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  • bottle conditioning

    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.

  • #2
    bottle condition

    GREAT QUESTION.

    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.
    THEY DO ONE HELL OF A GREAT JOB!
    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.

    www.blvdbeer.com
    816-474-7095

    Cheers,

    Michael W. Snyder

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    • #3
      Bottle conditioning

      HI:
      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.
      Fred

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      • #4
        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
        Steve G

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        • #5
          bottle conditioned beers

          Steve:
          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

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          • #6
            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!
            Steve G

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            • #7
              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

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              • #8
                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.
                www.Lervig.no

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                • #9
                  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.

                  Cheers!
                  Steve G

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    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.
                    Michael,
                    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.

                    Cheers,
                    Aaron

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                    • #11
                      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.
                      Steve G

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                      • #12
                        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.

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                        • #13
                          I'd be interested in seeing those photos
                          Thanks a lot
                          romabrew@libero.it is my Email
                          www.Lervig.no

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                          • #14
                            I'll try to do it Monday!
                            Steve G

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                            • #15
                              more questions

                              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.

                              Cheers
                              Aaron Taubman
                              Millstream brewing Co

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