Can open fermentation be done simply by putting the fermenting beer in a bucket carboy and covering it with foil?
The purpose of the foil would be to just keep airborne contaminants from falling into the wort.
Despite being "covered" with foil I would think that any restriction on the head space would be negligible compared to an air lock. So I don't think it would be much different than having a bucket wide open.

I am considering this because I don't have an area that is clean enough to just let something sit open for a fermentation. Especially, if I want it to be in a temperature controlled environment like a fridge.

  • Just curious, is there a particular style/characteristic you are hoping to achieve with open fermentation, or just experimenting? Good luck!
    – Jim
    Jun 16, 2010 at 20:53
  • Maybe some english styles, but only because that's what I brew the most. I'd be likely to brew a 10 gallon batch of ESB and split it into two buckets and see what I discover.
    – brewchez
    Jun 17, 2010 at 12:54

2 Answers 2


Well, I've done an open fermentation like this for wine. Left a 6G plastic bucket of wine open for primary, covered with some sanitized plastic wrap. Had other problems with the wine (it was neglected for awhile in some hot temperatures, but that's another story!) but the primary turned out just fine. Go for it!

Perhaps you could tent the foil (or even build a little "top hat" out of foil) on top of the bucket, allowing even more headspace room while still keeping stuff from falling into your beer?

  • I don't think head space really has any impact, its about head pressure.
    – brewchez
    Jun 17, 2010 at 12:53

traditionally open fermentation meant open. It was said about some of the old belgium ales that you could smell the farmyard off them! Not sure if using foil would allow enough exposure to ensure that you get fermentation.

  • 2
    What do you mean get fermentation? If you pitch yeast you'll get fermentation. Open fermentation has nothing to do with where your yeast comes from. I think you are mistaking the question with wild fermentation. Most Belgian beers are fermented with pure cultures not wild airborne strains.
    – brewchez
    Jun 8, 2010 at 19:27
  • 2
    Also I'm pretty sure that the "barnyard" characteristic is created simply by using brett, not actual barnyard particulate precipitating in the beer...at least I hope not :)
    – Room3
    Jun 9, 2010 at 13:17
  • My bad, I misread as Wild fermentation.
    – Mark
    Jun 10, 2010 at 9:04

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