Bottle Conditioning

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lou

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Hi ya all

I have noticed in my last few brews that after the beer has finished conditioning in the fermenter it tastes great- basically ready to drink except for gassing. When I add the extra sugar (I usually bulk prime) and bottle it then takes months to clean up the green flavour. Its like I am actually messing up the beer by adding sugar and bottle conditioning rather then kegging.


A few points obviously adding sugar is re starting fermentation and by products are being produced which the yeast will need to clean up - but its takes so much longer than it would in the fermenter. Is this because it cant expel gasses because its under pressure - the extra gas dissolved or the yeast has fallen out solution or is no where nearly in as good condition as the primary ferment - what is everyone elses ideas experience - and does kegging get you a nice beer much quicker without the greenness , restarting fermentation etc

lou
 

dicko

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Hi Lou,
I fully agree.
I find that a lot of my beers are much better in the keg ( kegged and gassed after three to four weeks ) than the same samples that have been bottled.
When bottling now, I leave the beer in the primary for ten days to allow complete fermentation and basic clearing then bottle directly from the fermenter.
If I keg I can either rack to a cube and cold cond. or just keg and refrigerate ( c c in the keg ) and gas.
After the bottles have carbonated they still dont taste as good as the keg beer IMO but by bottling as soon as primary ferment is finished I find that they "mature" more quickly than if you try to CC the beer before bottling them.
This is only my observation and I can not offer any accurate information to support my theory but I feel that it has something to do with the quantity of yeast which remains in the wort when it is bottled soon after primary fermentation is completed.
Another idea is that you are actually increasing the alc % by bottle carbonating
( secondary fermentation ) and this may change the perseption(sp) of taste.
Most bottled beers seem to "get better" after a considerable amount of time( two to three months) while kegs tast good from the first day.
Cheers
 

Kai

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I will concur, my beer decreases in quality after bottling and can sometimes take a few months to get back to where it was, though mine usually aren't 'green' per se.
 

Wortgames

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I hate to say "me too" but... me too :p

I think Dicko has it just about stitched up. When I started kegging I was amazed at the apparent improvement in my beer, I actually hadn't expected it at all. My bottled beers had always been good after extended CC in the bottle, but it's tough to find fridge space for that much beer for that much time. Kegging gets the job done so much quicker. Also, I found that ales tended to 'lager' a bit if they spent too long in CC, so IMO the best way to serve ales is undoubtedly on draught.
 

lou

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I'm glad you brought CC ing business - i was just going to mention it

I was very suprised when after putting a few bottles in the fridge - tasted one- it tasted bad - and then leaving the other one there for a few weeks that the other bottle tasted pretty good - i happened to take it along to hb meeting and ask everyone one what is that crap taste - and it had gone :blink: but still tasted different again compared to what i was expecting.

I have long considered keeping all my bottles in the fridge to gas up (at least insummer when its to hot) but it seems like i should put them all in there .what temp though? I have never heard mention of anyone doing this.


this seems to go against almost everything i have heard about bottle conditioning -

lou
 

Wortgames

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Lou - it only takes a week or two at fermentation temps for the yeast to metabolise the priming sugar and produce the fizz. After that time your beer will generally be better if it is kept cold for a few weeks, as this is the quickest way to clean up the greenness produced by the bottle fermentation.

You could prime in the fridge, but it would take A LOT longer for the yeast to do their business at colder temps and you'd risk infection.
 

Bilph

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Unfortunately I'm not kegging yet, so I can't add to the comparison between kegs and bottles. What I do try and do is maximise the opportunity for bottle conditioning. The key to this is temperature. If you keep your bottles at around 20C they condition at pretty much the optimum rate.
Obviously it's difficult to keep a huge number of bottles at that temp this time of year, but the first days and weeks are the most critical. If you can keep them warm for as long as possible after bottling, they're pretty good in about a month, depending on beer style.
 

sosman

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Wortgames said:
You could prime in the fridge, but it would take A LOT longer for the yeast to do their business at colder temps.
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Worse still, it might never finish. The yeast settle much faster in the fridge and cold + alcohol + exhausted yeast don't make for effective fermentation.

I keg and usually have a bottle or two extra. At 20 C they are pretty well done after two weeks. On the plus side, the bottle conditioned beers seem to keep longer - and if I am planning to enter a comp I prefer to use bottle conditioned beer if possible.
 

dicko

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Hi all,

I think bottle conditioning temps depend entirely on the yeast being used.
We all know that lagers improve in the bottle over time if stored in the fridge.
I assume that this is the nature of the yeast (in general).
Ales on the other hand seem to improve for a while then start to deteriorate as time goes on.
This time frame seems to vary from brew to brew and in the HB scene it is difficult to determine.
With ales I tend to bottle condition if possible for about 6 weeks to 2 months at room ( shed) temperature and I find that there is a vast improvement in the taste of the beer after this time. I dont store bottled beer in the summer.
On the other hand I have noted that if ales are left for extended periods the actually seem to lose some of there quality.
I have also noted that if I have overdone the hops a bit in an ale and I keg the beer and let it CC in the fridge for a couple of months then the hop bitterness seems to smooth out and then in that case my ale has improved.

I do not speak with any authority on this topic and I have no information ( other than my own observations ) regarding the conditioning of beers but it appears that time heals many errors of maybe less than ideal quantities of ingredients (balance) and varying brewing practices in general in the HB environment.
Others may or will have different views from their own observations and my comments are my ideas only but I think that the general concensus is that time and temperature are the important factors.

Cheers
 

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