I would like to go from the primary fermentation to the bottles with an open fermentation.

Can I top off with water to get the full 5 gallons?

Also would you primary an open fermentation for more than a week, and not secondary?

It's a double ipa.

  • What do you mean by "open" fermentation? Are you fermenting in a bucket or a carboy? Are you not using an airlock, or do you really have the ferment exposed to the open air?
    – jsled
    Dec 26, 2014 at 2:36
  • In a 5 gallon glass carboy, the top blew off almost perfect at the shoulder of the carboy tomorrow will be 6 days, it still has a thick layer of krausen,didn't start out to open ferment, but aren't going to waste the batch since the carboy didn't completely explode, the krausen was about 4 inches and is now about 1 1/2 inches thick Dec 26, 2014 at 2:44
  • The airlock clogged up during the night sometime between 12 to 20 hours after i put the wort in the pimary fermenter and blew the top off almost perfect at the shoulder of the fermenter, when i saw it at 9 am it had a nice thick foamy krausen layer 3 to 4 inches thick i have removed some dark brown crud off the krausen twice, now after 5 1/2 days the layer is aprox 1 1/2 inches thick and still has nice color ,I'm debating going to secondary or straight to bottles, I'm supposed to dry hop for 3 days w Citra, if i go to secondary I think I will need to top of w water, my original gravity 1.073 Dec 26, 2014 at 3:08
  • 1
    Haven't checked gravity since original reading. because I didn't want to disturb the layer on top of the fermenter ,also my original gravity was 1.084, i was looking at the wrong recipe, i did a parti-gyle batch and did 3 different beers, a dipa,a light Scottish ale, and a Russian imp stout, all in the same day, a very long day, but all of my est original gravity numbers were fairly close, so if i come out w 3 different beer's it will be worth it and will have save time compare to having to do 3 different mashes, Dec 26, 2014 at 3:19
  • 4
    Whenever any glass cracks or breaks, I would consider any beer that touched or was open to the glass to be dangerous to consume, and I would dump it. Dec 29, 2014 at 16:23

3 Answers 3


There's basically no need to do a "secondary" fermentation. Time in secondary is just as good as time in primary.

You can go straight from primary to bottling if you like, so long as fermentation has actually finished. Once the krausen falls further, and you get the same gravity readings over the course of 2-3 days, you can bottle straight away.

However, if your glass carboy really did break, I would be very worried about glass shards in the batch, which are going to be nearly impossible to detect and remove. I'd dump the batch, just to be safe, and obviously toss the carboy. As well, I'm not sure how you're going to safely lift the broken carboy in order to siphon into the bottling bucket.

As well, I would cover the top of the fermentor with aluminum foil to prevent anything from falling into the beer.

Good luck.

  • I have actually already racked over to a secondary fermenter, have a good 4 gallons, im getting about 1 bubble in the airlock every 90 seconds, when I rack to my bottling bucket I'm going to tie a piece of hop bag or cheese clothe to the end of my siphon cane which I also did this morning when I racked into the secondary I only found 2 pieces of sunflower seed pieces of glass in the pimary fermenter, that were practically cemented to the bottom of the fermenter, i also took a gravity reading before I racked into the secondary it was 1.014, est final gravity is 1.018 so not to far off, Dec 26, 2014 at 18:27
  • At the home brew store where I get most of my stuff they said that since I still had a fairly nice krausen to go ahead and rack to secondary and that the beer is still producing CO2 and that would push out the oxygen so no oxidation should take place we'll see, thanks for your time answer my questions, I'm going to bottle in 2 weeks I'll keep you informed as to the results, glad I found this site, you can never have enough folks to get info from or to bounce ideas around with Dec 26, 2014 at 18:36

Your mileage may vary...

If it was my brew, I certainly would not give up on it (yet). I would gently set it out and let it settle for a few hours, then rack to another container, being careful not to pull anything (like glass) into the second fermenter. (Leave more than normal and make sure and use the diverter on your siphon.) Then you can triage the carboy and clean up the mess. However, the reason I suggest this is to avoid losing all your beer if the carboy continues to break.

I would not be too concerned about an open ferment. I have fermented several beers without a lid. I tried it a few times out of curiosity more than anything, but I kind of quit the practice a year or so ago. However, I didn't quit because I thought the beer was bad, just because I didn't think I was gaining much for the risk. Having said that, I've had batches with off flavors with "normal" practices and none of my open fermentations ever gave me any grief. They typically fermented much faster and produced a more significant krausen, but also produced more esters, but overall, nothing unexpected.

In an IPA, I doubt you would notice the difference, because of the dominant hops. The hops will also help stave off bacteria. Good luck!

  • Hey thanks for the comment, i did rack to a secondary fermenter, ended up with about 4 gallons of beer, am going to bottle on Monday 1 / 12 and then in about 2 or 3 weeks I'll give5it a try and report back with my results, thanks again Jan 7, 2015 at 19:52

You'll have no issues with an open fermentation in terms of contamination from the open air if there is still a layer of CO2 at the interface of the liquid and the air, which will be the case during active fermentation. I'm assuming that your container is covered with something, either plastic or a lid and ferm. lock. If you are completely open to the air (why?) then chances are very high that you will have a disaster due to air-borne bacteria regardless of fermentation activity.

There is probably a grace period of a few days after the end of fermentation when you can bottle directly without much danger of bacteria getting into the beer (assuming, again, that you have a cover of some kind over your container). Keep your bucket away from forced-air heating vents and/or drafty areas in the house.

But the other issue will be avoiding getting excessive haze and sediment into your bottles (ie: trub, including yeast and hop bits), unless you use a fining agent to accelerate the clearing process, which can otherwise take over a week.

One way to avoid getting some of the worst gunk into your bottles is to put a mesh filter on the end of your siphoning tube, the end that goes into the bucket. This will prevent the largest bits of sediment from getting into your bottles, but you will still have a lot of haze particles in your bottles if the primary has not been given time to settle out; especially in the last 6 or 7 bottles as you try to siphon off the last of your green beer from the bottom of your primary.

Another option to extend the air-free time while fermentation subsides and the clearing process takes place, is to use a CO2 injector to apply a layer of CO2 to the surface of the beer once in a while, until the primariy is relatively clear (but, again, usually not before 1 week after fermentation has ended). You can get handheld injectors that take 12g or 16g CO2 cylinders. Just make sure the CO2 in the cylinders is food-grade ("100% CO2 only"), and is NOT meant for BB-guns; those will contain oil.

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