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Old 01-27-2013, 09:14 PM   #1
highgravitybacon
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Default Bottle Priming

Bottle priming -- temp vs. residual co2.

Here's the issue. The various charts and calculators make it a simple job to figure out the residual co2 in a beer at various temperatures. But here's the issue: short term changes in temp. How does this affect residual CO2?

Scenario: Suppose I have a beer at 50F. It will have a residual CO2 of [X vol.] If I warm that beer to 68F, it will have less residual CO2 [y volumes]. If I bottle at 68F, I will calculate residual CO2 based on the 68F level.

BUT, what happens if I then chill that beer back to 50F for a few days before bottling? What temperature do I use? 68F or 50F? Since fermentation is over, it is not going to produce very much additional CO2 to replace what was lost out of solution when the temp increased. But there will be some more than at 68F, simply because it will absorb some from the atmosphere.

I have found plenty of conflicting sources about this. Some say that lowering a beer's temp post fermentation will not lead to an increase in residual CO2, only the highest temp post fermentation matters. Other sources that that yes, lowering the temp increases the residual CO2 but by small amounts. Finally, some say that increasing the temps lowers residual CO2 but it happens slowly. So if you take a beer from 76F down to 50F and hold it for several weeks that the beer will have the correct CO2 of 50F but increasing it a short time to 68F will lead to a reduction in residual CO2 but not by the amount for 68F. It will be some amount in between.

This is as much art as science, and there's no hard and fast rules. But what's a good general rule? I'm shooting for a higher carbonation level of about 3.25-3.5 volumes of CO2 which makes a proper calculation important.

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Old 01-27-2013, 10:53 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by highgravitybacon View Post

Scenario: Suppose I have a beer at 50F. It will have a residual CO2 of [X vol.] If I warm that beer to 68F, it will have less residual CO2 [y volumes]. If I bottle at 68F, I will calculate residual CO2 based on the 68F level.

BUT, what happens if I then chill that beer back to 50F for a few days before bottling? What temperature do I use? 68F or 50F?.
You would use 68F as your priming temp. You always use the highest temp that the beer was at before bottling. Even if you cold crash.

In this scenario the beer off gased when you raised the temp to 68F. When you cold crashed back down to 50F it doesn't re-absorb the co2 that it off gased, so the volumes of co2 doesn't change at that point.
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Old 01-27-2013, 10:54 PM   #3
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I'm not sure you can know for sure. If any fermentation occurred you will have generated some CO2. I'd let the beer come back up to 68 before bottling in this situation.

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Old 01-27-2013, 10:58 PM   #4
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I've cold crashed plenty of times, and I always use the high number pre-cold crash. I've never had issues with carbonation being off due to the change in temps.

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Old 01-27-2013, 11:28 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Stauffbier View Post
I've cold crashed plenty of times, and I always use the high number pre-cold crash. I've never had issues with carbonation being off due to the change in temps.
Excellent. Thank you.
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Old 01-28-2013, 03:09 AM   #6
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Use the higher of the two temps. I used to make the mistake of using the temp of my beer after cold crashing and my CO2 level was under for what I wanted.

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