Bottle Conditioning Question

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Well-Known Member
Jul 30, 2007
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Lincoln, ND
On Tuesday, I bottled my 2nd AG ale. Maybe it's because I used Irish Moss, but the yeast bed was pretty well set and I couldn't have disturbed it if I wanted to when I autosiphoned it from the carboy. As a result, my beer came out crystal clear (we're talking lager clear) with virtually no sediment, if any. Would I be right to assume that even though I can't see it, there is yeast suspended in the beer and it will still bottle condition despite the lack of sediment? Also, I'm putting my cases under a small blanket with an oil space heater to ensure they'll have the temperature necessary to bottle condition - is that a good idea?
Yes, there is plenty of yeast. Clearing yeast from beer requires sub-micron filters.

Heaters are a bad idea, unless you have some form of temperature control. If you are using the heater's thermostat, watch the temperature for the first day or two. Space heaters have high BTU ratings and could easily cook your beer in a very short time period.
+1 on david_42's advice.

Congrats on a clear brew. I keep forgetting to add Irish moss to my boil, so my clearest beers are still a little hazy. I stocked up on the moss, so my next brews will hopefully be similarly clear.

Re: heaters and blankets, I'd be concerned about burning my house down.
I still have the heater near the cases, but I removed the blanket. When you say cook the beer, do you mean kill the yeast, create off-flavors or both? Hopefully it's not too late and I didn't kill the yeasties.
: /
Too high of a fermentation temperature will lead to off flavors (esters, phenolics, etc.). Each yeast has a preferred fermentation temperature. Most dry ale yeasts ferment best at room temperature or slightly below. If you get it up above room temp, that's when you start to have problems. Keep in mind the fermentation also generates its own heat (not a lot, but some).

I believe the major on-line brewing supply sites have this info on the description section of the pages selling their yeast.

You may not have made it undrinkable, and by no means should you dump it based on this. Let it go through the whole process, bottle it, let it age a little, and then be the judge. Chances are good it may be fine.

(PS: It would probably have to be really warm to kill the yeast - the extra warmth above room temp makes for a wild fermentation, and it's this 'orgy' of fermentation that creates the byproducts which give the off flavors.)
You can use warmer then usual fermentation temperatures when bottle conditioning as very little takes place and esters etc will not be noticeable - unless you fermented too warm in the first place. I brew a bitter using W1968 which flocculates unbelievably well (as needed for cask conditioned ales) and never have a problem with bottle conditioning. I've also left bigger beers for 2-3 months conditioning and don't repitch when I bottle. Those do take longer to bottle condition then usual but since they need time to mature anyways I don't worry about it.

You have to go pretty high to kill yeast. I have found that you can bottle carbonate over a very long time with cold temperatures, as long as you don't get your yeast into a dormant phase. In fact you can push your yeast well below their recommended temperature range, they will just go very very slowly. I had one beer that literally took about 2 months to come full carbonation sitting all the while in my basement. I had it for well over 2 months in secondary at around 52 °F before bottling, did not repitch and kept it to carbonate at that temperature. It turned out great, just took a loooong time.

The method I use now is this. If I am not going to secondary (as many of my recipes don't) I prime and bottle, then hold at the ferment temperature for a minimum of 1 week. After that it goes into the basement. Cold temperature will help drop the sediment out of a beer if it is cloudy (assuming of course, this is not a chill haze :D). Every single beer that I have produced and let sit long enough ('long enough' is a function mainly of the yeast strain flocculation properties, holding temperature and recipe) in my basement has cleared in the bottle. I have never had an exception to this yet. You can actually take a bottle, hold it up to the light briefly and see as the weeks go by the sediment drop out.

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