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Old 02-08-2011, 06:57 PM   #1
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Default Is bottle conditioning necessary?

Someone on the forum recently suggested an off-flavor I'm tasting could be due to green beer even though the beer spends a month in the primary. The idea is that the small amount of fermenting during carbonation imparts a very detectable youth to the beer that needs time to be scrubbed out by the bottle yeast. This off-taste is not noticeable before bottling but very detectable afterward. I have a hard time believing the small amount of fermentation can make the beer so hard to drink (almost undrinkable in some cases). I haven't noticed any significant reduction in badness over a 1 month bottle condition, so I'm not sure what to think. It already takes me 6 weeks from brew day until fully carbonated and I really don't think I should ALWAYS have to wait longer. My thinking is that the off-flavor is something else like extract twang. Thoughts?

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Old 02-08-2011, 07:15 PM   #2
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This off-taste is not noticeable before bottling but very detectable afterward.

My thinking is that the off-flavor is something else like extract twang. Thoughts?
What exactly are the off-flavors or "twangs" you are tasting ?

What extracts are you using?

I personally have a real hard time forming an opinion on a flat beer out of the fermenter, They can taste like joy juice, or ass. Couple 3-4 weeks in the bottle and it's a whole new ballgame.
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Old 02-08-2011, 07:20 PM   #3
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What exactly are the off-flavors or "twangs" you are tasting ?
Medicinal (almost quinine), alcoholic, fruity

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What extracts are you using?
Pale LME

I recently brewed with DME to see if the off-flavor disappears, but it will be a month before I can taste the result. Here's a link to my previous post with a detailed description of my brewing process.

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f37/help...-twang-223614/
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Old 02-08-2011, 07:31 PM   #4
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OK, I was asleep at the wheel and was thinking flavoring extracts, not DME or LME. Sorry.

Medicinal, alcoholic and fruity reminds me of every extract brew I ever made. They were all very drinkable, but the "whang" was always or often there. I think you will find this discussed at length on the forum, with a hundred different theories as to the flavors that can arise from using extracts. I'll stay out of it.

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Old 02-08-2011, 07:44 PM   #5
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OK, I was asleep at the wheel and was thinking flavoring extracts, not DME or LME. Sorry.

Medicinal, alcoholic and fruity reminds me of every extract brew I ever made. They were all very drinkable, but the "whang" was always or often there. I think you will find this discussed at length on the forum, with a hundred different theories as to the flavors that can arise from using extracts. I'll stay out of it.
Well at least that suggests I'm on the right path and will hopefully taste a difference with DME. I'm holding off on all-grain until I have more space etc.
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Old 02-08-2011, 08:04 PM   #6
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I am glad someone finally made this into a thread. I am not a big fan of 3 week bottle conditioning myself. I start drinking them when they taste good to me. Sometimes even after a month they still dont taste any different. The small amount of primer might change the beer a little, but I dont think it needs a whole fermentation period to be good beer again.

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Old 02-08-2011, 08:19 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by brewzombie View Post
Someone on the forum recently suggested an off-flavor I'm tasting could be due to green beer even though the beer spends a month in the primary. The idea is that the small amount of fermenting during carbonation imparts a very detectable youth to the beer that needs time to be scrubbed out by the bottle yeast. This off-taste is not noticeable before bottling but very detectable afterward. I have a hard time believing the small amount of fermentation can make the beer so hard to drink (almost undrinkable in some cases). I haven't noticed any significant reduction in badness over a 1 month bottle condition, so I'm not sure what to think. It already takes me 6 weeks from brew day until fully carbonated and I really don't think I should ALWAYS have to wait longer. My thinking is that the off-flavor is something else like extract twang. Thoughts?
It depends....see most of the time a new brewer comes on complaining that their beer tastes crappy and the beer is under 3 weeks, then then they come back at 3 or 4 saying "OHMYGODTHATSTHEBESTBEERIHAVEEVERHAD!!!!. It's the same beer, so, if bottle condition doesn't exist, how can that be? Something must be happening, right?

Like Evil wrote....

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Volatile chemicals break down into more benign ones, and longer protein chains settle out.
Yes, an active process, where a beer isn't tasting good intially, but is later on (like some folks have said, the best beer is always the last beer.) That's an active process that is a result of the yeast in the beer continuing to do their thing. That tiny bit of fermentation, but also the yeast going around and again cleaning up their messes...

Plus like spaghetti sauce the next day, flavors are mellowing out, balance and coming together over that period.

However sometimes a beer still tastes bad after 3 or 6 or a month or so...an no conditioning is going to fix it.. Those are usually the issues talked about on all those off flavor charts like chloramines and issues from too high a fermentation temp, or infection. Those more than likely will never get fixed...

the trouble is, a lot of those "off" flavors taste the same as green beer, the only difference is if it as from simply being green, it will go away.

So how do you know then??????

You wait to see if the Bottle conditioning you doubts exists happens or not....If it does, the beer was green.

If you are sampling your beer before you have passed a 'window of greeness" which my experience is about 3-6 weeks in the bottle, then you are more than likely just experiencing an "off flavor" due to the presence of those byproducts (that's what we mean when we say the beer is "green" it's still young and unconditioned.) but once the process is done, over 90% of the time the flavors/smells are gone.

You can doubt it all you want, but we have tons of folks on here who's beers got better with time...from 1 week to months in the bottle, including me.

So if bottle conditioning isn't real then how do you explain it???? It's a living process.

Yes, beers are going to taste great right away, especially if the conditions that went into making it were optimal, temp control, plenty of yeast, all those great things we recommend. If that's the case enjoy them, more power to you. But if they're not ready, and you give them time and they get better, than that's what we mean by bottle conditioning....

Just because you have a hard time beliving it, doesn't mean it's not true. I mean I have a hard time believing I'm about to have open heart surgery in 10 days.....but that doesn't mean that I don't have an f-ed up aortic valve that needs to be replaced.

We have enough stories in here to disprove your unbelief. http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/neve...en-beer-73254/

It's either than something is going on in the bottle or the beer fairies are blessing the beers and making them all better.


*shrug*
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Old 02-08-2011, 09:36 PM   #8
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It's not that I disbelieve it's necessary at all, just that it could contribute so much badness with so little sugar/fermentation per bottle. In my particular case, I suspect an off-flavor from something else (extract twang).

I've kept a few particularly bad bottles where there was no known process error and we'll see how they condition in the bottle over the months.

I take it that I could avoid the whole bottle conditioning issue with force-carbonation? Aside from a little mellowing of flavors, we're saying that bottle conditioning is largely from yeast fermenting priming sugars?

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Old 02-08-2011, 09:56 PM   #9
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It's not that I disbelieve it's necessary at all, just that it could contribute so much badness with so little sugar/fermentation per bottle. In my particular case, I suspect an off-flavor from something else (extract twang).

I've kept a few particularly bad bottles where there was no known process error and we'll see how they condition in the bottle over the months.

I take it that I could avoid the whole bottle conditioning issue with force-carbonation? Aside from a little mellowing of flavors, we're saying that bottle conditioning is largely from yeast fermenting priming sugars?
If you say the off-flavor didn't exist before bottling, but is obvious AFTER bottling/priming, wouldn't that imply that it's due to the bottle fermentation, not a pre-existing condition? (like "extract twang")
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Old 02-08-2011, 10:02 PM   #10
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First off, sorry to hear about the health troubles, Revvy. I've only been in the hobby about 2 years and you've been a font of invaluable knowledge. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

As for bottle conditioning, I wonder if there isn't something about Starsan that gives an off flavor at high enough concentrations? I'm a convert to the "speed brewing" movement and have made a stellar ESB in under two weeks grain to glass. But, obviously, that's from a keg. However, I'll occasionally bottle from the keg to share with friends and that's where it gets weird. I'll have a beer that tastes outstanding on tap that ends up with an off-flavor after a day or two in a bottle. I wouldn't say "fruity" or "band aid," but "medicinal" and "alcoholic" certainly fit. I even had a friend's wife call it "salty." It's not very strong at all, but it's there.

Now I use Starsan in the keg as well, but I'm thinking that there must be much more surface area compared to volume in the bottle. Do you think it's possible that Starsan could contain some compound responsible for the flavor that breaks down over time? If that were the case, it's not so much the conditioning that you're waiting for as a "half-life" sort of situation.

I hope to have an answer soon as I've recently bottled a few for a competition coming up in a few weeks and saved a bottle to try on the day of so that I can have the best shot at comparing my notes to the judges. I'm also going to try bottling a few using the dishwasher sanitization method to see if that shows similar results.

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