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Cold Conditioning Ales

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pbrosnan

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Hi all,

Have an ale fermented with Wyeast 1098 in the secondary that appears to have finished fermentation. I've decided to bring the temp down (i.e turn fridge back on) while awaiting the purchase of a couple of kegs (probably next weekend) as I'm moving in that direction. I was wondering what experience or whether people have any thoughts with regard to cold conditioning ales. The grain bill was mostly pilsener with some wheat (6.3%), flaked maize(8.3%) and Crystal (3.8%). Total IBUs 39.2

cheers

Patrick.
 

Wortgames

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Hi Patrick, IMO any cold storage of an ale will start to lager it to a certain extent - you will start to lose some of the fruitier characters of your yeast, and end up with a cleaner profile. Traditionally English ales were transported to the pub whilst still fermenting and were nursed by the cellarman, so they were a very 'fresh' product. Having said that, if you're going to store it you're probably best off storing it cooler rather than warmer from a spoilage point of view.
 
J

Jovial_Monk

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I like to cold condition my ales for at least a couple of weeks to drop yeast b4 kegging/bottling. Doubt much lagering occurs in that time

Jovial Monk
 

Wortgames

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Hmm, I won't get on my soapbox on the subject of English ales - needless to say most folks overcarbonate and serve too cold anyway (myself included) so the question is how authentic do you want to be?

The genuine article was never cold conditioned for a couple of weeks.
 

Guest Lurker

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Hi PB

Have a good taste of the beer. Not sure if it is our technique or the yeast, but both JasonY and I have found 1098 to throw a fair bit of diacetyl in English bitters. So with 1098 I like to keep the beer on the yeast at active ferment temps rather than cool it too soon. With the bitter that pulled it back to just a pleasant hint of diacetyl in the final beer.
 
J

Jovial_Monk

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Nope, but the genuine article was fined in the barrel. I also think we should not blindly apply commercial practises on our much smaller HB scale.

And that barrel spent time in the cellar untill the beer had finished working. Sounds a bit like cold conditioning, eh?

JMM
 

Wortgames

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JM - it didn't spend long in the cellar, the cellarman's job was to make sure it got served while it still had some life in it. British cellar temperature is between around 11 and 13C, I'm tipping the OP's fridge would be a fair whack cooler than that.

Nobody's talking about blindly applying commercial practises here, I'm just raising the point that cold conditioning is actually inappropriate for a British ale, and yes it will have an effect on the yeast character of the beer. But we all make compromises based on circumstances - most of my own ales are served way too cold and way too gassy, because it's easier to manage and serve them that way. Occasionally I'll make a 'real ale' to serve from a beer engine, and the difference is significant - although most Aussies think it is warm, flat, fruity beer and don't like it very much. Each to his own.

I'm not criticizing anyone's processes, I'm just trying to point out the ways that some of them can alter the profile of the beer.
 

Kai

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I find a couple weeks in the cold useful if I need to drop the yeast out of an ale. Other than that all the ccing it gets is in bottles in the fridge.
 

jayse

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Cellar temps for real ales' aside I think most ale brewers stick to these ideals not because they are the old way but because thats how to make great ale.
I don't think using refrigeration is anyway compromissing anything for instance it is common practice to get the beer cold for a few days to help clear the yeast out not ussually more than a week.
There is a time to chat real ale but in most instances unless your really want to produce and serve it the way it is supposed to be than its pretty much universal practice to use refridgeration for a week.

My take on it is for the benifit of dropping the beer brite clear than getting a ales cold for a week before you transfer to the serving vessels is pretty much the common thing to do.
Many yeast strains drop clear without it being cold in which case i don't worry about getting them cold at all but some strains which i think a common term for is 'dusty' take a long time to settle unless you get it cold.
Two strains on each end from my experience is thames valley, that'll drop clear if your left it a 30c while german ale likes to hang around when its still warm.

Mine don't get that cold they are proberly at 9c for about 10-12c in the glass for around 3 weeks, one to clear the yeast and 2 to drink it all up. :chug:

Happy yeast clearing for a few days and not cold conditioning for months.
Jayse
 
J

Jovial_Monk

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Flat and warm. . .ideal conditions for serving Brit ales. really that could be phrased as "cool and not fizzy." I remember my grandfather coming out here in the early 70's. Sixty years a waiter in his retirement he was called on occasianally to wait on the Dutch
Queen: I can still hear him saying "bier should be served cool, not cold" Heheheh mind you, he shifted quite a bit of West End, following up each pint with a glass of St Agnes brandy "to warm my throat after the cold beer" Sure Pops, you lush!

Apart from the middle of summer my kegs sit on the shed floor, not in the fridge! If I bottle I usually do not prime, just let the beer self prime. i think for comps I will need to mark and prime a few bottles.

JM
 

Wortgames

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I occasionally do work in some of the 'top' hotels, and it makes me cry to see large bottles of Chimay sitting for months in flourescent-lit fridges at 3 degrees, just waiting for that 'discerning' customer to come along...

:(
 

Sean

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Wortgames said:
JM - it didn't spend long in the cellar, the cellarman's job was to make sure it got served while it still had some life in it. British cellar temperature is between around 11 and 13C, I'm tipping the OP's fridge would be a fair whack cooler than that.

Nobody's talking about blindly applying commercial practises here, I'm just raising the point that cold conditioning is actually inappropriate for a British ale, and yes it will have an effect on the yeast character of the beer. But we all make compromises based on circumstances - most of my own ales are served way too cold and way too gassy, because it's easier to manage and serve them that way. Occasionally I'll make a 'real ale' to serve from a beer engine, and the difference is significant - although most Aussies think it is warm, flat, fruity beer and don't like it very much. Each to his own.

I'm not criticizing anyone's processes, I'm just trying to point out the ways that some of them can alter the profile of the beer.
[post="53626"][/post]​
I'd largely agree with this, although I can't help wondering why everyone is using the past tense in talking about real ale conditioning - it's most disconcerting.

Most breweries cellar the beer for at least a week or two in cask in the brewery before sending it out, and would generally expect the cellarman to keep it at least 3 or 4 days before serving but longer is good where possible. A few beers (eg Marston's Pedigree) need at least 10 days in the pub cellar to get the best out of them (but rarely get it). Some of the stronger beers do benefit from much longer keeping - eg Fullers ESB and (especially) Adnams' Tally Ho - but never significantly colder than cellar temperature.

Selling beer while it's still "fresh" isn't usually an issue unless it's been sitting in a warehouse somewhere for a while. Cask beer keeps very well until it's been vented, and moderately well even then until you've started to serve it. As soon as you've started to draw off beer then you need to sell it within two or three days because you've started to let air into the cask. Most poor quality real ale has simply been on sale to long and started to oxidise etc, or was put on sale too quickly and is still green. Very often both.

On the other hand, few of us are set up to do proper cask conditioning. You can't easily vent the beer properly (slow release of the excess C02 and unwanted volatiles through a porous or semi-porous wooden peg) from a keg, let alone emptying the keg fast enough to afford to replace the lost volume with air, so we are forced to compromise. How exactly you vent a beer can make an amazing difference to the final taste in the glass - ruining a great beer, or impressing even the brewer by how good you've made his beer taste.

FWIW, for all people carrying on about "warm English beer" in the hypothetical, no-one has yet complained about mine (served at 11C rather than 12-13 as a slight concession to the Australian climate). Of course using a CO2 driven keg forces me to keep the carbonation somewhat higher than ideal and the beer tap acts too much like a sparkler for any beer style south of Birmingham. (FWIW ideal carbonation for real ale in the glass is 1 volume of CO2 disolved in 1 volume of beer).

("Cellaring" beer for CAMRA beer festivals and Ales from Devon beer tents was a major part of my life for many years, so I know rather more about the topic than I do about how to make the stuff.)
 
J

Jovial_Monk

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We are forced to compromise. Yup, if kegging I am not serving "real ale". My compromise of fining is a couple weeks cold conditioning.

JM
 

jayse

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Hi Sean,
Great post. I haven't had anyone complain my beers are warm at 10-12c either but with only 1 volume of CO2 i would be shot down with complaints.
My beers proberly have more co2 in them than that at the end of fermention which technically mean you have to add about MINUS 10g of sugar to prime. :lol:

Jayse
 

Sean

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jayse said:
Hi Sean,
Great post. I haven't had anyone complain my beers are warm at 10-12c either but with only 1 volume of CO2 i would be shot down with complaints.
My beers proberly have more co2 in them than that at the end of fermention which technically mean you have to add about MINUS 10g of sugar to prime. :lol:

Jayse
[post="53722"][/post]​
:D

Of course, when the cask arrives in the pub it should have significantly - sometimes considerably - more than one volume of CO2 - it's part of the cellarman's job to adjust it down to that through venting.

There are, obviously, exceptions to any rule- I can think of a few real ales that are (IMO) best vented only quite briefly (two or three hours through a soft spile) and served distinctly 'over conditioned' straight from the cask.
 

Weizguy

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Sean said:
There are, obviously, exceptions to any rule- I can think of a few real ales that are (IMO) best vented only quite briefly (two or three hours through a soft spile) and served distinctly 'over conditioned' straight from the cask.
[post="53727"][/post]​
Sean,

Thanks for the benefit of your experience. I feel it's exceptional to hear about a range of topics from one with first-hand knowledge.

I have been ribbed somewhat lately at my lhbs re my negative comments, and would like to add some balance by providing positive feedback to those who deserve it. :)

Cheers, Sean. :beer:

Seth :p

* Edited due to mistyping, causing misspelling.
 

SJW

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I dont think ales require CC'ing, for most of the reasons given. At least I don't CC mine, just rack to a secondary for a week or so.
 

Sean

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SJW said:
I dont think ales require CC'ing, for most of the reasons given. At least I don't CC mine, just rack to a secondary for a week or so.
[post="53750"][/post]​
In which case you are giving it time to mature, but doing that in a secondary fermenter instead of the cask from which it will be served, and then relying on the artificial carbonation. You're not going to hit the heights of the very best brewed and best cellared casks of real ale but, as I said before, we've all got to compromise that somewhere, and we all have to make the choice where.

Personally, I like to get as close as I conveniently can to the best commercial practice that I've been part of in the UK, because I know that works for me. In practice that means I don't bother with a secondary fermenter, I do give it at least 3 weeks to condition in the keg. I do vent off a bit of the naturally produced CO2 as best as I can through the keg valve, but don't get anxious about that. I don't need to worry too much about fining as the keg doesn't need to move about much once it's filled, and I cellar and serve it at pretty close to cellar temperatures. I can't easily avoid artificially carbonating it, and doing so to a significantly higher condition than ideal, so I don't worry about it. I'm unlikely to hit the heights of the very best casks I've cellared and served 'properly', but free from commercial constraints I can do stuff commercial breweries can't so its all swings and roundabouts.

Other people will choose their compromises differently, and that's fine too. An accurate knowledge of what UK best practice is, and why, does mean you can make an informed choice. In an ideal world I'd ship over a couple of kils each of Taylors Landlord, Marstons Pedigree, Branscombe Vale Branoc and any Adnams beer and demonstrate the astounding difference that different cellaring techniques can make to each, but that isn't quite feasible. :(
 

delboy

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I was just sculking around and found this old thread by chance of a search for the pros and cons .
and as the general consensis is that they dont cold condition english ales !
well that is 6 to 1 and 1/2 dozen to the other .

as when i did my cellermasters certificate with Charles Wells in Bedford England in a sense the did not refridgerate the casks but they were held for up to 2 weeks in there cold room . I use the term cold room very loosly as it was not a cold room as Australians would belive it to be .It had no refridgeration unit it was dark and underneath every thing it was called the celler it had a double cell entry point and a double cell exit point and it was huge but it was very low if you were sixfoot six you would have to hunch over .it was solid stone and slated floor .

the temp down there was at around 9 degsC all year round AND THIS WAS CONTROLED WITH A FAN SYSTEM ONLY . to push the air around (now automated)
it took around a week for the ale to drop in temp and then stored for the next week or so before delivery. in a sense it was cold conditioned but the temp in the wood casks then were alot slower so the ale was sill very active and if the celler was not aired correctly would take your breath away (CO2) NATURALLY.
Also even us humans that lived in england get cold conditioned it cold most of the time and there hotest time of the year only really last six weeks and through the summer this slow down at the breweries when it come to ale production as they have summer holidays and shut downs for maint and cleaning . it dosn't stop altether though they still make beer but i am sure the refers get turned on .
and nowadays refridgeration is used more as a consistancy factor at maintianing the celler temps from peaking out or troughing.

once it was delivered to the pub the celler master would set the cask or barral on the stillage timbers into position and soft peg it to vent off excess CO2 from the delivery lorry bumping around doing the delivery once this was done the next day it would be hard pegged to in the vent hole to exclude air and for the ale to settle down .the temp would then stablize back to cellar temp and be left for a minimum of three days before it was then tapped with the hard peg in then tap turned on to remove yeasty deposits from around the shive and to create a vaccume in the ullage spacethe the hard peg removed from the top vent and soft peg incerted .it was then plumbed to the engine pipes and the tap turned on and the cellermaster then would pull up the first ale from the engine and taste .
as it was pulled up buy the engine the flow was smooth and constant this would inturn not disturb any yeast deposits in the bottom of the cask so it could still make its own CO2 after service was over .
hope you dont mind the long winded explanation but i enjoyed the art of cellermanship whilst in England .

delboy :beer:
 

warrenlw63

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Thanks for that Delboy.

That was a very informative and very interesting bit of scribe work. :beerbang: :rolleyes:

Always good to read how it's done on the other side of the pond.

BTW Bombardier is a fantastic drop. :beerbang: :beerbang:

Warren -
 

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