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Old 08-21-2012, 08:32 AM   #1
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Default Counter-pressure filling and warm conditioning

So I'm aware of the differences between cold conditioning and warm conditioning (30's-50s vs. 60s-70s or so). I'm also aware that beer (at least home brewed ales, though maybe not lagers) can get warm for a day or two and then re-chilled no problem. My question is whether or not I can make a batch, rack to keg, chill, force carbonate, counter-pressure fill (bottling), then allow to warm up and condition at like 60-70 degrees F. This would allow me to keep things simple by continuing to make five gallon batches, whilst helping me go through kegs faster (I really wanna try different stuff), and simultaneously allow me to have a significant number of beers being aged so I can experiment some with that.

As long as fermentation has stopped (and no sugar added), there's no reason I should get gushers. Additionally, it doesn't seem that the yeast should be dead after being in a keg for a week or two, so the beer should continue to improve (no autolysis) even it it was warmed up and aged for a month or three at typical bottle conditioning temperatures, right?

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Old 08-21-2012, 08:52 AM   #2
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To slow the onset of staling, oxidation and all reactions in your finished beer, you want to store them as close to freezing as possible. The difference between 70 degrees F and 32 degrees F is about nine times the shelf life. For example, if your beer goes stale after 6 months at 32f, the same beer would be stale after 3 weeks if stored at 70f.

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Old 08-21-2012, 09:10 AM   #3
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As far as I understand it, there should be no oxidation at all. My counter pressure filler allows me to bleed the entire bottle of O2 and replace it with CO2 at pressure. During the quick moment where I remove the CP filler and cap the beer, a little bit MORE of CO2 comes out of the beer and displaces even MORE air (thus virtually precluding any sort of possibility that O2 could remain in the bottle). If I bottle with oxygen absorbing caps, I'm really not seeing how it is possible that there could be any oxidation in these bottles.

Again, I'm aware that warm conditioning ages beers faster than lagering, so thanks for that. My question is more like "Is this feasible?" or "Are there any glaring problems with this?" I don't much care if warm conditioning progresses as par usual; I'm trying to ask if there is anything in this particular process that would preclude warm conditioning counter-pressure filled and force carbonated beer (specifically) from being an intelligent/viable possibility.

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Old 08-21-2012, 09:15 AM   #4
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Oh and not to nitpick but your math is off...If I take you seriously, nine times the shelf life would mean that a beer @ 32F that goes stale after 6 months would go stale @ 70F after 6/9 of a month or about 21 days - this is EXTREMELY dubious.

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Old 08-21-2012, 09:40 AM   #5
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Excuse my misunderstanding. Are you trying find out if your bottle-filling practice will allow you to avoid the typical shelf life problems at warmer temps?

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Old 08-21-2012, 09:57 AM   #6
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Not to argue but I should correct you, it says "about" 9 times and I got that figure from a paper by Charles Bamforth, believe whatever you like. I'm just trying to help man, nobody else has offered their advice I thought it might be appreciated but I've learned my lesson, sorry you found my 3 sentences so objectionable. I'll be on my way.

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Old 08-21-2012, 10:24 AM   #7
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Alright, seriously, I meant no ill will. I was just trying to say that I doubt the "9 times difference" as I've aged beers at 60-70F for 6 months or a year or so and I doubt that is the equivalent of a beer that had been lagered for 54 months or 9 years. I didn't mean to appear snippy, uppity, or excessively challenging. I truly apologize if I came across that way.

My main question is, I suppose, twofold: (1) Is there reason to believe that counter-pressure filling avoids typical shelf life problems (as you stated) and (2) Is there anything methodologically wrong with the process I described (fermenting, secondary-ing, racking to keg, chilling, force carbonating, counter-pressure bottle filling, aging at "warm" i.e. 60-70F temps)? My question is not so much about what the affects of warm aging will be (I'm pretty familiar with that) - but will bottles aged this way be comparable to standard warm bottle conditioning? I'm wondering if the results from two different bottling practices (typical bottle conditioning vs. counter-pressure bottle conditioning), given identical aging profiles, will result in a similar end product.

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Old 08-21-2012, 02:11 PM   #8
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Imho, your only methodological problem is that you're bottling in the first place. Just get a bigger chest freezer .

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Old 08-21-2012, 03:04 PM   #9
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So basically, you’re wondering about the effect of a small amount of air in the bottle, as opposed to almost no air. Interesting question. I suppose the beer with less air will be fresher longer. You have to wonder how much of the aging process is oxygen driven.

I talked to a brewer who was fairly obsessed with keeping air out of the bottle. He used to have a little hammer on the bottling line that would tap the bottle just before capping. Now he overcarbonates the beer, blasts it in the bottle and caps it quick.

As for methodology you need a control. Perhaps you could carb tab a few. Then you could determine the difference experimentally.

Oh, and I’m uppity too.

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Old 08-21-2012, 03:13 PM   #10
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You can definitely do that. But I'm wondering "why". If a beer needs some aging, I'd age it before cold conditioning in the kegerator. You can still bottle from the keg, of course, and store bottles, but I can't see any advantage to doing it by cold conditioning and then warm conditioning.

I have a stout that takes a few weeks longer than many of my other beers to mature and meld. I keep it in the keg at room temperature until it's ready to go into the kegerator. I don't chill it, bottle it, and then warm it. I don't know if any harm would come, but I just don't see the advantage. A keg takes up less floor space than bottles, and it would condition nicely in bulk.

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