the yeast in suspension ferments the sugar you added and carbonates the beer. if your beer is not done fermenting when you bottle it, then you risk "bottle bombs" aka overcarbonation = drain pours. just be patient.
Yeah, using priming sugar. The kit gave me a siphon with something designed to filter out some of the sediment, so I'll be using that when I transfer to the bottles, and I'll just throw some sugar into each one. I'll be making sure that it's completely fermented though, I don't want beer spraying around the garage.