Forced Carbonation Question

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AndyHerscher

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Hi guys,
Hopefully this isn't too dumb of a question but I am really new to force carbonation with my new kegerator. I've been bottle conditioning my homebrew for awhile now but recently migrated to kegging and had a question regarding force carbonation differences between different styles of beer.

I have recently become a big fan of the properties that Belgian Yeast adds to beer--specifically the velvetty mouthfeel that the "smaller" carbonation bubbles provide. Is it possible to force carbonate (perhaps at lower pressures for longer periods) and retain that feel?

I've seen some force carbonation calculators out there, and I'm assuming that this is what these calculators are trying to maintain but I just wanted to see if anyone had any clarification to this process or recommendations for force carbonating a beer brewed with Belgian Yeast. I'm not adverse to bottle conditioning this batch if that would yield better results. I had also considered keg conditioning. Any recommendations for doing that as well?

Thanks!
 

johngault007

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I can't really speak to the yeast part, but I keep my kegs @ around 9.5 at 38-40f and get just the right amount if carbonation for my tastes. I prefer beer on the lower end of carbonation, so it works well.

I force carbonate @ that pressure as well. I am usually in no rush to drink the beer, so after about a week the beer is ready.
 

BendBrewer

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Why do you think force carbing will effect the yeast character? Maybe it does but I am not following.
 
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AndyHerscher

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I guess the piece that I am most concerned with is retaining that typical smooth Belgian Yeast mouthfeel. If you compare the way that a beer brewed and bottle conditioned with Belgian Yeast feels in relation to a beer that was brewed and bottle conditioned with American Ale Yeast for example, the bubbles on the Belgian are much much finer.

When bottle conditioning (and maybe I am overly sensitive about this) the yeast in the beer is performing the carbonation--so depending on the yeast that is used, your finished beer presents and feels quite a bit different.

Since the yeast isn't performing the carbonation--and you are instead force carbonating; will the force carbonation lend a different bubble size that is not characteristic for the style? Is it possible to force carbonate and still maintain that fine bubble characteristic? Or is that where keg conditioning comes in?
 

BendBrewer

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Ah, I see your questioning now. Not that I have any answers. Will be interested in the thread though. Smaller bubbles? Is that a carbonation level thing? What would cause smaller bubbles?
 

theonetrueruss

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I don't think force carbonating changes the bubble size. I do think that the amount of time the beer sits affects it though. Any bottle conditioned beer is going to be sitting with the CO2 pressure for a long while. I found that with my bottles it takes a couple of months before my bubbles are right. I had a stout that had suzable bubbles after a month then 6 months later had real nice small smooth bubbles. I haven't experimented too much with the keg and bubble size but I did notice over the past week that the carb bubbles in my kegged beer seem to get smaller over time.

Not scientific evidence but I suggest that time+pressure = smaller bubbles?
 
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AndyHerscher

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Interesting. Since the bulk of my experience is with bottle conditioning, I can only say that the yeast certainly does seem to be a factor is the size of the bubbles in the conditioned beer. And time does equate to a better finished beer. The first few bottles (depending on how impatient I am :D ) are a little more flat then those that have conditioned for weeks or months.

I suspect that I will have to keg condition to impregnate the smaller Belgian Style bubbles, and then once the dispensing pressure is added to the keg conditioned beer, it will keep all of those happy little bubbles in the beer. My fear is that if I don't keg condition, that the bubbles impregnated via forced carbonation will be different then those typically seen in a bottle conditioned beer (i.e. larger bubbles perhaps? I dunno. Like I said, I'm pretty unexperienced with this aspect)
 

Bobby_M

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There's no way the carbonation method is going to change bubble size. There's no magic variant of CO2 molecules that come from various sources.
 
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AndyHerscher

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Hi Bobby. I wanted to thank you for all of your videos that you've posted on Youtube. I've watched your discussion on Beta-Amylase and Alpha-Amylase a couple times now. It's been really helpful with wrapping my head around the process.

Maybe I'm just imagining it but beers that are bottle conditioned and fermented with Belgian Yeast seem to have a super fine, almost velvetty mouthfeel to them compared to beers brewed with other strains of yeast. I always assumed that it was the yeast that was off-gassing a smaller bubble during the re-fermentation/conditioning. Is that not the case?
 
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AndyHerscher

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After doing a little more research it seems as if some brewers are indicating that the aging or clarity of the beer may contribute to the residual size of the carbonation bubble in the beer. In relation to many of the Belgian beers that I was using as my basis for comparison, these had in fact aged a significant amount of time. Supposedly this has something to do with the protein particulate in the beer and the amount of nucleation sites for the CO2 to form on. As beer ages and settles there are less of these proteins in the beer, smaller proteins in suspension, and as a result smaller nucleation sites and smaller bubbles.

I'm not sure if this is the definitive reason but I figured I'd throw it into the mix.
 

erikpete18

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Not sure if it would affect the carbonation bubbles you are looking for, but if you are trying to replicate the Belgian bottle conditioning a little closer you can always add priming sugar to your keg and naturally carbonate it there. You'll have a little more yeast sediment to clear out at the start, and you'll want to use a little less priming sugar than for bottles, but it might get you closer to what you are looking for.
 

Bobby_M

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I have a few beers in my kegger right now that have been on gas for over 6 months and they exhibit the same type of silky head (some would call it rocky). Honestly, I don't know what the difference is but I don't know if yeast has anything to do with it.
 
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