View Full Version : bottle conditioning

11-11-2002, 06:44 AM
I'm a small craft brewer and I'm about to start packaging in bottles. I can't find any aticals on bottle conditioning. What is the best way to go about it? Priming sugar? filter and add yeast back? fining agents? Any information would be helpful.

M. W. Snyder
11-11-2002, 06:30 PM

I can't really help you with your conditioning question, (German Lagers) but I know a man with a dog who might. And this led is better than nothing.

Here in Kansas City, there exists a wonderful brewery by the name of Boulevard Brewing Company.
Most of their beers are bottle conditioned. I beleive, (having never worked there), that they used to mix yeast into their bright tank and add centrifuged or filtered beer to mix. Now, I beleive they dose in-line. "I might be wrong". ANYWHOooo. They do a great job and the lads are very top notch, really on top of their game. Give them a call and ask. Im sure they will share.



Michael W. Snyder

11-12-2002, 02:51 PM
In order to correctly answer your question, we need to know how may bottles are you planning to fill.
We sell on an average 100 bottles (22 oz and 1 Liter) and we hand-fill them, as Homebrewers do.
We have a 5 gallon plastic bottling bucket --- adding 1 cup of corn sugar -- than start filling the bottles.
We take the beers out of the Fermenters at 50*F, after they rested for 2 days. There is enough yeast in suspension to start a bottle conditioning (fermentation).
I hope this help.

11-15-2002, 07:31 PM
The way the brewery I worked for did it was to use priming sugar to give only part of the final volumes of CO2. We would package at about 2.1 volumes of CO2, and the rest of the CO2 would come from the bottle conditioning. Then we would warm condition the beer for about 2 weeks and then test to see how many volumes of CO2 we had in the final package. The CO2 was in the beer prior to filling to avoid oxygenating the beer. I do not reccomend packaging beer that is flat and getting all of your CO2 from the bottle condition! This will give you horribly oxidized beer!

Experiments with fining with fermenting wort came out horrible. The resulting beer had very high SO2, DMS, and Diacetyl.

Here is a good procedure for making top notch bottle conditioned beer:

1. Filter your beer. Test CO2 levels. If you are not capable of doing this, then keeping the beer at about 15 psi with a decent amount of headspace will leave your beer with about 2 volumes of CO2.
2. Pitch back into the filtered beer about 100,000 cells of yeast per mL, or about 0.15 pounds of thick and VERY healthy yeast slurry per barrel of beer.
3. Add about 0.75 lbs of corn sugar per barrel of beer.
4. Package the beer in bottles.
5. Open a few bottles daily and record the level of CO2 if you have an apparatus to do so. If not then taste and note the levels of CO2. Keep good records and when the bottle conditioning has ended then you can note whether you need to adjust your bottle conditioning yeast dosage or sugar dosage the next time!

Steve G
Quality Services Engineer, Miller Brewing

11-16-2002, 05:57 AM
I'm glad that you posted about off-flavors (i.e., SO2 etc) in bottle conditioned beers with finings. I posted the same two weeks ago here.
But, Pub Brewers or Homebrewers most time can't filter the beer for cask or bottle conditioning, and I think, the ALE's don't call for filtration prior to bottling. Also, the amounts we bottle conditioning ( ~ 100 bottles a month) would not justify a filtration devise.
About the CO2 levels, most ales are maturating at 10 PSI and depending on the temperature have a bit higher CO2 levels than 2.1 volumes.
I like your note: "Open a few bottles a day...."

Fred M. Scheer
Boscos Brewing Company


11-18-2002, 08:36 PM
Thanks for the correction. It has been a while and I think that you might be right on 10 - 12 psi yielding ~2 volumes of CO2.

Bottle conditioning is tricky and does require lots of trial and error. I have seen some bad gushing in my time as a brewer!

Steve G
Quality Services Engineer, Miller Brewing

P.S. - In case you're wondering, I didn't learn how to bottle condition at Miller! That skill was learned working for Craft breweries!

12-11-2002, 02:46 PM
over here in UK, most small micros/brewpubs that bottle hand-fill or use semi-auto equipment, or send a firkin of beer to someone nearby who will do the same.

you could try to prevent excess CO2 / fobbing (&/or the lawsuits when an exploding bottle blinds one of your drinkers!) by checking your wort attentuation limit (add lots of good yeast to a small sample of wort, keep warm & stirred for a day or 2 & see what gravity you get)

most seem not to filter, or use isinglass, but probably transfer from FV to cask or CT before bottling. as long as the yeast count is fairly low, & is a naturally floccy strain (& compacts well) then all should be OK.

I think most here also seem not to prime, but halt fermentation early & using the natural fermentables for conditioning (same as for most cask beer).

there should be some useful stuff on the web (check here, or brewingtechniques.com, & homebrew sites / books, etc)

I'd say one point that many breweries forget about is warm-conditioning, (at c.20-25C) for a week or two after bottling, to encourage that natural fizz.

good luck & send me a bottle over here ;~)
mike mcguigan

Michael Murphy
12-22-2002, 05:24 AM
Steve, you said"2. Pitch back into the filtered beer about 100,000 cells of yeast per mL, or about
0.15 pounds of thick and VERY healthy yeast slurry per barrel of beer."

I have a few questions, I make ales and Lagers, Would you recomend using the same yeast as the beer? Or would you use a clean type like Lager?
Also If I have lets say 500 liters to bottle would I throw the yeast in then fill the beer over the fresh yeast, Will that put enough into suspension for bottling? or is that some what out of my control? I'd like to try the same for kegging as well. As of now I've been adding pressure to each keg to get it to the correct pressure, but I'm getting tierd of that approach.

12-22-2002, 09:09 AM
The best way to add the yeast would be inline. That is inject it post filter. I'm not sure if you are capable of doing this at your place or not.
It is hard to describe without showing you the setup, but usually this type of yeast pitching is done at micros and brewpubs using a modified cornelius keg. The keg is modified with a sanitary triclamp fitting at the bottom, typically 1 1/2 inch diameter. You would then have a three way connection post filter on your hose line running from the filter to the bright beer tank, with another hose hooked up to the three way fitting that runs from this fitting to you modified cornelius keg, "yeast brink". If you are filtering your draft beer at 10-12 psi, you would add the yeast to the cornelius keg and inject it inline at 15 to 20 psi. I realize that all sounds very complicated! If there is an Alcatraz Brewing Company in your area they use this type of setup.
To get good mixing otherwise you could add the yeast back like a regular pitch, filling the bottom of a tank with the necessary amount of yeast and then filling it from the bottom with the filtered bright beer. Whether you get adequate mixing or not this way would depend on the yeast strain! You could premix the yeast with some beer as well to aid the mixing. Maybe you could add your yeast to a 1/2 barrell keg, fill it up with some beer, and hook up a beer line with a clamp fitting to the bright beer tank inlet and gently "inject" the contents of this keg to your bright beer? That might work the best for you!
As far as type of yeast, I have had the very best luck with ale strains for bottle conditioning. Lager yeasts can develop SO2 in the package and it won't volatilize, since there is nowhere for it to go in the bottle or keg!
For kegging I think adding yeast and primings into the sanitized kegs just prior to filling should work just fine. Just make sure to be very clean when you open a sanitized keg! You would then of course need to re-pressurize the keg. I think that beer made that way would taste great actually!
If it would help, I might be able to diagram some of this stuff, scan it, and e-mail it to you. Let me know if that would help.


12-30-2002, 11:29 AM
Originally posted by Michael Murphy
Steve, you said"2. Pitch back into the filtered beer about 100,000 cells of yeast per mL, or about
0.15 pounds of thick and VERY healthy yeast slurry per barrel of beer."

I have a few questions, I make ales and Lagers, Would you recomend using the same yeast as the beer? Or would you use a clean type like Lager?
Also If I have lets say 500 liters to bottle would I throw the yeast in then fill the beer over the fresh yeast, Will that put enough into suspension for bottling? or is that some what out of my control? I'd like to try the same for kegging as well. As of now I've been adding pressure to each keg to get it to the correct pressure, but I'm getting tierd of that approach.
If you are interested in the yeast pitching method used at Alcatraz Brewing, let me know. However, the method was used for pitching into wort not beer. It is a closed system that works well and is inexpensive to implement.


01-01-2003, 11:12 AM
That's right. Sorry for the confusion there. When I said that Alcatraz had this setup, I was referring to the equipment used for pitching. I was not trying to imply that Alcatraz bottle conditioned.

01-18-2003, 08:40 AM
What type of volume are you looking at, we have been selling bottle conditioned beer from our brewpub for about 3 years. Last year we did about 8000 750ml champane bottles. We use a filler we have constructed to fill two bottles at a time and of course cap them by hand. The sytem is built around using co2 to push the beer, from a keg that has been dosed with a priming soluition, into the bottles. We have also constructed a very manual rinser also using co2 to push the solution into the bottles two at at time. I know that to alot of people this sytem may seem slow and crude but the price was right and it has helped us to "test" the water for out the front door bottle sales. We do a bottle conditioned american style wheat beer that we feel is really better in the bottle than the same product on draft. If you would like some pictures of the set-up or some more info on it, please let me know.

Michael Murphy
01-18-2003, 10:23 AM
I'd be interested in seeing those photos
Thanks a lot
romabrew@libero.it is my Email

01-18-2003, 12:16 PM
I'll try to do it Monday!

Aaron Taubman
02-19-2003, 01:23 PM
This is a really great thread! I really want to try this at our brewery. We already pressure inject finings into our double filtered beer, so I think that injecting yeast and sugar just before the bright tank is something we could try. I take it that I will need to try to dissolve the sugar into a small volume of water and injecting that seperately from the yeast.

My big question is the about yeast settling in the bright tank. How long can we let the beer sit before we bottle it? I would hate to have the first few pallets more carbonated than the last few because the yeast has started to form a gradient as it flocked down to the bottom of the tank. Ideally I would do this a day or two before we bottled, as each event is a big thing here at our brewery.

Aaron Taubman
Millstream brewing Co

02-20-2003, 08:47 AM
You would definitely have to start packaging just after dosing the yeast or agitate the tank somehow if you are doing a run. If your tanks have agitators then it is no problem to package the beer the next day.

02-20-2003, 07:35 PM
Hmmmm...Bottle Conditioning. A far superior way of packaging beer used by some of the most successful American brewers (Sierra, Deschutes, Boulevard, Mendocino, Bridgeport)

While I believe bottle conditioning is a great way to package beer it is extremely difficult and time consuming without the proper equipment. Yes there are several ways to do it; priming sugars, high krausening wort, partial artificial carbonation plus priming sugars, etc... The common denominator is that certain parameters must be known. Often overlooked is the CO2 volume of the beer pre-packaging, usually 1.0-1.5 volumes. Unfortunately without a precise gehaltemeter you can usually only guess or carbonate (or krausen) to approx 2.0 volumes and test with a less expensive CO2 meter. If this parameter is known then you can calculate the amount of sugar needed to achieve a final target carbonation value. The yeast then must be added and the former mentioned breweries will all add yeast different ways or with a different strain (even using a lager strain) The yeast must be mixed in the BBT so a homogenous solution is acheived. It's also nice to know the vitality of the yeast to determine proper pitching rate. As you see it's getting more complex. Some trial and error can be performed to get satisfactory results but the bottle CO2 volumes need to be tested after secondary fermentation to approve product shipment.
In my opinion (and experience) I would only want to bottle condition if I could get it absoulutely consistent every time (OK some margin of error; +-.05 volumes) Without the proper equipment ($$$) it becomes a bit nerve-racking. Trust me, it's no fun talking to irritated customers that have had bottles explode or gush on them. They may even try to sue you for ridiculous claims, like stout-stained carpet! While I would love to bottle condition I feel without the right approach (and budget) I cannot give my customers great CONSISTENT beer at the retail level. If you can convince the monetary powers it's THE way to go then go for it and do it with great precision USING CALCULATIONS. Best of luck

P.S. --Dr. Bill Pengelly of Deschutes wrote a great article on bottle conditioning with high krausen wort. Abstract can be viewed on MBAA site @ www.mbaa.com/techquarterly/abstracts/1997/tq97ab20.htm
or purchased from MBAA-- 1997 vo 2, pgs. 80-84

dick murton
02-21-2003, 09:32 AM
You need to add the yeast and rouse in first. If you add finings at the correct rate this will settle seriously in 12 hours. By 24 hours is will be a solid lump. If you rouse it too vigorously then, you are liable to break up the flocs on the bottom which will be harder to settle in bottle - probably not seriously though. However, finings only fines a few times - perhaps 5 or 6 before it gives up the ghost, so if you are bottling, think about the number of "drops" (stands) it will experience, e.g. bottling tank, bottle in brewery, bottle on transfer vehicle to distribution warehouse, tansfer vehicle from distribution warehouse to point of sales, point of sales stock room to sales floor, sales floor to customers fridge - that is at least six - you are close to the limit of good fining action.


Neil Woodward
07-29-2003, 03:18 AM
To ensure the bottles are sterile, fill with hot liquor at >82oC for a minimum of 30min. Drain and allow to cool. Fill direct from the FV with beer that has finished conitioning, and is held at 5oC using a suitable tube. To get a decent carbonation in the bottle, add 5 - 10% by volume actively fermenting wort (krausening). Cap immeadiately after filling, rinsing the crowns in 70% ethanol. Store on their sides for 24hrs to allow for complete oxygen scavenge then store upright in a cool dark place to avoid lightstruck. I would not prime as if you do not know how much of a secondary fermentation you will get, there could be excess pressure in the bottle with a risk of the bottle exploding. Filtering and adding yeast back is a alternative, with a target of no more than 10E5 cells/ml. usomers need to be aware that there will always be a sediment with this package type. The bottles will need to be chilled (3 - 5oC), stored upright and carefully poured.
The lack of pasteurisation will create a complex and far nicer bottled product than commercially bottled beers and particularly suits ales, stouts and bitters.

Luke H
03-25-2015, 02:34 PM
This is an old thread I know but could do with the help...

Would you add auxillary finings into the fv before putting onto to chill for a few days? Then presumably adding wort into the cask with chilled beer before bottling...


dick murton
03-26-2015, 11:17 AM
If you add aux finings then cool and store, you will settle out a fair bit more yeast and particularly protein. If you store for that length of time cold, you may well find that there is insufficient yeast left in suspension to achieve good secondary fermentation. If you simply leave overnight, then add isinglass, you will achieve cask bright beer quite easily (works well for both 5 UK brl and up to 500 UK brl batches!!)

If there is insufficient yeast left after addition of aux finings only, you would need to add sugar primings or krausening wort and then bottle. If you use a highly sedimentary yeast, you may find that you don't need isinglass to achieve the clarity you want. I'm afraid it is a bit of trial and error to see what quality you get with the particular yeast you are using. If you add extra yeast (to achieve 0.5, possibly as high as 1.0 mill cells / ml) and finings at the same time, you may find you don't achieve the carbonation levels you require as the yeast is smothered at the bottom of the bottle.

Personally, I would add sucrose syrup rather than krausening, for ease of control of fermentability and final CO2, but I accept that others would far prefer to use fermenting wort. Mike Jordan's comments about controlling the final, in package CO2 level accurately and consistently are spot on. I used to brew White Shield for Bass as it was then, and we had all sorts of fun getting that right.

Luke H
03-27-2015, 09:46 AM

Thanks for this. I think experimentation is certainly the key. I've tried bottle conditioning with sugar (standard table not invert) and wasn't satisfied as it seemed to take away too much body. I'm going to try using speise for the first time and pitch Fermentis Safbrew F2 while keeping my fingers crossed that my calculations are correct. I have heard aux finings can taint the flavour of bottle conditioned beers but guess that isn't true.

This is a new kit I have here (5brl) and so it's a little trial and error but all good fun. I thinking of racking into casks after 24 hours (tomorrow) and then leaving some in the fv for another day or two to allow as much yeast as possible to drop. I can then try the speise and F2 when bottling, I was thinking of step chilling but should achieve better aux mixing from a cold crash and as I'm adding new yeast, shocking the old yeast won't matter so much.

Do you think it might be worth treating the casks as the bottles (speise + F2) - or would this only be good if I allowed the beer to ferment past the target gravity?

Thanks for the help!

dick murton
03-27-2015, 12:32 PM
You could try getting hold of small quantities of VHM (very high maltose syrup) which has a similar profile to wort. Not sure who is able to supply in small quantities, but I guess Murphys will be a good starting point.

If you are going to add additional separate yeast, then I suggest you would do better to add aux after it has cooled and most of the yeast has settled out, and rack it off to cask and add the aux just before running in the beer, so it mixes. The problem is that if you add fresh yeast and primings in some form or another, you cannot leave if in cask, but need to bottle it more or less straight away, otherwise the CO2 will simply vent of to atmosphere. Bearing that in mind, I would try cooling in FV and settling the bulk of the yeast, drawing off the settled yeast, add aux finings and allow to settle overnight / 24 hours, then rack off into cask, so you can add yeast and primings to just the casks prior to filling with the volume of beer you are going to bottle - again to give a degree of mixing. And finally, and shortly after mixing in the finings and fresh yeast - bottle.

You may find you need to add isinglass finings (in spite of previous comments) to get clear beer in bottle, in which case add the isinglass when the cask is nearly full, and when full, close up and roll around for a bit to mix - then bottle.

Luke H
04-01-2015, 04:11 AM
Thanks for the advice.

I did some searching and in the end found Murphy's was the best - they stock a product called Cedarex which should do nicely. I'm trying it without Isinglass first and see will see how it goes. You've been a great help, thank you!