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Old 04-30-2009, 04:43 PM   #1
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Default Elevation change affecting carbonation levels in bottle conditioned beer?

Here's a question for some discussion:

If I brew, bottle, and age beer at 7,000 feet in elevation; then transport down to ~1200 feet in elevation - what affect would that have on carbonation levels?

The reason I ask is that I brewed a brown ale (at ~7,000 ft) that won a brozne in a competition in Phoenix (~1200 ft); with the judges commenting that the only thing that kept this out of the excellent category was too high of carbonation.

All of the other bottles of this beer that I've had at 7,000 ft have been perfectly carbed, but I guess the bottles in the competition almost over flowed when opened.


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Old 04-30-2009, 04:51 PM   #2
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Yes, altitude will affect carbonation and head.

When going from low altitude to high altitude, you will get lots of head and little perceived carbonation. This is because with the lower atmospheric pressure at high altitudes, the dissolved CO2 in your beer comes out faster, leaving you with lots of head and little carbonation after even a few minutes.

When going from high altitude to low altitude, just the opposite happens. The higher atmospheric pressure lower down keeps more of the CO2 "locked into" your beer leaving you with less head and more carbonation for longer.

Hope this helps. There is more info in this thread: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/alt...nation-114569/


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Old 04-30-2009, 04:53 PM   #3
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Most charts disclaim that the PSIG/Temp refs assume sea level and state that for every 200ft above SL to add 1psig.

Interesting observation, IMO, and raises another potential for debate about who should take that into consideration, the brewer or the judge?
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Old 04-30-2009, 05:17 PM   #4
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Thanks for the link Parker - can't believe I missed that thread!

The scenario in the other thread seems to make more sense (bottled at lower elevation, and had higher release of CO2 when opened at higher elevation).
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Old 04-30-2009, 06:30 PM   #5
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It is quite possible that what you consider perfectly carbonated is just a bit high for the style. A common problem for Browns and Porters.
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Old 04-30-2009, 06:48 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by david_42 View Post
It is quite possible that what you consider perfectly carbonated is just a bit high for the style. A common problem for Browns and Porters.
I thought about that, but both judges mentioned that the beer nearly overflowed when opened.

It doesn't do that when I open at 7,000 feet.
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Old 04-30-2009, 06:55 PM   #7
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So do you have a carbonation issue with commercial beers that you open up there at +7,000 sea level? Like, everything seems low carbed?
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Old 04-30-2009, 07:08 PM   #8
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So do you have a carbonation issue with commercial beers that you open up there at +7,000 sea level? Like, everything seems low carbed?
Nope - some commercial beers tend to seem a little over carbed at times (SNPA & Sam Adams come to mind).
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Old 04-30-2009, 10:01 PM   #9
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The volumes of CO2 will be the same, the only difference will be the rate at which the CO2 comes out of solution.
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Old 05-01-2009, 12:45 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Orangevango View Post
The volumes of CO2 will be the same, the only difference will be the rate at which the CO2 comes out of solution.
interesting point. I had never thought about that. The bubbles would also change size due to lessened preasure at elevation no?


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