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Old 08-15-2012, 03:23 PM   #1
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Default Is a Keg more sanitary than bottle condition

I now keg most of my beers, but still want to bottle condition strong Belgians and such so I don't occupy a tap for so long. I've noticed that all of my bottle conditions eventually go bad with infection. Even my 9% plus Wee Heavy is now starting to taste worse at 9 months. They all eventually get a gusher infection where some bacteria seems to eat the sugars the yeast could not at some point around 8-10 months and turn them into gushers. My kegs do not last that long, but my theory is that bottling is more risky to excessive bacteria colonies compared to kegging. I tasted a fantastic 2003 barley wine at my brew club meeting and would love to age that long.

In full disclosure, I did go through a rash of gusher infections (within 4 weeks of aging) in the spring and isolated the spigot as the problem on the bottling bucket. My spigot now goes through the sani cycle wash before every bottle and the problem has been eliminated, though yet to be determined if this will eliminate long term storage. I've also added quite a few extra steps to sanitation. Everything gets PBW, then bleach, then rinse, then star san and bottles and spigots get a dish washer heating too.

So is kegging better and should I invest in a beer gun to bottle age? or am I just not sanitary enough, or at least not so in the past before my spring infections.

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Old 08-15-2012, 03:38 PM   #2
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Your kegged beers stay at keg temperatures. Nothing likes to grow at 32-42*, and even if it does, it grows slowly.

I bet if you took a keg full of beer, and let it sit for 9 months at room temp, you'd have the same issue.

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Old 08-15-2012, 03:43 PM   #3
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Your kegged beers stay at keg temperatures. Nothing likes to grow at 32-42*, and even if it does, it grows slowly.

I bet if you took a keg full of beer, and let it sit for 9 months at room temp, you'd have the same issue.
Fair point, but there is a way to keep beers for more than 9 months without pasturizing. Especially 9+% ABV beers.
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Old 08-15-2012, 03:46 PM   #4
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Bottling is fine for those time frames. It's sealed, so no oxygen can get in, and there is still yeast active in there for the early portion.

Kegging can reliably keep beer for long periods too. Many brewers have beers that are a year old on tap. The benefit to kegging is one transfer, quickly, and one thing to sanitize.

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Old 08-15-2012, 03:53 PM   #5
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Bottling is fine for those time frames. It's sealed, so no oxygen can get in, and there is still yeast active in there for the early portion.

Kegging can reliably keep beer for long periods too. Many brewers have beers that are a year old on tap. The benefit to kegging is one transfer, quickly, and one thing to sanitize.
That is what I was thinking why it carries less risk. The other theory I have is that when I am bottling quite a bit of yeast has become dead, so when I add sugar, any bacteria could have grown a little durring fermentation and now I've added sugar giving them a chance.
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Old 08-15-2012, 03:55 PM   #6
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I've kept beers for years in bottles that didn't get infected. It's not about which is more sanitary than the other, they're both the same...It's that you're doing something wrong...and more than likely the cold is delaying or prevent it from happening in the keg.

But look at your post boil sanitization processes, NOT as to whether one is more sanitary than the other.

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Old 08-15-2012, 03:55 PM   #7
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IMO your problem lies elsewhere than with the difference between bottles or keg.

Your beers should not infect by just being in bottles. I have read a lot of threads about people finding beers after years in a closet that were still good.

I have some bigger beers that gush. I think that the problem lies in the water/ingredient chemistry rather than infection since the beer is good and the degree of gushing is not changing.

For me it is time to get a water analysis and learn about water chemistry in brewing.

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Old 08-15-2012, 03:56 PM   #8
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That is what I was thinking why it carries less risk. The other theory I have is that when I am bottling quite a bit of yeast has become dead, so when I add sugar, any bacteria could have grown a little durring fermentation and now I've added sugar giving them a chance.
But you're starving everything of O2 and there aint much that grows without the stuff.
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Old 08-15-2012, 04:24 PM   #9
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Fair point, but there is a way to keep beers for more than 9 months without pasturizing. Especially 9+% ABV beers.
I never said bottles can't be kept longer, I'm just giving you a plausible reason why your bottles aren't keeping longer.

Check and double check your sanitary practices. Something is getting in your beer from somewhere.
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Old 08-15-2012, 04:44 PM   #10
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I've never had to pasteruize beers. I've had regular beers that have been perfectly fine even 5 years later.

Charlie Papazain did a taste test in Zymurgy of beers he stored of winners of ALL the GABFs going back 25 years, and there was no mention of infected batches.

Guys, again, the only reasons beers get infected is NOT because they're stored wrong, it's because you failed somehow in sanitization...... You don't really need to do ANYTHING to age beers in terms of sanitization then you should be doing for ANY BEER.

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