I'm making a doppelbock with an ale yeast, so I'm fermenting in the mid- to upper 60s. It's 11 days in and all the krausen is gone. The top is speckled with what appears to be bright white yeast colonies. Do I wait to bottle until those are gone? I don't have a hydrometer, so I don't know the gravity situation. I don't see any bubbling or particles moving around, like I could for the first week. The instructions for the recipe simply say to let it ferment a minimum of 2 weeks. Will I hurt it by letting it ferment longer if the surface hasn't cleared up, or should I be safe to simply bottle at 2 weeks?
You will definitely not hurt it by letting it go longer. The only way to know if a beer is finished is to take a gravity reading. Not by bubbles, not by krausen, not by the calendar.
1Agreed. Get yourself a hydrometer. It is probably the most important piece of equipment I have.– Bullet86Mar 31, 2011 at 23:50
I don't have enough confidence in the seals on the Mr. Beer keg to advise letting it go as long as in a carboy. Not advising you to worry (never worry), but definitely get the hydrometer.– MlusbyApr 1, 2011 at 1:47
Thank you! With the hydrometer, is it more that it's done when it reaches a target value, or just when it stops changing? Some of both? The reason I ask is that it seems recipes online have an OG and an FG, but I don't think the Mr. Beer kits specify it. Apr 1, 2011 at 2:38
1When it stops changing. The ROT is that when you've given it what you think should be sufficient time, take readings on 3 consecutive days. If they're the same, it's done. Once you brew the same recipe multiple times and become familiar with it, you may only need one reading to confirm it's done. Apr 1, 2011 at 15:33
It is true that a hydrometer reading is likely the best way to tell. If you don't have a hydrometer wait till the yeast sediments to the bottom. Then it is wise to transfer to a secondary fermenter, which it sounds like you are not doing. Then wait till the yeast sediments out again and typically that is a great time to bottle. Another nice thing about putting the beer into secondary is that you can typically leave it there for 6 months and not have a problem.
In other words without a hydrometer and if you are unsure rack to secondary and let it sit until you are sure.