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Thread: Bottle Conditioning Process

  1. #1
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    Bottle Conditioning Process

    Hello all, I am looking to set up a 5 BBL brewery and produce bottle conditioned beers. I was wondering what would be the best way to go around doing the bottling part. Here are some of my ideas and the concerns I have.

    1. Ferment and cold crash, then use dosage control to mix with sugar solution en route to bottling.
    On one hand, this would allow for accurate amounts of carbonation, but I am concerned with dissolved oxygen. Water will be boiled for preparing sugar solution but not sure if deaerator would be worth the cost.

    2. Cold crash then add sugar (or solution) directly into fermenter. Bottle after.
    Difficult to gauge volume accurately, therefore carbonation will probably be off.

    3. Ferment to predetermined gravity then cold crash. Bottle directly then allow the yeast to work on remaining sugars in the bottle.
    Would this even work? Not sure if carbonation can be controlled well in this manner.

    4. Unitank style, set spunding valve to desired pressure just before fermentation finishes and bottle as per normal.
    Not strictly bottle conditioning I guess, but it gets the job done

    From a cost benefit point of view, what do you all think would be the best course of action?
    Some key points I want to achieve is have a quick turnover for FV usage without having to go to brite tanks and I would prefer the beer to be reasonably clear (thin layer of sediment definitely to be expected but I don't want yeast chunks to be poured into the glass).

  2. #2
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    Bottle Conditioning

    In my experience, you let the wort ferment, once it is done you transfer it to a mixing tank which has the wort or sugar that will be used to carbonate the beer in a second fermentation in the bottle, once it is mixed, it is sent to the bottle filler. However, before you do a fast fermentation to determine the amount of wort to add to achieve the amount of CO2 requested as target.
    Then the bottles are placed in special rooms to bottle condition at a determined temperature, as well, you will need a bottle pressure gauge to observe the progress of the second fermentation.

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    Last edited by Fausto Yu-Shan; 09-16-2019 at 11:40 AM.

  3. #3
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    Use the bottle filler for priming

    Ferment until done, no cold crash. Then pump (simple peristaltic pump for wine making is fine) over or CO2 push to a gravity wine bottle filler that has a reservoir on top like this one: http://thevintnervault.com/product/4...-6-Spout-.html

    Then prime just the beer that’s in the reservoir with priming sugar (boiled water with dextrose, then cooled). Since the reservoir is 15 gallons you know to just prime for those 15 gallons to your target carbonation level. When done, refill and repeat.

    Easy peasy.
    Last edited by Catfish002; 09-16-2019 at 07:01 PM.

  4. #4
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    Hi chungyfied,
    To expand on some of the ideas already said, it is best to move your fully fermented beer into a secodary vessel for dosing priming sugar. One that has a sight level (like a brite tank) so that you can know the exact amount of beer that you will need to prime.
    As far as cold crashing goes, it depends on what you are wanting. For a beer like a hefewiezen I will usually do a gentle cold crash, say 55f for a day or two (usually planning on harvesting some yeast) before moving to the brite tank. If it's a crystal clear pils, full cold crash, harvest yeast (If you're gonna), fine in fermenter, move to brite, allow to warm then add priming sugar and a neutral, high floculating yeast for conditioning.
    As to what catfish002 said, no need to prime the reservoir on a machine like that each time, that just opens up more possibilities for contamination and inconsistent carbonation. Dose the whole tank and do a gentle pump recirculation to ensure a good mix. Use a filler with a float valve and use co2 head pressure to keep the reservoir full.
    And don't stress about a bit of o2, the conditioning yeast will eat it right up.

  5. #5
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    Secondary tank?

    Thanks for the comments, it appears most of you recommend using a secondary tank for dosage control and mixing.
    Is there any reliable way I can get away with not having the second tank? My first idea for in line mixing was to hopefully not go through a mixing tank.

    If not, it would probably make most sense to just get a brite tank to double as a mixing tank.

    Also, I am not very keen on using a reservoir on the filling machine as this means multiple additions of priming sugar over the course of one batch. Labour costs in my area are extremely high so I want to cut down on manual processes as much as possible plus consistency might be an issue for this method (may not be an issue for us brewers who do everything ourselves but the same cannot be said about employed help unfortunately).

  6. #6
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    You can reliably mix your tank by recirculating with a pump out of the cone bottom into the racking arm/standpipe. Disadvantage is you are pulling any trub and spreading it around too. You have to be careful with this setup as Oxygen pickup can happen easily, but a few block-n-bleed setups help tremendously.

    I like the conditioning advise given already if you want to go that route. I might do this on a Belgian Dubbel, or Tripel, but honestly I don't see any major advantages. Having done proper Firkins, Pins, and Spunds, why do anything else?

    Trying not to shift the topic, but why bottle condition? You can spund, as you have suggested (my preferred method) which saves time, cost, and produces the "finer, smoother" bubbles of a bottle conditioned product. Barby-Kuhner type device is useful if you aren't the calculating carbonation type. Bottle conditioning takes much longer, and is much more subject to environmental conditions. You need space to store your conditioning bottles, and the time is probably going to drive you crazy.

  7. #7
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    Why Bottle Condition

    1. Better foam.
    2. Higher carbonated beers as for example Wheat beers 3.5 CO2 vol.
    3. Product differentiation which involves good quality controls.
    4. Less time in fermenter, which can be used after fermentation is done with another batch, obviously CIP it.

    Less investment in fermenters.
    Calculations you make are to know the amount of wort or sugar needed to be added for the beer you have to achieve the CO2 volume target.

    Bottle condition takes same time and reason why you use the bottle pressure gauge to monitor or observe the progress.

    Also, check your yeast first to avoid any over attenuation and surprises.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fausto Yu-Shan View Post
    1. Better foam.
    2. Higher carbonated beers as for example Wheat beers 3.5 CO2 vol.
    3. Product differentiation which involves good quality controls.
    4. Less time in fermenter, which can be used after fermentation is done with another batch, obviously CIP it.

    Less investment in fermenters.
    Calculations you make are to know the amount of wort or sugar needed to be added for the beer you have to achieve the CO2 volume target.

    Bottle condition takes same time and reason why you use the bottle pressure gauge to monitor or observe the progress.

    Also, check your yeast first to avoid any over attenuation and surprises.
    1 - Subjective. Spunding provides the same effect without priming sugar step.
    2 - Agreed. These would fall in a specialty catagory requiring cork & cage, or at least special handling. Standard cans and bottles wonÂ’t work and kegs could become dangerous at elevated temperatures. The Belgians, the super high carbed wheat beers, and some Lambics/sours might go above 3.2, but not too many.
    3 - Agreed. This makes a lot of sense if you primarily deal in these specialty beers, or have a unique packaging you are trying to emphasize. This is why I supported the methodology mentioned. However any good beer production requires quality controls, not just bottle conditioned. You could also easily argue that spunding is artisanal and offers similar advantages.
    4 - I would have to disagree. If spunding, your beer is ready at the fastest possible time. Co2 is captured prior to the finish of fermentation and by the time you can move the beer, it could be packaged. At best bottle conditioning would be done at the same time, if packaged in bottles prior to completed fermentation and allowed to finish in bottle. If adding a priming sugar, it will obviously need to go through secondary fermentation, slowing it down by a day or two at minimum. While at fastest times the fermenters might be cleaned at the same time (not likely for reasons above), the spunded beer would be ready to serve and and primed bottles would still be conditioning. A spunded batch may be sold before a primed batch is even ready, providing the income to fund the next batch quicker.

    The priming calculations are not difficult, the point is that spunding would simply require the same calculation or less - a barby-kuhner (I donÂ’t use one FWIW). You are carbonating with natural fermentation when spunding, just like the secondary fermentation of a priming sugar. I, personally, measure the differential sugar content between my current gravity and final gravity to estimate the production of co2 and capture accordingly.

    As far as investing in fermenters, I suppose thatÂ’s another thread, but I will always choose to invest there first. It is the slowest, most costly part of the process. It always makes sense to have more fermenters if you are making good product.

  9. #9
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    What I have in mind currently is actually a mix of spunding and priming, I intend to spund the FV with a low amount of pressure at the end of fermentation to ensure a consistent amount of carbonation, then carb up the remaining volumes from bottle conditioning. One of the key factors for brewing for this way is for product differentiation. Not having to maintain another tank is another one

    To get the priming right, I am thinking of using a peristaltic pump (or any accurate metering pump) to introduce the sugar solution into the transfer line on the way to the bottling machine. The main line itself will already be monitored by a flow meter

  10. #10
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    Reading suggestion

    The process I described was done at a German brewery dedicate to brew wheat beers (Weissbiers) with open fermenters, following strict brewing protocols, as well, using an excellent quality control laboratory, likewise, to bottle condition, wort was used.

    With 240 and 960 BBL fermenters, after spunding the beer, it was never to the exact target specifications, also, when it went through the separator some CO2 was lost, later CO2 was added through an inline carbonator and some added at the brite tank when ready to transfer to the filler. Likewise when conditioning you add CO2 to keep the head space, so not all the CO2 is produced through fermentation.


    For a better understanding of bottle condition please read the following presentation:

    1. The Different Outcomes of Bottle Conditioning – How to Choose the Right Yeast and the Right Parameters for the Job

    https://www.mbaa.com/meetings/archiv...pages/O-7.aspx

    2. Siebel Institute of Technology: Bottle Conditioning 503 , Dixon
    Last edited by Fausto Yu-Shan; 09-18-2019 at 05:59 PM.

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