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Old 06-27-2007, 07:34 PM   #1
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Default Bottle Carbonation Experiment

Recently, there have been an unusually high number of threads on the topic of secondary fermenters and bottle carbonation. Specifically, a number of users have been discussing leaving a beer in the secondary for an extended period of time (e.g., an imperial stout) to bulk condition, and then wondering if adding yeast is a requirement or not to ensure carbonation in the bottle. Alternatively, a number of people have reported very slow carbonation after spending a prolonged period in the secondary, while others have reported no problems whatsoever.

I know that there are a lot of variables at work here, but I wonder if it would be possible to generalize about whether adding yeast is necessary at bottling. I have adopted that approach because I am cautious, but I was thinking this would make a great experiment.

I have a big porter that has been in the secondary for over three months, and I have decided to bottle it up. My plan is to bottle some without adding any yeast, and the other bottles with some dry yeast added. Then I can compare directly how fast each sub-batch carbonates, and whether the end product is different once carbonation is complete (assuming it all completes in the first set of bottles).

If anyone else has done this already or wants to try it, I will happily compile the results by yeast type, length of time spent in the secondary, etc.
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Old 06-27-2007, 08:30 PM   #2
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Great idea. I just bottled a Hofbrauhaus clone that had been sitting in the secondary for 60 days. I did not add yeast. I've got an Oktoberfest that's been sitting in the secondary for at least 90 days that needs to be bottled but I don't have enough bottles. Just to make sure I understand, in order to help you with your experiment I should bottle a case without yeast then add yeast to the remaining beer before I finish bottling it? I'm willing to give it a go, but I'm not sure how soon because I've only got about 1/2 case of bottles, and I hate spending money on empty bottles. I guess I'll just have to drink more beer.
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Old 06-27-2007, 08:41 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IowaStateFan
Great idea. I just bottled a Hofbrauhaus clone that had been sitting in the secondary for 60 days. I did not add yeast. I've got an Oktoberfest that's been sitting in the secondary for at least 90 days that needs to be bottled but I don't have enough bottles. Just to make sure I understand, in order to help you with your experiment I should bottle a case without yeast then add yeast to the remaining beer before I finish bottling it? I'm willing to give it a go, but I'm not sure how soon because I've only got about 1/2 case of bottles, and I hate spending money on empty bottles. I guess I'll just have to drink more beer.
Yes, exactly. It would probably be best if you racked to the bottling bucket, stirred in the priming sugar thoroughly to ensure consistency, and then bottle a case. After that, mix the yeast in thoroughly (it would have to be rehyrdated yeast, I think), and bottle the remainder.
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Old 06-27-2007, 09:09 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyGuy
Yes, exactly. It would probably be best if you racked to the bottling bucket, stirred in the priming sugar thoroughly to ensure consistency, and then bottle a case. After that, mix the yeast in thoroughly (it would have to be rehyrdated yeast, I think), and bottle the remainder.
Got it. That's what I was thinking. I'll try that and get back to you. Now if I can just find some bottles
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Old 06-28-2007, 01:40 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IowaStateFan
I just bottled a Hofbrauhaus clone that had been sitting in the secondary for 60 days. I did not add yeast.
FWIW, I just opened one of the Hofbrauhaus clones after one week in the bottles. Not only was it carbonated, the head took up half the glass - and I was pouring carefully. As for the Oktoberfest, I racked it to secondary on March 22nd, so as of today it's been in the secondary for 97 days. I've been "lagering" both of these beers in my crawlspace at about 45 - 50 degrees. Based on the HB clone I don't expect to see any difference with yeast or without on the Oktoberfest, but I'll run the experiment - as soon as I have enough bottles.
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Old 06-28-2007, 11:56 AM   #6
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This should be cool. I have personally noticed slow carbonation with beer that has been in secondary for a long time. Course, like you said there are quite a few factors going on. Make sure to post what methods of yeast pitching (ie, liquid, dry, amount of starter, etc) as I am guessing this would have an influence on the amount of yeast available at bottling. (I'll assume the beer was finished out completely). Temperature of carbonation is another key thing to record. Was it an ale yeast moved to a cooler place, a lager moved to a warmer one...just throwing out some of the variables to help ensure a thorough evaluation.

That all being said, as long as you have a single batch and do everything else completely identically then it can indeed give some insight to the issue.
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Old 06-28-2007, 12:32 PM   #7
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I'm one of the people that started a thread asking about whether it's necessary to add yeast at bottling if you have a long secondary so I'm very interested to hear how this turns out. I have a tripel that's been in the secondary for two weeks and a stout that I'm racking tonight. I'm tempted to leave both for an extended period of time just so that I can run this same test with both batches.
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Old 06-30-2007, 02:02 AM   #8
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Yikes, I have some good direct info, but my batches were very high gravity, and that was the cause for my experiment with 2 batches and Bottle carbing. The high alcohol level and concern over the yeast's alcohol tolerance were the concern there, not time in secondary.
Oh well, that is one of those "other factors" that you may not have wanted to deal with, but most beers left in secondary for long periods of time are high gravity, and therefore need a longer conditioning. Anyways use it or don't
Batch A - added yeast to the priming sugar and H2O, let it go an hour, bottled
Batch B - added no yeast, primed and bottled as usual.
(both used White Labs "irish ale" yeast)
1 week ago, after 1 month in the bottle: Batch A - perfect carbonation. Batch B - only a tiny bit of carbonation.
Good project, I started a similar thread and someone I will not name informed me that"All but the most pennyless of brewers would just get a kegging system". I hope you all don't get any of that.
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Old 06-30-2007, 03:33 AM   #9
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Instead of adding dry yeast, how bout bottling the first half from the carboy that has been "at rest" and then bottle the second half after stirring up the yeast cake with your racking cane a bit.

I gotta beleive you have a 1/2 " of good clean yeast at settled at the bottom.
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Old 06-30-2007, 10:26 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BierMuncher
Instead of adding dry yeast, how bout bottling the first half from the carboy that has been "at rest" and then bottle the second half after stirring up the yeast cake with your racking cane a bit.

I gotta beleive you have a 1/2 " of good clean yeast at settled at the bottom.
Not to kiss your #$%%, but sometimes it takes a genius to see the simplest solution. I will say no more. That may just work.Thanks.
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