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-   -   Why does bottle-conditioning improve life/stability? (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/why-does-bottle-conditioning-improve-life-stability-107888/)

brewmonger 03-10-2009 05:13 AM

Why does bottle-conditioning improve life/stability?
 
Or does it? Is it just an urban myth?

It can't just be because of the CO2, because force-carbonated beers have that too, yet are supposed to have a shorter shelf life.

MULE 03-10-2009 10:33 AM

First time I ever heard that

menschmaschine 03-10-2009 02:06 PM

I think someone just touched on this in another thread. The key difference is yeast. When the yeast aren't filtered out and they ferment a few sugars (for carbonation), they can metabolize and stave off some of the flavor-active compounds that cause staling. But I'm just kind of taking a stab at the question.

pjj2ba 03-10-2009 04:36 PM

By bottle conditioning, do you mean simply naturally carbonating or are you tallking about long term aging? When I hear bottle conditioning, to me that means the beer is going to be stored for a longer time than just that required to achieve proper carbonation. These generally also have higher ABV, which often need more time to mature, and by virtue of the extra alcohol, are less likely to stale.

Gordie 03-10-2009 06:58 PM

There are a lot of opinions on the benefits or differences of bottle conditioning (which I'm assuming is natural carbonation, not just laying the bottle down for a while). For example, Jamil and a number of people on his radio show tend to think its a waste of time. I'm in the other camp. Other than anecdotal evidence from a history of both torturing and coddling wine and beer yeast, I'm of the opinion that bottle conditioning certainly has a beneficial impact on bottle life and stability.

The basic idea is that the oxygen trapped under the cap (wine types call it the ullage) is consumed and processed by the yeast in the condition process. Kind of like an army of tiny oxygen-absorbing caps. Initiating a fermentation in the bottle also may have other beneficial effects such as also allows the yeast an opportunity to clean up some off flavors.

Bottle conditioning is one of those things that I haven't found much in the way of actual science on, other than basic fermentation theory, so maybe someone else may be able to give you a more microbiologically informed opinion. In the meantime, from my own experiences I've become a believer and bottle condition everything - my impressions of stability and bottle life being one of the reasons.

Gordie

Edcculus 03-10-2009 07:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pjj2ba (Post 1188034)
By bottle conditioning, do you mean simply naturally carbonating or are you tallking about long term aging? When I hear bottle conditioning, to me that means the beer is going to be stored for a longer time than just that required to achieve proper carbonation. These generally also have higher ABV, which often need more time to mature, and by virtue of the extra alcohol, are less likely to stale.

interesting. I always take bottle conditioned to mean naturally carbonated. Just a different way of saying it. Just like all of the Belgian and Trappists like to say "re-fermented" in the bottle, or secondary ferment in the bottle.

pjj2ba 03-10-2009 09:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Edcculus (Post 1188470)
interesting. I always take bottle conditioned to mean naturally carbonated. Just a different way of saying it. Just like all of the Belgian and Trappists like to say "re-fermented" in the bottle, or secondary ferment in the bottle.

That's why I commented. I believe for quite a few of the commercial bottle conditioned beers, they are aged for an extra length of time before being released for sale. To me, this is an extra step above and beyond simply carbonation. I naturallly carb. most of my beers in kegs, but right now I am doing a test to see if the hop aromas in a dry hopped IPA last longer when force carbed (my theory being the yeast will break down the aroma compounds, so the lack of yeast will lead to longer aroma life - if the keg lasts that long)

z987k 03-11-2009 01:26 AM

Remember that force carbonation has nothing to do with filtering. I force carb my beers and they are not filtered. The yeast is still in there to clean up anything should it need to after 6 weeks. Also, I as most people do, purge my kegs of air with co2 before carbing. There is no O2 left, and if so no more than is in a bottle.

Further, I have never heard anything about force carbed beers lasting less time than a bottle conditioned beer.. unless as said above you are talking about a 4% beer vs a 10% beer. Also force carb != filtered.

menschmaschine 03-11-2009 01:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by z987k (Post 1189292)
I force carb my beers and they are not filtered. The yeast is still in there to clean up anything should it need to after 6 weeks.

I think there is a slight difference. With force-carbed beer, the yeast are virtually done and dying/dead. Dead/decaying yeast cells can affect flavor. With bottle-conditioned beer, some of the yeast undergo a secondary (or tertiary) fermentation in the bottle, prolonging their life and resulting in less dead yeast cells in the beer... for a while anyway.

Even better is to filter out the yeast and add new yeast at bottling. This is what most Belgian breweries do.

z987k 03-11-2009 02:10 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by menschmaschine (Post 1189369)
I think there is a slight difference. With force-carbed beer, the yeast are virtually done and dying/dead. Dead/decaying yeast cells can affect flavor. With bottle-conditioned beer, some of the yeast undergo a secondary (or tertiary) fermentation in the bottle, prolonging their life and resulting in less dead yeast cells in the beer... for a while anyway.

Even better is to filter out the yeast and add new yeast at bottling. This is what most Belgian breweries do.

I don't know.. it doesn't seem like it would really matter (significantly)either way. There are many far more important factors that will contribute to the shelf life of a beer over bottle conditioning. Proteins and soluble nitrogenous compounds to name a couple.

Anyone have a study in which to reference on the topic? After all this is the brew science forum :)


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