Homebrew Bottle Conditioning

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Bottling catches a lot of die-hard keggers out there. Most beer today obtains its carbonation under pressure extraction of exogenous carbon dioxide. The method of bottle conditioning requires bottling beer with little/ no carbon dioxide. Then supplying priming sugars that will ferment yeast in the bottle.

This re-fermentation yields off carbon dioxide, so-called because the original fermentation of the beer has completed. In which it will break down into the beer, giving it natural carbonation. In this context, the word “condition” refers directly to the carbon dioxide (CO2) content of the beer. Brewers refer to “bringing a beer into condition”. Also, bottles are great for long-term aging without taking up too much cellar storage.

Bottle conditioning, if done correctly, can result in a beer with a:
  • Finer and silkier texture of carbonation
  • Superior foam retention
  • More complex flavors
  • Longer shelf life 
  • Better aging ability than beers that are “force carbonated.”

The technique of bottle conditioning is capable of producing sophisticated beers. But, bottle conditioning has never been a simple matter in commercial practice.

When To Bottle Your Homebrew?

Once your beer is ready, a variety of factors make a significant contribution. Here are three steps you can take to find out when your beer is bottling-ready.

Understanding Fermentation

Knowing what is going on with your fermentation after you pitch your yeast or starter.  A brief lag phase will last between 6 and 24 hours. Your yeast will consume oxygen during the phase. It then reproduces enough cells to ferment the sugar in your wort. After the lag phase, the yeast enters an “exponential growth” phase. This is your active fermentation. The yeast converts sugar to CO2 and alcohol. It eats sugars from the simplest to the most complex. The yeast also creates its flavor and aroma profiles at this time. The yeast is finally going through a 3-10 day cleanup process. The krausen will fall out when the yeast flocculates to the bottom of the fermenter. The yeast cleans up any hydrogen sulfide and diacetyl produced during the fermentation. We can speed up beer fermentation also if you want to bottle your beer faster.

You can bottle your beer safely once it reaches the final gravity. At this point, the yeast will not ferment any more sugars. You may reach final gravity within a week. Then let your yeast flocculate out and clean up before bottling. This will help avoid cloudier beer, which can taste yeasty and ready.

Time-Dependent Ales

The style of fermentation helps dictate how long a beer should sit before bottling.

  • Stouts and Imperial Stouts. It will improve significantly when allowed to stay in either primary or secondary. Primarily 6 to 8 weeks before bottling. 
  • Hoppier American Stout. Unless you can maintain the hop characteristics, you may want to stick closer to the two weeks. You could be able to age hoppy beers longer if you used hops with high beta-acids. Beta acids release some of their bitterness as beer ages. 
  • Traditional Sour Ales take the most time before bottling. They go through several phases of fermentation and change. Sour ales usually take at least one year, with a strong gravity kept for one month before bottling. Give these beers a year or more to develop. It will create typical better flavor profiles than younger sour beers. Sours are also susceptible to over carbonation caused by refermentation in the bottle.
Post Bottling

Giving the beer three weeks in the bottle ensures the yeast drops back out. It will create a compact layer of sediment on the bottom. Fluffy sediment gets poured into glasses more easily.

It will also clean up any remaining “green” flavors. Which is why it is important to let the beer condition for another three weeks. This ensures bottle carbonation is complete and ready for refrigeration. Each beer requires its own timeline and shouldn’t be generalized by style, but the recipe.

Stouts, sours, barley, and wheat wines are more likely to improve over several months. Hoppier beers, low ABV beers, and high wheat beers usually need a quicker turnaround.

How To Bottle Your Homebrew?

Here is your step-by-step guide to bottling basics:

Step 1: Test the completion of your primary or secondary fermentation. Compare the results by testing the exact gravity two or three days apart. If, on both days, the reading is the same, it is safe to bottle.

Step 2: A standard 5-gallon beer batch would need forty-eight 12-ounce or twenty-six 22-ounce bottles

It includes the same bottle caps. Before you start bottling, clean and sanitize your bottles and any other supplies. Extra equipment needed for homebrew bottling. Be sure to sanitize all equipment before using the bottling process. 

  • Bottling bucket and siphon tube (or carboy, scraper cane, and siphon tube)
  • Bottle filler
  • Bottle capper

Step 3: Assuming you have 5 gallons of beer to carbon, in a small pot boil, priming sugar in 1 cup of water for two minutes. Let cool to approximately room temperature. The cooling process is critical if using a glass carboy to avoid cracking the glass. Place the cooled brew into your bucket or carboy. Siphon the beer from the fermenter leaving behind some sediment. Make sure that the siphon hose is at the bottom of the bucket. See to it that the siphoning action mixes the sugar water with the beer for uniform carbonation. Stir the beer gently with a hygienic spoon when siphoning it through.

Step 4: Now, it’s time to fill the bottles. If a bottling bucket is used, add the siphon hose to the spigot, then the bottle filler to the other end of the container. Plug the filler bottle into a container. Then open the spigot and press the filler container against the bottom of the bottle to start the flow.

If you are using a carboy and racking cane, connect the hose to the racking cane and then invert and fill both with water. Fold/pinch the end of the tube. Insert the racking can quickly into the carboy. Then remove the tube to ensure the siphon to start and then insert the bottle filler at the end of the tube. Connect the tubing to the Auto-Siphon and the filler to the other end of the tube. Then pump the inner wand to induce the siphon.

Fill the bottles to 1″ from the top. Then lift the bottle filler to stop the flow. Repeat the same process for the remaining bottles. Then cap and let sit for 2-3 weeks in a dark place at room temperature.

P. S: The bottles won’t carbonate in the refrigerator if you are using ale yeasts. Carbonation also may vary on Yeast-Free Beer.

Step-5: Reduce the amount of priming sugar to 3.7 oz per 5 gallons of beer If carbonation seems to be over-carbonated. Prior after 5-6 weeks consistently or if you just prefer less carbonation. It may extend the carbonation time, but it will eliminate long-term carbonation. Prorate the amount of priming sugar you use on bottling day If you have less than 5 gallons of beer to carbonate.

Reminders After Bottling Your Beer

Where to Store Your Bottled Beer?

Store your beer in a sealed cupboard for safe-keeping. You can also put it inside a plastic container with a lid, or a cardboard box. Keep the beer off the way and shield it from sunlight,

When Do I Get to Drink My Beer?

Give it at least two weeks before you bottle the beer. The yeast simply needs a few days to eat the sugar. The beer needs a little more time to consume carbon dioxide. The beer even goes through a little “bottle shock” shortly after bottling. The flavors of the beer can taste muted or unbalanced for a while. It will only go away after about two weeks.

How Long Homebrewed Beer Will last? 

Homebrew keeps well for about a year as its flavor continues to evolve. The flavor will keep on improving for a month or two after bottling. It stays steady for several months. It then starts to deteriorate and turn stale after about 12 months. Several beers, particularly beers with an ABV of 8 percent or higher, still age far beyond that.

How Long Can Your Bottled Beer Last?

If refrigerated :

Beer is best kept in the refrigerator. It’s important if it was purchased refrigerated. A change in temperatures (hot to cold or cold to hot) is not good for this product. 

Most beers will taste fresh for four to six months if kept at refrigerator temperature.

If unrefrigerated:

It will go stale more quickly. An increase in temperatures will speed up the staling reactions.

Beer Expiration Date (if stored properly)

BEERSPANTRYFRIDGE
HOMEBREW 2-4 MONTHSMINIMUM MONTHS
BOTTLED BEER6-9 MONTHS6 MONTHS – 2 YEARS
CANNED BEER6-9 MONTHS6 MONTHS – 2 YEARS
There are certain health risks associated with spoiled drinks. Remember always to observe food protection. Enjoy your drinks until their shelf life is up! DIY Mini Fridge Fermentation Chamber will also help!

The Best Temperature For Bottling

  • Yeast that is in primary fermentation is not the same as yeast that has already done their work. It may also go dormant and then brought back with a small dose of sugar to ferment. They are tired, stressed, burned out, few and out of oxygen. This is why keeping the beer at 70-72 for the first two days is beneficial to get the yeast rolling again. After that, you can move the beer to the location that has the fermenting temperature. 
  • 65 -69° is also an ideal range for bottle carbonating
  • Cellar temps (50-55°F) is also optional.

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