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Old 11-08-2013, 02:00 PM   #1
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Default Bottling Big Beer


I wanted to pose a question and get some opinions on bottling a batch aged, high alcohol beer.

I just recently racked an 11.5% ABV Barley Wine into its secondary. There it will stay for 6 months or so. I have a small kegorator, but not enough space to hold a big beer like this on tap. It would take me forever to finish a keg of BW, and besides, I’d like to hold onto some of this for 2, 3 years, maybe longer. So, into bottles it will go.

The obvious concerns around bottle conditioning a beer like this have to do with yeast viability; 1) yeast viability due to the batch aging, and 2) yeast viability due to the high alcohol environment. If I were to bottle condition this beer, I would re-pitch dry yeast just prior to bottling; which I think is fairly common practice. This takes care of concern (1), but it doesn’t relieve concern (2), it only mitigates that concern to an extent.

For these reasons, I would also consider force carbing in a keg and bottling with a beergun. This is an obvious way to ensure a carbed bottle of the BW, but this method may also have its concerns. Namely, do I lose the benefit of holding some bottles for a few years if they were not naturally bottle conditioned?

Please let me know your thoughts or experiences in either method, bottle conditioning or force carbing and bottling with a beergun. Either way, I have several months before I need to decide what I’ll do with this beer.

Thanks and cheers HBT!

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Old 11-08-2013, 02:10 PM   #2
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I personally would not recommend the force carbing method. When you bottle just add some hydrated champagne yeast, and you'll be good to go.

Bier war sein letztes wort dann trugen ihn die Englein fort...

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Old 11-08-2013, 06:09 PM   #3
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I agree, a big beer that's gonna sit around for years, you definitely want to bottle condition. Add some champagne or other yeast to the bottling bucket, there are plenty of cheap dried ale yeasts (Notty, US-05) as well that can handle that kind of alcohol. I've made it my standard practice to add some rehydrated yeast to the bucket for high gravity beers, and I even had a 11% abv cider that was fully carbed after 2 weeks. The year before with no fresh yeast it took 3 months.

I'd suggest you try to keep the bottles on the warm side for a good 3-4 months after you bottle (at least 70 degrees, if you're bottling in the summer you should be fine), then try one and check if it's carbonated. If you're good to go, toss them in the cellar and forget about them

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Old 11-08-2013, 06:21 PM   #4
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I agree with the others on adding a bit of yeast at bottling. Personally, I'd use the same yeast strain that I fermented with.


Primary: English Gold
Secondary: 2013 Dark Stock (on oak), Wee Heavy on oak
Bottled: Sir Suspicious Oatmeal Stout, Victorious Brown Ale, Wee Rambunctious Scotch/Belgian Hybrid

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