IPA getting dark during bottle conditioning

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kornoor

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Some updates:

Thanks for everyone sharing experience and opinion on this topic. Just in case someone comes across this post in the future, here is a summary of what people are sharing so far:

1. Bottling straight off the fermenter (if your fermenter has a spigot) and priming each bottle individually

2. Reducing the headspace in each bottle

3. Don't cold crash, or if you have to, use something like a Cold Crash Guardian

4. Collecting CO2 during fermentation so you can use them during bottling (using balloon or cold crash guardian)

5. Purging O2 out of the bottle headspace helped significantly in preserving colour and hop character in my bottle conditioned IPA. In contrast, an additional purge of the bottle prior to filling did not bring any noticeable benefits. Check out this post to dig further

6. Thanks to @BrewnWKopperKat for summing up some additional tips for bottling. Check out these links here.

Thanks again everyone and have a good one!

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Hi guys, my IPA is getting oxidized during bottle conditioning. I didn't cold crash, just let the beer sit in room temp.

My bottling process is like transferring beer from fermenter to bottling bucket (filled with priming sugar), by using easy syphon, then bottle.

Currently, my home doesn't have enough space for kegging and CO2 tanks. So I'm here to seek other practical way to avoid oxidation as mush as possible under my current setup.

One week conditioning:
IMG_0779.jpg
Two week conditioning:
IMG_0803.jpg
 
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kornoor

kornoor

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Here is what I'm planning to do, so sure if it's gonna help:

1. seal around the cap with some tapes and plastic wrap
2. try to reduce the headspace when bottling next batch
 

Immocles

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I’m in the same boat and bottling straight off the fermenter (if your fermenter has a spigot) and priming each bottle individually can help a bit. Reducing the headspace in each bottle is a good start, too. It’s a bit of a losing battle, though. I’ve wanted to try the Mylar balloon to capture the fermentation gas to see it allows me to keep the fermenter lid on and the beer flowing while bottling.

There’s a few threads with various tricks to help ipa shelf life, but I think they will mostly require a co2 tank. I don’t have links handy, but maybe @BrewnWKopperKat does? ( at least I think he’s the one with the catalog of links…)
 
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kornoor

kornoor

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I’m in the same boat and bottling straight off the fermenter (if your fermenter has a spigot) and priming each bottle individually can help a bit. Reducing the headspace in each bottle is a good start, too. It’s a bit of a losing battle, though. I’ve wanted to try the Mylar balloon to capture the fermentation gas to see it allows me to keep the fermenter lid on and the beer flowing while bottling.

There’s a few threads with various tricks to help ipa shelf life, but I think they will mostly require a co2 tank. I don’t have links handy, but maybe @BrewnWKopperKat does? ( at least I think he’s the one with the catalog of links…)
Thanks for the reply, no worries I can google it
 

marc1

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Here is what I'm planning to do, so sure if it's gonna help:

1. seal around the cap with some tapes and plastic wrap
2. try to reduce the headspace when bottling next batch
If 1. is referring to the bottles, then it's not necessary. Bottle caps are good when properly sealed.

People seem to have good luck with the low headspace.
 
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kornoor

kornoor

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If 1. is referring to the bottles, then it's not necessary. Bottle caps are good when properly sealed.

People seem to have good luck with the low headspace.
Thanks for the advice, will definitely reduce the headspace from next batch.

And yeah, 1. is referring the bottle but I'm just not confident with the sealing condition of the caps 😥😥
 

rburrelli

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I’m in the same boat and bottling straight off the fermenter (if your fermenter has a spigot) and priming each bottle individually can help a bit. Reducing the headspace in each bottle is a good start, too. It’s a bit of a losing battle, though. I’ve wanted to try the Mylar balloon to capture the fermentation gas to see it allows me to keep the fermenter lid on and the beer flowing while bottling.

There’s a few threads with various tricks to help ipa shelf life, but I think they will mostly require a co2 tank. I don’t have links handy, but maybe @BrewnWKopperKat does? ( at least I think he’s the one with the catalog of links…)
I use the Cold Crash Guardian and collect CO2 during fermentation. Then I bottle from the fermenter, priming each bottle, and the CO2 provides enough back pressure to do about 36 12 ounce bottles before I have to loosen and let oxygen in. This is the best I can do without investing in equipment. It works well for me.
 
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There’s a few threads with various tricks to help ipa shelf life, but I think they will mostly require a co2 tank.
There are a couple of other techniques in my "link list". I'm seeing some new techniques here (and a link list can be disruptive), so I'll post the links I have after the discussion winds down in a couple of days.
 

Immocles

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I use the Cold Crash Guardian and collect CO2 during fermentation. Then I bottle from the fermenter, priming each bottle, and the CO2 provides enough back pressure to do about 36 12 ounce bottles before I have to loosen and let oxygen in. This is the best I can do without investing in equipment. It works well for me.
Excellent to know. I generally bottle 24-30 at a time. Thanks for the info!
 
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kornoor

kornoor

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I use the Cold Crash Guardian and collect CO2 during fermentation. Then I bottle from the fermenter, priming each bottle, and the CO2 provides enough back pressure to do about 36 12 ounce bottles before I have to loosen and let oxygen in. This is the best I can do without investing in equipment. It works well for me.
Nice suggestion! And how do you collect CO2 during fermentation? Use mylar balloon?
 
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kornoor

kornoor

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There are a couple of other techniques in my "link list". I'm seeing some new techniques here (and a link list can be disruptive), so I'll post the links I have after the discussion winds down in a couple of days.
Thanks! Looking forward to it!
 

Immocles

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Also, I always now try to store the beer cold after they’ve been carbonated. Before having the fridge space, I would only throw 3-4 bottles in at a time to get cold. I feel like it has helped somewhat to let them carb up for 10-14 days, and then get them all cold and keep em that way
 

marc1

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Thanks for the advice, will definitely reduce the headspace from next batch.

And yeah, 1. is referring the bottle but I'm just not confident with the sealing condition of the caps 😥😥
If the caps aren't sealing then you won't have good carbonation... do you think it's a cap quality issue, or a capper issue? I used to use a bench capper when I bottled, and it worked great.
 
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kornoor

kornoor

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If the caps aren't sealing then you won't have good carbonation...
Then I think the caps are sealed properly as I'm quite satisfied with the carbonation level. I'm using a twin lever capper btw.

So I guess the oxygen mainly comes from:

1. the process of transferring beer from fermenter to bottling bucket, and
2. headspace in each bottle

Does that make sense?
 

tld6008

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If you expose the beer to the atmosphere after fermentation is finished it's a problem. Bottle from fermenter, keep it cold, drink it fast.
 
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@tld6008 There was a recent reply over in the The definitive NEIPA bottling experiment! topic where a bottling process that yielded good beer in the 120 to 200 day range was anecdotally reported. Filling the "dead space" in containers with C02 during the bottling process appears to have been the key.

Standard disclaimer ;): anecdotes are not proof, and are known to lead to curiosity in some people
 
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Here's a Feb 2021 copy of my "link list": Limiting oxidation: effect of purging headspace O2. In addition to Co2 flush, there are a couple of other ideas that can be found in those links.

FWIW, I probably won't be updating the link list as it feels like it has served it's purpose. It was intended to be quick way to say "here's a bunch of people who are working to solve this problem and here's what they are finding".

A next step could be to write a couple of topics, similar to Easy Partial Mash Brewing (with pics), focusing on advanced bottling techniques.
 
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BeerAndTele

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I also bottle straight from the fermenter spigot, priming each bottle separately to avoid a bottling bucket ... I also started giving each bottle a shot of Private Preserve wine preserver under the cap before capping. I decided to try it after reading this thread and have had visibly good results. The pic below shows a side-by-side after 9 weeks, only difference being the bottle on the left got a shot of Private Preserve.

9 weeks with and without Private Preserve.jpg
 

rburrelli

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Nice suggestion! And how do you collect CO2 during fermentation? Use mylar balloon?
The Cold Crash Guardian is sold by Brewhardware.com. Similar to the balloon concept with better control.
 

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Interesting. I haven't read a lot on O2 and oxidation.

So, do you guys think a significant amount of O2 is absorbed into the beer by having the lid off the bucket during bottling? My hunch is that the absorption would be minimal in the 20 - 30 minutes it takes to bottle (without any surface agitation).

Which brings up the question "How much is acceptable?" I don't think the ordinary home brewer can eliminate it all together. In that 1" or so of headspace in the bottle, only 21% (I think) of that air is O2. Is that enough to oxidize a beer? And, if so, how long does it take? If you're going to drink it within the next month, how much effort is it worth?

Anyone have some links to point me to more info on this? I glanced at The definitive NEIPA..." thread, but those anecdotal experiments tend to be pretty subjective. I haven't looked at BrewnWKopperKat's links yet, but will shortly.
 
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What if it's not about about eliminating oxygen ingress?

What if it's about minimizing oxygen ingress and then minimizing oxidation?

I haven't looked at BrewnWKopperKat's links yet, but will shortly.
The links are from Feb 2021. There is more recent discussion in a number of new topics.

Two ancedotal stories from recent topics that may cause one to be curious:

Back in May 2017 my son asked me make beer for his wedding in mid-October. Silly me, I spent the summer making 9 different beers of 2 cases for each - including a NEIPA. I had bottled a NEIPA earlier in the year with no special precautions and it started losing its fruitiness at about 1 month. So this time I took some extra paranoid measures to exclude oxygen. They relied on the fact that CO2 molecules are heavier than O2 molecules. A concentrated dose of CO2 pushes air out of any container. All CO2 was supplied with my kegging tank.
- Tubing was run from the fermenter into the bottom of the bucket, minimizing O2 mixing. (Normal operating procedure.)
- The bottling bucket was purged with CO2, keeping the lid on loosely to avoid drafts.
- The headspace of the fermenter was also purged and as it drained, more CO2 was added. Again the lid was loosely placed.
- During bottling, the BB headspace was occasionally topped up with CO2.
- The bottles were all purged with CO2 followed by a cap placed on top - again to avoid drafts.
Bottling was one 1 month before the celebration. The NEIPA was first to disappear at the party, but my son spirited away several bottles for safe-keeping. About 4 months after the wedding he surprised me with one of the bottles. Holy ****! It was just as juicy as it was after sitting in the bottle for only 2 weeks. He was still enjoying the last bottle 7 months after bottling.
The standard theory of 12 years ago was that when you transferred to the secondary, you would get some minimal contact with air, but you keep the output end of the siphon in the beer to minimize splashing. There is some dissolved co2 that gets released during the transfer that blankets the beer. If you aren’t dry hopping, you make sure that your batch is big enough to fill into the neck of the carboy. You are then left with a few cubic inches of air space that will be filled with co2 as fermentation completes.
 

VikeMan

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I completely agree. While I'm far from an expert, I don't think you can eliminate it outside laboratory conditions.
No brewery on the planet can eliminate exposure to oxygen. But you can get to very low levels. IMO, a huge mistake some brewers make is looking at oxidation as binary..."If I have lots of oxygen exposure, I'll have oxidation. If I don't have lots of oxygen exposure, I won't have any oxidation." It goes hand in hand with "I do "X" and I never have oxidation." Or, "I don't do "Y" and I never have oxidation."

Every beer is oxidized and will become more oxidized. It's just a matter of how much and how fast, as well as how much it matters for the beer style, and how sensitive the taster is to oxidation products, of which there are many. It's not just about about "ruined" beers and "cardboard."

Not long ago, I did a presentation on Beer (In)Stability, Oxidation, and Freshness. The .pdf can be viewed/downloaded here:

 
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I'm starting to wonder if the problem with bottling is shifting from

"You can't bottle NEIPAs"​

to

"There appear to be many good ways to bottle NEIPAs. How do I decide?"​

Might be time for me to explore kegging small batches ;)
 

Immocles

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I'm starting to wonder if the problem with bottling is shifting from

"You can't bottle NEIPAs"​

to

"There appear to be many good ways to bottle NEIPAs. How do I decide?"​

Might be time for me to explore kegging small batches ;)

I know when I'm able to start brewing again (hopefully November), im rigging up some sort of situation similar to the Cold crash guardian. I'm sure it won't look as sophisticated, but its something that I have wanted to try for awhile. I will be starting to keg some batches as well, but I will still be bottling the majority of my brews. Also considering looking into getting some of that wine preserver as well. Its gotta be possible, right?

I try to do what I can with what I currently have, but like the OP I get the darkening and bright hop flavor loss. But I will say, with every added attempt at limiting more oxygen, they seem to last longer and longer. So the bottling crew is definitely on the right track.
 

Bobby_M

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Interesting. I haven't read a lot on O2 and oxidation.

So, do you guys think a significant amount of O2 is absorbed into the beer by having the lid off the bucket during bottling? My hunch is that the absorption would be minimal in the 20 - 30 minutes it takes to bottle (without any surface agitation).

Which brings up the question "How much is acceptable?" I don't think the ordinary home brewer can eliminate it all together. In that 1" or so of headspace in the bottle, only 21% (I think) of that air is O2. Is that enough to oxidize a beer? And, if so, how long does it take? If you're going to drink it within the next month, how much effort is it worth?

Anyone have some links to point me to more info on this? I glanced at The definitive NEIPA..." thread, but those anecdotal experiments tend to be pretty subjective. I haven't looked at BrewnWKopperKat's links yet, but will shortly.
Breweries target .25 to .5 PPM of O2 in packaged beer. It's not JUST the open top of the bottling bucket because that beer doesn't teleport into position. Racking the beer out of the fermenter exposes it to oxygen both as it gets pulled into the opening of the fermenter but as the beer is swirling into an AIR environment in the bottling bucket. Then when it goes into the bottles it is mixing with the air that is in the bottle during the fill. Then you cap it with air in the head space. If there's enough yeast still in the beer, it may scavenge some oxygen. I'm actually in favor of bottling earlier when bottle conditioning even when it hasn't fully cleared up. I'd rather have more yeast going into the bottle for this purpose and just let it crash out and compact in the fridge later. Another option is Krausening where you add a bit of active yeast at bottling time.

Is it worth it? If you brew beers that are most sensitive to oxidation effects like NEIPAs, it is the difference between something I would drink and something I would drain pour.
 
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So the bottling crew is definitely on the right track.
Bottling techniques have definitely been moving forward over the last couple of years - thanks to a number of people who kept talking about techniques that they were using that worked for them.

Moving out to readers at large, I want to come back to this
A next step could be to write a couple of topics, similar to Easy Partial Mash Brewing (with pics), focusing on advanced bottling techniques.
with an observation that there are additional techniques that people have talked about that don't require closed transfers or professional brewer packaging techniques.
 

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Love the information in this thread! I am also curious if the hops that are being used make a significant difference. I recently made an IPA that I split between two 3 gallon fermentors and I dryhopped one with Centennial and one with experimental HBC 586 from Yakima valley hops. I bottled them on the same day, same process, same conditions and the HBC 586 beer has very noticeably started to darken but the Centennial hasn't. Do the classic American "C" hops hold up a bit better to a bit of oxidation or is it just a fluke?
 
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I do secondary in a keg. I keep a slow trickle of co2 in the keg. From there - run a little trub out with a picnic tap. Can either force-transfer to a second keg or crack open, add priming sugar, purge, do a low level force carb and bottle. That method of bottling has yielded beers that don't darken appreciably and keep flavor longer
 

SFC Rudy

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The more hops you use the more your beer is susceptible to oxidation. I only brew one beer that has more than eight ounces of hops, and that is the only beer I have issues with oxidation. I drink it quick to beat the oxidation effects.
 
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