I've got an ale (23L) that's been brewing for six days now, my recipe says I should bottle or keg it after eight. I don't have any bottles or a keg, but I do have another bucket (25L, made for brewing in) with a tap. Can I do the secondary fermentation in there and just draw it off with the tap for drinking?

If that's not an option then is it ok to leave it for another couple of days so I can order bottles? What about ghetto ways of bottling (like using plastic water bottles)?

  • 1
    It's touched on in the questions below, but I want to emphasize that you don't need to take the beer out of the fermenter after 8 days, and you don't need to do a secondary. You'll be fine to let the beer sit on the yeast for 3-4 weeks before bottling, and the extra yeast contact can actually help the beer mature and condition. May 22, 2014 at 18:47
  • you could draw it off the tap like that, but it will be more like flat english pub ale. rather than using the tap, it would be better to use a hand pump (like a larger version of the kind on a squirt gun or hand soap bottle) as a poor-mans "beer engine" to squirt it into the serving glass. the hand pump will bubble it up for a bit and release the aromas. If you never had cask ale before, you might not be ready for this smooth but flat experience.
    – DaFi4
    Oct 21, 2018 at 7:18

4 Answers 4


I'm not sure what you mean by a bucket, but what I have in my head is a 5G plastic bucket with a tap in it. If that's the case, no it will not work. You need to have some sort of container that can hold up under carbonation. The same thing with your ghetto way of bottle, they won't stand up to the carbonation.

Personally, I like the 32oz EZTop bottles. Bigger Size = Less bottling. EZTop takes out the capping process. If you take care of those bottles they should last you a while, just clean them before bottling your next batch.

You should be fine with a few more days in the fermenter. Maybe someone can elaborate on how long is too long, but from my experience the longer you let it ferment the better it comes out. The extra time allows the yeast to go back and "clean up after itself" resulting in less "off flavors".

  • I've clarified in the question, but this bucket is actually made for brewing in and is airtight.
    – Sean D
    May 15, 2014 at 20:20
  • 3
    Even if it's meant for brewing, you can't carbonate in it, since brew buckets aren't pressure rated.
    – mdma
    May 15, 2014 at 20:23

First of all, it's highly unlikely that the beer will be ready to drink in 8 days, no matter what the instructions say. In general, it's more like a month. But you can try it and see what you think. That gives you plenty of time to order bottles. You could easily leave your beer in the fermenter for a month or more and you'd likely be better off for it. BTW, secondary fermentation has been found to be pretty much unnecessary. It;s much more important for commercial brewers than homebrewers, due to the smaller scale we brew on.

The purpose of bottling or kegging is twofold...first to extend the life of the beer. If you just leave it in another bucket, it will accelerate the staling process. The second purpose is carbonation...in a bottle or keg, you use processes that allow CO2 to be absorbed into the beer. If you kist drink it from the bucket, it will be flat.


You can use plastic soda bottles, with the benefit that they larger than regular glass bottles so you don't need to fill as many. (And you don't need a capper.)

You can just leave the beer alone for a few days until you get the bottles. The secondary fermentation and subsequent conditioning happens in the bottle anyway after you add the priming sugar.


Speaking to the original question, strictly speaking, No, you don't have to bottle or keg. Your could cask your beer as a traditional Ale would have been.

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